According to Banerjee, myths abound about propensities falsely attributed to H-1B workers and anti-immigrant propaganda is rife with falsehoods.
H-1B visas have always been controversial among certain segments of the U.S. population. But right-wing and anti-immigrant talk shows, blogs, and other venues have been ratcheting up the rhetoric lately. “It makes me sad to consider that these views still exist,” says Houston-area immigration lawyer Annie Banerjee, “especially in America.”
In particular, Banerjee decries some of the claptrap she’s been hearing about H-1B workers legitimately awarded visas permitting them to work in this country. “They are generating myths, misinformation, and outright falsehoods,” asserts Ms. Banerjee.
“They like to say that H-1B workers are stealing jobs from legitimate American workers, by which they imply in code that U.S. workers born and raised here are denied opportunities. It’s just not true,” Ms. Banerjee says.
H-1B visas are issued to temporary, nonimmigrant workers in specialty occupations. These occupations require special skills, the theoretical and practical application of highly specialized knowledge that most workers don’t possess. “Most H-1B workers have exceptional educational backgrounds and are relatively rare individuals in the workplace,” Ms. Banerjee explains, “It’s not fair to say that the jobs they’re being hired for can be performed by most workers.”
Another charge about H-1B workers that rankles Ms. Banerjee is the characterization of these visa holders as “cheap labor.”
“This is a related bit of irresponsible talk that serves to obscure what’s really true.” In fact, employers are required to pay an H-1B employee the higher of either the “prevailing wage” or “actual wage” paid to similarly employed Americans, but must also pay about $6,000 in legal and government fees for each H-1B hire, plus an additional $12,000 to sponsor an H-1B worker for permanent U.S. residence.
“People generally opposed to immigration say the damndest things,” Ms. Banerjee concludes, “and usually when applied with a broad brush their rhetoric tends to consist of myths, misinformation, and outright falsehoods.”