The H-1B Swindle

Ephraim Schwartz, InfoWorld, Oct. 25

It appears there is hard evidence to prove that employers are using the H-1B visa program to hire cheap labor; that is, to pay lower wages than the national average for programming jobs.

According to “The Bottom of the Pay Scale: Wages for H-1B Computer Programmers—F.Y. 2004,” a report by Programmers Guild board member John Miano, non-U.S. citizens working in the United States on an H-1B visa are paid “significantly less than their American counterparts.” How much less? “On average, applications for H-1B workers in computer occupations were for wages $13,000 less than Americans in the same occupation and state.”

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Nonetheless, Miano’s report shows that wages paid to H-1B workers in computer programming occupations had a mean salary of $52,312, while the OES mean was $67,700; a difference of $15,388. The report also lists the OES median salary as $65,003, or $12,691 higher than the H-1B median.

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While it would be difficult to prove that any one particular employer is hiring foreign workers to pay less, the statistics show us that, for whatever reason, this is exactly what is happening on a nationwide basis. Miano says lobbyists will admit that a small number of companies are abusing the H-1B program, but what he has found in this research is that almost everyone is abusing it.

“Abuse is by far more common than legitimate use,” he says.

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