Serious Concerns Mount Over Tech Visa Lottery

Published on August 1st, 2023

A controversial immigration program known as H-1B, allows companies and other employers in the United States to temporarily employ foreign workers to perform highly specialized jobs.

The program is contentious for two reasons. First, it favors foreign workers to fill jobs instead of instituting job-training programs for Americans. And second, the program has raised serious concerns that some are manipulating the system to gain an unfair advantage.

According to a recent AP report: 

There were 780,884 applications for H-1B visas in this year’s computer-generated lottery, up 61% from 483,927 last year, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services said in a message to “stakeholders.” Last year’s haul was up 57% from 308,613 applications the year before.

Each year, up to 85,000 people are selected for H-1B visas, a mainstay for technology giants such as Amazon.com Inc., Google parent Alphabet Inc., Facebook parent Meta Platforms Inc. and International Business Machines Corp.

Last year, the government began requiring workers who won the lottery to sign affidavits stating they didn’t try to game the system by working with others to file multiple bids under different company names, even if there was no underlying employment offer. By winning at least once, these companies could market their services to technology companies that wanted to fill positions but didn’t have visas, effectively becoming labor contractors.

The agency said it has “undertaken extensive fraud investigations” based on lottery submissions from the last two years, denied some petitions and is “in the process” of referring some cases to federal prosecutors for possible crimes. 

The number of registrations tied to people who applied more than once rose to 408,891 this year from 165,180 last year and 90,143 the year before.

As CAPS has routinely argued, instead of an H1-B Visa program that improves the bottom line of big tech companies like Meta and Google by importing cheap foreign labor, America would do better to institute training programs for millions of Americans working low-wage jobs.

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