RealNews

Special Visa's Use for Tech Workers Is Challenged

With the economy in a slump, a growing number of American technology workers say their jobs are going not only to lower-cost foreign workers abroad, but also increasingly to workers who enter the United States under a little-known visa category known as L-1. In the nearly three years since the technology bubble burst, the use of L-1 visas to bring in workers — with a large percentage from India — has become a popular strategy among firms seeking to cut labor costs. The number of these temporary visas granted rose nearly 40 percent to 57,700 in 2002 from 41,739 in 1999. The visas are intended to allow companies to transfer employees from a foreign branch or subsidiary to company offices in the United States. But they are now routinely used by companies based in India and elsewhere to bring their workers into the United States and then contract them out to American companies — in many instances to be replacements for American workers. The number of Americans who have been replaced by foreign contract workers is unknown. American companies that use contract workers have said that the decision to do so is based on factors like skills, and not on cost alone. Full Story

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