Sunday, February 15, 2009

Visa Abuse

TAG sees a lot of immigration visas, writes a lot of letters to the INS about immigration visa. There's abuse and corner cutting here and there, but this will warm your heart:

Federal agents on Thursday said they arrested 11 people in six states in a crackdown on H-1B visa fraud and unsealed documents that detail how the visa process was used to undercut the salaries of U.S. workers.

Federal authorities allege that in some cases, H-1B workers were paid the prevailing wages of low-cost regions and not necessarily the higher salaries paid in the locations where they worked. By doing this, the companies were "displacing qualified American workers and violating prevailing wage laws," said federal authorities in a statement announcing the indictments.

H1-B immigration visas are not a type that TAG gets to review and write approve/disapprove letters for. But we do get info on them from time to time, and speed that info along.

But from visas we've reviewed, I can say that the larger companies are pretty straight-arrow about following the regs. (Disney especially follows them, because they have a tyro attorney who insists on it.)

But some of the smaller companies? Not so much.

The biggest problem with visas is that the INS tends to wave lots of applications through. If the application and supporting documents appear to be more or less in order, the Feds bless it and the immigrant comes in to work.

Perhaps this is changing ...


Anonymous said...

hmm... H1-b is non-immigration visa, not immigration visa...

Anonymous said...

From my experience, Non-Union shops like Imageworks would have many foreign artists on visas under long term contract. So when time for layoffs came, it would be the American artists that were let go.

Also note that at Imageworks there are two types of employees: "production staff" with limited benefits and health coverages and "staff" with full benefits and the best health insurance (PPO).

So the demographics would be that the visa artists would be guaranteed long term employment and full benefits with the best health care while "production staff" aka "show hires" would be made predominantly of American artists subject to massive layoffs.

Always thought it was odd that foreign artists on visas were afforded these advantages over American artists in their own country.

Anonymous said...

In respond to 2nd 'Anonymous'.

Okay, we get it! You do not like foreigners in the American animation industry. Let’s all make the American animation industry small and narrow minded, even more than it already is. ??!!!??!!

By the way. Shouldn’t it be that ALL employees should get the same benefits, and not that foreigners should getting worse treatment. Believe me, as a 'foreigner' myself, I have seriously felt how cruel and nasty the companies actually can be treating foreigners. Do not think it always is that simple and easy being foreign in ‘YOUR’ field.

Thank you.

Steve Hulett said...

Just to be clear: TAG's policy toward visas is, if anybody meets the regs and laws, we write a "no objection" letter on their beahlf.

(I'm referring here to O-1 visas, not H1-Bs, which require no letters of approval from labor organizations.)

If an applicant meets INS criteria, the reviewing labor organization has an obligation to confirm that the criteria are met. Most of the thousands of letters we've written are favorable because most O-1 visas submitted to us are for qualified O-1 applicants.

This goes against the grain of some union members, but we see our job as following the laws, not making them.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous #3 needs to chill out. That isn't what Anonymous #2 is saying. Nor did #2 say it should be reversed. I feel as a guest you are being a tad rude.

Anonymous said...

It's a bit easier to negotiate with someone on an H1-B visa at the end of their contract. The alternative is deportation and there isn't much leverage there.

Anonymous said...

Well, foreigners do actually sometimes pay a high price coming to our country. They do not qualify for ‘unemployment checks’ when on hiatus (unless having a 'Green-Card' or 'O1-Visa'), despite they pay full taxes etc. while here,- and have given up all rights from their own countries (pensions etc..).

Anonymous said...

Actually, most countries have reciprocal agreements so that foreign workers can keep their earnings from Social Security and the equivalent from their own country. In what countries does a foreign worker give up earnings into their home-country pension?

As for no unemployment, isn't that because they're supposed to return home when their work is finished?

Anonymous said...

Actually, several countries in Europe stop pension benefits in your native country when you leave European-borders (unless you are stationed out in the world as a soldier, or if working for your native countries government). If you decide to do career in other fields than those, you are on your own. Meaning, you are depending on what you made of pension paying into accounts in America (401K etc.)
In regards to just leaving the country. Well, sometimes if working in feature, you can be asked to have hiatus for lets say 6 months, and you might still be under contract. Having an offer to come back working after 6 months. In that time you are not legible for any benefits in America even though you have paid into the social system. Also, in that amount of time, you can of cause not claim for any help in Europe, as your home address now are in America. Very logical.
So basically you of cause can not claim pension or benefits from 2 different countries.
Again you can not claim any benefits from your new country (America), while on hiatus, even though you are paying lots of money into the system. So having a career in animation comming from Europe is not as easy as it might seem.
Hope that explains it a little bit -

Anonymous said...

anom #4, there is an anti-foreigner smell to a few of the posts here, including yours. Anom#3 was not being rude at all!

It is quite unfair that after paying for unemployment for the entire time you're working, you don't qualify for unemployment insurance. And the time you have to leave the US is two weeks.


Anonymous said...

Actually, I know someone who had less than a week to leave the country! After one of the major companies pulled a contract back, after the person had gotten ill. - The person had tried for years to obtain a green-card but the company’s attorney (at the time) kept delaying correspondence to the persons personal attorney, with required paperwork for immigration. That way the company kept the person in a golden cage.
Let’s just say the company has a fun Panda running around.

Anonymous said...

You're right. Anonymous 2 saying, "Okay, we get it! You do not like foreigners in the American animation industry. Let’s all make the American animation industry small and narrow minded, even more than it already is. ??!!!??!!" isn't rude at all.

That person just insulted and bit the hand that feeds them.


Anonymous said...

No, that's not rude. Thats an opinion, and last I heard, there was freedom of opinion in the US. Unless I didnt get the memo...

When americans go elsehwere to work, that's seen as adventurous,sharing knowledge, etc; when foreigners come to the US to render their services, it's seem like displacing other americans.

Anonymous said...

I too sense a certain hostility towards 'foreigners' in this Blog. It deeply concerns me.
As Union-members I believe we should stick together, brothers and sisters, and focus on the essential of our problems. Is it 'foreigners' being our co-workers? I do not think so. Are they threatening our careers? I do not think so. Should we focus on the large corporations instead, outsourcing work by large numbers claming it is unavoidable?…???
I look at my fellow 'foreign' colleges and friends, as an extra flavor in the workplace. How come we can’t focus on sticking together on issues like having a strike for instance, towards some of these companies.
Despite the worldwide financial crises, - where do we keep our moral? Many 'foreigners' in our industry are paying high prices to come to our country to work, and this is the thank they are getting. Working hard and paying dues and taxes. Some of them not even legible to claim any help themselves when needed. It’s absurd. Hollywood is not exactly known in rest of the world, for allowing foreign films into the field of corporate America. We have to ask ourselves why 'foreigners' come here. Maybe because this is where the animation industry is more or less blooming. Some 'foreigners' working here are highly skilled. It is humans we are talking about here. Talking about 'foreigners' like a piece of garbage you just throw out when used, makes me sometimes wonder if we are living back in the South…

Anonymous said...

"No, that's not rude. Thats an opinion, and last I heard, there was freedom of opinion in the US. Unless I didnt get the memo..."

Right. It's an opinion just like the one previous to that. It's a two way street. And yet the first opinion was attacked.


" Talking about 'foreigners' like a piece of garbage you just throw out when used, makes me sometimes wonder if we are living back in the South…"

No one said anything remotely close to that. The most aggressive language was from Anonymous 3 with all the exclamation points and accusations... err i mean "opinions".

Real nice.

Anonymous said...

US animation companies hire foreigners because they cost less. US animation companies send their projects to foreign countries because they cost less. I'm just wondering, if you Americans had to choose, which would you prefer?

Anonymous said...

I think this all started with the comment about Imageworks.

Imageworks is not a Union house.

Walk in there and you'll see visa workers are paid very well with top notch benefits and more secure staff positions that are less vulnerable to lay offs than production hires aka show hires who have inferior benefits and no holiday pay as well as sick pay last time I checked.

So instead of attacking someone for pointing out the inequities of the situation of a non-Union house, how about starting from that doesn't sound right...

I'm all for everyone being on the same playing field no matter where they're from.

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