Tales from The Trenches Archive

Submit your own Tale from The Trenches

You load sixteen tons…

There was this game company…..Ok, among the many things for which they were actually famous for, this little nugget never made it to the light of day. They had a sister studio in the UK from which they would recruit programmers. They’d offer moving costs, entry-level salary (which is OK because taxes are cheaper here, right?) and even find them an apartment walking distance from work. 

The recruits would be under strict instruction from the HR director when they came over to explain to Customs and Immigration that they were here on vacation so they could get hired without having to get in queue for an H1B1 visa.  They’d show up, “luck” into a job, and then the company had an immigration attorney that would handle getting them a work visa.

Only here’s the deal. Once you get one of those work visas, if you lose your job, it expires in 48 hours. If you quit or get fired, you have 2 days to find another job or you’re an illegal. And oddly enough, there was always some kind of delay with the lawyer if someone got too close to getting their green card.

So they would import these fresh-out-of school programmers, get them settled, and then stick them on projects that were mandatory 70 hours a week at least, and would have them by the balls until the project shipped or they got laid-off. One of those projects was on 7x10 for the entire 2 years that I worked there.

It almost backfired once when a new guy and his wife were on the way into the country. Their flight was delayed, the line at Customs was long; the wife got testy.  They got pulled out for additional scrutiny and the wife said, “Can we hurry this up?  He has to be at work on Monday.” They got sent back to the UK that night, on their own dime, barred from re-entering the country for a while, and no job waiting back at home. Nothing happened to the Company.

I regret I never figured out a way to nark on the HR director without hurting the genuinely sweet bunch of guys that they dragged over here and burned out.