Sunday, October 12, 2008

Education, H-1B Fraud, and Taxes

Computerworld (hat tip: Slashdot) reports on a new study that finally sheds light on the problems of H-1B work visas for foreign workers. The report asserts significant problems and fraud.

As I sit here after months of unemployment, this is not news to myself or others in the software industry. Our career throats have been getting slit for the last ten years and nobody, NOBODY gives a care.

But for what its worth this report validates the concern that many of us have been warning of.

First, H-1B workers often have questionable educational credentials whereas American college graduates are routinely denigrated for their quite legitimate achievements. By undercutting the hard work of legitimately qualified American workers, corporations have managed to undermine both public education and the funding of education.

The combination of creating an uneven playing field tilted toward inexpensive foreign labor and the deflation of wages for those who've paid taxes all their lives to provide the business infrastructures and opportunities that exist for business, corporations are imploding the American Dream of the ability of Americans to make a decent living.

Here's a selection from the Computerworld article by Patrick Thibodeau:
An internal report by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) examining the H-1B visa program has found evidence of forged documents and fake degrees, and even "shell" companies giving addresses of fake locations.

The USCIS report, released Wednesday by U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), indicates that serious violations of the H-1B program by employers are so common that one in five visas are affected by either fraud or "technical violations." This means that potentially thousands of employers may be violating the rules, some willfully.

Employers didn't pay prevailing wages in some cases and benched employees when there wasn't work, while some employees worked at jobs that differed from what the application claimed they would be doing.


The report's authors wrote that their confidence in their findings is 95%, and that the results represent a "significant vulnerability."

"USCIS is making procedural changes, which will be described in a forthcoming document," the report concluded.

Ron Hira, an assistant professor of public policy at the Rochester Institute of Technology and co-author of Outsourcing America, said he was stunned by the size of the problem.

"It is clear that oversight, including an auditing function, are desperately needed to clean up the corruption," Hira said. "But we shouldn't forget that the major problems with the H-1B program are caused by massive loopholes that allow firms to legally pay below-market wages and displace and undercut American workers. Those wouldn't show up in this investigation because they are entirely legal and wouldn't be considered fraudulent or a violation."


Citizen Carrie said...

I just discovered your site, and I look forward to reading some more of your blog posts.

I thought you might be interested in this recent article from the NASSCOM blog out of India (with NASSCOM being the official IT trade association in India):

Here's a quote:

"The H-1B visa is not taking away jobs from Americans. Employees in the US IT industry are doing well and in demand and there is little or no unemployment in the sector."

The Caretaker said...

Thanks for the feedback. As a Software professional who has seen his yearly income slashed by half for the past eight years or so I can personally testify to the fact that American workers in the commercial marketplace have been ravaged.

American needs to export the tools of prosperity that other countries can implement. Instead we have created a system that exports our own prosperity and have harmed the country for the sake of the global corporations.

Anyone with a brain can see the results on Wall St.