Outsourcers Game Visa System Against American Workers

Big international outsourcing companies are rigging the H1-B visa program which is squeezing out American workers and driving down wages for American tech workers. Ad-tech_London_2010_(5)

the outsourcing companies are squeezing out legitimate users of the program,” he said. “The H-1Bs are actually pushing jobs offshore.”

Those firms have used the visas to bring their employees, mostly from India, for large contracts to take over work at American businesses. And as the share of H-1B visas obtained by outsourcing firms has grown, more Americans say they are being put out of work, or are seeing their jobs moved overseas.

Of the 20 companies that received the most H-1B visas in 2014, 13 were global outsourcing operations, according to an analysis of federal records by Professor Hira. The top 20 companies took about 40 percent of the visas available — about 32,000 — while more than 10,000 other employers received far fewer visas each. And about half of the applications in 2014 were rejected entirely because the quota had been met.

“They have spent a lot of time and money creating a business model that fits within the rules so they can use the visas to offer cheaper labor,” said Bruce Morrison, a lawyer representing an association of American engineers.

For example, federal law requires global companies employing large numbers of H-1B workers to sign a declaration saying they will not displace Americans. But there is a loophole: An exemption cancels that requirement if employers pay H-1B workers at least $60,000 a year — significantly less than an experienced technology worker’s salary in many parts of the country.

Many of the outsourcing firms’ temporary workers earn $60,000 or just a little more, according to federal data compiled by Professor Hira.

Of course, the politicians want to fix the problem by adding more rules which the outsourcing companies can game.

On Tuesday, Senators Richard Durbin of Illinois, a Democrat, and Charles H. Grassley of Iowa, a Republican, introduced a bill to change the H-1B program and another temporary work visa, the L-1B, to raise wage requirements, increase monitoring and enforcement and add other protections for American workers. “The H-1B visa program was never meant to replace qualified American workers,” the senators said.