The U. S. Department of Labor (DoL), where I used to work, turns out to be part minor hero and part major villain in its recent dealings with the H-1B (nonimmigrant worker) program.
Starting with the good news, there is a more or less isolated instance of DoL enforcing the immigration law, albeit on a small scale, in Texas. An Indian-controlled bodyshop (i.e., labor broker) was forced to pay one year’s wages to one of its former “employees”.
The word is in quotes because the entity, VoiceXnet Technologies LLC, of Plano, Texas, filed papers seeking his admission as an H-1B worker and he was granted a visa. After he was admitted, he was unemployed for over a year, and, crucially, the employer did not report this and did not seek to cancel the visa, as required by regulations.
So the employer was forced by the department to pay that worker (presumably from India, as the firm’s two H-1B contact people in the files have Indian names) a back salary of $85,405.
Both the DoL press release and the coverage in India’s Economic Times are silent on a key issue in such cases: Did the employer accidentally overstate the potential employability of the worker, or did it sell the visa to an alien who used it to enter the country illegally?
The DoL press office in Dallas would not say and may not know.
I regard the DoL as only a minor hero because its press release showed no other penalties inflicted on the employer — the firm is still allowed to hire more H-1Bs and there is no indication of criminal prosecution. The firm, in short, was not placed on DoL’s H-1B debarred list.
Since there was no media coverage this side of New Delhi, VoiceXnet did not suffer a Stateside public relations loss, either.
Turning to a broader issue, recent data published by myvisajobs.com shows a persistent and alarming drop in the percentage of labor condition applications (LCAs) that have been denied, the first step in the H-1B placement process. The percentage of denials, already meager in 2013, fell steadily from 2.75 percent that year to 0.51 percent in 2021. In what populations of 200 is there only one bad person?
DOL Denial Rates Fall Steadily in
|Fiscal Year||Labor Condition
Source: Data derived from Department of Labor records as
published by myvisajobs.com.
* This is either a typo in the original or a statistical coincidence.
Older readers may remember when Ivory Soap was advertised as “99.44 percent pure”, a bit of Madison Avenue hyperbole. DoL ruled in 2021 that the H-1B employers were 99.49 percent pure, almost achieving Ivory Soap status.