The grim truth about the H-1B program is starting to ooze out into the mainstream media.
A story on the front page of today's New York Times carried this all-too-accurate headline on its web version:
In it, Julia Preston, a normally pro-migration reporter, writes:
[A]bout 250 Disney employees [in Orlando, Fla.] were told in late October that they would be laid off. Many of their jobs were transferred to immigrants on temporary visas for highly skilled workers, who were brought in by an outsourcing firm based in India.
Ms. Preston may be unconsciously right in the use of the term "immigrant" when the correct, formal term for temporary-visa holders is "nonimmigrant", because so many aliens in the H-1B program in reality stay for the rest of their lives.
The story went on to describe the painful business of the resident workers being forced to train their replacements; it they did not do so, it would threaten their layoff packages. Her account continued:
The layoffs at Disney and other companies, including the Southern California Edison power utility, are raising new question about how businesses and outsourcing firms are using the temporary visas, known as H-1B, to place immigrants in technology jobs in the U.S.
Meanwhile, a few days ago the Wall Street Journal ran an article confirming something about the H-1B program that I have suspected all along: Some H-1B employers file for more workers than they needed to outmaneuver the fact that more applications were filed, generally, than there were visas available.
The WSJ story noted that USCIS did nothing to stop the practice (which gives an inflated impression of the "need" for such workers), but missed one key element of the government's handling of the program. And that is, as I mentioned in an April posting, if a corporation files for more H-1B workers than allocated to it, it gets its fairly substantial fee refunded for any denied petitions. (In contrast, a candidate for naturalization who fails his or her test usually forfeits the fee — so there is one DHS rule for fat cat corporations and a different one for presumably low-income aliens.)
The article also stated that some H-1B candidates play the same game. They seek more than one H-1B job in the run-up to the April 1 filing in hopes that one of their would-be employers will get a visa allocation. (It's like a high school senior applying to more than one college.) If the alien gets two or more jobs in this manner then he can choose among the offers; for one brief moment that alien is operating in a free labor market, but once he (they are mostly male) signs up as an H-1B then he is, in fact, indentured for years to come.
May there be more reporting along these lines!