Goldman Sachs, Charged with Fraud, Is also an H-1B Employer

By David North, April 19, 2010

Goldman Sachs, the Wall Street powerhouse charged by the Securities and Exchange Commission with fraud, is also a substantial user of H-1B workers.

The fraud charge was the lead story Saturday in both the Washington Post and the New York Times as presumably it was in other papers across the nation. The firm is charged by the SEC, not always a vigorous watchdog, with creating complex financial instruments, selling them to investors, and then betting (via short selling) against the very same instruments.

The financial instruments, in turn, related to subprime mortgages, and according to Times columnist Joe Nocera, the Goldman Sachs actions made an already grim financial crisis that much worse. Goldman and some of its customers made billions by betting that the instruments would fail, as they did.

Goldman Sachs, of course, was one of the major beneficiaries of the Wall Street bailout and has received extensive press coverage for its fat bonuses, but little attention has been paid to the way that the firm uses a governmental process to secure workers from overseas, presumably at a somewhat lower cost than it would face were the jobs filled by U.S. workers.

This has been done through the nonimmigrant H-1B program that has been previously described in several CIS publications, such as my colleague John Miano's Backgrounder on the subject. The program allows U.S. employers to reach beyond the U.S. labor market to recruit, on a long-term but temporary basis, overseas workers who are usually thought to be working below U.S. wage levels, and shouldering aside U.S. residents who would otherwise have those jobs.

Given the reluctance of some government agencies, notably USCIS, to release meaningful data on their decisions about various groups of persons – illegal aliens, nonimmigrants, immigrants, and others – it is startling to find the wealth of data on the use of the H-1B program in U.S. Department of Labor internet site.

The most recent data deals with the year 2008 and shows, in great detail, how Goldman Sachs used the program to hire – or continue the nonimmigrant status of – some 24 of its employees. While the names of the employees are not listed, everything else about them is shown, such as their title, the dates that they will be allowed to work, and their salaries.

Some of the H-1B salaries are eye-popping. A managing director (and that's a strong title along Wall Street), for instance, has $300,000 a year listed under the heading "wage rate." At the other end of this plush spectrum there is an "Associate/Front Clerk" who is to be paid a mere $64,000 a year.

Whether all or any of these employees are paid a bonus is not shown on the Department of Labor's website.

The website has similar data on employees of other H-1B employers, including the location of their work. One could use a search engine on the site to look at other employers, and their H-1B workers.

The site is specific enough so that it shows the exact hour and minute that certifications were granted. Some other part of the system may show denials as well as grants but I have not found that as yet.