SAN FRANCISCO – A Northern California company founded by an Indian American businessman that federal officials say violated salary requirements of the country’s foreign-worker visa program will pay a total of $173,044 to 12 workers, the U.S. Department of Labor said May 1.
The Labor Department said information technology provider Cloudwick Technologies Inc. underpaid the employees hired from India who obtained special highly skilled worker visas. The department says Cloudwick also made illegal payroll deductions.
Messages left by The Associated Press with Cloudwick were not immediately returned.
U.S. employers can temporary hire foreigners to work in jobs that require specialized skills and college educations.
The department said companies hiring foreign workers with the special H1-B visas are required to pay minimum salaries. Some employees were allegedly promised salaries up to $8,300 per month, but instead received $800 net per month, the department said.
Companies that hire foreign workers with H1-B visas must show a shortage of U.S. workers with specialized skills.
“The intent of the H-1B foreign labor certification program is to help American companies find the highly skilled talent they need when they can prove that a shortage of U.S. workers exists,” department spokeswoman Susana Blanco said. “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.”
The Newark, Calif.-based company agreed to hire an outside monitor to ensure future compliance.
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.
President Trump last year signed an executive order he dubbed “Buy American, Hire American,” requiring federal agencies to develop their work visa policies and develop new rules and guidance to prevent fraud and abuse if necessary.
The H-1B visa program is part of that review.
According to an article in The Mercury News, Cloudwick’s Indian American founder and CEO Mani Chhabra said May 1 that the labor department “misrepresented” some facts about the firm’s use of H-1B workers.
“Cloudwick has never brought resources from India,” Chhabra said, according to the report, adding: “All the resources are Master’s students that have educated in U.S. and then we hired and and trained them.”