Programmers Guild Pushes for H-1B Transparency

Deborah Rothberg, Eweek.com, July 21, 2006

A request for the public release of data containing the names of the companies requesting H-1B temporary workers and the positions they are being hired for was filed in a public letter to the Department of Labor July 18 by the Programmers Guild, an IT advocacy group.

In the open letter to William Carlson, chief of the Division of Foreign Labor Certification, Programmers Guild President Kim Berry requested on behalf of the “displaced, unemployed, and underemployed U.S. tech workers” that the FY 2007 LCA (Labor Conditions Applications) database be made publicly viewable, so that U.S. tech workers can apply for these positions while they are still open.

The next batch of H-1B workers whose temporary visas have been approved will arrive on October 1.

Berry reminded Carlson in the letter that “although LCAs are public records, U.S. workers do not have access to these records,” and likened the records’ lack of public availability to “choosing to reserve 65,000 U.S. jobs exclusively for foreign workers.”

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“Declining to release this public data now appears to violate the fundamental purpose of your division—to protect U.S. workers,” Berry wrote.

The 2007 H-1B supply of 65,000 visas was exhausted June 1, four months before new ones will be made available, and giving rise to arguments by H-1B advocates that the current cap needs to be raised.

A provision to raise the cap to 115,000 is currently in a congressional conference committee.


The Programmers Guild, an IT worker interest group, has filed 300 discrimination complaints so far this year against companies alleged to have posted “H-1B visa holders only” ads on job boards.

“Abuse of the H-1B program has become so widespread that companies apparently feel free to engage openly in the practice. And we are only reviewing ads for computer programmers,” Programmers Guild founder John Miano said in a statement June 19.

The actions have been filed with the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Special Council for Immigration-Related discrimination, contending that specific employers have created “Americans need not apply” job postings on both Monster.com and Dice.com.

These job ads are accused of disregarding the Immigration and Nationality Act, which makes it illegal to discriminate against U.S. workers on the basis of immigration status.

Miano cites examples from postings on Dice.com and Monster.com in a release, with lines such as “We require candidates for H1B from India” and “We sponsor GC [green card] and we do prefer H1B holders.”

Several of the ads included free training and interview preparation, according to the complaint, while others included more flagrantly illegal maneuvers.

“We have postings for arrangements where the ‘employee’ finds his own work and the ‘employer’ takes a cut of the earnings. Many ‘high-tech companies’ obtaining H-1B visas operate out of apartments and Mailboxes Etc.,” said Miano.

Miano said he considers the offers to teach foreigners particularly offensive in light of the fact that nearly half the money collected from H-1B visa fees is given to training programs to bring U.S. workers’ skills up to speed.

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