David North's blog

Once Again, Somebody Other Than the Feds Goes After Infosys Hiring Practices

By David North, June 26, 2017

For the second time in a week, Infosys, the biggest user of the H-1B program and a huge Indian outsourcing company, has been zapped for its hiring practices by someone other than the federal government.

The first charge was filed by a former employee of the firm, saying that it grossly discriminates against all non-Indian job applicants. Read more...

SEC Files Another Suit Against Another EB-5 Attorney for Misuse of Funds

By David North, June 25, 2017

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has filed yet another suit against yet another EB-5 lawyer, contending that the Chicago lawyer in the case, Seyed Taher Kameli, "improperly commingled and otherwise improperly used portions of the $88.7 million investment ... and has spent a significant portion of the investment proceeds for his own benefit."

Usually these cases involve Chinese investors whose bids for a green card are endangered by the fraud. Usually they involve big city real estate deals, and usually they involve the SEC as the assertive cop on the beat. This case was no different, but it did have a slightly different tilt: Some of the investors were Iranians. Read more...

It Looks Like Visa Mill History Is About to Repeat Itself in Northern Virginia

By David North, June 23, 2017

Once again it looks like a highly questionable educational institution in Northern Virginia is about to be closed down — it is said to provide lots of nonimmigrant visas and not much education — and the closing will not be forced by the federal agency that is supposed to handle such things, the Department of Homeland Security. Read more...

Big H-1B Employer Infosys Sued Again for Racial Discrimination

By David North, June 23, 2017

Infosys, one of the largest Indian outsourcing companies, has been sued, yet again, for discrimination against non-Indian workers, as the Dallas Morning News reported recently.

The firm, which sought more H-1B workers than any other company in the United States in 2016 — 33,289, according to the Myvisajobs website — was hauled into court by Erin Green, a non-Indian U.S. citizen and a former supervisor at the firm. In his filing, he pointed out that while "less than 5 percent of the U. S. population is of the South Asian race and national origin, roughly 93 percent to 94 percent of Infosys's United States workforce "is of the South Asian national origin, (primarily Indian)." Read more...

Outsourcers Help Tech Firms Keep Up Appearance of High H-1B Salaries

By David North, June 15, 2017

When a baseball player sees a teammate hit a bases-loaded, game-winning home run he experiences two emotions — elation for the team, and a whiff of jealousy that he did not get those four RBIs and all that applause.

Well, South Carolina lawyer Geoffrey Rhodes, someone I had never heard of, has just pulled off a similar feat in the H-1B field, and I am frankly envious.

Using an interesting research method, he has just demolished the fantasy of high H-1B salaries paid by the big players in the IT world. He discovered that Cisco, PayPal, Microsoft, and E-Bay, for example, follow a (misleading) double track as they use the H-1B system. Read more...

EB-5 Notes: The Kushners' Debt and an Unrelated $100 Million Headline

By David North, June 8, 2017

Thanks to the acts of the president, his son-in-law, and the latter's sister, many more people in America now know about the EB-5 program than did six months ago. (This is the immigrant investor program in which an alien family gets, ultimately, a set of green cards for a $500,000 investment)

There are newspaper reports that Jared Kushner wants to get rid of the family's EB-5 debt in Jersey City, N.J., for the half-occupied Trump Plaza complex there. Part of the debt is $50 million put up by 100 Chinese families who presumably have their green cards by now. Read more...

Accounting Firms Want to Join a Subsidy Program for Cheap Foreign Workers

By David North, June 7, 2017

It's a typically incomplete (or maybe biased) story about an industry wanting to hire, at virtually hidden cut-rates, skilled foreign workers when there is a surplus of American workers.

This time it is the accounting industry making the usual argument that they need more workers than they can find in the United States, and all they want is an ever-so-slight change in the rules to give them these workers at a discount of 7.65 percent from what they would have to pay U.S. workers. (Of course, they never mention the subsidy.)

The program at risk is Optional Practical Training (OPT), an administrative creation of the Bush II and Obama administrations, which gives recent foreign alumni up to three years of legal work in the United States while still here on their student visas. (Congress did not create the program.) Read more...

Labor Dept. Vows to "Aggressively Confront Visa Program Fraud"

By David North, June 6, 2017

The U.S. Department of Labor has issued a press release promising to fight fraud in the foreign worker programs that it helps to administer.

These are the H programs for H-1B (skilled workers), H-2A (farm workers), and H-2B (non-farm, non-skilled workers).

"We will enforce vigorously those laws, including heightened use of criminal referrals," said new Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta in the press release. Read more...

Thousands of Troubled Former Teens Are Using Up Scarce EB-4 Visas

By David North, June 6, 2017

There is an exploding number of young people getting green cards because they have a particular attribute — they are, in the words of the Department of Homeland Security, "juvenile court dependents". That is how they are described in the Yearbook of Immigration Statistics (Table 7).

These aliens do not get anything as minimal as the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) benefits; they obtain full permanent resident alien status; complete with instant legal Social Security numbers, and three to five years later, the opportunity to become naturalized citizens. It also gives them the opportunity to start filing DHS petitions on behalf of their relatives — the term is chain migration. Read more...

How About E-Verifying Tax Refund Recipients?

By David North, June 5, 2017

The Trump administration is said to be thinking about illegal aliens and Social Security.

Let's hope the focus of the new people is not on Social Security beneficiaries, as benefits are not supposed to be paid to those without legal status, anyway. This part of the system may not be enforced with zest, but the rules are in place. Clearly such systems could, and should, be tightened.

The focus on Social Security and illegal aliens, however, should be on seeing to it that the massive amount of information on the illegals held by the SSA — now rarely shared with other agencies — should be routinely dispatched to other federal outfits that can, and should, do something about it. Read more...

How a Good Little Migration Policy Idea Got Twisted in the Budget Process

By David North, June 2, 2017

Deep down inside this article there is a significant piece of good news, but its birth story is like that of a baby chick having to fight its way out of a particularly thick eggshell.

Let's tell the story in reverse chronological order, because that is the way I encountered it.

In the New York Times corrections section, now buried deep in the first section on p. A21 (scroll down this page for the web version), on Wednesday, May 24 we learned: Read more...

A First Small Step Toward Fixing H-1B
USCIS Does the Right Thing on Dubious Colleges, and Does It with Finesse

By David North, June 1, 2017
USCIS Does the Right Thing on Dubious Colleges, and Does It with Finesse

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has done the right thing, substantively, regarding the dubious colleges that still haunt our immigration system, and it did so with what might be called bureaucratic elegance — and I mean that as a compliment.

As usual, in Washington, the move is complicated and the thrust of the decision may well get lost as it seems, at first glance, to be specialized, narrow, and lacking in drama. There is no wall, no billions of dollars, no mass deportations. All of that is true, but to a policy wonk like me, the USCIS decision is a thing of beauty. Read more...

Overstays Study Suggests Need to Overhaul the Foreign Student Program

By David North, May 25, 2017

Foreign students are more than twice as likely to overstay their visas as nonimmigrants coming to the United States generally.

That's an obvious but unremarked take-away from the "Fiscal Year 2016 Entry/Exit Overstay Report" just issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Using a statistical ratio based on the report, one out of 36 entrants with F, J, or M visas do not go home when their visas expire. Read more...

Another Group of Exploited Alien Workers Is Heard From – the Au Pairs

By David North, May 19, 2017

It's bad enough when foreign workers are exploited in bunches, as they are through farmworker visas and (at a higher wage level) the H-1B program, but think of the exploitation possibilities when a one young person from another country is working as the lone servant in an American household.

She has little contact outside the family that employs her and generally knows little about our (not very strong) worker protection laws, but does know that if she upsets the family, she will be put on the first plane back to the homeland.

Welcome to the State Department's au pair program! Read more...

Here's a Switch: The Dangers Migrants Face Leaving the U.S. for Canada

By David North, May 11, 2017

We have heard for years about aliens seeking to illegally enter the United States from the south dying in the heat of the desert along the southern border.

This past winter we began to hear about the exact opposite — aliens with dubious or no credentials fleeing from the United States to Canada, and risking freezing to death in the process. Read more...

Trump Sibling-in-Law Plays Princeling in China

By David North, May 8, 2017

Nicole Meyer (younger sister of President Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner) may have been obtuse about the American optics in Beijing on Saturday, but she was spot-on with the Chinese culture when she pitched a crowd of rich Chinese about her family's latest EB-5 investment in Jersey City, N.J., right across the Hudson from mid-town Manhattan. Read more...

Open-Borders Advocates Slip EB-5 and H-2B Extensions into Spending Bill

By David North, May 2, 2017

The congressional leadership, aided by the Appropriations Committee, has once again extended the EB-5 program, and a loophole in the H-2B program, by inserting language in the massive interim budget bill. The provisions, due to expire this coming Friday will now remain in place until September 30, the end of the fiscal year.

Republican and Democratic leaders agreed over the weekend to the text of the budget bill, which is expected to be passed shortly. Read more...

Yet Another Multimillion Dollar EB-5 Scandal Comes to Light

By David North, May 1, 2017

Just as the backers of the EB-5 (immigrant investor) program drew a small sigh of relief — the program won a week's additional life from Congress — another multi-million-dollar scandal, this one involving a gold mine in Idaho, came to light.

The main part of the EB-5 program, which allows investors to essentially buy a family-sized set of green cards for $500,000, is set to sunset on Friday, May 5, unless the congressional leadership, yet again, secures another extension of the program. Read more...

Massive Fraud Shown in O-1 (Extraordinary Ability) Nonimmigrant Category

By David North, April 30, 2017

[Revised May 8, 2017, to reflect that the New York case involves O-1 nonimmigrant visas, not EB-1 immigrant visas.]

It is with some chagrin that I return to a discussion of the relatively small "aliens of extraordinary ability" visa category.

A few weeks ago I wrote enthusiastically about Anya (not her real name) as an exemplar of the immigration system working as intended, as it so often does not. Read more...

Bad News & Good News on Immigration

By David North, April 28, 2017

The bad news is that the immigration investor (EB-5) program will have one more week of life before yet another deadline.

The mini extension was carried in the continuing resolution passed by both houses today; it will keep the government funded for another week. Read more...

H-1B: A Lottery You Pay to Enter Only AFTER You Have Won

By David North, April 28, 2017

Is there a lottery, outside of Washington, where you only pay to enter after you know you have won?

I doubt it.

But there is a specialized (and obscure) one in Washington that only the big guys can use, thanks to the Bush II, Obama, and now (to some extent) the Trump administrations.

This is the roll of the dice (a computer-aided lottery system) that allocates H-1B slots to employers in cases in which — as has happened in recent years — there are more applications for these positions than the 85,000 that Congress permits to be granted annually. Read more...

EB-5 Extension Situation Likened to Three-Dimensional Chess

By David North, April 25, 2017

The main part of the EB-5 (immigrant investor) program is due to expire on April 28 and the questions are: Will it be extended unchanged, and/or will either Congress or the executive cause it to be reformed? This is like three-dimensional chess because:

  • The "Four Corners" in D.C. parlance — the Republican chairmen and the ranking Democrats of both the Senate and House Judiciary committees — want it extended, but only if reformed; otherwise they want the program to die;

The Four Dimensions of H-1B Reform

By David North, April 24, 2017

When contemplating the reform of the H-1B program, in order to reduce the damage to resident workers, we usually hear about the wages paid, which is appropriate, but less often is there any discussion of the other three dimensions of the situation. (H-1B workers are nonimmigrants and usually college graduates.)

Clearly, if a large number of H-1Bs are admitted at an average wage of, say, $10,000 or $15,000 a year below the market level, as is the current situation, that depresses that labor market. But there are other obvious dimensions, less often discussed: Read more...

Let's Have Honest Names for Visa Offices — Change IPO to VSO

By David North, April 24, 2017

The Trump administration says it wants to drain the swamp in Washington; one small backwater in that great big marsh is the practice of giving government programs misleading names and initials.

For example, the immigrant investor program (or EB-5) is run by an entity within USCIS called by the initials IPO. Read more...

Bad News: Department of Agriculture Hires Immigration Expert from the Farm Bureau

By David North, April 21, 2017

In another indication of the differing level of commitment to U.S. workers by the Trump administration, it has been announced that a lobbyist for the American Farm Bureau Federation has been hired by the new Secretary of Agriculture to work on immigration and labor matters.

She is Kristi Boswell, and it is highly likely that she will push to get agribusiness the workers it wants, including foreign workers at the minimal wages it wants to pay. That certainly is the posture of the Farm Bureau, the largest of the agricultural lobbying organizations. Read more...

Let's Have More Wall and Less Gold-Plating

By David North, April 20, 2017

After looking at the proposed building specifications for the proposed border wall, I am worried that we may spend too much money per mile, thus reducing its length.

We need more wall, and less gold-plating. Read more...

DHS Court Says to Employer: Four Strikes and You Are NOT Out

By David North, April 19, 2017

The infinite solicitude that some parts of the Department of Homeland Security lavish on exploitative employers of aliens was displayed in a recent adopted (i.e., precedent) decision by its Administrative Appeals Office (AAO), an in-house court.

The employer in question had applied four times to bring in a temporary worker (L-1B) at illegally low wages, promising to pay the alien (in the most recent instance) "43,445 MYR per year. When converted from Malaysian ringgits (MYR) to U.S. dollars, this proffered salary is the equivalent of $13,467.95 per year or $6.47 per hour", according to the decision. This was the sequence of governmental actions in this case: Read more...

Sometimes the Immigration System Fails: The $105K Job Lost to OPT

By David North, April 18, 2017

Here are the facts:

  • The alien worker will have a brand-new MBA from a U.S. university by May.

  • He has already landed a new job in the States that will pay $105,000 a year.

  • The U.S. government is encouraging the alien's employment by giving his employer a subsidy of $8,032 a year for hiring him instead of one of the multitude of citizens with new MBAs.

Employers Are Less Interested in H-1B This Year Than Last

By David North, April 17, 2017

The Department of Homeland Security announced today that there were 199,000 applications for H-1B foreign worker visas, a noticeable drop from the previous year when there were 236,000 applications.

The congressionally set cap each year for these visas is 65,000 for those with bachelor's degrees and 20,000 for those with U.S. master's degrees or PhDs; there is no limit on the issuance of such visas to universities and those entities regarded as related to colleges and universities. So something like 100,000 new H-1B visas, usually good for three years, are issued each year. Read more...

U.S. Attorney, Blessed by Obama AND Trump, Squashes EB-5 Indictments

By David North, April 17, 2017

This is a story about how one wily South Dakota politician managed to be appointed to (and retained in) office by both the Obama and the Trump administrations, all within a period of less than 18 months, while protecting the embattled EB-5 (immigrant investor) program from a series of criminal indictments and nasty headlines.

The direct beneficiaries of all this are a group of local EB-5 middlemen and their far-flung cronies, while the indirect beneficiaries are the big city (Manhattan, Los Angeles, and Dallas) real estate developers who secure most of the profits from the ongoing EB-5 program. The latter's wallets would suffer were the main part of the EB-5 program not to be renewed by Congress before its April 28 sunset. Read more...