Roundup of Developments in Nonimmigrant Worker Programs

By David North, July 1, 2011

There have been a series of interesting developments in the usually ignored nonimmigrant worker programs which continue to flood America’s already over-staffed labor markets:

  • Our embassy in India is giving some major H-1B operators fits;
  • An Asian financial organization has downgraded the economic prospects of some big users of the H-1B visa program;
  • An H-1B school teacher in California, denied renewal of her visa, has taken her employers to court;
  • The J-1 program has received some (well-deserved) negative press.

The Embassy: It is not exactly clear what the embassy did to the big firms and their desires for visas, as no one is talking to the press, but the Hindu Business Line has reported that:

“A communication between Senator Grassley (R IA) and the US Department of Labor stated that five large employers (in India) were suspended from the business executive programme due to ‘fraud discovered in visa applications filed by purported employees’.”

". . .while Tata Consultancy Services and IBM were reinstated after being suspended last year, sources point out that Cognizant Technology Solutions and HCL Technology are yet to be re-instated.

"The Minister counsellor for consular affairs Mr. James Herman, was recently quoted as saying in the Indian media that there has been a rise in the number of cases in which Indian and American companies with offices in India have been trying to circumvent H-1B visa restrictions by sending people from India to the U.S. on Blanket L visas to work that doesn’t qualify under the Blanket L visa category.”

The Downgrade of India’s IT Sector: CLSA, a Hong-Kong-based brokerage and economic research firm (think Standard and Poor’s), has downgraded the financial outlook for the entire Indian Information Technology sector in a recent report. Among the firms that they predicted would “underperform” were Tata, Infosys, Wipro, and HCL Tech; all are major H-1B users.

Among the challenges for the sector, according to CLSA was this: “Newsflow on the visa front continues to be negative across countries with rejection rates in the US currently running at almost 40% up from 5%, 18 months back.”

Maybe our government is doing something right, but is not telling us about it!

The H-1B Teacher Goes to Court: Meanwhile, back in the States, a number of school systems that had formerly been employers of H-1B teachers are starting to have second thoughts (more on the use of H-1Bs in the K-12 systems).

The school system in Oakland, CA, has decided not to hire any more new H-1Bs, and not to renew the visas of the current ones, as their visas expire. One longtime teacher, Evelyn Francisco (a citizen of the Philippines) who had tenure in the system, has gone into state court in an effort to make the school system extend her visa, which it said it was not about to do.

I worry about the level of immigration sophistication of the school officials. According to the article in the San Francisco Chronicle: “They say in court documents that if she can obtain a work visa on her own, the district will continue to employ her.”

That is either a totally cynical argument—no alien worker can secure a work visa without an employer’s request—or a hopelessly ignorant one. Ms. Francisco’s lawyers will have a field day with that one.

J-1 Program Gets Negative Press Attention: The Exchange Visitor (J-1) Program is the State Department’s own little nonimmigrant worker program, and it operates with no regard to its negative impact on American workers.

Over the years there has been very little media scrutiny of the program, but recently there has been a long, detailed Associated Press article, as well as a devastating one in the Denver Post headed “Visa program encourages seasonal hiring of foreign youth while U.S. youths go jobless.”

As I had written earlier, about 100,000 summer jobs have been lost to residents of the U.S. because of one of the J-1 programs.