Senate cracks down on H-1B exploitation

The Senate plans to crack down on those who are outsourcing tech jobs and abusing the H-1B system with new rules issued by the immigration legislation. According to an outline from the Senate, figures show that the leading recipients of these highly skilled  H-1B visas are IT outsourcing companies, most of which are based in India. This bill could cost outsourcing firms more than $10,000 in visa fees and limit the use of H-1B visas to 50 percent of the employer’s workforce. More than half of the U.S.-based workforces of many offshore firms are foreign workers holding temporary visas.

“These companies are using this visa program to undercut the American worker and undercut American companies hiring American workers,” said Ron Hira, an outsourcing expert at the Rochester Institute of Technology and the son of Indian immigrants, according to the Financial Times.

Those vying for H-1B visas use them in two main ways, according to the source. Companies need to staff jobs that must be done in the U.S. –  such as IT support for the financial services industry – and bring in workers to learn skills before rotating them back to India, where they train others.

Hira told Computerworld that the Senate’s rule enforcement won’t completely stop outsourcing, but it will help change the hiring process for some companies and bring foreign workers into larger U.S. firms.

“The upshot is that it will force some changes in the outsourcers, but it won’t eliminate the H-1B as the outsourcing visa, just blunt it some,” said Hira. How much will depend on the wage requirements, which remain vague, he noted.

Another way to bring transparency to the system is through the Senate’s requirement that the U.S. must establish a searchable website for posting H-1B positions. This would require employers to post their job openings on the U.S. Department of Labor’s website at least 30 days before hiring an H-1B applicant to fill the position.