U.S. Firm Fined for Violations Related to H-1B Program

Grant Gross, IDG News Service, May 2, 2008

A U.S. provider of outsourcing and IT services has agreed to pay civil penalties of $45,000 to settle allegations that it discriminated against U.S. residents when attempting to hire foreign workers holding H-1B visas, the U.S. Department of Justice announced late Thursday.

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Between May 9, 2006, and June 4, 2006, iGate placed 30 job announcements for computer programmers that “expressly favored” H-1B visa holders to the exclusion of legal U.S. workers, the DOJ said in a news release. The company engaged in citizenship status discrimination, which is prohibited by U.S. law, the DOJ said.

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Many large tech companies, including Microsoft and Symantec, have pushed for the U.S. Congress to increase the number of H-1B visas available each year. The current annual cap is 65,000, plus an additional 20,000 for graduate students studying in the U.S. In recent years, the annual H-1B cap has been filled within days after the government opened the application period.

But critics of the H-1B program have suggested the program is often abused. U.S. companies often hire foreign workers when U.S. workers are available, critics have alleged. Outsourcing companies are major users of the H-1B program, critics have also pointed out.

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