The H-1B program was bombarded with applications on April 1, 2015 and that’s not a joke. On April 7, the USCIS announced the application cap had been reached, with approximately 233,000 applications for 85,000 slots. To determine which employers get H-1Bs they will hold a lottery.
Realistically who cares? Foreign companies will just continue to fill their needs with B-1 visas and exploit this program and American jobs will continue to be lost. Here’s who cares: displaced American workers, Sens. Grassley (R-Iowa) and Sessions (R-Ala.), and me.
Let me tell you who doesn’t care if they cap H-1Bs or not. Paradoxically it’s the outsourcing companies such as Tata, Wipro, Infosys, Cognizant, HCL, the biggest users of the H-1B program.
Why don't they care? Very simple: B-1 visas! What is a B-1? It’s a visitor visa that is being exploited by companies to bring over cheap labor. There is no visa cap for B-1s and the employee owns the visa not the company. It’s a 10-year multi-entry visa with the average cost of $500 and not $5000. The wait time is a week or weeks, and not months. Lastly, B-1 visas are untraceable and employers are not required to pay a prevailing wage. Therefore, the workers are paid in their country of residence which means no taxes paid in the United States.
According to USCIS, “The B-1 visa is intended only for business activities that are a “necessary incident” to your business abroad. This covers a wide range of activities such as attending meetings, consulting with associates, engaging in negotiations, taking orders for goods produced and located outside the United States, attending conferences, and researching options for opening a business in the United States (such as locating or entering into a lease for office space). Generally speaking, you cannot engage in any activity or perform a service that would constitute local employment for hire within the United States. What constitutes local employment for hire will depend on the circumstances of each case, but generally speaking, any activity you perform in the United States must be directly connected with and part of your work abroad. “
The illegal scheme is simple and clever. You are working on a project, let’s say Aetna or better yet the state of California’s Medicaid/Medicare program. Yes we have H-1Bs and B-1s working on State and Federal contracts. So you need more people and you will not hire Americans, especially the ones you have displaced. The process to bring over a legitimate H-1B takes too long. Therefore the alternative is the B-1 visa. Immediately you send a worker over who has a 10-year multi-entry B-1 or you have someone apply for the B-1. All this for a low price of a few hundred dollars. Result is that in about two weeks they are onsite working. However. the real price is an American job. Also the welcome letter that must accompany the B-1 application states they are coming over for a “meeting” (wink wink). No one can know differently because the coder has been instructed to say that if asked.
The company grosses about $4000 a week and the worker makes about $120 a week. Most staff at this level make $5-$7 thousand per year or $3 an hour. No taxes, no high salaries and “boom” your profits skyrocket. Multiply this times thousands of workers and the result is billions in the bank and no debt. Yet no one knows, maybe not even your customer. Does your customer know about the Dodd-Frank Act? I will get back to that.
The reality is the B-1 visa program is being exploited to bring over workers and further displace Americans while defrauding the IRS, SEC, and you. There are no prevailing wage laws for the B-1, because it is a visitor visa and the people brought over are not supposed to be working. This basically is organized human trafficking or “indentured servants.” Most don’t want to be here on illegal visas. So, that’s what they told me.
The living conditions of the workers are horrific. Many times six to eight people are living in a hotel room or one-bed apartment. I know this because I managed them while at Infosys and was asked to change contracts in order to cover up the violations.
Boston lawyers will argue over the definition of work; after all that’s what they told Infosys and other clients. There is no argument that workers are coming over and the company is being paid. There is no argument this fraud is being used by many companies and is virtually undetectable.
Back to Dodd Frank Act. According to federal agents, one way to combat this is for agents to go onsite to the customers and check visas; which they are trying to do. In accordance with the Dodd Frank Act the customer is also guilty. Customers, you have been warned. Federal agents now believe the best way to deter the illegal activities of outsourcing companies is to go after customers.
An ICE special agent explained: “ICE aggressively targets employers who egregiously violate immigration laws. He warned that “[b]usinesses that use illegal alien workers to gain an economic advantage over their competition must understand that they will be held accountable for those unlawful practices.”
If you don’t believe me just ask Infosys. Hopefully, soon you can ask their customers who will experience a site visit from federal investigators. Anybody who doubts my word should keep in mind that Infosys had to pay a $34 million settlement for visa violations. Then ask their customers who had to experience subpoenas.
However I am just a “stupid American” or at least that’s what Infosys and others have called me.
Palmer is a whistleblower and former Infosys employee. He received a small amount of the 2013 visa violation settlement. He has filed an OSHA, Sarbanes, Oxley, and Dodd Frank complaint and testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in March 2015.