Thought H-1B employees had it great? Report says Google, Microsoft pay them below par

06 May 2020 10:45 PM
A majority of the united states H-1B employers, including tech giants like Facebook, Google, Apple and Microsoft, utilize the momentary work visa programme to pay the migrant staff well below market wages, a fresh report has claimed.

The H-1B is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to hire foreign employees from countries like India and China in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise.

Nearly 500,000 migrant staff are employed in america in the H-1B status.

"Among the most notable 30 H-1B employers are major US businesses including Amazon, Microsoft, Walmart, Google, Apple and Facebook. Every one of them take advantage of program rules so as to legally pay a lot of their H-1B staff below the local median wage for the jobs they fill," said the report released by the Economic Policy Institute.

Authored by Daniel Costa and Ron Hira, the report titled "H-1B visas and prevailing wage levels" says 60 % of H-1B positions certified by the united states Department of Labor (DOL) are assigned wage levels well below the neighborhood median wage for the occupation.

As the H-1B programme rules allow this, the DOL has the authority to change it, but hasn't, it said.

While over 53,000 employers used the H-1B programme in 2019, the most notable 30 H-1B employers accounted for several in four of most 389,000 H-1B petitions approved by the united states Citizenship and Immigration Services in 2019, it said.

Half of the very best 30 H-1B employers use an outsourcing business design to provide staff for third-party clients, rather than employing H-1B workers directly to fill a particular need at the company that applies for the visa, the report said.

The report alleged that major US-based technology firms that hire H-1B workers directly, rather than contract them out to third-party employers, had significant shares of their certified H-1B positions assigned as Level 1 or Level 2, both lowest wage levels in fiscal 2019, both which are below the neighborhood median wage.

"Until now, a lot of the general public discourse and proposals for reforming H-1B have centered on rules that could constrain the practices of these outsourcing companies," the report said.

But researches reveal that many organizations that employ H-1B employees directly, including a number of the biggest names in the technology industry such as Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Apple, Qualcomm, Salesforce and Uber, pay a sizable share of their H-1B personnel at among the two lowest wage levels, Level 1 or Level 2.

In addition, these direct-hire businesses also hire many H-1B employees on a contract basis through outsourcing firms, it added.

Microsoft, the seventh-largest H-1B employer in 2019, assigned one-third (35 %) of its positions on Labor Condition Applications (LCAs) as Level 1 and two-fifths (42 %) as Level 2. Altogether, Microsoft assigned over three-quarters (77 %) of its H-1B positions as Level 1 or Level 2, a wage level below the local median wage.

Microsoft assigned only 18 per cent of its positions as Level 3 (the median) wage, and a mere three per cent as Level 4, the only above-median wage level.

Amazon, which appears twice in the H-1B top 30, as " Services" (no. 4 among the largest H-1B employers) and "Amazon Web Services" (no. 27), also assigned almost all its H-1B positions at among the two lowest wage levels.

Based on the report, Services assigned 34 % of its H-1B positions as Level 1 and 51 per cent as Level 2, for a complete of 86 % of most positions certified.

Amazon Web Services assigned 47 % of its H-1B employees as Level 1 and 36 % as Level 2. Combined, Services and Amazon Web Services had 12,428 positions certified at Level 1 or 2 2, for a complete of 85 % certified at a wage level below the median. Only 1 in eight (1,684) were certified at or above the 50th percentile (Level 3 or Level 4), it said.

Apple, eleventh on the list, assigned 558 of its H-1B positions (two %) as Level 1 and one-third (32 %) as Level 2, for a combined total of 34 per cent at Levels 1 and 2. Apple assigned 32 % as Level 3 and 34 % as Level 4.

Google, ranked the fifth-largest H-1B employer, had 9,085 H-1B positions certified by the DOL in fiscal 2019. It assigned not even half of one % of its certified H-1B jobs as Level 1 and 54 % as Level 2. Only 37 per cent of Google's jobs were certified at or above the median wage, the report said.

Facebook assigned only 1 position as Level 1 and 10 per cent of its 6,118 total H-1B positions as Level 2. Twenty-five % were certified at Level 3 and 16 per cent at Level 4. Nearly half (49 %) of Facebook's H-1B positions were certified at a wage established by an alternative solution wage survey, which makes it difficult to examine its H-1B wage distribution, it said.

Uber, the 29th-ranked H-1B employer in 2019, had 5,708 H-1B positions certified by the DOL. Significantly less than one per cent was assigned as Level 1 and just over half (53 %) as Level 2. Just over one-third were assigned as Level 3 and 13 % as Level 4.

While Uber had 5,708 H-1B positions certified by DOL and hired 1,160 H-1B workers in 2019, in the same year, it made headlines by laying off 400 employees.

The report claims that the very best 30 H-1B employers are actually hiring H-1B workers to fill an extremely large number of routine (Levels 1 and 2) positions that want relatively little experience and ordinary skills.