US Think-Tank Report: H-1B Visa Holders “underpaid, vulnerable to abuse” - TNBC USA

On Thursday, a US think-tank claims that H-1B workers are frequently placed in poor work conditions and “vulnerable to abuse”, seeking reforms such as a considerable increase in wages.

In a report, the South Asia Centre of Atlantic Council has also sought safeguards like offering greater employment rights, and fair working conditions for those working under the visa programme.

The report came days after the US President Donald Trump said that he is soon coming out with reforms, which will give H-1B visa holders certainty to stay in the country and an easy pathway to seek citizenship.

On Friday, the US President has tweeted: “H1-B holders in the United States can rest assured that changes are soon coming which will bring both simplicity and certainty to your stay, including a potential path to citizenship. We want to encourage talented and highly skilled people to pursue career options in the US.”

The report has been authored by Howard University’s Ron Hira, and South Asia Center of the Atlantic Council, Bharat Gopalaswamy. The current system will not only hamper Americans but further enables H-1B workers to be exploited, as per the report.

It continued, “H-1B workers themselves are underpaid, vulnerable to abuse, and frequently placed in poor working conditions. Adopting safeguards to ensure H-1B workers are paid appropriate wages, provided fair working conditions, and given greater employment rights would not only improve their lives but would also better protect US workers.”

The report reads adopting adequate safeguards that would further ensure H-1B programme contributes to the US economy by filling genuine shortages in labor market with foreign workers, who have rare skills and can be characterized as the brightest and best.

The think-tank recommends three key reforms and said that these should apply to all employers and not only a subset of them.

According to the report, “The first, and most important, reform is to substantially raise the wages of H-1B workers. If the United States is going to invite in the “best and brightest” workers, they ought to be paid in the top quartile.”

Next, employers should indicate that they have recruited US workers activity and offered positions to qualified people, prior to turning the H-1B  programme, it added.

The principle of H-1B programme is to fill labor gaps and not to swell the pool of candidates for employers, observed the report.

The think-tank said, “Third, the programme needs an effective and efficient enforcement mechanism,” claiming that the existing programme compliance is complaint-driven, entirely resting on whistleblowers to reduce fraud. It further claims this as a poor design.

The Atlantic Council also claims that there should be an adjustment to the process allotment and added that “It makes no sense to allocate H-1B on a first-come, first served basis or, even worse, by random lottery – as occurs when the program is immediately oversubscribed.”

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