Reforms needed in US H-1B visa program -GAO report
United States, 15th January: The Government Accountability Office has released a report asking for a major reform in the US H-1B visa program.
The report by GAO (Government Accountability Office) has asked for increased scrutiny of the US H-1B visa process by the Congress. Several problems have been highlighted by the report in this US visa program used by IT firms for bringing their overseas staff to the US.
The report has drawn criticism from several government agencies including the US DOJ(Department of Justice).
The GAO has sought a series of improvisations including creation of a web site requiring all potential firms or businesses requiring to provide prior notice of their intention for employing US H-1B workforce. It may be worth noted that the DOJ had recommended this step.
Chief of the staff of Civil Rights Division of the DOJ, Leon Rodriguez had stated in a letter forming part of the report that such a centralized web site will enable in the American workers know whether their jobs are being taken by the US H-1B visa holders. And, if is found that they are being replaced by workers having US H-1B visas, then it will help in finding such employers doing injustice to the US workers, Rodriguez maintained.
However, the US DOJ modified the recommendations of the GAO by maintaining that before employing any US H-1B visa holder, all employers must test the job market to know whether US workers with requisite skills and qualifications are available and to employ US workers making applications for such jobs.
The GAO reports that majority of foreign workers granted US H-1B visas between 2000 and 2009 were from Asia including 47 percent from India and 9 percent from China. The report also maintains that 54 percent of foreign workers on US H-1B visas from June 2009 till July 2010 under the category of entry-level positions were being given lowest pay scales.
The US H-1B visa program was created in the year 1990 by Congress for enabling US firms to employ overseas workers for jobs if the US workers with suitable qualifications are not found. Under the US H-1B visa program, foreign workers get US visa for six years and may seek extension of their visa in case they switch jobs in the US or make an application for permanent residency in the US.