Investigations carried out by the US Department of Labour's Wage and Hour Division found that some of the H-1B employees working at information technology provider Cloudwick Technologies Inc were paid salaries significantly below the levels required under the H-1B programme. The California-based company owned by an Indian-American was asked to pay $173,044 in wages to 12 of its foreign employees, most of who were from India. Cloudwick Technologies Inc brought these employees from India with promised salaries of up to $8,300 per month but gave as little as $800 net per month, as mentioned in a PTI report.
Working out of Silicon Valley, the IT company was founded by Mani Chhabra, who is also the CEO. Cloudwick 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, 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, PTI says.
The investigating officers found that Cloudwick not only paid less than what's required under the H-1B programme, it also made illegal deductions from workers' salaries.
"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," Susana Blanco, Wage and Hour Division District Director in San Francisco said as mentioned in the agency report.
As mentioned in the agency report, 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.
H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise. Technology companies depend on it to hire tens of thousands of employees each year from countries like India and China.
"The intent of the H-1B foreign labour certification programme is to help American companies find the highly skilled talent they need when they can prove that a shortage of US workers exists," said Blanco.
To prevent similar cases, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has even set up a dedicated e-mail where people can 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.
Action against the company comes as the Trump administration tightens the noose on firms violating H-1B visa rules. President Donald Trump has himself accused many IT companies of abusing the work visas to deny jobs to American workers.
(With PTI inputs)