The document, released as part of a whistleblower lawsuit against the Indian IT services firm, found that the company paid H-1B visa workers lower wages compared to similarly employed US workers, the non-profit think tank said. HCL Technologies is among the top three Indian IT services firms, and among the top 10 recipients of H-1B visas issued annually.
“Thousands of skilled migrants with H-1B visas working as subcontractors at well-known corporations like Disney, FedEx, Google, and others appear to have been underpaid by at least $95 million,” said Ron Hira and Daniel Costa in the report.
“Victims include not only the H-1B workers but also the US workers who are either displaced or whose wages and working conditions degrade when employers are allowed to underpay skilled migrant workers with impunity,” it said.
For instance, Oracle experts with H-1B visas are paid $55,000 less than US workers. This is in violation of the H-1B program which requires that immigrant visa holders be paid at par with local US workers, in order to ensure that American jobs are not taken away by visa holders on lower wages.
“HCL Technologies is strictly compliant with all relevant rules and regulations and is committed to pay wages to all employees in accordance with applicable laws,” a spokesperson for HCL Technologies said in response to a query.
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Last year, HCL was ranked eighth in total H-1B approvals, with 1,405 new visas and 2,801 visa renewals.
Over the past dozen years, HCL has consistently been one of the largest H-1B employers, receiving a total of 31,000 H-1B visa approvals from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) since 2009, said the report.
The authors said that abuses were likely widespread among H-1B employers because the Department of Labor (DOL) has done virtually nothing to ensure program integrity by enforcing the wage rules.
“DOL props up the abusive outsourcing business model by treating contractor hires differently than direct hires when enforcing the wage and other provisions in the H-1B statute that are supposed to protect H-1B and US workers. This outsourcing loophole allows firms like HCL and the big tech companies that use outsourcing firms to get around those provisions,” it said.
The report also called for a larger investigation into whether companies are systematically underpaying H-1B workers, suggesting that penalties should be significant enough to deter all companies from doing so.
In the last few years, there have been cases filed against other Indian IT services companies on grounds of bringing in workers on a B-1 visa instead of an H-1B. However, these companies say that their workers are often paid at par, or even higher wages than local workers as they help fill a gap in skills that are not easily available locally.