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H-1B abuse: Bay Area tech workers from India paid a pittance, feds say


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A dozen Indian workers at an East Bay technology firm were promised salaries of up to $8,300 a  month, but after the company brought them in under the controversial H-1B visa, they found themselves netting as little as $800 per month, the federal government alleged Tuesday.


Cloudwick Technologies of Newark has been ordered to pay about $175,000 to 12 employees for back wages after violating H-1B rules, the U.S. Department of Labor said. The company disputed some of the government’s claims.


“Investigators found that the company paid impacted employees well below the wage levels required under the H-1B program based on job skill level, and also made illegal deductions from workers’ salaries,” the department said in a news release. “As a result, some of the H-1B employees that Cloudwick brought from India with promised salaries of up to $8,300 per month instead received as little as $800 net per month.”


Cloudwick founder and CEO Mani Chhabra said Tuesday that the labor department “misrepresented” some facts about the company’s use of H-1B workers.


“Cloudwick has never brought resources from India,” Chhabra said. “All the resources are Master’s students that have educated in U.S. and then we hired and trained them.”


The back-wages issue arose because of changes in visa categories imposed by the labor department, he said. Workers were paid $800 a month during training, he said. He acknowledged that the company improperly deducted money for four workers for further training.


“This is not allowed for H-1B and we paid them back wages,” Chhabra said.



A labor department spokesman declined to specify how the alleged visa abuse came to light. Many investigations start with complaints, which are confidential, the spokesman said.


The department also did not say how long the workers had been employed at Cloudwick, but the federal probe ran from the start of 2015 to the end of last year.


The H-1B visa, intended for jobs requiring specialized skills and a bachelor’s degree or higher, has become a flashpoint in the immigration debate, with critics pointing to alleged abuses in which American workers at UC San Francisco and Disney were reportedly forced to train Indian replacement workers. Major technology firms have lobbied aggressively for expansion of the program, arguing that they need access to the world’s top talent to fill highly-technical jobs.


News of the crackdown on Cloudwick will likely fuel arguments that the H-1B program is being abused by companies to get cheap foreign labor at the expense of jobs for Americans.


Cloudwick — a data-analytics company whose clients include Apple, Cisco, Comcast, American Express, Bank of America, Safeway, Verizon and Visa — agreed in writing to hire an independent monitor to ensure future compliance with the H-1B rules, the labor department said.


U.S. government data shows Cloudwick received 27 approvals for H-1B applications last year, and 55 in 2016.


The labor department declined to say whether it believed other H-1B workers at Cloudwick were being paid what they were promised, and in keeping with visa rules. Cloudwick did not respond to a question about salaries for its other H-1B workers.


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So this looks just another "elegant" way to import cheap labor, to pay them way below minimum salary; I would say, almost slave labor! You simply can't live decentlý and probably not even indecently, in the US with monthly income of 800 USD! Cloudwick, and probably many other companies are abusing US Immigration Laws! So in this case, don't blame "mexicanos", "illegal immingrant" etc. I bet that this dozen of Indian workers is just the tip of the iceberg and there are much more similar cases around the world of "big corporations"!


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This forum revolves around topics of a technical nature, which happen to be discussed by people from many nationalities, etnicities and political backgrounds. In order to focus on what unities us all, rather than what divides us, cultural, national and/or political issues are not to be discussed. Members engaging in such discussions will receive a warning.




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