U.S. employers have quietly converted an imported army of 451,000 Indian temporary workers into permanent U.S.-based workers by merely nominating them to join the multi-year line to become legal immigrants.
This stealthy inflow of white-collar visa workers was revealed in a February 10 press release from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The release provides the missing piece in a puzzle that shows how at least one million non-immigrant Indians now hold jobs as temporary contract workers in Americans’ white-collar workplaces.
The establishment media ignores this Indian labor force within the United States. But it is very visible to the many U.S. graduates who are fired, displaced, or “re-badged” from a huge variety of middle-class jobs in software, accounting, management, recruitment, design, engineering, and even regulatory enforcement. This labor force also suppresses salaries for college graduate Americans, even as President Donald Trump boasts of a “blue-collar boom.”
The Indian labor force is so large that many American graduates now work in Indian-run offices throughout corporate America, and especially in Silicon Valley. In those offices, the mass of Indian workers and managers has pushed out many Americans, has replaced U.S. professionalism with Indian-style workplace politics of caste and ethnic alliances, deference to managers, blame-shifting, kickbacks, and hostility to outsiders, according to numerous reports and lawsuits, as well as statements by Indian participants and by U.S. witnesses to Breitbart News.
“Now it’s like most of the managers coming in are Indian, so it is very hard for an American to get hired,” an experienced Silicon Valley engineer and manager told Breitbart News.
Americans get screened out from jobs even before the interview process, he said. “I know at one point there was a woman that was an Indian woman who was in the human resources department. … She was sorting through the resumes and all we got … was resumes from India.”
“Even in the interview process, the Americans are screwed,” he added:
When the interview process comes along, guess what? They’re gonna have three people from India and three people from America [interviewing the job seeker]. The three people from India are all going to vote the same. They’re going to pick their Indian guy and they’re going to say ‘Yep that’s our guy,’ and the Americans are gonna go back and forth. Guess who’s going to get hired? It’s such a skewed system.
India’s 4,000-year-old caste system pressures and enables Indians to exclude Americans — and to separate Indians from Americans’ society — in violation of U.S. workplace laws, he said. “We don’t have a caste [system]; we’re not part of their caste system, so we [individuals] have no caste. … You might as well be an untouchable. … I think that’s what they do is they [say], ‘You don’t have a caste; you are the lowest caste.’ And so they treat you that way.”
“Americans are culturally oblivious to this idea that something so Third World would be in the United States,” said Jay Palmer, a former technology worker who now helps India’s mistreated visa workers to sue U.S.-based corporations. “I’ve had so many Indians tell me it is an Indian Mafia — they use those words.” He continued:
I have hundreds of Indian workers coming to me to complain that they have to give part of their salary to Indian hiring managers out of gratitude [for getting their jobs], whether $5 to $10 an hour.
There are some Indian managers — I can prove this — making upwards up to $15,000 to $20,000 a month in kickbacks.
For example, the Department of State issued 399,686 non-immigrant visas to Indians in 2009 — but that number rose to 1,006,802 Indian visas in 2018. In 2017, Indian workers sent almost $12 billion back to India, so reducing consumer spending in many American cities and towns.
The U.S.-Indian Outsourcing Economy is also a hidden political headache facing Trump when he flies into India for trade talks in February 2020.
India’s government is trying to protect the outsourcing economy. It has repeatedly suggested that it will cut its U.S. imports — such as oil, aerospace products, and grain — and will restrict operations by U.S. firms in India if Trump or Congress cuts the flow of Indian visa workers into the United States.
“The flow of talent is part of our economic cooperation,” India’s External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said in December 2019:
It is in a sense almost strategic bridge between us. So, I cannot overstate the importance of the flow of talent for Indo-American ties. That was a point I make that look, this is important for you, it is important for us. It’s important for the relationship. So let’s work together to make sure this stays sort of open and vibrant and active.
In 2015, for example, India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, held a public meeting in Silicon Valley with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Many Indian tech workers went to the event, which was also a demonstration of India’s growing clout in Americans’ technology industry.
325,000 Indian H-1B Workers
Indians get roughly two-thirds of new H-1B visas, each of which lasts for six years. The program brings in roughly 100,000 contract workers each year, creating a resident population of roughly 500,000 H-1B workers, including about 325,000 Indians. The workers are not immigrants — they are contract workers imported for up to six years.
This huge gig-worker, white-collar labor force is imported into the United States by many categories of companies.
Amazon, Google, Intel, Facebook, Bloomberg, and other elite firms import many expert Indians and Chinese for many jobs sought by Americans. Major banking, insurance, airline, manufacturing, accounting, retail, and finance firms import Indians. Many elite universities, hospitals, and research centers import Indians, partly because non-profit employers have no cap on the number of H-1Bs they can import.
Many small firms import small numbers of graduates. This category includes firms, such as architecture firms, where American graduates once got their first jobs.
Roughly ten major Indian staffing firms import many Indian graduates so they can be rented to the American firms who do not want to hire Indian graduates directly. Americans managers favor the outsourcing contracts because the staffing companies offer to reduce their management tasks, their payroll spending, and their human resources staffing tasks.
These 320,000 Indian H-1B workers are supposed to go home after six years, theoretically limiting their numbers.
But H-1B contract workers can stay if they get green cards from their employers — although the pro-diversity “country caps” in the law means that only about 30,000 Indian workers and family members can get green cards each year.
So roughly 75,000 Indian workers — plus 75,000 spouses and children — got green cards between 2013 and 2017.
451,000 Permanent Workers
But Congress opened another loophole by allowing companies to sponsor as many visa workers as they wish each year — and by allowing the sponsored “temporary” contract workers to remain permanently in the United States.
So companies have nominated 52,009 Indian employees for green cards in 2019, 59,499 in 2018, and 51,261 in 2017 — and 451,000 Indians since 2009. That total was three times the number of Indian workers who could get green cards during the ten-year period described by DHS — and so it created a huge backlog.
The employers and the Indians know about the country cap. Yet they cooperatively created the multi-year backlog for green cards because the Indian workers prefer to stay in the United States as contract workers instead of going home.
The willingness to use the loophole has created a backlogged labor force of 300,000 Indian workers — plus at least 300,000 spouses and minor children — who are willing to work under a legal status somewhere between contract workers and green card holders.
Their willingness to stay adds them to the Indian-born workforce in the United States, alongside the 150,000 Indians who have gotten green cards during the last ten years.
100,000 H4EAD Workers
Many of the 300,000 backlog workers are married. In 2015, President Barack Obama allowed their wives to get work permits, even without approval from Congress.
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) 2019 data shows that roughly 100,000 spouses of Indian workers have been given work permits — assuming the work permits apply for two years. USCIS officials refused to say how long the work permits last. These H4EAD permits are intended to help the H-1B spouses keep their visa-worker husbands in the United States while they both wait for green cards.
150,000 STEM, STEM-OPT, CPT, workers
In 2018, roughly 250,000 Indians were recorded as having F-1 student visas in the United States, and they kept that status for about four to six years. But that growing population of ‘”students” hides a growing foreign workforce.
In 2018, 70,521 Indians held three-year work permits after enrolling for a technology degree at a U.S. university. This program is called the STEM-OPT program, or the Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics Optional Practical Training work program.
Many additional Indians got jobs using one-year work permits via the similar non-STEM Optional Work Permit and Curricular Practical Training (CPT) programs. These OPT and CPT programs add roughly 300,000 foreign workers to Americans’ white-collar labor economy. The government did not reveal how many OPT and CPT workers are not Indians. But there is much evidence that Indians fill many of the CPT and OPT jobs.
If just half of the Indians (who were not working as STEM-OPT permits) held CPT or OPT permits, that would add roughly 100,000 Indian college-grade workers to the U.S. economy.
50,000 L-1 Company Transferees
Many foreign temporary workers are imported via the L-1 program for the foreign employees of multinational companies. Some of the inflow is legitimate, for example, the workers who help install foreign equipment in U.S. workplaces. A significant number of them work for prestigious U.S. companies, but DHS releases little information about their nationality, duration, or work. These L-1 workers are paid home-country wages, often just at U.S. minimum wage levels.
The General Accounting Office (GAO) says 163,424 L-1 worker and L-2 family visas were awarded worldwide in 2017. That 163,424 number includes “all visa adjudications during the specific time period,” a GOA manager told Breitbart News.
The DHS releases some data about the roughly 40,000 L visas it oversees each year. The DHS data suggests the top 10 Indian-owned staffing firms keep about 8,500 L-1s in the United States, not counting the L-1 workers quietly imported via other companies or the State Department’s “blanket petition” process. The top ten U.S. white-collar staffing firms use many Indian visa workers and seem to keep around 6,000 L-1s in the United States.
The State Department says it issued 51,981 L-1 worker and L-2 family visas to Indians in 2016. Other State Department pages show that it gave 18,473 L-1 work visas and 23,230 L-2 family visas in 2018, plus 18,293 L-1 worker visas in fiscal 2019, plus 23,060 L-2 family visas.
A 2013 GAO report used State Department data to show that the top 10 Indian users of the L-1 program between 2002 and 2011 asked for 70,227 L-1 workers, enough to maintain an Indian workforce of roughly 40,000 workers.
Some applicants exploit the program and its threshold requirement of “specialized knowledge”. For example, the GAO reported that “one pattern of abuse is an L-1A manager hiring family members and appearing to manage them in order to corroborate their claim to be an L-1A manager or executive.”
So if each visa worker and his family stay only four years — instead of the maximum five or seven years — that adds another 80,000 Indians to the U.S. workforce. But not all the L-1s are white-collar workers, so the estimate should be dropped to 50,000 resident L-1 workers.
Indian companies also sneak in workers via B-1 visit visas. These visas do not allow the B-1 holders to do any work. But in 2016, the State Department said it issued Indians a total of 563,202 B-1 visas for business visits or B-2 visas for tourist visits.
This includes “B-1 in lieu of H-1B” visas, which are used by U.S. companies to import workers for several months. For example, Boeing reportedly used those visas to import Russian aerospace workers. Some Indian companies try to send Indian workers — officially less than 1,000 workers in 2010 — to the United States on these visas.
Each year, the State Department also issues 600 O-1 visas for Indians “with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement,” pus roughly 8,000 J-1 visas for Indian doctors, teachers, trainees, researchers, and academics. If 50 percent of the Indian J-1s stay for roughly three years, the J-1 program keeps roughly 20,000 white-collar Indians in U.S. jobs.
The department also issued 89 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) “TN visas” to Indians in 2016. These visas allow Indians to take U.S. white-collar jobs after getting a residency in Canada. This is the thin end of a growing trend because more Indians are migrating into Canada, where they can take advantage of the uncapped TN visa category for the residents of the three NAFTA countries.
The population of Indians in the United States helps Americans companies to export white-collar jobs to India. For example, 20 Indians who run a payroll office in Connecticut may work with 200 Indians in Bengaluru. This article does not count that population of India-based workers, which may exceed 1 million jobs.
For example, in September 2015, the New York Times reported how the U.S. Toys “R” Us company used just eight Indian visa workers to outsource much of its 67-person computer department to India:
For four weeks this spring, a young woman from India on a temporary visa sat elbow to elbow with an American accountant in a snug cubicle at the headquarters of Toys “R” Us here. The woman, an employee of a giant outsourcing company in India hired by Toys “R” Us, studied and recorded the accountant’s every keystroke, taking screen shots of her computer and detailed notes on how she issued payments for toys sold in the company’s megastores.
“She just pulled up a chair in front of my computer,” said the accountant, 49, who had worked for the company for more than 15 years. “She shadowed me everywhere, even to the ladies’ room.”
By late June, eight workers from the outsourcing company, Tata Consultancy Services, or TCS, had produced intricate manuals for the jobs of 67 people, mainly in accounting. They then returned to India to train TCS workers to take over and perform those jobs there. The Toys “R” Us employees in New Jersey, many of whom had been at the company more than a decade, were laid off.
Alongside the legal workers imported from India, there is also a large population of Indian white-collar illegals, plus some evidence that Indians firms use the programs to smuggle in extra workers.
The population of illegal migrants from India has grown enormously and is now pegged at more than 630,000 people. Most are likely working in blue-collar retail and labor jobs. But their ranks likely include many Indian graduates who overstay their visas after filing to get into win a visa in the annual H-1B lottery, or who cannot the college feeds needed to get another OPT work permit. Roughly 40,000 Indians were overstaying business, education, and tourism visas during 2018, according to a 2019 DHS report.
The scale of this Indian white-collar workforce is hinted at by a lawsuit against the DHS, following its 2018 decision to define an ‘overstay’ as anyone who stayed past their visa’s expiration date. But this new policy has been rejected by a judge at the request of employers in the education and software sectors. DHS declined to comment, saying, “USCIS is currently reviewing the court’s decision, and we have no additional comment to provide at this time.”
There is no data about the number of Indian graduates who are smuggled into the U.S. via the visa-worker programs. But there is much evidence that Indian managers routinely use fraud to import H-1B workers legally. For example, they claim their hard-to-find wants ads are unanswered, and that no Americans are available to do the work, even though many nearby Americans are eager for the job.
This endemic fraud has been described in lawsuits, U.S. government documents, GAO reports, embassy reports, and the U.S. Department of Justice press releases. The topic is described and debated by academics, plaintiffs, Indians, Reddit chatrooms, article commenters, and Public Radio International.
The promise of U.S. jobs — and even green cards — helps to explain why so many Indians try to get legal or illegal jobs in the United States. For example, Glassdoor reports that programmers earn an average of about $5,500 in India — but $75,000 in the United States. This means that a few years of work and penny-pinching in the United States can set up a young Indian for life.
One Indian manager told Breitbart News, when visa worker Indians return to India with their savings, “If you are a bachelor, everyone is interested in you,” he said. “You will have a car; you can have your own apartment. … You can not only get a good wife, you can win … a great dowry also [from the wife’s family],” he said, adding, “You are actually like a Maharajah.”
Given the huge rewards, many Indians are willing to skirt or break U.S. immigration and workplace laws, often with help from other Indians, partly because U.S. salaries and green cards are so fantastically valuable.
The gulf between U.S. salaries and Indian poverty was spotlighted by a February 2019 report from the BBC about Indians who tried to game the system by registering for work permits at a fake, no-study-required university. But Farmington University was set up as a sting by DHS, and up to 200 Indians had to flee home when the sting was announced:
Veeresh had taken a loan of 1.5m rupees (£16,300; $21,000) to help pay for his [U.S.] education. The first university cost him $30,000 and Farmington cost him an additional $20,000. He had to borrow money from his friend to buy a ticket to come back home.
He still hasn’t told his parents why he returned.
“They think I am on vacation. But the truth is that I have no job and a college loan to pay off. My parents would be devastated if they knew the truth.”
His parents are farmers and Veeresh had hoped to help them out by earning an income in dollars, some of which he could send home.
“I am the only son. I wanted to take care of my parents. We do not own land or a house. I wanted to go to America to earn better so that I can buy a house for my family in India.”
These huge economic stakes help to explain why so many Indians are eager to transfer jobs and salaries from American graduates to their fellow Indians — regardless of the impact on U.S companies or American graduates.
Non-Indian Visa Workers
The army of Indian workers are hired alongside many other foreign white-collar workers, mostly people from China.
This diverse population — who tend to favor their own peoples — adds roughly 350,000 white-collar workers to the U.S. economy — not counting the 118,645 Chinese who were sponsored for green cards from 2009 to 2019.
For example, 478,732 Chinese were at U.S. universities in 2018. Of those students, 25,843 Chinese held three-year STEM-OPT work permits in 2018, and many others held OPT or CPT work permits.
This army of white-collar visa workers is commingled with another category of foreigners who have short-term “Employment Authorization Documents.” These EAD workers include the Indian OPTs and H4EADs — plus many other migrants, asylum seekers, DACA recipients, green-card applicants, and various other categories. In 2018, their numbers added up to 2 million.
The Spreading Impact on American Graduates
“The Indians now control the IT labor market in the United States,” said a statement from Kevin Lynn, founder of U.S. TechWorkers. He continued:
Any American trying to enter the job market in IT will have to be screened by a recruiter that lives in India and further, be interviewed by an Indian manager. The result of these Darwinesque practices is on display to anyone visiting many of the Fortune 500 IT departments and call centers. The Indians have a preference of hiring their own, and in particular, hiring an Indian on an employment/guest worker visa because they are easier to exploit. Thus, the job market is rigged in favor of H-1B, OPT, and H4EAD workers from India. This is a disaster for equal opportunity in the workplace.
But this Indian labor-market is now spreading throughout the United States as the U.S. government invites more Indians into the United States, the Silicon Valley manager said. “Nothing frustrates me more than to see these people say ‘It’s an [just] an information technology problem.’ It’s not an IT problem. No, they’re taking everything.”
The Indian cartel exists because U.S-based Indian managers have the power to grant or deny Americans’ jobs to Indian students and workers, said Palmer. Without the U.S. job offers, the Indians must return to India’s poverty, he said.
Once the Indians have a job, he said, “their work-experience letters are held over their head for their next H-1B contract if they do not give their managers $10 an hour.”
Sometimes, the kickbacks are paid via nearby restaurants and gas stations that are owned by Indian managers he said. “I’ve had Indian workers [tell me they] have to go in there and spend in there an exorbitant amount on meals weekly,” he said. “If an Indian [hiring] manager has a gas station … [Indian employees] will have to run a debit card for odd amounts.”
U.S.-style professionalism is quickly discarded by Indian managers who prefer to hide problems, he said. In one episode, an Indian manager berated and insulted him when he pointed out a technical problem that their department had allowed into a company product. “I was going to the doctor at least once a once a month, sometimes two times, maybe more [and] I was taking pills to sleep,” he said, adding:
I was pro-H-1B when it first started, but then it got to a point [where] you get mistreated a few times and you realize, “Hey, these guys — you’ve got to protect yourself.”
U.S. CEOs prefer compliant Indians to American professionals, he said. “What they get out of it is they get control, because [American] person[s] can leave … They’ve got that [Indian] person under their thumb. And you know, if the person doesn’t work out, they can fire him and send him back to India. That guy’s got no recourse, [so] he’s a very safe asset.”
Indians are also moving into the top slots at U.S. corporations. The CEOs of Google, Microsoft, Adobe, IBM, and Mastercard are Indians. The chief technology officer at Walmart is an Indian.
There is no corporate desire to reverse the Indians’ growing dominance of major companies, the Silicon Valley manager said. “They don’t want to. Nobody wants to do that … The Chamber of Commerce? They love this thing. Big tech? They love this thing. There are a few people at the top that are getting rich on this [Indian] thing.”
Federal legislators will not try to reverse the Indian expansion, he said:
I’m sure they know. You talk to congressman and they’re like, “Oh my God, replacing Americans? Absolutely never gonna allow that! I would never allow that!” But they get in a room to vote and they go, “Yeah, no problem.”
For example, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) is pushing his S.386 bill to accelerate the inflow of Indian workers into the Utah and U.S. economies.
American college graduates are going to revolt against their replacement by Indians’ workers and managers, he said:
People are looking at [Sen.] Bernie Sanders they’re so pissed off about the system. They’re looking at a socialist government, and I’m going “You know what? Neither party has served me. So why the fuck not go with Bernie Sanders and get rid of all these [CEOs and Indians]?” Yeah, that’s kind of where we’re going [because] I think people are so pissed off.
“Americans want an immigration system that serves them and the country, not one that offers pro-business fixes to the problems created by the employers who are gaming the system,” said Jessica Vaughan, policy director at the Center for Immigration Studies.
“The fix is to create opportunities for American workers, not to continue to rig the system in favor of employers.”