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Backlash Stirs in U.S. Against Foreign Worker Visas
Backlash Stirs in U.S. Against Foreign Worker Visas

By Paul Wiseman
July 14, 2014 9:32AM

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Workers in the U.S. are claiming discrimination with the hiring of foreigners on skilled worker visas. Some say the H-1B visa program has been hijacked by staffing companies that import cheaper, lower-level workers to replace more expensive U.S. employees -- or keep them from getting hired. Critics say there is no shortage of American tech workers.
 



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Infosys spokesman Paul de Lara responded that the firm encourages "diversity recruitment," while spokesman Doug Shelton said IBM considers all qualified candidates "without regard to citizenship and immigration status." Manpower issued a statement saying it "adopts the highest ethical standards and complies with all applicable laws and regulations when hiring individuals."

Much of the backlash against the H-1B and other visa programs can be traced to whistleblower Jay Palmer, a former Infosys employee. In 2011, Palmer supplied federal investigators with information that helped lead to Infosys paying a record $34 million settlement last year. Prosecutors had accused the company of circumventing the law by bringing in lower-paid workers on short-term executive business visas instead of using H-1B visas.

Last year, IBM paid $44,000 to the U.S. Justice Department to settle allegations its job postings expressed a preference for foreign workers. And a September trial is set against executives at the staffing company Dibon Solutions, accused of illegally bringing in foreign workers on H-1B visas without having jobs for them -- a practice known as "benching."

In court papers, Parker claims that she was given positive reviews by supervisors, including at Infosys, which she maintains oversaw her work and the decision to let her go. The only complaint: Her desk was messy and she'd once been late.

Neither Parker nor other workers involved in similar lawsuits and contacted by The Associated Press would discuss their cases.

Parker's attorney, Dan Kotchen, noted that the case centers on discrimination based on national origin but said that "hiring visa workers is part of how they obtain their discriminatory objectives."

Infosys is seeking a dismissal, in part on grounds that it never hired or fired Parker. Parker was hired by a different subcontractor and kept on, initially, after Infosys began working with Harley-Davidson.

A company spokeswoman said Infosys has about 17,000 employees in the U.S., about 25 percent U.S. hires. In filings to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the company said it has more than 22,000 employees with valid temporary work visas, some not in the U.S.

Stanford University Law School fellow Vivek Wadwha, a startup adviser, said firms are so starved for talent they are buying up other companies to obtain skilled employees. If there's a bias against Americans, he said, it's an age bias based on the fact that older workers may not have the latest skills. More than 70 percent of H-1B petitions approved in 2012 were for workers between the ages of 25 and 34. (continued...)

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© 2014 Associated Press under contract with NewsEdge. All rights reserved.
 

Tell Us What You Think
Comment:

Name:

Bill Gates is a Traitor:

Posted: 2014-07-22 @ 7:37pm PT
End the Indian unqualified H1-B visa scam ruining U.S. Corporations technological edge now! Write your Congress reps to kill this fraudulent racket destroying American middle class jobs for short term reckless exec greed!

Paul:

Posted: 2014-07-17 @ 12:03pm PT
Towards the end of my IT career at Motorola, the majority of the people that I was working with were employees of companies like Tata and Infosys and were presumably on H-1B visas

ALincoln:

Posted: 2014-07-14 @ 4:17pm PT
The H1B Visa Program is destroying the American middle class.

john80224:

Posted: 2014-07-14 @ 11:38am PT
"A company spokeswoman said Infosys has about 17,000 employees in the U.S., about 25 percent U.S. hires."

NASSCOM produced a report a couple years ago touting that 1/3 of their onshore staff is not on visa. What they did not speak to was breakdown by 1) job role nor 2) remaining percentage of the 1/3 that were on GC vs. citizen.

Anecdotally, from personal observation and a great many accounts from others, I'd be surprised if InfoSys or NASSCOM in general has 10% of their core technical staff who were born in the US.



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