Right Hand/Left Hand: The Kaspersky Lab, the Russians, and H-1B

Maybe all of this is a wild coincidence, and maybe there’s a bland explanation for it, but please note these two different governmental decisions:

The Department of Homeland Security, on September 13, 2017, told other government agencies to dismantle Kaspersky Lab computer products because: “The Department is concerned about ties between Kasrpersky officials and Russian intelligence.”

The Department of Labor in 2013 approved a Labor Condition Application (LCA) for a “Head of Anti-Malware Research” to be paid a handsome sum to work as an H-1B for Kaspersky in Bellevue, Wash.

Let’s ask a fundamental question: If you have government contracts in the security business, would it not be wise to confine your hiring to U.S. citizens? Kaspersky Lab filed LCAs for nine jobs in the period between 2011 and this year, all with high-tech job titles. Kaspersky had a long string of federal contracts on IT and security matters.

The salary offered in 2013 for the anti-malware job was $116,584 a year, with the job salary scale going up to $160,000. The other jobs paid less.

The DoL dataset, which can be seen at Myvisajobs.com, does not tell whether the job was actually filled, nor does it provide the name or the country of origin of the H-1B worker involved.

Two thoughts come to mine, one narrow, one broad.

First: If some agency is investigating Kaspersky, the agents might check on those attempted H-1B hirings. Were they hired? And where did they come from?

Second: I suspect that there is very little vetting by the government of H-1B employers, like Kaspersky.

There is a long list of these H-1B employers, governments tend to identify with employers, and many of them are upstanding (despite their hiring practices) members of society, such as the Gates Foundation (which sought 47 H-1B workers in the 2016-2017 period) and the Red Cross (which sought only three of them).

Some employers are suspect for policy reasons, such as the huge Indian outsourcing firm, Infosys (which filed for an eye-popping total of 43,414 H-1Bs, expecting, because of the lottery, to get a much smaller number).

Then there are the oddball employers such as Virginia International University in Fairfax (it sought eight H-1Bs, with only one of them being a professor). VIU combines many of the characteristics of a visa mill (little high quality education plus many work permits for a largely alien student population) with an alliance with the Muslim cult led by the self-exiled Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen.

Finally, there are the criminal misuses of the program, generally involving small firms, and often with one set of former Indian nationals exploiting a newer set of them, as reported in this blog.

Yes, immigrant-vetting should be more careful, but so should the vetting of employers in the H-1B (and other nonimmigrant worker) programs.

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