The Programmers Guild, a group representing IT workers, has begun filing what will amount to about 380 legal complaints against U.S. companies advertising that they prefer to hire foreign workers with H-1B visas.
The group has filed about 100 complaints since May and plans to file about 280 more over the next six months, said John Miano, founder of the guild. The complaints, made to the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ), accuse several companies of advertising that they specifically want H-1B workers, a violation of U.S. law.
The U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act requires that U.S. jobs must be available to U.S. workers.
As several large U.S. tech vendors push for an increase in the annual H-1B cap of 65,000, the complaints are intended to show that problems with the program are common, Miano said. U.S. tech vendors frequently use H-1B visas to hire workers for positions they say are hard to fill.
“Abuse of the H-1B program has become so widespread that companies apparently feel free to engage openly” in advertising seeking H-1B workers before U.S. workers, Miano said.
The complaints stem from ads containing wording such as, “We require candidates for H1B from India,” and, “We sponsor GC [green card] and we do prefer H1B holders,” the Programmers Guild said. The Programmers Guild, looking for ads on major online job boards, has so far targeted only ads seeking computer programmers, the guild said.
The Programmers Guild has not yet compiled a list of the companies targeted in the complaints, but most of the companies are what Miano called “body shops,” not big-name technology vendors from the United States. Some of the ads come from recruiters running operations out of apartments, the Programmers Guild said.
The Information Technology Information Council (ITI), a Washington, D.C., trade group representing about 40 large IT vendors, said an increase in the H-1B cap is needed even if some abuses exist. The cap for the 2007 fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1, was reached May 26, but a comprehensive immigration bill that passed the U.S. Senate in May would raise the yearly limit to 115,000.
ITI member companies are not violating hiring laws, said Kara Calvert, ITI’s director of government relations. “It doesn’t help [ITI companies] to try to circumvent the rules,” she said. “If people are breaking the rules, they should pay the price.”
The Programmers Guild plans to continue filing complaints through November, Miano said. The guild is staggering the complaints to allow the DoJ to process them efficiently, he said.
-Grant Gross, IDG News Service (Washington Bureau)
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