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EMPLOYMENT LAW 5/22/07

Grassley, Durbin ask for details on companies use of H-1B visas

Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Richard Durbin (D-Ill) have asked the top nine foreign based companies in 2006 that used nearly 20,000 of the available H-1B visas to disclose further details about their workforce and their use of the special visa program.

"More and more it appears that companies are using H-1B visas to displace qualified, American workers," Grassley said. "Now, as we move closer to debate on an immigration bill, I continue to hear how people want to increase the number of H-1B visas that are available to companies. Considering the high amount of fraud and abuse in the visa program, we need to take a good, hard look at the employers who are using H-1B visas and how they are using them."

"Supporters claim the goal of the H-1B program is to help the American economy by allowing companies to hire needed foreign workers. The reality is that too many H-1B visas are being used to facilitate the outsourcing of American jobs to other countries," Durbin said. "We have to look at the system that generates these visas and the way they are used. This legislation will help protect American workers first by stopping H-1Bs from being exploited and used as outsourcing visas."

The letters are part of an effort to determine if the H-1B program is being used for its intended purpose which is to fill a worker shortage for a temporary time period. Durbin expects the companies to cooperate and answer his questions to ensure that accurate information is being used as Congress begins debate on new immigration policy.

Grassley and Durbin recently introduced "The H-1B and L-1 Visa Fraud and Abuse Prevention Act of 2007," which would overhaul the H-1B and L-1 visa programs to give priority to American workers and crack down on unscrupulous employers who deprive qualified Americans of high-skill jobs. The H-1B visa program allows American companies and universities to employ temporary foreign workers who have the equivalent of a US bachelor's degree in a job category that is considered by the Department of Homeland Security's US Citizenship & Immigration Services to be a "specialty occupation." The L-1 visa program allows companies to transfer certain employees from their foreign facilities to their US facilities for up to seven years.

A copy of each letter, which was sent to: (1) Infosys Technologies Limited; (2) Wipro Limited; (3) Tata Consultancy Services Limited; (4) Satyam Computer Services Limited; (5) Patni Computer Systems; (6) Larsen & Toubro Infotech Limited; (7) I-Flex Solutions, Inc; (8) Tech Mahindra Americas, Inc and (9) Mphasis Corporation, can be found at: http://grassley.senate.gov/releases/2007/05142007.pdf.

For more information on this and other topics, consult CCH Employment Practices Guide or CCH Labor Relations.

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