H1-B Abuses

By Deane Barker on February 16, 2009

Feds (finally) cracking down on H-1B abuses: The H-1B Visa program is regularly abused in exactly this way.

Long-time readers will remember me getting into trouble with a local Sioux Falls company for making fun of a job posting that even God himself would have a tough time qualifying for, all so they could claim “no qualified workers” and bring someone in from overseas, only to hold their passport essentially for ransom.

The most common abuse scenario goes something like this: a company looking to hire a low- or mid-level programmer posts a job advertisement containing some patently ridiculous set of qualifications, like 20 years of Java programming experience (Java hasn’t even been around that long) and a Ph.D. in computer science. Upon getting no responses, the company applies to the federal government to fill the position with an H-1B worker on the grounds that it can’t find any qualified Americans. Having hired the H-1B worker, the company may pay him less than the advertised wage, or it may offer him no benefits, or his working conditions may be poor, or some combination of these and other factors, yet the immigrant worker sticks it out for a set number of years in hopes of getting a green card.

I used to work in a multi-tenant building that had an office tenant who ran one of these outfits. There was a common “breakroom” in the building that held the coffee machine, and that perhaps 10 people a day would enter to get a cup of coffee and leave.

The guy put up a bulletin board in this breakroom, and would post jobs there all the time. This would satisfy the requirement to “publicly advertise” the position. He rotated a bunch of jobs on and off this board, only putting them up long enough so he could say that he posted them for 90 days, but couldn’t find anyone.

I was amazed that Ruth, the 60-year-old receptionist of the accountant down the hall, couldn’t fill the DBA/Flash Developer/C++ Programmer/Project Manager/House Painter position.



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