Programmers Guild Pushes for H-1B Transparency

In an open letter to the Department of Labor, the IT advocacy group requests that the names of companies hiring H-1B workers and the positions filled by those workers be made readily available to the public.

A request for the public release of data containing the names of the companies requesting H-1B temporary workers and the positions they are being hired for was filed in a public letter to the Department of Labor July 18 by the Programmers Guild, an IT advocacy group.

In the open letter to William Carlson, chief of the Division of Foreign Labor Certification, Programmers Guild President Kim Berry requested on behalf of the "displaced, unemployed, and underemployed U.S. tech workers" that the FY 2007 LCA (Labor Conditions Applications) database be made publicly viewable, so that U.S. tech workers can apply for these positions while they are still open.

The next batch of H-1B workers whose temporary visas have been approved will arrive on October 1.

Berry reminded Carlson in the letter that "although LCAs are public records, U.S. workers do not have access to these records," and likened the records lack of public availability to "choosing to reserve 65,000 U.S. jobs exclusively for foreign workers."

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Berry told eWEEK that "there is not law that they have to be viewable on the [Foreign Labor Certifications] Web site, though they have been up through 2005 … 2006 is not up there yet, and more importantly, neither is 2007."

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Berry argued that U.S. workers could be encouraged to apply for the jobs currently slated for guest workers if they knew they were available.

"Declining to release this public data now appears to violate the fundamental purpose of your division—to protect U.S. workers," Berry wrote.

The 2007 H-1B supply of 65,000 visas was exhausted June 1, four months before new ones will be made available, and giving rise to arguments by H-1B advocates that the current cap needs to be raised.

A provision to raise the cap to 115,000 is currently in a congressional conference committee.

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