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Well-Intended Visa Program is Abused by American and Indian Companies

October 11, 2015
Plain English Version

h-1B visa

It is wonderful to live in a free market economy. Or is it? Smart companies know how to take advantage of the rules.

Take the H-1B visa program. Companies apply for them. They use the visas to bring foreigners to the U.S. The workers must have special skills. Companies certify that they cannot find Americans to fill the jobs.

Sounds like a good idea. Like many good ideas, it can be turned into a way to make more money for quick-thinking companies. In this case the companies are in America and India.

The program was not intended to replace American workers. Well, that is now happening. Take the Toys ‘R’ Us company. They are bringing workers to the U.S. from a company in India under H-1B.. The workers are learning to do jobs held by Toy ‘R’ Us accountants.

One Toys ‘R’ Us accountant told this story.

A young woman from India sat with the accountant in her office at Toys ‘R’ Us. The young woman studied and recorded the accountant’s every keystroke. She took screen shots of the accountant’s computer. She took detailed notes on how the accountant issued payments for toys sold in the company’s stores.

“She just pulled up a chair in front of my computer. She shadowed me everywhere, even to the ladies’ room.”

When the Indian worker has learned the job she takes the information back to India. The American accountant is fired. The job goes to a lower-paid worker in a company in India.

Of course, the companies do not admit this is happening. They say they are following the rules. They say they are becoming more efficient. They say this will help them grow their business and be able to hire new American workers.

What is wrong with this picture? The H-1B visa program was meant for one purpose. It is being used for another. The law may or may not be broken. It will take years to figure it out.

Source: The New York Times September 30, 2015

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