Amid the growing debate over immigration reform, a Cambridge, Mass.-based computer firm has agreed to reimburse its temporary foreign workers more than $2.4 million in back wages, the Labor Department said Thursday.
Patni Computer Systems had underpaid as many 607 IT professionals employed under the H-1B visa program for two years beginning in January 2004, an agency investigation found.
The H-1B visa program allows U.S. employers to hire foreign workers on a temporary basis for highly skilled jobs, such as computer programmers, engineers, and physicians. Under the terms of the visa, the foreign workers must be paid the same rate as U.S.-born employees for similar work.
"The department is committed to vigorously enforcing the H-1B provisions that guard against employers undercutting American workers by underpaying temporary foreign workers," Labor Secretary Elaine Chao said in a statement.
This year, the annual quota of 65,000 H-1B visa applications was fulfilled in a single day.
A controversial bill currently before the Senate includes a revamped guest-worker program, as well as a path to legal status for the nation's estimated 12 million undocumented workers.