Story: Employers need more visas but abuse claims multiply

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Editor’s note: The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting hosted a reporting workshop on the U.S. visa system in April 2015. It was one of five specialized reporting institutes this year funded by the Robert R. McCormick Foundation through the The Poynter Institute. Nearly two dozen journalists from around the country attended this two-day intensive workshop. The workshop spurred deep discussion and many story ideas, such as the one below. 

States, Cities Call for Skilled Foreign Workers Amid Abuse Claims

By Tim Henderson, Pew Charitable Trust

A computer programmer from India was promised a $46,500 salary in New York, plus tuition to study for a master’s degree. Instead, his annual pay averaged less than $13,000 and his degree was withheld when his employer failed to make the promised tuition payments.

In California, veteran computer workers at a health care company say they were forced to train cheaper foreign replacements before being laid off, even though the replacements were hired under a program meant to fill critical jobs when employers can’t find qualified U.S. citizens or permanent residents who hold green cards to fill them.

Those are just two examples of the alleged abuse of the federal H1-B visa program for foreign guest workers. Tech companies, backed by many governors and mayors, want the federal government to expand the number of H1-B visas to fill high-skill jobs. But some labor advocates want to change or end the program, arguing that employers are exploiting it to find cheap, disposable labor.

Continue reading at The Pew Charitable Trust

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