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6/18/2007
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YouTube Video On Avoiding U.S. Job Applicants Angers Programmers

IT professionals criticize a law firm's video play-by-play description on how to expediate the PERM process to more easily hire foreign workers.

YouTube bites again. A law firm's attempt to get positive exposure for an immigration law conference by posting it on You Tube backfired when an organization that's been tough on H-1B visas and offshore outsourcing copied it and made a controversial video of its own.

In the original video, posted by the firm Cohen & Grigsby from a May 15 conference, an attorney is shown advising attendees on how to meet the minimum requirements of advertising a job to U.S. candidates so that a foreign worker can more easily be hired. The firm's conference dealt with the U.S. government's labor certification requirement for foreign workers, the first step in helping them obtain green cards. The law requires that an employer prove there are no qualified U.S. citizens for a permanent job being offered before hiring a non-citizen.

In one 10-minute segment of the conference video, a panel of lawyers are shown discussing Program Electronic Review Management (PERM), an electronic labor certification system the government put in place two years ago to reduce certification to under 60 days. It was that portion of the video lambasted by the Programmers Guild, an organization of IT professionals that is staunchly protectionist against the loss of U.S. jobs to foreign workers both onshore and offshore.

The PERM process requires that an employer post a job in at least three places and allow 30 days for job candidates to respond and for the employer to review resumes. If no interested and qualified U.S. workers respond, an employer can instantly and electronically apply for a foreign worker's labor certification.

In the video, attorney Jennifer Pack advises attendees that posting the job at an employer's Web site and with a local newspaper is usually enough to fill the minimum requirement, if the newspaper also posts the job online.

Another attorney, Lawrence Lebowitz, adds, "We're going to try to find a place [to advertise] where we are complying with the law and hoping, and likely, not to find qualified and interested worker applicants." Earlier, Pack mentions less desirable methods that are more likely to pull in qualified and interested workers, including job fairs, online job sites like Monster.com, campus recruitments, and job placement firms.

In its YouTube video, the Programmers Guild accuses the firm of using fake job ads to fulfill the PERM process. "These ads constitute fraud on American job seekers," says the organization in its text leading into the video.

Contacted at his Pittsburgh office the afternoon of June 18, Lebowitz said he was reviewing the matter with other partners in the firm and declined comment at this time.

The law firm removed the conference video sometime between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. Eastern daylight time on June 18.

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