Monday, October 22 , 2018, 7:29 am | Fair 58º

 
 
 
 

Joe Guzzardi: Countless Employment-Based Visas Undermine American Workers

Dozens of federally issued employment-based visas granted to foreign workers offer multiple opportunities to deny Americans a job or to displace them from the ones they’re lucky enough to hold.

In Congress, the 85,000 annual H-1B visas are the most hotly debated, in part because over the years the total H-1B working population has soared to more than 1.4 million foreign nationals employed in high-level, coveted jobs.

But the general public is less aware of the L-1, another visa that harms U.S. workers. L-1 visas allow companies to transfer foreign-based employees and their families to the U.S. parent company, branch or affiliate from an overseas office. Once in the United States, their stays last for three to seven years.

L-1A workers are executives and managers, and L-1B workers are so-called specialized workers, and not necessarily managers, who “possess deep knowledge of a company’s systems, processes, technologies, or products and services.”

The description for L visas is federal government-speak. The feds don’t vet the incoming employees; no one outside the company knows what skills the new arrival may or may not have. Critics suspect that Ls often are assigned routine responsibilities that can’t be construed as managerial.

What is known, however, is that the jobs are rarely posted for U.S. candidates, and could involve tasks for which an American is fully qualified.

Since the L doesn’t require a Labor Department certification, as the H-1B does, and also unlike the H-1B has no cap, employers have increasingly turned to it as their favorite cheap labor vessel.

Getting an L visa is a dream come true for foreign nationals who have aspired to come to the United States. Laws that apply to L-1 visas allow the alien to have dual intent of temporary work permission, then transition to an EB-1C, the highest priority employment green card category, which can lead to lawful permanent residency, and eventual citizenship.

Bring the kids, enroll them in taxpayer-funded public schools, compete for U.S. college admission, and await the inevitable — citizenship.

Big plum: Spouses receive employment authorization documents. In each year since 2000, more than 100,000 foreign nationals received L-visas. In 2015 and 2016, the State Department listed about 165,000 L-category recipients. And in each of those years, the accompanying spouses and children outnumbered by several thousand the L-1 workers.

A 2006 Homeland Security Department inspector general report found that the L visa is riddled with abuse, and recommended greater protections for American workers.

From the OIG report: “The L-1 program is vulnerable (to fraud) in several respects.” The OIG went on to list some of the abuses, the two most egregious of which are the adjudicators’ inability to determine if the employers actually use the imported worker in a managerial capacity or if he has “specialized knowledge.”

Because of the vague nature of the claims submitted on L visa applications, adjudicators, according to the OIG, have “little choice but to approve almost all petitions.”

For a brief period, in fiscal year 2013, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services denied L visas at a historic 35 percent rate. But when President Barack Obama’s administration became aware, it moved quickly to water down request for evidence standards which made getting an L visa easier.

Although fewer in number than the more well-known H-1B, the effect of L visas on U.S. tech workers is the same: Americans seeking employment are overlooked in favor of foreign nationals, or Americans are displaced from the jobs they hold.

— Joe Guzzardi is an analyst and researcher with Progressives for Immigration Reform who now lives in Pittsburgh. He can be reached at [email protected], or follow him on Twitter: @joeguzzardi19. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Email
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership
×

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.