The Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) has successfully assisted a young African graduate in his fight to compel an unscrupulous employer to make amends for fraudulently abusing the H-1B visa program. After an extensive federal investigation, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently informed Miracle Software, Inc. that theFlemington, New Jersey company will be held accountable for H-1B program abuses against Yacoube Sidibe, a citizen of Mali and recent computer science graduate, and four other foreign tech workers.
In a pattern common among businesses that employ foreign tech workers, Miracle Software filed a fraudulent H-1B visa application, promising to employ Mr. Sidibe as a consultant programmer-analyst. Miracle Software then demanded that he pay $1500 to the company to cover the visa fees, a prohibited practice. Although granted an H-1B visa, Sidibe was “benched” without pay and kept in a condition close to indentured servitude.
On March 20, 2009, DOL ordered Miracle Software to pay Sidibe more than $49,000 in back pay. “The willingness of scofflaw employers to exploit foreign guest workers also harms American workers,” said Michael Hethmon, IRLI general counsel.
New Jersey attorney John Miano, who focuses on tech worker law, helped Mr. Sidibe file his complaint. “Foreign workers on H-1B visas must be paid their full certified wage while in the U.S. If your employer has put you ‘on the bench,’ you are still entitled to full pay,” Miano explained.
“Unfortunately, Congress left the H-1B visa program with loopholes that encourage employers to exploit foreign guest workers,” statedSharma Hammond, IRLI staff attorney. “Despite the official talk about protecting vulnerable Americans in an economic downturn, IRLI continues to learn about legal U.S. workers who are afraid to stand up for their rights at companies with nonimmigrant alien workforces.”
With employers and anti-citizen groups conspiring to bring millions of new and often vulnerable foreign workers to this country every year, the incidence of illegal working conditions and anti-U.S. worker discrimination is expected to worsen nationwide.
“I urge workers who encounter immigration-related abuses to contact IRLI,” Hethmon added. “High tech or low tech, when you come forward to fight immigration-related employment discrimination, you make America a better place to work.”
IRLI is the only U.S. public interest law organization devoted exclusively to protecting the interests of citizens in immigration-related legal disputes.