Washington: An Indian-American owned IT company in California, on May 2, was asked to pay USD 173,044 in wages to 12 of its foreign employees, most of them from India, in violations of the H-1B visa program salary requirements.
Investigations carried out by US Department of Labour's Wage and Hour Division revealed that some of the H-1B employees that information technology provider Cloudwick Technologies Inc. brought from India with promised salaries of up to USD 8,300 per month instead received as little as USD 800 net per month.
Notably, the crackdown on the company came just a day after many countries in the world celebrated the International Labour Day (International Workers Day or May Day).
Based out of Newark in California – in the famed Silicon Valley – Indian-American Mani Chhabra is the founder and CEO of Cloudwick Technologies, as per the company's website. It describes itself as a leading provider of bimodal digital business services and solutions to the Global 1000. Its services include big data, cloud, advanced analytics, business intelligence modernisation, data science, big data pilot-to-production, IoT, and mobile application development. According to the company, its clients include the likes of Bank of America, Comcast, Home Depot, Intuit, JP Morgan, NetApp, Target, Visa, and Walmart.
Investigators found that the company paid impacted employees well below the wage levels required under the H-1B program based on job skill level, and also made illegal deductions from workers' salaries.
"The intent of the H-1B foreign labour certification program is to help American companies find the highly skilled talent they need when they can prove that a shortage of US workers exists," said Susana Blanco, Wage and Hour Division District Director in San Francisco. "The resolution of this case demonstrates our commitment to safeguard American jobs, level the playing field for law-abiding employers, and protect guest workers from being paid less than they are legally owed," Blanco said.
In addition to the recovery of back wages, the IT employer has also signed an enhanced compliance agreement requiring them to hire an independent third-party monitor to help ensure future compliance, a media release said.
To further deter and detect abuse, US Citizenship and Immigration Services has established a dedicated email address which will allow individuals (including both American workers and H-1B workers who suspect they or others may be the victim of H-1B fraud or abuse) to submit tips, alleged violations and other relevant information about potential H-1B fraud or abuse.
Silicon Valley companies and high-tech ventures are among the largest employers of foreign workers with H-1B visas. The number of visas awarded each year is capped at 85,000.