Due to some excellent investigative journalism by the Dayton (OH) Daily News, some questionable actions at Wright State University involving the H-1B work visa emerged recently. See my second blog post on this matter, which links to my previous one.
Now Beryl Lieff Benderly has an interesting article on the WSU fiasco, in Science Careers, a publication of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, an old and highly prestigious organization. The article is recommended reading not only for its content but also for its source.
However, I do wish to point out that the situation is more nuanced than what has been reported, at least in terms of the university’s dealings with the UES firm. (I don’t know enough about the Web Yoga situation to comment.)
The hirings in question went through WSU’s Applied Research Institute, but the press coverage (including the Benderly piece) gives the impression that the university’s actions were not motivated by research at all. I am fairly sure that that was NOT the case. The university did hire Dr. Ganti with the goal of her doing research, and very importantly, publishing her results under the WSU name. Mind you, the university also appears to have had the goal of making money in the process, by charging UES overhead of $20,000, and yes, the university was probably fully aware of the fact that UES’ motivation was to obtain cheap labor that was not subject to the H-1B cap. In other words, WSU saw this as a “win-win” situation for both itself and UES.
In other words, the university is likely culpable, yes, but in a somewhat more nuanced way than what is being reported. And, as is almost always the case with abuse of the H-1B visa, this was probably all perfectly legal, even if not ethical.
In terms of harm to U.S. citizens and permanent residents, though, the WSU actions, while likely common at universities, are a mere drop in the ocean. The harm that comes from the F-1 foreign student visa is immeasurable, as American employers, especially the Intels and the Googles, hire young new foreign graduates in lieu of older (35+) but equally-qualified Americans. As many of you know, this is a major theme in my writings about foreign STEM workers, and I find it odd that the WSU case can receive so much attention while the far bigger issue gets none.