IBM fined $44,400 for seeking immigrants to fill US jobs

IBM has been fined $44,400 in the US for posting job ads that stated a preference for applicants with immigrant visas.

In online ads for US-based roles that would eventually be moved to offshore locations, the IT giant included a preference for applicants with F-1 visas, which are issued to foreign national students, or H-1B visas, which are issued to skilled foreign workers. 

This allegedly breached the US Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), which prevents employers from discriminating on the basis of citizenship status, unless otherwise permitted by law. 

"Although IBM’s job postings were for positions that would ultimately require the successful candidate to relocate overseas," the Department of Justice said in a statement on Friday, "the anti-discrimination provision of the INA does not permit employers to express or imply a preference for temporary visa holders over US workers."

IBM settled the allegations by paying a $44,400 penalty. 

The company is in the process of moving to more of a "global delivery model", which means using an increasing proportion of offshore resources. 

According to a report by Computerworld, as of last year IBM employs more people in India (around 112,000) than it does in the US (100,000). It is the single largest multi-national employer in India.

In April, Bloomberg reported that IBM was mid-way through a restructuring programme that would see it cut roughly 6,000 jobs, at a cost of about $1 billion. 

At the time, the company said that "change is constant in the technology industry and transformation is an essential feature of our business model. Consequently, some level of workforce remix is a constant requirement for our business."

Pete Swabey

Pete Swabey

Pete was Editor of Information Age and head of technology research for Vitesse Media plc from 2005 to 2013, before moving on to be Senior Editor and then Editorial Director at The Economist Intelligence...

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