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Tech majors: Infosys best in getting Green Cards
By Ria Sharma

The US Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO (DPE), is the umbrella organization for 24 unions and has a membership of 4 million white collar workers. While union membership in USA has fallen in recent years, AFL-CIO (DPE) has seen a 21 percent increase among the professional and related occupations.

Every year, the American Government allocates 65,000 H1B Visas to import on a short term basis highly skilled workers not available in USA. Another 20,000 such Visas are reserved for foreign students who have done higher degrees in USA. The largest chunk of these Visas is used by Indian tech companies.

AFL-CIO has just released a report 'Gaming the system' which has some interesting details about how the H1B Working Visas are allocated and used.  In FY 2008, Infosys was given 4,559 Visas, Wipro 2,678, Satyam 1,917 and TCS 1,539 H-1B Visas.

The report alleges "many firms that request H-1 B visas for workers in the STEM fields do not or rarely sponsor guest workers for green cards, which illustrates a lack of commitment to and investment in their guest worker workforce. Instead, the H-1 B and L-1 labor pool is used to decrease employer labor costs with little to no concern for the impact on workers." (Chart at top of article illustrates this point).  Among all the Indian tech majors, Infosys did the most to get green cards for their techies.

Another chapter in the report ‘Fraud in the H-1B system’ details the following

The H-1 B visa program is rife with fraud. A 2008 study conducted by the USCIS found that 1 3% of H-1 B petitions filed by employers were fraudulent and another 7% had some form of violation. 69 According to another report drafted by USCIS' Office of Fraud Detection and National Security, an estimated 21% of H-1B visa petitions are in violation of H-1B regulations. These violations include: businesses which do not pay the prevailing wage, non-existent job locations, fraudulent and forged documents, and applications filed by nonexisting businesses. 70 This study, drafted by USCIS to inform Congress of violations within the program, has no direct ability to change policy. The key findings of this study are:

- Out of the 256 sample cases studied, the government office found that 51 cases (21%) violated H-1 B regulations. I f applied to the overall H-1 B population, the office estimates that over 20,000 visa petitions may be fraudulent or have technical violations. Of these estimated cases, 13,000 would represent cases of fraud, while approximately 7,000 would represent cases of lesser technical violations.

- In 27% of cases showing a violation, the employer was not paying the visa beneficiary the prevailing wage according to H-1 B regulations. In some cases, the employer recouped losses from the visa fees by deducting them from visa worker salaries.

- In 20% of cases showing a violation, the government found fake degrees, forged signatures and documents, and documents that misrepresent the eligibility of the visa worker.

- In 14% of cases showing violations, the business filing for H-1 B petitions did not exist, could not support the number of employees it claimed, or the employer did not intend to fill a job with a visa worker.

- In 51 sample cases where violations were present, the government office conducted site visits and found that in 55% of the cases the visa recipient was no longer working or had never worked at the site identified in the visa application.

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