Many H-1B employers in the US including Facebook, Amazon Microsoft and Google use the programme to pay less to migrant employees working for them, news agency PTI reported citing a report released by the Economic Policy Institute. The report said many companies among the top 30 H-1B employers take advantage of the programme to legally pay the migrant workers less than the local median wage. The report mentioned that around 60 per cent of positions that the US Department of Labor (DOL) certifies for those with H-1B visa holders, do not meet the local median wage for the occupation.
It is to note that the programme rules give permission for less pay but the DOL can change it since it has the authority. However, no change has been made by the department, the report highlighted. One-fourth of the total 389,000 H-1B petitions approved by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services were hired by top 30 H-1B employers in 2019. Furthermore, half of these employers do not hire migrant workers directly but use an outsourcing business model that provides workers for third-party clients.
To be sure, H-1B currently is a non-immigrant work visa, that too temporary, which gives permission to the US companies to recruit college-educated migrant workers or fashion models from abroad. Around 5 lakh migrant workers are taken by the United States in the H-1B visa category. The report added that technology firms like Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Apple, Qualcomm, Salesforce and Uber hire the workers directly rather than outsourcing their workforce.However, a large percentage of H-1B workers are recruited at the lowest wage levels of Level 1 and Level 2.
Moreover, the report revealed that these companies may also hire people on a third-party payroll. Microsoft, the report said, on Labor Condition Applications (LCAs) gave 35 per cent of its positions at level 1 payroll and 42 per cent of its positions at level 2 payroll last year. Thus, more than 77 per cent of its H-1B positions were filled by giving employees a wage below the local median wage. Apart from this, 18 per cent positions were given at the median wage which means the company only hired 4 per cent of H-1B workers whose pay was above the median level.
Similarly Amazon had 12,428 (88 per cent) positions certified at Level 1 or 2 for H-1B workers. Apple and Google too hired people at low wage for 34 per cent and 55 per cent of positions, respectively. The report asserted that the top 30 H-1B employers are inclined towards hiring workers for a large number of routine (level 1 and 2) positions as these positions require very less experience and basic skills