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Abuse of Foreign Workers with H-2 Visas

Posted by Eric Kingsley | Aug 13, 2015 | 0 Comments

Labor Violations Against Foreign Workers

Foreign workers abuse

The U.S. Department of Labor's H-2 visa program invites foreign workers to do some of the most menial labor in America. These foreign workers are then left at the mercy of their employers as they work on a temporary basis. This arrangement is economically advantageous for employers and it gives foreign workers an opportunity to earn wages they might not earn otherwise. However, there are major drawbacks as a result of these programs as many of these workers have reportedly been abused and even more of these foreign workers are deprived of their fair pay.

The H-2 Visa Program

The term “immigrant” refers to someone who intends to permanently settle in the United States and is free to work wherever he or she wants. On the other hand, most people who come to the U.S. through their employers are on “nonimmigrant visas”, meaning they are tied to a single employer for a certain amount of time. If that employer refuses to renew the visa, or sponsor the foreign work for permanent residency, the worker is sent away.

It is estimated that annually there are more than 100,000 H-2A and H-2B visa-holding foreign workers from South America, Asia and South Africa. These workers come to America to perform all kinds of unskilled labor in a variety of jobs such as housekeeping, picking fruit, landscaping, and farming. Unlike the more well-known H-1B visa program, which brings skilled workers such as computer programmers into America's high-tech industries, the H-2 program is for the economy's bottom rung as it is designed to make it easier for employers to fill temporary, unskilled positions.

Employer Control

The H-2 program allows employers to import foreign labor for jobs they say Americans won't take. However, given the work and employment arrangement, the program allows those companies to control almost every aspect of their employees' lives. Given the amount of power held by employers it is not surprising that it often leads to abuse and unfair treatment for these low-skilled workers.  Many companies pay their guest workers less than the law mandates and other employers pay foreign workers for fewer hours than they actually work, or force them to work extremely long hours without overtime.

In addition, some employers offer foreign workers far less work than promised, at times leaving workers without enough money to buy food and other essentials. Employers are also known to reduce actual wages paid to foreign workers by imposing a variety of prohibited fees, sometimes even starting with bribes to get the jobs in the first place. These fees can leave workers so deep in debt that they are effectively indentured servants.

Experiencing Unfair Treatment in the Workplace?

Consulting an experienced Los Angeles employment lawyer is an effective means for dealing with unfair treatment in the workplace. To discuss a potential claim on your behalf, feel free to contact leading California employment lawyers at Kingsley & Kingsley. Call toll-free at (888) 500-8469 or click here to contact us via email.

About the Author

Eric Kingsley

In practice since 1996, the firm's lawyer and co-founder, Eric B. Kingsley, has litigated complex cases and written numerous appeals in state and federal courts on behalf of the California law firm Kingsley & Kingsley, including More than 150 collective actions. Mr. Kingsley focuses his practice ...


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