Desi Consultancies in the US - Good or Bad?
Today we are going to discuss Desi Consultancies in the US. Ever since we started It’s Ok Yaar, we’ve received so many requests to do a deep dive into Desi Consultancies in the US.
We’ve all heard so many things about them. Some good, some bad and some very bad.
So, today in this article we are going to discuss:
What are desi consultancies?
When did desi consultancies come into existence and gain prominence?
What are some of the pros of desi consultancies
Why are they so infamous?
Some unethical practices that desi consultancies follow with examples.
Some practices that desi consultancies employ to place people
Some examples of how desi consultancies also been beneficial to many and how they help?
Our Final verdict. Are they good or are they bad?
What are Desi Consultancies?
In simple words Desi Consultancies are staffing agencies typically owned by Desis. Hence the name. These consultancies specialize in providing services to Indian International students and professionals who want to study or work in the US. They provide a range of services, including visa application assistance, job placement, and training programs.
When did Desi Consultancies in USA gain prominence?
While we’re discussing Desi Consultancies, we should also spend some time in understanding where they come from? Let’s understand some history of these consultancies.
So, Desi Consultancies have been in existence for several decades, but they gained prominence in the early 2000s when the H-1B visa program became popular.
Now, we all know that Indian IT professionals make up a significant portion of H-1B visa holders.
They started relying on Desi Consultancies to help them navigate the complex visa application process and secure job opportunities in the US. And for a very long time things were usually fine.
But then, more Desis started gravitating towards the American dream. Nothing wrong with that. But then with that, demand for such consultancies spiked and we all know that when there’s demand for something, there are a lot of opportunists waiting to take advantage of the situation and find loopholes in the system.
Pros of Desi Consultancies
Now Let’s discuss some Pros or the benefits of Desi Consultancies:
Most people working for these consultancies are usually desis who’ve spent enough time in the US and have a good understanding of both the cultures. They understand where we come from, our habits and practices and they also know how things work here in the US.
They provide guidance on everything from dress codes to communication styles helping us navigate the challenging process of finding a job in a foreign country.
Many Desi Consultancies specialize in providing staffing and consulting services to clients in the IT and engineering fields, where there is strong demand for skilled workers. Consultants can provide guidance on everything from resume writing to interview preparation and some even provide extensive training to help us stand out in a competitive job market.
Access to job opportunities:
Desi Consultancies often have established relationships with companies that are seeking skilled workers, and can provide candidates with access to job opportunities that might not be advertised elsewhere. This can be particularly beneficial for international students who struggle with networking to land a job here initially.
Perhaps their biggest advantage is that they are mostly willing to sponsor your H-1B Visa. And this is not just for International students. They’ve been known to file H1b lottery for a lot of people who are on H4 visas too. Not just that, they also come in handy when you’re laid off on an H1B visa. They help you transfer your H1B to their company and help you in finding a role.
Why are they so infamous in the US?
Desi Consultancies are a little badnaam in the US because of their alleged involvement in visa fraud and other unethical practices. We’ll talk about some of those unethical practices in a bit.
But many of these consultancies have been shut down by US law enforcement agencies for engaging in fraudulent activities, which has led to a negative perception of all Desi Consultancies.
Here are some news pieces about the same:
Also, over the past few years the entire narrative of H-1B workers taking away jobs from US citizens has caught steam and that has led to many Americans workers and politicians see Desi Consultancies as a threat to their jobs and the US economy. They argue that these consultancies exploit the H-1B visa program to import foreign workers who are willing to work for lower wages and take jobs away from qualified Americans.
Their claims till date are relatively unjustified.
Unethical practices used by Desi Consultancies
Desi Consultancies use a variety of practices to place candidates in companies, some of which have been criticized as unethical or even fraudulent. A lot of people are even aware of this but they end up getting involved with them due to desperation. And it’s understandable, you’ve spent a lot of money, taken loans to study in the US and if you aren’t able to secure that H-1B visa, then you’re left with very few options.
Having said that, let’s discuss some of the common unethical practices used by desi consultancies in the US:
This is the most common thing that they engage in. They create false resumes or exaggerate the qualifications in order to make your profile more attractive to potential employers.
This can include fabricating work experience, education credentials, or technical skills.
In some cases, candidates are asked to lie about their background or experience in order to secure a job offer.
Please note that this practice is illegal and can result in serious consequences for both the candidate and the employer.
Some Desi Consultancies require candidates to pay a fee in exchange for job placement services or even for filing their h1b visas.
This can range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars, and may be presented as a "training" or "placement" fee. In some cases, candidates are promised job offers or visas in exchange for payment, but these promises may not be fulfilled. This practice is illegal under U.S. law, and can result in civil and criminal penalties for the consultancy.
In order to bypass the H-1B visa lottery system, some Desi Consultancies have been known to submit multiple applications for the same candidate, using different names or addresses.
This is a violation of the H-1B program, which requires each employer to submit only one application per candidate.
This practice can lead to visa fraud charges and permanent ineligibility for future visa applications.
In order to meet the salary requirements for H-1B visas, some Desi Consultancies have been known to inflate the salaries of their candidates on visa applications. This is done in order to meet the minimum salary threshold required by law, but it can also lead to visa fraud charges if discovered by immigration authorities. In some cases, candidates may not actually receive the salary listed on their visa application because the consultancies take a cut out of it too.
Some Desi Consultancies misrepresent the nature of the job or the working conditions in order to secure a job offer for their candidate. This can include exaggerating the job duties, misrepresenting the location or duration of the job, or concealing information about the employer. This practice can result in serious consequences for both the candidate and the employer, including termination of employment, fines, and legal liability.
For example, a candidate was shown to be working for a theater in their IT team to upgrade it. When USCIS did a surprise field visit (and yes, they do that from time to time) they realized that no such theater existed. Of course, the visa was denied and the consultancy had to pay a heft fine.
Some desi consultancies are even said to appear for interviews on your behalf or be with you during your phone screening or virtual interviews and prompt you with answers during the interviews. A lot of clients later realize that the person they’ve hired actually isn’t that qualified for the job.
These practices are not universal to all Desi Consultancies, but they have been observed in some cases and have led to significant criticism of the industry.
How to identify whether a Desi Consultancy is good or bad
Now, after knowing all of this you might have realized that no matter some of the practices they follow, desi consultancies do fill in a need gap here. But how do we identify if a particular consultancy is good or bad?
A few red flags that easily stand out are;
If they ask you to add irrelevant experience in your resume or exaggerate your skills
If they ask you for money for training purposes and promise to get you an H1B visa. No one can promise an h1B visa.
If they say they’ll help you get an IT job even though you have no prior IT experience
If they say, they’ll “take care” of the interview.
In my opinion, while some companies do engage in unethical and fraudulent practices, it would be wrong to say that they’re all the same. There are plenty of consultancies that are good, really train you for the job and interviews and help you place at great companies and also file your H1B visas.
They are as some people like to call it, a necessary evil. Some may argue that it is because of them that a lot of desis have a bad reputation in the US. But as we know, things aren’t always black or white. A lot of things lie in the gray area and it’s up to us to know how further towards the gray we want to go.
I hope this article was helpful.
I’ve tried to share a lot of information in this article and presented you with the good and the bad side of desi consultancies. But you know what will be helpful to the community? If you or someone you know has had an experience with Desi Consultancy, please share it below in the comments section. That way all of us will have access to different perspectives.
And remember, if things aren’t going well now, It’s Ok Yaar. They soon will. Until then, It’s Priya signing off.