Origins of H-1B Visa Abuse



Legal Immigrants for America is conducting an ongoing study of widespread H-1B and other employment-based visa abuses by employers in the American workplace.  Today I’m writing to expose the origin and abuse of the most widely abused visa, the H-1B.

On Nov. 29, 1990 President George H.W. Bush signed the Immigration Act of 1990 section 101 (a) (15) (H) that allows U.S. employers to employ foreign workers in “specialty occupations.” This designation applies to foreign nationals who must have Bachelor’s or higher degree (or – loophole alert – its “equivalent”).   In addition, the visa candidate must have demonstrably special or unique skills in the relevant field of employment.

That sounds good, and it sounded good to President Bush when he signed the 1990 legislation.  After all, importing legions of foreign workers would fill the employment gaps in America’s growing need for people with advanced training and technical skills in the burgeoning information age.

Two things were inadvertently overlooked.  The first was that despite the fact that countries such as India have English-speaking education systems, their standards of education are not as demanding as ours.  A student could earn an IT Bachelor’s degree in Hyderabad in as little as a year, and who’s to ascertain the quality of that degree?

The more nefarious truth is that unscrupulous, greedy corporations, universities, hospitals, and IT giants in Silicon Valley, who feel no loyalty for the United States or its citizens, and who are the beneficiaries of this law, have shown they cannot be trusted to operate in the spirit that the employment-based visa program was intended.

Here’s how the corruption of this high-minded system takes place.

The employers and their agents – intermediaries such as Infosys Limited – import workers from abroad.  The agent contracts with an onshore employer, who pays significantly lower wages through the agent to the H-1B worker.  The ultimate employer, for example The Walt Disney Company, then requires its existing employees to train their own replacements.  Failure to comply results in the American employees losing their severance pay.

This sounds like overt discrimination.  Surely it is the basis for a lawsuit.

Yes, it is, and it was. And several lawsuits have been brought against companies such as Disney and Google, which recently agreed to a settlement without admitting guilt in a class action suit brought by former employees claiming age discrimination.  Sadly, the plaintiffs in the Disney suit lost because Disney was not held responsible.  The guilty party was the intermediary agent who hired the workers and contracted to provide them to Disney.  The workers were left out in the cold!

Far from improving the lives of Americans, these visas have caused great harm to our country in the loss of citizen’s wages and taxes. The lost wages by American IT workers who lost their jobs in 2018 due to the H-1B program is estimated to be in excess of 9.8 billion dollars.

They can also be said to erode our knowledge base of Americans with technical training and skills.  The suppression of wages in these fields is a disincentive to our young people looking forward to a secure, well-paid career.

This situation developed over time.  Job candidates’ visa applications are either presented to USCIS by a petitioning employer or, most often, by the prospective employer’s agent.  These individuals are represented by their prospective employer as having unique knowledge in a specialized field.  The duration of stay on an H-1B visa is three years extendable to six years; with the exception of visa holders in the field of academics.  All others need to reapply after six years.

The stated purpose of the Immigration Act was to change the level and preference system for admission of immigrants to the USA and to provide for administrative naturalization.  The law raised annual limits on immigration to the USA, revised visa category limits to increase skilled labor immigration, and expand and revise the grounds for removal and inadmissibility.

The Immigration Act of 1990 also created the infamous “Diversity visa” also known as the “Lottery Visa” under which numerous terrorists have entered the United States.  The law also established four new categories of nonimmigrant visas: The H2A, H2B, H4B and The Temporary Protected Status (TPS).

The battle to amplify the abuses of this law is now in Congress.  Senate Bill S.368, “The Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2019,” will remove the country caps on foreign workers in the U.S.  It may come to the floor as soon as this month.

Write, call, or email your Senators to oppose Senate Bill S.368.  It would exacerbate the employment crisis among technical, scientific, and academic Americans, damage our economy, and potentially undermine national security.



Amapola Hansberger


Legal Immigrant for America