Friday, March 31, 2006

More H-1b abuses - DOL approves 16,705 H-1b visas for less than $30k/year

I recently finished importing 2005 H-1b data into a database detailing the Labor Condition Application filed at the Department of Labor as required for a company to sponsor H-1b visa holders. Just to give you a primer if you haven't followed this blog, the H-1b visa is intended for "highly skilled" workers and requires that companies pay prevailing wages.

Unfortunately the DOL is merely rubber-stamping LCA applications - not verifying that the immigrants are paid prevailing wages or that they are in fact "highly skilled". In fact, the data that they collect makes it impossible to verify even if they wanted to. They don't collect specific occupation code or the experience level of applicants - both critical information when determining if prevailing wages are being paid. Unfortunately we can't blame the DOL because the law was written so that it prevents them from scritinizing applications.

To give you an example of abuses - 16,705 temporary foreign workers were approved in FY 2005 for salaries less than $30,000/yr by the Department of Labor in their LCA certification process. These workers are all deemed eligible for an H-1b visa - the visa intended to fill a "shortage" of skilled workers.

Each of these 16,705 temporary foreign workers were approved at salaries less than $30,000 per year or $15 per hour in 2005

(Funny / just sad) - LCAs Approved by the Department of Labor
Kim Chi Factory Worker
Lead African Elephan Keeper
Farm Manager of Llamas

(Not so funny) - ALL APPROVED for < $30k/yr
Title / Number Approved
Programmer Analyst - 2392
Engineer - 857
Computer Programmer Analyst - 1202
Computer Programmer - 67
Medical Technologists - 67
Network Engineer - 4
Network Administrator - 5
Programmer / Analyst - 93
Programmer Analyst / Quality Assurance Analyst - 40
Programmer - 19
Software Engineers - 102
Systems Analyst - 116
Database Administrator - 10
Electrical Engineer - 8

If you are in the IT field and have an H-1b visa this should concern you - abuse jeapordizes the program. If you are an American IT worker, this should also concern you. Abuse drives your salaries down and reduces opportunities for American workers.

This data is readily available by querying publicly available LCA data here:

If you import the data into a table, you can query it using this SQL statement and you will get many more results than shown in this blog - all paying less than $30,000 per year or $15 per hour:

select job_title, sum(nbr_immigrants)
from lca
where (wage_rate_1 < rate_per_1 =" 'Year')
or (wage_rate_1 < rate_per_1 =" 'Hour')
and approval_status = 'Certified'
Group by job_title;

  • Ask Congress to protect immigrants and American workers from companies who abuse the H-1b visa program.
  • Ask Congress to enforce the law and to stop the DOL from rubber-stamping Labor Condition Applications (LCAs).


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