After having started on this series of blogs about the H-1B visas, I became curious about how grievous were the abuses regarding these visas. After-all, here is a program being utilized by businesses to improve their bottom line with the practice of replacing American employees with foreigners at much lower wages. For lawmakers on the right who are vocally opposed to a couple of thousand, highly vetted Syrian refugees entering U.S. borders, here is a program which is granting visas to thousands without a thorough vetting process.

Annika Schauer who worked for the U.S. State Department has experience in processing a couple 10,000 visas or so which accounts for her being the most viewed writer on this subject in On November 27, 2015, she offers details about haw egregious the H-1B visa program abuses can be by describing one of her cases. The following is her commentary:

“I’m going to tell this story as best I can from memory.”  

“The worst H-1B case I personally saw was related to an applicant who was slated for a “tech” job in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.  Having suffered the misfortune of attending middle school just a block away from where this job was purported to be, I knew full well that the company could not be the size described in the paperwork.’

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“And Myrtle Beach is by no means considered to be a tech magnet for international employees. 
So I started to do a bit of digging.”

“Mind you, by the time that  approved a H-1B petition and it crossed my desk at Department of State, there basically had to be a felony involved for any attempt to stop the visa from going though.  This is still the policy.  So many cases had to be handled every day, that State employees are expected and encouraged to just rubber stamp anything handed to them by USCIS, for the sake of efficiency and saving taxpayers money.  I don’t agree with this, but it’s the reality of the situation.’

“Something was wrong with this picture.’

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“I took a look at the petition package.  You can usually tell when a case is shitty because the package will be thousands of pages long.  This means that USCIS thought something was fishy and sent in a RFE (request for evidence), lawyers got involved, and someone smart decided that the best solution was to assault the paper pushers with so much crap documentation that they’ll give up based on not being able to read through it all in a timely manner.”

“The petitioning company claimed to have 500+ employees, all farmed out to small, individual businesses.  The “client”, as it were, for this applicant was a franchise operation better known for making delicious coffee than for any kind of technical work.  Its name rhymed with blumkin blownuts. Occasionally large chain restaurants need  a few very smart IT people to set up centralized systems in the corporate offices.  That’s fine.  That’s not what this was.  This was a guy going to a Blumpkin Blownuts shop in South Carolina to do some kind of unspecified IT work.”

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“The applicant had a bunch of family members on file who’d all immigrated earlier to the same neck of the woods, but he was too old at the time to go on his family’s petition as a dependent.  This alone would constitute fraud, but the Government doesn’t have the time and resources to go after individual applicants, so I started looking at the petitioner.”

“Bad petitioning companies all have funny misspelled names and crappy websites full of stock photos, and filler text that looks like it was generated by Markov bots. If you look up their corporate headquarters, which they’re required to list, you’ll find the company is headquartered in someone’s basement, or in a temporary office space, or in the back of a nail salon, or a dead storefront in a podunk town like this one was.” ‘These companies do nothing.  They make nothing. The only reason for a bad H-1B petitioning company to exist, is to bring over bodies.  On fake paperwork.  Usually for a painful fee.  In the worst cases, by force or coercion.  It is a kind of organized crime.”

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“I forget what this company was called, so let’s call it ImmiTech.”

“ImmiTech” was the company that was purported to be headquartered on Oak Street, SC.  I noticed that it had been around a while (like 15 years), but it had changed its name many times, moved headquarters many times, and changed ownership many times.  I started looking into who owned the company, and found that several prior owners had been indicted for human smuggling.  Even this is not something that makes a company “bad” in the eyes of the U.S. immigration system, so I dug deeper.”

“Using a LOT of google fu (I’m a google fu master) I was able to chain “ImmiTech’s” website ICANN WhoIs back to a number of other of other dodgy websites, all built on what appeared to be the same template.  I mapped every streetview for every address listed.  I did a LexisNexis on every name and address I could find.”

“A picture began to emerge.”

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“This company had all sorts of fingers in all sorts of immigration pies.  Their bread and butter was not H-1Bs, although they did a brisk business in cases of similar quality to the one I was looking at. What they seemed to specialize in was J1 visas for Summer Work Travel (a visa category popular among college students).  There were three major categories for Summer Work Travel applicants on their rosters: young Asian women (Thailand, China) between the ages of 18 and 25, young Eastern European women (Croatia, Ukraine, Albania), and older Jamaican women between 25 and 40 years of age.*

“I combed through as many immigration records as I could find for the hundreds of applicants I saw.  I sent requests to the other consulates that did the processing (these records are not shared by default).  I asked USCIS to send me everything it had.  I did name searches.  I looked for arrest records.”

“I found a smattering of “voluntary” departures.**  A few arrests.  Some eventually went home on their own steam.  A lot of these women just disappeared.” I assume they’re still in America. a what happened to that case.  I cobbled together the best revocation memo I could for the “IT” guy.”

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“The thing is, for each one of these “IT” guys I had the time and wherewithal to look at, there were literally hundreds I probably should have but couldn’t. Congress wants these visas issued.  Go up against Congress at your peril.”

The pressure to approve, approve, approve every single H-1B that shows up, and having one’s hands tied to stop the production line of this human factory and say “hey wait a minute, this is wrong!” is something that weighs deeply on my conscience.”

“The H1-B system is broken. Yes, there are many good applicants.  But far too many people get hurt in the process.”

“A J1, unlike an H-1B, can be refused at the level of a consular officer.  There were thousands of J1 applicants associated with this company. Most were refused.”

**”A “voluntary” departure,is considered to be synonymous with a deportation among the immigrant community.”


    • Management doing what’s expedient and easy to do to reach one’s goals is the way too many executives run their companies. One doesn’t hear the same concern towards their consumers and employees. Integrity, ethics, doing what is right. are values that seem to have become incongruous with being a successful business executive in current times.

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