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American Engineering Association

 

When a company or placement agency wants to hire an H-1B alien, they must fill out an application called a Labor Condition Application (LCA) and file it with the Department of Labor. If the DOL approves, they officially have the permission to sponsor a foreign worker to temporarily come to the United States and work . The  Labor Condition Applications & Requirements for Employers Using is a huge government guide to the LCA.

 

You may come across LCAs in the Visa Database that have dates like 1900, 1901, etc. Those dates are obviously wrong since H-1B didn't start until 1990. These erroneous dates are still in the DOL database because they didn't correct all of their Y2K problems.

Employers are required by 20 CFR 655.760 Public access; retention of records  to post all LCAs in a public place. Don't expect to find one at work where you can read it. Very few companies post these records where they can be seen. They don't want employees to see this document. Unfortunately the DOL simply doesn't have the manpower to enforce this regulation. You can send a complaint to the DOL if the company won't post the document. The DOL will ask the company to post the LCA if somebody calls up and registers a complaint.  The DOL can impose sanctions if the company doesn't comply.

The posting should have the following information:

Shameful FAQs

What is H-1B?

H-1B is a temporary immigration visa law enacted by congress and is the largest special-purpose employment program. H-1B allows a maximum 115,000 foreign professionals to enter the US each year. Each foreign professional is permitted to stay in the US for up to six years, ostensibly to meet short-term, high-skill employment needs in the domestic labor market. Robert Reich, Secretary of Labor, said  "In principle, this can be an appropriate purpose, consistent with the overall goals of our employment-based immigration policy. Our experience with the practical operation of the H-1B program has raised serious concerns, however, that what was conceived as a means to meet temporary business needs for unique, highly-skilled professionals from abroad is, in fact, being used by some employers to bring in relatively large numbers of foreign workers who may well be displacing U.S. workers and eroding employers' commitment to the domestic workforce."

 

Why are H-1Bs called indentured workers?

The key leverage for the company over the foreign H1B worker is: the H1B worker can not easily change jobs once they are here - hence the employer has unusual leverage and power over the H1B worker, and can pay them less and work them harder than a U.S. Citizen in a similar position. You see, if the H1B worker decides to change jobs, they need another employer to sponsor them for the H1B visa, and the big "carrot" for the H1B worker is the promise of a "green card". If they leave the first employer for another one, the green card process which has been "started" and used as a carrot by the first employer has to start from scratch again....greatly delaying the granting of the green card. This carrot and stick game places the H1B worker in a bad position, making him essentially an indentured servant, docile, submissive and willing to work for less pay. If an H1B worker leaves his company that company may sue him for liquidated damages. These damages are whatever the company says the project will lose when this employee leaves.

It takes about the 9 -12 Months for an employer's request to cancel an H-1B visa to be processed by the INS. An H-1B worker can apply for transfer of H-1B Visa during this time. The INS sends this request to the employer only and the employer must notify the employee and provide transportation costs (Air tickets) to fly back to native country if needed. 

Webster's New World Dictionary defines indenture - a contract binding a person to work for another person for a given length of time, as an apprentice to a master, or an immigrant to a service.

 

Why does the Top 100 only have 6 months of data?

Having the raw data" and having electronic access to it are two different issues. INS is deluged with paper; much of the information collected is never entered into their data system. The data that is entered electronically isn't open for public use. Since responsibility for H-1B immigration applications spans the Departments of Labor, State and Justice--whose data systems aren't even linked--no one agency has the complete picture. You've no doubt heard about the accidental issuance of thousands of extra H-1Bs during the last fiscal year. Keeping a running tally in a system that isn't centralized is difficult. And it doesn't help that the data management contract went to the lowest bidder. 

This table was produced by INS in response to a special request from Congress. The INS didn't disclose why they chose that six month window as their data points. This table gives us a very small peak into the numbers of H-1Bs that are actually being hired and what companies hire the most H-1Bs. INS is not likely to provide more data any time soon. Congress has very little incentive for the American public to learn how the labor market is being subverted.

ShameH1B  got a copy of the Top 100 from the Dept. of Labor. An electronic version wasn't available so it was necessary to scan the pages in and convert it to a table.

 

Where did ShameH1B get the data for the H-1B Visa Database?

When ShameH1B first asked the Department of Labor for this data they at first denied that this information existed and was quite nasty. In 1993 an activist (asked to remain anonymous) got data after invoking the "Freedom of Information Act" to force the DOL to hand over the data. I followed the same procedure to obtain the data you now see. I thank this courageous person for showing me how to obtain the data. I hope you can learn how pernicious the H-1B program is from viewing the type of jobs and salaries that U.S. companies want to give to H-1Bs.

 

What are the LCAs that are in the H-1B Visa Database

Y2K Errors in the LCA Database

How can the LCA process abused?

The DOL (Department of Labor)  has absolutely no way to verify that the take home salary of the H-1B matches what the LCA (Labor Condition Application) states. That is because the DOL hands over the LCA to INS Immigration and Naturalization Service. INS makes an entirely new form called an I-129. The two databases don't talk with each other. That means the DOL doesn't have the capability of using their unique case number to check the status of a particular H-1B visa holder. 

What I'm really saying is that the H-1B could be making more, or much less than what is stated. This salary figure is a "good faith" promise that they will pay that salary. There is no enforcement of the salary because there is no way to verify that the H-1B makes the salary stated on the LCA.

Here is another way that bodyshops can abuse the system. If an LCA says, for example, $50,000, and the bodyshop takes $15,000, the intent of the law is met even though the H-1B makes $35,000. They can say that the H-1B makes $50,000 but agreed to pay $15,000 for headhunting fees. Of course the H-1B probably signed a legal document that made no sense.

One LCA can be used to hire any number of H-1Bs. The employer puts the number of visas on the LCA. Again there is no way for the DOL to know how many H-1B visas are granted once that LCA is handed over to the INS. Conversely, the INS doesn't know how many visas were requested on the LCA because they essentially throw it away once the visa approval process has been started. There is no way to backtrack.

Finally, job titles can be switched at any time. A company could put "engineer" on the LCA, and bring in an H-1B secretary. The DOL will have no way of proving this happened. Of course a high profile abuse such as Reddy Prostitution Case probably got enough investigations going to figure out that Reddy put "programmer" on the LCA but really brought in 10 year old sex slaves. A slightly lesser abuse of the system has very little chance of ever being detected.

I prefer to look at these LCAs as a statement that is used to announce a company's intention to hire H-1Bs and what they expect to pay for a given job title. Our government uses the honor system and has no way to investigate whether anybody a violates their stated intention. A close look at the H-1B Visa Database for companies like Qualcomm is very disturbing because these LCAs represent the best intention (the maximum) that we can expect from American business. The minimum level we have seen so far is sex slavery. The ENFORCEMENT OF H-1B LABOR CONDITION APPLICATIONS describes the DOL enforcement procedure.

 

What is a Public Access File?

   09/17/00