NEW YORK: A US Senator has demanded a probe into the "potential misuses" of the popular H1-B visa programme following a report that Walt Disney has laid off about 250 employees and replaced them with Indians.
Democratic Senator Bill Nelson of Florida called for the investigation into the temporary visa programme for highly skilled immigrants after a report in The New York Times claimed that technology employees at Walt Disney World in Orlando and other companies lost their jobs to immigrants and had to train their replacements.
According to a report, in the letter to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, Nelson asked him to examine "potential misuses" of the H-1B visa programme.
"This programme was created to help fill jobs when there were labour shortages, not to take jobs away from anyone," Nelson said in the letter, adding that he was concerned that immigrants in the programme might be "in less specialised positions."
It was earlier reported that about 250 Disney workers were laid off last year and many were replaced by immigrants hired by an outsourcing company based in India.
Some of the laid-off workers had to train immigrants on H-1B visas to do their jobs.
It had said that the layoffs at Disney and at other companies, including the Southern California Edison power utility, are "raising new questions about how businesses and outsourcing companies are using the temporary visas, known as H-1B, to place immigrants in technology jobs in the United States."
The NYT report said former Disney workers were struggling to find new technology jobs in the Orlando area, where Disney is overwhelmingly the biggest employer.
Last year, Southern California Edison, a power utility, started layoffs of 540 workers, replacing them with immigrants brought in by a different Indian-based outsourcing company.
A bipartisan group of senators, including Charles E Grassley, Republican of Iowa and Richard Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, have asked the Labour Department to investigate those layoffs for possible violations