NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

L-1 Visas Displace American Workers

March 18, 2003

U.S. corporations no longer have to outsource high-tech or information technology (IT) jobs to China or India -- they just bring replacements here on an L-1 visa.

The L-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa which allows companies operating both in the United States and abroad to transfer certain classes of employees from their foreign operations to their U.S. operations for up to seven years.

The L-1 visa program is especially attractive to U.S. corporations because it allows them to tap low-paid skilled labor without having to construct facilities abroad. Instead of moving to China and India in order to hire engineers and scientists, the companies can simply import the labor. The L-1 supplants the H-1B visa which allows foreign professionals to enter the United States and accept temporary employment within designated "specialty occupations."

According to Business Week:

  • There are now about 350,000 foreigners on L-1 visas who have displaced U.S. IT and high-tech employees.
  • Put this number together with the number of H-1B visas, and Americans have lost 750,000 high-income jobs in the last few years, claims economist Paul Craig Roberts.

L-1 visas allow employees to remain in the United States for seven years. The program creates an ever-greater source of foreign IT workers who, on their return to their homelands, are productively employed in training their fellow citizens in the business cultures of blue-chip U.S. companies.

As a significant proportion of foreign engineers are U.S. trained or trained by their fellows with U.S. educations, the supply is sufficient to replace every American engineer and IT employee with low-cost foreigners.

Source: Paul Craig Roberts, "Is your job safe?", March 13, 2003.


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