Immigration Enforcement

H-1B Visas Really Are Inherently Harmful — Here’s Why

Last week a New Jersey employer was indicted on charges of H-1B fraud. However, I almost never report on such incidents, as I regard them as irrelevant to the big H-1B picture. The central problems of H-1B and employment-based (EB) green cards involve fully legal abuse via loopholes in the law, as opposed to violations of the law, and the large household-name firms are just as culpable as the “bodyshops.” Indeed, the industry lobbyists love it when the feds crack down on violators of H-1B law, as it gives them a chance to distract Congress and the press from the real issues (the loopholes), and to distract attention away from the big-name firms. See a prior blog for an example of this.

The Sanders/Grassley amendment to the economic stimulus bill survived conference committee. Recall that the amendment extends to recipients of TARP bailout money the H-1B hiring restrictions that normally apply only to H-1B dependent employers. As I explained in previous posts, especially this one, the restrictions are rather mild. And they too have loopholes. Nevertheless, they will have some practical impact, and much more importantly, have major symbolic impact, as they are tacit admission by Congress that the H-1B visa program is fundamentally a Bad Thing.

In the past, Congress’ message–and I mean the word “message” literally, in the form of the politicians’ public statements and letters to constituents–is that H-1B is basically a Good Thing, remedying tech labor shortages and enabling the import of “the best and the brightest” from around the world. Members of Congress continued to make such statements in spite of the facts that:

  • Congress’ own study, commissioned as part of the 1998 legislation that nearly doubled the yearly H-1B cap, found that it could not confirm the industry’s claim of a shortage studies. None of the other studies then and since, including that of the Dept. of Commerce (but excluding industry-sponsored studies), found a shortage either.
  • Two congressionally-commissioned reports, as well as various academic studies, found that use of H-1Bs as cheap labor is commonplace. The GAO report also made the point that loopholes make it fully legal to pay H-1Bs less than comparable Americans.
  • It has been shown quantitatively in several different ways that only a small percentage of the H-1Bs are in the “best and brightest” league.
  • The YouTube video, made by a prominent law firm to show its prominent clients (i.e. mainstream firms rather than bodyshops) how to circumvent the EB green card law requiring employers to recruit Americans before sponsoring a foreign worker for a green card, was widely circulated by members of Congress.


February 23, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , ,

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