HCL Technologies NSE – 0.15 % has underpaid H-1B visa holders by up to $95 million over the last few years, the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) said in a report, based on its analysis of an internal company document.
The document, issued as part of a whistleblower lawsuit against the Indian IT services firm, observed 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 main three Indian IT services firms, and the best 10 recipients of H-1B visas are given yearly.
“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 minimum $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 example, Oracle experts with H-1B visas are paid $55,000 less than US workers. This violates the H-1B program which requires that immigrant visa holders be paid at par with nearby US workers. To guarantee 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 paying wages. To all employees by applicable laws,” a spokesperson for HCL Technologies said in response to a query.
HCL Technologies underpaid H-1B visa workers
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 biggest H-1B employers. Getting a total of 31,000 H-1B visa approvals from the USCIS since 2009, said the report.
The writers said that abuses were likely widespread among H-1B employers. Because the Department of Labor (DOL) has done nothing to guarantee program integrity by enforcing the wage rules.
“DOL props up the abusive outsourcing business model by treating contractor recruits uniquely than direct hires. When enforcing the wage and other provisions in the H-1B statute that should ensure H-1B and US workers. This outsourcing loophole allows firms like HCL and the big tech organizations that use outsourcing firms to get around those provisions,” it said.
The report also called for a larger investigation into whether organizations are systematically underpaying H-1B workers. Suggesting that penalties should be significant enough to deter all companies from doing so.
Over the most recent couple of years, there have been cases filed against other Indian IT services organizations. On grounds of bringing in workers on a B-1 visa rather than an H-1B. However, these organizations say that their workers are often paid at par or even higher wages. Then, local workers, help fill a gap in skills that are not easily available locally.