H-1B Skilled-Worker Visas Under Fire

The World

With April nearing, many people in the US are concerned about the tax deadline, but for Kriti Bajaj the month brings a different anxiety—deportation. Bajaj comes from India, but she is not in the US illegally. She is actually a Stanford University graduate in biology. But now, if Bajaj can't find a sponsor for a visa before April 1st, then she must leave the country. Bajaj's only chance to stay here is an H-1B, the US visa for high-skilled foreign labor.

But as Bajaj struggles with her personal immigration problem, the US is attempting to resolve its own. Congress will soon weigh legislation that nearly quadruples the number of H-1B visas offered. Part of the reasoning is that more skilled-worker visas keep America at the top of the tech-food chain. But the proposal is not without controversy, mostly from older US-born programmers who feel displaced by foreign workers. Reporter Sam Harnett has this story.

Kriti Bajaj thought she had figured her life out. She studied biology, graduated from Stanford University, and then moved back to India, her home country, to pursue a Ph.D. After one year, Bajaj realized she had made a big mistake. Academia just wasn't for her.

“There's too many unknowns,” she says. “Nothing was working. I was in this dark little cell in the middle of nowhere.”

Bajaj ditched biology and decided to restart her life as a computer programmer back in California. So now she is back in California, in San Francisco on a tourist visa, and enrolled in an intensive coding camp called App Academy, one of many new, intensive coding camps that teach web development from scratch.

One main reason Bajaj chose App Academy is because she can complete its nine-week course before her tourist visa runs out. She hopes to build tech skills through the program fast and then find a company that will sponsor her for an H-1B visa.

But some say if she is employed on an H-1B she will rob a job from an American.

“If she's being hired for an H-1B visa based on nine weeks of programming work, then it's an abuse of the visa,” says Norm Matloff, who teaches computer science at the University of California, Davis.

Matloff claims companies use H-1B visas to replace older, US programmers with younger, cheaper foreigners like Bajaj. “The abuse is widespread across the board,” he says. "Mainstream, household name firms are abusing the program.”

The modern H-1B debuted in 1990 as temporary, three-year-visas for high-skilled workers. The US currently issues 85,000 H-1Bs a year—and companies snap them up fast.

Soon, Congress will debate whether to increase that quota to 300,000. Technology giants like Microsoft support the move, saying the US has a shortage of skilled workers. At a Congressional hearing in 2009, Bill Gates said, “My basic view is that the country should welcome as many of those people as we can get.” He advocated issuing H-1Bs and eliminating any caps.

Gate's stance is a familiar one. Many argue that the US must raise its H-1B quota in order to snag the best and brightest international talent, or else they will innovate in other countries. But a closer examination of H-1B visas reveals a more muddled picture.

Last year, nearly half of the H-1B visas went to companies like Infosys and Wipro, not marquee companies like Google and Microsoft. Companies such as Infosys are the workhorses of Silicon Valley, large IT firms that churn out the industry's unglamorous connective tissue: things like boilerplate coding, user support, and network maintenance.

So, why does the US need to import labor for this lower-skilled work? Matloff says it has to do with wages and immobility. He argues that since employers sponsor H-1Bs visas, foreigners have a limited ability to negotiate higher salaries or switch jobs. If they do manage to change employers, it means they must restart any green card applications. Matloff says these realities “handcuff” H-1B visa holders to their employers.

Ardit Bajraktari, a 32-year-old from Albania, has another phrase for it: indentured servitude.

Mobile developer Ardit Bajraktari

Mobile developer Ardit Bajraktari says working on an H-1B is like indentured servitude.


Sam Harnett

Bajraktari is a highly sought after mobile developer in Silicon Valley. He has been programming software for mobile phones since the early 2000s, back when touch screens were still the sci-fi fantasies of Star Trek fans.

Like many programmers in the Bay Area, Bajraktari has hopped around—working at places like MobiTV, Yammer, and Amazon. “If you want to keep your skill set up to date,” he says, “you have to move companies.”

But unlike his US co-workers, every time Bajraktari switches jobs he loses his visa sponsorship and risks deportation. “It's like you have a sword on your neck,” he says, “you have to find a job.”

Bajraktari has been trying to get a green card for more than a decade. He came to the US at age 17, and worked dutifully ever since without a major break in employment, all without securing a green card.

Bajraktari quest for a green card has been complicated. MobiTV, one of his earliest employers, pursued the application as promised, but Bajraktari's limited work experience left his application stalled for years.

He eventually took a job at Amazon, in part because of a promise to expedite his application. At that point, he had gained enough experience to move his green card request along quickly.

Yet Bajraktari said that it took Amazon nearly two years to start moving his paperwork. The grinding bureaucracy reminded Bajraktari of Albania under communism. “To make things move forward you have to threaten your company that you’re not going to work anymore,” he says, “it becomes a weird, weird situation.”

Salaries can also get complicated. Because the company controls the visa process, employees can feel forced to remain silent about unequal pay or else risk their immigration status. It happened to Bajraktari at his first job, and it's happening to Steve now. “I’m being paid less,” he says, “which sucks for me, and it also sucks for American developers because I am a threat to them. I am cheaper.”

Steve requested not to use his real name. If he is fired, he could be deported back to the UK. He says that not long after signing on to California software firm, he noticed that he was paid 10 to 20 percent less than his American co-workers doing the same job. “Maybe it's just naivety on my part,” he says, “but [I] definitely feel like they low-balled me and I was just like, 'Oh, sure, okay.”

Norm Matloff says the first reform for H-1Bs should be to ensure that foreign employees receive competitive salaries, high enough to prove that companies need them. Matloff also advocates to end the handcuffing. Bajraktari agrees. “The H-1B holder should be able to do the green card petition himself, so you're not the slave of your company,” he says.

In the meantime, Bajraktari is once again looking for a new employer.

He would like to work at a start-up. But it's too risky. If they go under or get bought out, Bajraktari would have to restart the green card process.

So instead he's considering offers from large tech companies. He hopes that one of them will come through with a green card. After 10 years of working in the US legally he says, he would like to enjoy the same professional freedoms as his US colleagues.

Editor's Note: Here is an archived version of the most upvoted comments that appeared on the original version of this story which was published on an older version of our website. Feel free to continue the conversation in the active comment thread below.



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      Spend 9 weeks learning programming from scratch on a tourist visa (that couldn't get one too far beyond "printf"), and then play the system to get a job in the U.S.? It's a wonderful world... if you're a foreigner.

      Actually, I too could be a foreigner if - as a U.S. citizen - I left the U.S. for work... but oh yeah: pretty much no foreign country will hire American workers, so I'm stuck here.

      At the 2009 Congressional hearing referred to in this article, Bill Gates lied to Congress. He misrepresented that Microsoft’s H-1B jobs for new graduates with no experience "start at about $100,000 per year."  In fact in fiscal year 2006 only 12.4% of Microsoft’s LCAs for H-1Bs paid $100k or more, and these were for directors, managers, and legal counsel rather than for new graduates.

      The H-1B program is primarily used to import young, cheaper labor from developing countries for technical and engineering work; displacing many U.S. citizens from their professions or discouraging them from entering their previously-chosen profession. It is NOT typically used to bring in the "best and brightest" minds. According to a January 14 2011 GAO report, most of the H-1B workers are categorized as having only entry-level skills. The program is also plagued by rampant fraud, which the government has only recently begun to address. But fraud is not the biggest problem: the loopholes are.

      Suggested reading (please google):

      Economic Policy Institute, October 14, 2010 The H-1B and L-1 Visa programs: Out of Control

      Economic Policy Institute, November 19, 2012 STEM labor shortages? Microsoft report distorts reality about computing occupations

      U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), Jan 14, 2011 H-1B Visa Program: Reforms Are Needed to Minimize the Risks and Costs of Current Program

      ComputerWorld - Fed indictments tell how H-1B visas were used to undercut wages

      BusinessWeek - Work Visas May Work Against the U.S.

      BusinessWeek - America's High-Tech Sweatshops

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        Tim_Rothchild  Sam

           awesome !!!!!

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          Rage Against Fraudy  Sam


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            Varun  Sam

              I know for a fact(from multiple friends) that Microsoft pays $110,000 generally(to new graduates with 1-2 yrs of experience) with salaries going as high as $130,000(with significant prior experience and research) to a MS-CS graduate passing out from top 30 universities in US.

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              SamHarnett  Sam

                This is the reporter, Sam --

                I just wanted to chime in on Kriti's story. I found her interesting because Kriti wont be relying solely on her nine week experience at App Academy to find a job. She also graduated from Stanford University, and if she had not returned to India, she would most probably been able to stay in the US through OPT and then on an H1B visa in the biology field. Because she went back to India after college and now wants to change fields, her immigration status is very tricky. Should it be that hard for a Stanford graduate to stay in the country?

                Also, a note on App Academy. It, like many of these new bootcamps, is a highly selective program. Part of the fee structure actually relies on students getting jobs, which means App Academy has to only pick students who will get hired to sustain itself. Applicants may have limited programming experience, but they are extremely bright and motivated.

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                  John80224  SamHarnett

                    Would you say that both Kriti and the boot camp are fairly unique?  I worry that for every one of each there are a number more similar but not nearly as special stories that are finding a way to hang around.  I don't fault them for following their dreams, but I do fault my government for supporting such dreams while my once reality has reverted back to a dream.

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                    rlawson  SamHarnett

                      "Also, a note on App Academy. It, like many of these new bootcamps, is a highly selective program. Part of the fee structure actually relies on students getting jobs, which means App Academy has to only pick students who will get hired to sustain itself. Applicants may have limited programming experience, but they are extremely bright and motivated."

                      Didn't read this part before.  I still think some people (like Kriti) will not be successful but maybe someone with related (transferable) skills could be with a program like App Academy.  One of my comments was perhaps harsh on this program.  To be fair I think programs like this could be very beneficial.  My doubt however is when it comes to people starting with nothing.  No computer science or no related experience under the belt.  Heck, even help desk or something.  I hate to see school administrators rake in millions while their students have nothing to show for.  So if they can show a proven record that would go a long way (at least with my singular opinion).

                      I'm doubtful because this is what I've done for a living many years.  I'd like to see some of their success stories and also some of their failure stories to understand what type of people could be at least marginally successful after a 9 week program and what type of skills or experience they had prior to attending.

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                        SamHarnett  rlawson

                          Good points Roy. I'll add that these camps aren't turning out all star programmers, but instead very, very basic level web developers. 

                          Most boast high job placement rates. But then again, they are a new thing right now. Hard to say if it's just a trend.

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                            rlawson  SamHarnett

                              Thanks for reporting it none the less.  Certainly something for us to keep an eye on.  I'm dubious but there were probably alot of good ideas I was dubious about in the past that turned out to be great.  Twitter. 

                              The proof is in the pudding.  We'll need to see a track record to arrive at more concrete conclusions.  I'm for anything that can help people become better at this in a reasonable amount of time, but I also wouldn't want to give people false hope or flood the market with low quality and undertrained workers.  It's not like we have licensing like doctors or lawyers so fly by nights could scar our reputations if we aren't careful.

                              So long as these programs improve our reputation and our abilities I could get behind them.  Is there an independent group monitoring these programs and tracking their success rate?  I'd like to know what data are out there, and who produces them.

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                          High Skilled Worker  SamHarnett

                            Why are you shilling for the outsourcing industry? The VAST MAJORITY of h-1bs work in the outsourcing industry!

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                        Marnie Dunsmore

                          I recently attended a "Women who Code" get together here in San Francisco.  There is no shortage of young Americans trying to break into "app" coding through courses like "App Academy".

                          I am wondering why PRI didn't interview Americans who are attempting to break into the field of app coding, who also usually are encountering significant economic struggles.

                          Also, app writing is only one very tiny area among STEM fields.  It is one of the very few where there is currently demand.  What about all those Chemistry and Biology PhDs who are out of work.  Where's the NPR story on that?

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                          Donna Conroy

                            Sam, I'm surprised that you did not inform your listeners how the H1-b program impacts Americans--especially since it airs weekdays on over 300 stations across North America. 

                            Since PRI is co-production of WGBH/Boston and the BBC World Service, it's a serious error of omission to neglect to tell your American listeners--and those around the globe--that this program does not require employers to first seek local American talent first for their job openings in America.  It's a serious error of omission on your part, since your email to me indicated that you heard National Public Radio's correction on this point.  There is substantial confusion on this point; this is another urgent reason not to omit this point.

                            You mentioned to me in an email that our goal was to produce a piece that dug deeper than the NPR segment, which told Americans that, "In 2010, the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department recommended
                            that all employers be required to test the U.S. labor market before 
                            seeking H1-B workers."

                            I trust that you will continue to cover this topic, especially addressing the discriminatory want ads we Americans face on American job portals for American job openings as a result of the H1-b program.

                            I understand it is hard--and embarrassing--to see this discrimination exercised so brazenly--especially when you are an American yourself.  I look forward to working with you.

                            Donna Conroy

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                              Keep on digging.  You are unconvering layers of the story most reporters only scratch the surface of, but you also left quite a bit out. 

                              On the 9 week program - total abuse of the system.  It should be about skills, not money.  And totally correct calling it "indentured servitude". 

                              We've got to fix this on two fronts.  First, it shouldn't be a source of cheap labor nor harm the American labor market.  Second, those we do welcome into our country should have equal rights on the labor market and not punished in their immigration status for seeking new work or starting a business.

                              42,501 H-1 visas went to just twelve offshore outsourcing firms based in India.  The primary cap is 65k, so that's a large chunk supporting offshore outsourcing.  Why are politicians asking to expand the program but doing nothing to stop that type of use of it, or the harm caused towards American workers?

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                                SamHarnett  rlawson

                                  Good points Roy. 

                                  I want to add that Senators Grassley and Durbin have attempted to pass H1B reform in the past:


                                  Also, that nine week program isn't just a rubber-stamp coding school. It is as hard to get in as selective US colleges.

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                                    jakeleone  SamHarnett

                                      She has a degree in biology, not computer science.  If she gets in on an H-1b visa, she will likely take a starting job away from a U.S. citizen, plain as that. 

                                      Examples of such starting jobs are Software Tester, Unit Script tester.. I started out in these kinds of jobs, today I am a well paid developer.  

                                      But I got that start back before the H-1b program.  Lucky me. 

                                      And lucky for the U.S. as I have paid a lot of taxes and not had to utilize my country's safety net (unemployment, welfare...).

                                      There is a word for people who have misplaced their sympathies, and it isn't pretty.

                                      This lady already has an excellent degree, and she should be back in her home using it to benefit her people, and not coming here to basically steal a starting job from a U.S. citizen.

                                      Which is clearly a waste of potential.

                                      To basically use an H-1b visa, for no other purpose than to displace a U.S. citizen, violates the intent for which the visa was created.

                                      We should not be enabling her abuse.  And I think that you have some soul searching to do on this one.

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                                      rlawson  SamHarnett

                                      Even if the school were almost impossible to get into, as someone highly experienced in software development I can tell you that 9 weeks simply isn't enough if you are starting with nothing.  It takes a year of on the job experience to be barely acceptable (and colleagues willing to work with you and look over amateur mistakes... and help you fix them).  Sorry but we don't need people with no prior background in software coming out of 9 week schools and being minted as "software professionals".  This isn't truck driving.  If we had decent mentorship and "journeyman" type programs in our field maybe that would work - but we don't. 

                                      Anyone going to that school with no background in software - with immigration being their primary motive - is wasting their money.  It's a shame our immigration program would cause someone to consider such a foolish idea.

                                      If you already have a background in IT or development (preferably a related degree and experience) and you need to improve your skills to get back in the workforce with current knowledge than this could be a smart idea.  But an English major with no prior experience?  Stupid stupid stupid. 

                                      Maybe she'll luck out and get a job in India where they are seeking entry level people with very little skills but I wouldn't bet on her finding work here as a developer with just that in her corner.  Heck, I have doubts of her making the cut in India - at least as a developer.  She could be a PM or something but I don't see her cranking out code. 

                                      She has a degree from Stanford.  I can't believe it has come down to a 9 week coder training program.  Lady - I mean this with all due respect: bad career choice!  And terrible marketing of Stanford.  They can't get their graduates jobs???  I thought that was an "elite" school.I have doubts as to how tough it is to get into that coder school.  My bet is that if you have a credit card and it won't get declined when they swipe it, you're in.  I can test that theory.  Anyone have a credit card to lend me?  I'd like to get my 10 year old enrolled this summer.

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                                    I support American workers trying to get back to work, many of them with years of experience. Until all these American workers are back at work I will feel no sympathy for any H1B workers. All of your interviewees talk as if they are ENTITLED to work here and that is not the case. They should get down and kiss the earth they stand on here. Actually the young woman who is here on a Tourist visa should be deported because she is actually a 'student' and not a tourist. That is considered LYING about your visa status.

                                    And you did not present the fact that ALL H1B visas are supposed to be for a limited status for a limited time. The selling point of the visas to them when in their home country is they have the opportunity to make more money than they would in their home country. As one of the previous commenters said,  there are plenty of US graduates who would like to get a job and these people on H1Bs are taking those jobs.

                                    And there is no guarantee of obtaining a green card by coming here on an H1B visa. These people need to get in line BEHIND all those applying legally to come here. And the reason they can only work at companies like INFOSYS, WIPRO and the like is that those companies came here to establish 'company presence' in order to be able to bring people over to work. Those companies have also been under fire for only hiring a few 'token' US citizens as well.

                                    We in the IT profession are tired of these people being represented as put upon. And many lies have been told to try and increase the H1B visas numbers.  You were not fair in representing their problems as you did and I hope someone turns in the person who lied about her purpose in coming her on a Tourist visa with the intention to apply for work.

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                                      ollieallears  ITGURU99

                                        If the App Academy advertises itself as a seminar or whatever it should be cited and fined as it is breaking the law. It could transform itself into a school and issue DS 2013 forms, those wishing to attend could then apply for a J-1 visa.

                                        If Kriti has an MS in biology and is good in writing software, there is probably a co. in the US that needs her. So when the H1B program is overhauled, solutions to bring in really talented people instead of the many lower entry and mid-level workers that are allowed in now, too many too often, should be implemented.

                                        Bajraktari, he is 'vicitmized' by dishonest US employers, who promised and promise but do not deliver. And B. pays the price. From what I read he has really proven himself and does not deserve this treatment. The possibility to self-petition for a green card should exist. And for those who start to cry 'foul', being allowed to petiton does not mean that petition is granted.

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                                        I think a rule where the minimum salary for an H1-B being set to $100,000 would be easier to implement and weed out employers who abuse or game the system. I don't see much room for a loop hole from a straight forward rule like that.

                                        I see scope for abuse from the present requirement where the salary is based on the labor condition application which lists positions and the minimum wages as the lower end of prevailing wages based on state. Prevailing wages which are figured out and maintained by the government can be out of date or out of touch with the industry. In this case, prevailing wages can be used by an employer as a subsidy and therefore turns out to be a loop hole for abuse.

                                        Genuine employers that really do face a shortage shouldn't find $100,000 a big problem because that should be close to the compensation they already pay for such employees for required skills. If it isn't, they should consider it as a premium for availing such benefits.

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                                          David Lanciault  immigrantlivingthedream

                                            Yes, I'm getting paid well in Canada, and am looking to come to America to be with my girlfriend whom I see a few times a month when I fly down.  It's hard finding work in America that pays anything near what I'm used to getting here.  Seriously depressed wages to do the skilled work I'm doing (systems admin for small oil firm).

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                                              Rage Against Fraudy  David Lanciault

                                                Wait.... I thought immigrants were supposed to keep America booming? You mean to tell me after decades of importing millions of them the opposite has happened? I am SHOCKED! Stay in Canada, you're not welcome here.

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                                                  ollieallears  Rage Against Fraudy

                                                    David, you are welcome ! but you probably must marry the girlfriend to make that happen, since non-immigrant work related visas have become such a mess. Some posters get confused over the abuse of the H1B and other programs by employers and start to lash out to everything and everyone.

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                                              Paul Herzog

                                                This story is a bit fishy.  First of all, to obtain an H-1B visa, the foreign must have at least a four year degree in the field for which their being hired-in this case, computer science.  The employer must demonstrate that they are paying the prevailing wage. And unlike with US workers, if they hire a foreign worker in this program, the US company must pay filing fees of up to $2300-and that doesn't include attorney fees.  Employers that hire lots of H-1B workers must file paperwork showing that they have not displaced US workers.  None of that is mentioned here.

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                                                  salamanca  Paul Herzog

                                                    No, their paperwork must merely "attest" (claim, lie) that they tried to find an American. And it is perfectly legal to refuse to interview or hire Americans who may find out about the job and apply. It is also perfectly legal to dismiss an American and put an H-1B in his place - this has happened to hundreds of thousands of American tech workers (that we know of). And if they can pay the H-1B 10K or more less per year, those fees you mention are nothing.

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                                                    twinsfan1100  Paul Herzog

                                                      Paul, I recommend that you learn more about a topic before posting such an uninformed opinion.  A few years ago, Zoe Lofgren was telling everybody that the average wage in Silicon Valley was $95,000 while H-1B body shops were using $59,000 as the prevailing wage.

                                                      In 2011, the GAO concluded that a mere 6% of H-1B visa recipients were "Fully Competent" with 54% of H-1B visa recipients being "Entry Level" workers.

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                                                      kmichael3  Paul Herzog

                                                         Yes, you're totally right. As a current H1-B at Harvard (previously on F1, and then J-1 research scholar), I used to be upset at all the vilification folks like Lou Dobbs, Matloff, CIS, NumbersUSA, FAIR, EPI et al. spewed at us. Now, I just smile and mentally brush the misrepresentations and outright lies these folks throw around off my shoulder.

                                                        W.r.t. this article, as soon as I saw the strawman (or in this case, the straw-woman) stunt the writer pulled out of his behind in order to knock the H1B visa, I knew this wasn't a serious article. Just parading as another in a long line of misrepresentations. The fact that H1Bs are not only required to have bachelor's degree, but work in a capacity that requires at least a bachelor's degree, that there are special restrictions on firms with more than 50% workers on H1B, that they are required to be paid similar wages as US workers, by law etc etc, will all be brushed off by the folks foaming at the mouth (I call them foamers.....apologies to birthers and truthers) who will prefer to have their perceptions reinforced by so-called "studies" from likes of the Matloff and EPI.

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                                                          Marnie Dunsmore  kmichael3

                                                            I'm not a "birther".  I've been a liberal my entire life. I voted and campaigned for Obama.

                                                            I don't think you understand the demographic of people who are objecting to an increase in the H-1B visa cap or the Startup Visa.  We're not students at Harvard, granted, but many of us used to be students at top universities.

                                                            The fact is that the majority of H-1B visas are now going to workers with only bachelors degrees, many from dubious institutions.

                                                            As to the special restrictions, the only special restrictions are that some companies are supposed to post the job.  Usually, if this is the case, they collect a few resumes of Americans who have applied, and then say they didn't meet the requirement.  It's been going on for years.

                                                            As a student at Harvard, I'd guess that you don't read DICE or know how things work in the current job market in the Bay Area or Seattle.  I guess you don't know about the dramatic increase in the use of foodstamps by unemployed PhD grads.  Or, perhaps you just don't care.

                                                            Norm Matloff's research is hardly a surprise to an engineer or computer scientist working in Silicon Valley or Washington State. However, as a researcher at Harvard with no work experience, I might be able to understand that you are unaware of the problem.

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                                                            rlawson  kmichael3

                                                              Why are you lumping Matloff in there?  Have you read what he says or is asking for?  You know he is asking for full mobility.  Also, why would you ignore Ron Hira who is also a strong voice on the matter?

                                                              Matloff is a professor.  He avoids politics.  He approached this more from an academic perspective and I suppose if you take him out of context (or anyone for that matter) you could suggest they have some alterior motives or are anti-immigrant.  People have tried that to me.  Not easy to prove a negative.

                                                              The reason I'm defending Matloff is because I've found his views to be sage and based on facts as he understands them.  If there are specific findings of his you dispute I'd like to know about them - but you aren't attacking his study rather his character. 

                                                              I'm biased in favor of Matloff because he is level headed.  I've never had a conversation with him about some of the people truly foaming at the mouth - but I suspect he would tell them to STFU in a more academic way if he were so inclined. 

                                                              Every now and then I confront them (read the thread below where I chastise rage against fraudy character) but usually confronting them only makes it worse so I'll fire a little warning shot and leave it at that.

                                                              To be clear we don't like the people frothing at the mouth.  How could we like the people who are the most adept at marginalizing us?  Who needs corporate lobbyists and front groups like NFAP when we have IT Grunt and Fraudy.  With "friends" like that who needs enemies?

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                                                                betacentaur  rlawson

                                                                  I suspect your previous comment about Fraudy was dead-on. Btw have you ever analysed Matloffs study from the point of correlation and dependance ?

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                                                                    rlawson  betacentaur

                                                                      No.  I'm probably not qualitified to do that to be totally honest.  I've written a thesis and conducted non-peer reviewed research on this subject.  But I wouldn't call myself "a researcher" because that's not what I do for a living.  It may not be a bad idea to gather all the studies and get an independent (neutral) source to evaluate them. 

                                                                      Many so-called studies come from front groups who have an agenda.  Wadhwa is more of an adjunct professor (no doctorate) who was politically astute enough to gain honorary titles and sell himself as a world-class researcher.  He's no more or less qualified than I am to conduct research.  He also has hired many H-1b workers himself and is really an entrepreneur who has been rewarded financially by using the system we have today.

                                                                      NFAP is another group to be dubious of that has released their own studies.  They are truly a front group, and the roots are from the same group of "researchers" who at one time tried to convince Americans that smoking was healthy.  Front groups are a big problem and very few people understand the scope of this problem and just how successful they are and misleading people for profit.  The director of NFAP has raised 7 figures but we have no idea where the money is coming from.  They aren't telling.  Another scandal is that we allow them to be tax exempt when it's clear they are a politically motivated and profit motivated organization, not a real think tank. 

                                                                      Matloff doesn't appear to have a dog in the fight - if he does it's a poodle.  He will do just fine as a professor no matter who wins or loses.  Ron Hira made some money on the book... but he too doesn't seem to have much to gain.  In fact, I suspect he is treated poorly by some Indians who see him as a traitor and may have something to lose.

                                                                      I'm not sure where to find a neutral party and what it would cost (and who should pay for it.. because if I paid for it would they really be neutral?).  This is what our government should be doing.  Too bad they aren't neutral either.  The problem with crony capitalism is that there is nowhere to turn.  Unless you're a crony.

                                                                      So for now, read the studies.  Look at their citations.  Use what you know about critical thinking.  Think about not only their findings, but the source of their findings.  Ask yourself "what's in it for them?".  Are they financially motivated?  Politically motivated?

                                                                      You know my bias.  I could probably increase my income by about $15,000 a year if this program weren't being exploited based on what I believe the impact is to the market.  In the scheme of things that is small change. 

                                                                      NFAP has raised millions.  I'm pretty sure I could turn coat now, the industry would love me, and I could profit at the expense of everyone else.  So there is a much bigger upside if I were simply to abandon my principals and become a crony myself.  Financially, at least.  I guess there are things I value more than the money which is why I don't (and won't) do that.

                                                                      Wadhwa was in my situation because 5 years ago I thought he was someone who did provide insight into the program - he was actually thoughtful and retrospective on his own use.  I truly believe he became a crony and couldn't resist the attention once the "precious" lights started shining.

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                                                                        betacentaur  rlawson

                                                                          I agree to the idea about Hira. Personally - Wadhwa appeared to be ok before he started canvassing for the unlimited H1-b I-squared greed which I think is a lose-lose for anyone apart from corporations - In the long run. Matlof - I am not sure. He sure seems to enjoy his current line of thought. But it'll show up - pretty soon.

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                                                                    SamHarnett  kmichael3


                                                                      In your opinion is the H1B visa program flawless? Are the complaints from employees on an H1B without merit?

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                                                                        kmichael3  SamHarnett

                                                                           The H1B visa program isn't flawless - not by a long shot. I'd probably go with the GAO report a few years ago that found about 1 in 5 had some technical problems, misrepresentations and fraud. But that leaves about 4 in 5 legitimate cases. Instead of fixing the issues, should the baby be thrown out with the water?

                                                                          IMO, the biggest drawback with the H1B visa is its every size fits all approach - foreign students, skilled workers from outside who may want to settle permanently, those on a short stay for training purposes, artists, models etc all have to use the H1B. Obviously, there will be problems with the varied interests pushing to advance their specific causes. A second problem with the visa is the provision that once a person changes jobs, they will have to start their permanent residency application all over leading to folks being tied to their employers, no matter what. Ironically, unions and their beholden senators/congressmen pushed this provision, ostensibly to protect Americans from us "furriners" . This way, we couldn't actively switch jobs, limiting the potential competition. I find it unconscionable that these same folks are suddenly crying "indentured servitude" and are all concerned for my well-being, *shakes head*.

                                                                          What I don't buy is the charge that H1Bs are paid lower than their native American contemporaries. There have been literally tens of thousands of audits and less than 1% have found anything to support that claim. Of course, this will never satisfy the conspiracy theorists and their so-called studies, championed by Matloff, CIS etc. That somehow, all these multinational companies are systematically breaking the law and paying H1Bs less. The original report on this thread is a case in point. Everyone who has been through the H1B process knows that the lady will not qualify for the H1B. So this is a total non-story. Whats the point then in writing this except to push an agenda and get otherwise well adjusted (temperamentally) people all riled up?

                                                                          An alternate study:

                                                                          Finally, to the foamer who is yelling and spitting at Asians, I'm not even an Asian, have no Asian/Indian relatives and have never been on the Asian continent. Your conduct says a lot about the people who are rabidly opposed to the H1B, doesn't it?

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                                                                            Marnie Dunsmore  kmichael3

                                                                              I came here from Canada on an H-1B in the 90s.  Not only was I paid significantly less compared to equivalently experienced co-workers, I was also given less interesting work assignments.

                                                                              I'd worked in Canada in the same field and for a competitor to the company I came to work for in the US.  I also believe that the company I came to work for in the US was not upfront with me regarding the H-1B process.  I would have been much better off staying in Canada.  This is another aspect of the H-1B that I do not like:  the legal details and indentured nature of the visa are not given to prospective workers during the hiring process.

                                                                              While on an H-1B, I worked for two startups and one large company.  The situation at the large company was better (in terms of salary), but still not comparable to those not on H-1Bs.

                                                                              The vaste majority of H-1B holders are not from Harvard. 

                                                                              H-1Bs are also mostly used by companies in the electronics, IT, and software sectors.  Are you in those sectors or something else?

                                                                              If it is something else, then perhaps your experience with the H-1B and your thinking that pay is not depressed for H-1Bs, does not reflect what most H-1B holders experience.

                                                                              Also, I'd be curious as to what you have to say to those in the 35 year old + category who now cannot get hired by Google, Microsoft, Facebook, HP, Intel and the like.  The H-1B displaces Americans in the 35+ year old category by giving these companies a surplus of young workers.  Many of the displaced are former H-1B holders. 

                                                                              Any thoughts?

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                                                                              rlawson  kmichael3

                                                                                "What I don't buy is the charge that H1Bs are paid lower than their native American contemporaries. There have been literally tens of thousands of audits and less than 1% have found anything to support that claim. "

                                                                                Wait a second.  If you are going to simply disparage Matloff for his studies what about Ron Hira?  Read his studies instead of mischaracterizing him.  They aren't written on napkins.

                                                                                The studies you cite are written by whom?  You don't think the PPI has a bias?

                                                                                Doesn't it seem obvious that if 42,501 of the H-1b visas in 2012 went to 12 offshore outsourcing firms - primarily based in India - that the rates will be low?  There is ample evidence that H-1b visa holders are short changed.  Just read the foreign worker quoted in this very article!!!

                                                                                I'm married to a foreigner.  My step mother is from another country.  I don't have an anti-foreign bone in my body.  But if we are dealing with facts here there is no doubt based on my own research and the scrutiny of others that most H-1b workers are underpaid. 

                                                                                As to the PPI research I have doubts as to 1) how they could have accessed the data needed to arrive at their conclusions and 2) how reliable the data they did use is.  It is also a contradiction to LCA data (which we know is unreliable - but still a good bell-weather data source).

                                                                                I don't think the PPI paper is completely flawed but there are clearly cases where the visa is being used with wage being the motivating driver.  I think they simple failed to consider all the data available and stood their argument on some questionable data.

                                                                                I would say that in IT services the vast majority of H-1b workers are paid well below American counterparts.  I don't know if doctors or some other profession are bumping the numbers up in the PPI study but half the visas to into computer fields and lower cost is the primary motivator.

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                                                                                  kmichael3  rlawson

                                                                                    Exhibit A: Doesn't conform to what I wanna hear so it must be flawed. Let's give it up for "unskewed polls"!!!

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                                                                                      rlawson  kmichael3

                                                                                        That's exactly what you've done with Matloff. 

                                                                                        I read the research (much research in fact over the years).  I found flaws with the PPI specific to there way of determining salary.

                                                                                        It's not just Matloff's research that contradicts this.  The only support I can think of would come from NFAP - which is an industry front group pretending to be a think tank.  They won't tell you where their funding comes from (PPI does do that - so I don't categorize them as a front group).

                                                                                        I've done this same type of research and understand how difficult it is because of lack of data.  They drew conclusions that cannot be verified independently because they data isn't available.

                                                                                        Anyways, I don't dispute all of their findings.  I have concerns about their methodology.

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                                                                                John80224  kmichael3

                                                                                  As a current H-1b at Harvard, I assume we can surmise that you are not a current H-1b at InfoSys, Tata, WiPro, Cognizant, etc.  While there are other areas of concern, THOSE are the most egregious examples of the abused aspects of such visas.  Do you honestly believe that they onshore staff simply to be loss-leaders for their offshore?  Rates charged for their onshore staff generally fail to meet the cost of an experienced developer.

                                                                                  As to the "studies", what invalidates them?  And could you provide better examples?

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                                                                                    SamHarnett  John80224

                                                                                      This is the reporter, Sam. I think John brings up a good point.

                                                                                      The H1B fulfils a variety of roles, which is partly why it is so contentious. Bajraktari, Bajaj, a Harvard researcher, and a worker at Infosys are all very different, yet they are all on the same visa.

                                                                                      How could the immigration system be reformed to better handle all of these situations?

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                                                                                        Marnie Dunsmore  SamHarnett


                                                                                          How could the H-1B system be reformed?

                                                                                          I am not sure, but for starters, I think we should completely back off the idea of increasing the H-1B visa cap and the Startup Visa idea.

                                                                                          In spite of the stock market being at an all time high, the unemployment rate is still at about 8%.  It is not going down.

                                                                                          For experienced, highly skilled H1-B visa workers who are here, something needs to be done to work through the backlog. 

                                                                                          Frankly, I think there should be a point system, administered by a qualified government agency, to evaluate credentials and skills and weigh that against current and future economic need.  It would not be that hard to do. There plenty of international rating agencies for international universities.  The government does keep statistics for employment rates in US subspecialties.  Granted, it could beef this up, but it wouldn't be that difficult to do.

                                                                                          I know that this will hurt highly skilled H-1B people without a degree.  Probably, for those very small number of people who are self taught, three letters of recommendation from past employers, CV, etc, could be used in lieu of a degree. 

                                                                                          The idea of granting a green card based on salary has a lot of problems.  ie. there are regional differences in salary, women are still paid less (yes, even in fields such as engineering women are paid less for equivalent skill sets, years of experience, etc.)

                                                                                          However, other than clearing the backlog, there is *not* huge demand in most STEM job areas, so, for instance, I am rather ambivalent about what should be done for foreign students with PhDs.  As I've mentioned several times, less than half of PhDs are getting any kind of employment.  Many PhDs are now on their third postdoc.  Those are the lucky ones.

                                                                                          All I can say is that the failure to match skill needs to the economy is really creating a lot of economic misery and waste.

                                                                                          I do like the idea of tracking employers using a predictive modeling tools to see how their salaries stack up against other companies, where they are hiring their foreign employees from, what is the demographic mix of their workforce, etc. This could and should be used to determine if the employer is abusing the system.

                                                                                          Regardless, I think it would constitute the utmost folly to increase the H-1B visa cap or implement the Startup Visa.

                                                                                          We need to work through the back log with what we've got.

                                                                                          I know that the idea of a government agency will be rejected by companies, but it is high time that this is done. The US immigration system used to work more like this twenty or third years ago, so it is not a completely scandalous idea.

                                                                                          Also (*hint* to VCs and corporate executives), a little reinvestment in R&D and US manufacturing wouldn't hurt.

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                                                                                          John80224  SamHarnett

                                                                                            Sadly, a huge factor is even ignoring the speed of change, government can't seem to manage "skilled" and "other".  Specialization (H-1b.IT, H-1b.Med,...) sounds like a recipe for bureaucratic hell where the big winners are immigration attorneys.  There's no perfect measure, but focusing on salary and a few basic demographics may go a long way.  Most of the challenges to the existing system are based on our concepts of age and ethnic origin being tossed out the window with a resulting lower salary.  It's odd that companies aren't supposed to discriminate on such factors, yet barring a lawsuit, have few cases where they are required to prove anything.  Especially if your need is so desperate you can't hire domestically, opening the hood is almost free--unless you're doing something you shouldn't be.

                                                                                            A more complicated but sometimes scarily accurate prospect might even be to back the system with a predictive modeling tool.  Two dozen pieces of information can wind up telling a LOT about the hiring practices of a company.

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                                                                                      jakeleone  Paul Herzog

                                                                                        There are no such requirements.  U.S. Secretary of labor has said (and the law does state), an H-1b worker may be hired, even if there is a qualified U.S. citizen that wants the job.  And these jobs are very desirable, very nice. 

                                                                                        The requirement is that the worker only have a bachelors degree, practically any degree will suffice, for any job.  So this person, if she obtains a job, will be able to in fact replace a U.S. citizen doing the same job.  And she is more desirable, because she is indentured, and will not leave her job for fear of deportation.

                                                                                        As a U.S. citizen, It is Unconstitutional for me to enter in a similar agreement with a U.S. employer.   Because supposedly, slavery (and indentureship) ended in the 19th century, only nobody told Congress apparently.

                                                                                        U.S. Department of Labor has found that H-1b workers are typically paid 25% less than their native counter parts.  And, as shown by one of the interviewees, who was being paid far less than his U.S. citizen counterparts, and seemed rather sad about it.

                                                                                        So a fixed fee, of any kind, is nothing compared to the cost savings of an engineer on an H-1b.  Average engineer pay in the U.S. is 60k, so that's a saving of at least 10-15k per year.  And that savings can go on for 6 years (or more).

                                                                                        More than 35,000 H-1b visas were used by Off Shore outsourcing companies, and that number is growing exponentially, despite increased fees.  The outsourcing companies remove jobs at all pay-grades.  One engineer in the United States, can be liason for a hundred workers offshore.  This foolish program is being used to facilitate the removal of jobs from the United States, and is doing untold damage to our economy.

                                                                                        Why do we allow the whining of tech executives ruin the economy for all americans?

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                                                                                          Marnie Dunsmore  jakeleone

                                                                                            Due to various trade agreements and exemptions, the number of H-1Bs issued in FY2010 and 2011 was about 120,000.  It has been at this level since 2004. 

                                                                                            For FY 2001, 2002 and 2003, the cap was set at 195,000 and the actual number of H-1Bs issued was well above 195,000 for these years. 

                                                                                            Most of the H-1B visa holders that came here since 1998 are still here.  Some have obtained legal resident status through marriage to a US citizen or through their employer.  However, over 500,000 H-1B holders are still here on H-1B visas.  Adding up the numbers, since FY1998, almost 2 million foreign STEM professionals have entered the US workforce starting on an H-1B visa.  A few have left, but not many.

                                                                                            Two million people might not seem like much, given that the US population is three hundred million people.  However, when you consider that the total size of the STEM workforce is not more than 8 million people, it is a very significant number:

                                                                                            "In 2011, 3,608,000 workers were employed in computer and mathematical occupations, while 2,785,000 were employed in architecture and engineering occupations and 1,303,000 in life, physical, and social science occupations. Together they accounted for 24.8 percent of the professional labor force."


                                                                                            When you consider that they are now talking about increasing the H-1B visa cap to 300,000, which will invariably, due to exemptions exceed 400,000, you are talking about displacing half of the STEM workforce in less than ten years.

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                                                                                            Paul Herzog  jakeleone

                                                                                              I don't doubt that there is fraud in the program. People lie in their college applications-that doesn't mean you outlaw Harvard.  One problem is that the Department of Labor doesn't have the authority to initiate investigations on their own-they have to wait for complaints.  So if you have an issue with a particular employer abusing the program-don't post here, call the Department of Labor.  Also ask Congress to give them more power to investigate.

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                                                                                                SamHarnett  Paul Herzog

                                                                                                  Paul -- my question is how could the government structure the H1B program so that there is less possibility for employer abuse?

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                                                                                                  rlawson  Paul Herzog

                                                                                                    Have you ever filed a complaint with the DOL?  I agree that they need more power to investigate, but why should corporations be immigration middle-men?  Their motives clearly have nothing to do with our long-term national intererests in regards to immigration.  They would prefer a nationalized temporary guest worker staffing pool, where they control the rights of immigrants to live here and to gain permanent residency.

                                                                                                    The H-1b is primarily about 1 thing: control. 

                                                                                                    It is a violation of very basic American values: freedom.  You create a second tiered class with limited mobility and rights. 

                                                                                                    I find your Harvard argument to be a red herring. 

                                                                                                    The DOL is a toothless paper tiger, but even if we gave them teeth the notion that corporations should be the arbitors of who gets to immigrate here is obscene.

                                                                                                    When we look at all those old pictures of immigrants arriving on Ellis Island, I seriously doubt that any of them had a corporation or business sponsor them.  Seriously - let's start with the ground floor rationality behind corporations being the gate keepers.  There is none.  It's a step towards fascism and a win for Crony Capitalism.

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                                                                                                    jakeleone  Paul Herzog

                                                                                                      With 35,000 H-1b visas being used by offshore outsourcing companies, and that being more than half the base total of 65,000 h-1b visa, you have to be realizing that this program is destroying our economy's ability to create jobs.  Companies that don't even try to hire U.S. engineers.  Companies that specialize in the removal of jobs.

                                                                                                      There's nothing small about 35,000 H-1b visas being used offshore millions of U.S. jobs.  One engineer can be liason for hundreds of offshore jobs.

                                                                                                      If more than half of Harvard degrees issued were fraudulent, you would have some government body or institution on Harvard. 

                                                                                                      That doesn't happen in the government, corporate welfare, program known as H-1b.

                                                                                                      We have let the whining of a few tech executives destroy the ability of our economy to create jobs.  And created a Monster job destroying government program, in the H-1b system.  That is why it is called the "Off Shoring" visa in India.

                                                                                                      It was never intended that the H-1b program would be used to remove millions of jobs to overseas offices, yet that is exactly what is occuring.  And there is absolutely no enforcement, what-so-ever, of any requirement that H-1b dependent companies look for U.S. citizens.

                                                                                                      Clearly, with massive unemployment, offshore outsourcing companies are increasing their usage of the H-1b visa, at an exponential rate.

                                                                                                      For more than 200 years, the U.S. had an immigration system that meant you came in, you had full rights from day-one.  And you came here to stay. 

                                                                                                      H-1b has replaced that system, with a system of corporate indenturement that is perfect to facilitate the off shoring of millions of U.S. jobs, at all pay grades.

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                                                                                                        rlawson  jakeleone

                                                                                                          42,501.  To be (more) precise... there are more uncounted but we'll call that ballpark.

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                                                                                                        SamHarnett  Paul Herzog

                                                                                                          This is the reporter again.

                                                                                                          I think one of the most interesting "abuses" of the H1B program is with the green card application. It is not a violation of law for a company drag their feet on the process, and this gives employers leverage that they don't have with American employees. How valuable is that leverage to companies? How long should an H1B wait for a green card? Should it be up to the employer to decide if they are going to move quickly or slowly?

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                                                                                                            jakeleone  SamHarnett

                                                                                                              I also agree that the Green Card process should be in the control of the employee.  The only working visas we should allow, should be Green Cards, with the intent to become citizen.  We cannot allow people to become dis-enfranchised in the United States. 

                                                                                                              H-1b is an aweful program, that has destroyed many jobs.  It creates an indentured class of people, and slavery/indentureship  is not a free market.  I support a return to the free market, where employers must compete for labor.  Our tech companies have become weak and dependent on a government program that enslaves workers.

                                                                                                              It's time that our tech CEO's learn about how to attract talent by competing for it, not by running to the government for a slave-labor hand out.

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                                                                                                              salamanca  SamHarnett

                                                                                                                How come during the PERM process, if a qualified American candidate shows up, they don't hire the American and send the foreign worker home? I've never heard of that happening, only that they stop the PERM process and start over.Over on Immigration Voice dot org you can see lots of accounts of people being given advice on how to get around our laws and this issue comes up a lot. You can also see a lot of advice about overstaying visas and evading the consequences of positive TB tests.

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                                                                                                                rlawson  SamHarnett

                                                                                                                  Great questions.  Not directed at me, but corporations should not be immigration middle men.  Often a point lost in the debate.  Immigration should be an agreement between immigrant and nation - no corporate broker needed.

                                                                                                                  I can understand short term use for the B-1 visa when work isn't being done, rather meetings and such to facilitate global trade.  But that isn't a path to immigration.  The H-1b is under the doctrine of dual intent - meaning it is some highbrid that is suppose to be both temporary and a path to permanence.  And of course corporations have their hands all over it.

                                                                                                                  Step one is to take them out of the equation. 

                                                                                                                  They should be able to lure immigrants here (offer them jobs) but it should be up to the immigrant to apply for a visa and the immigrant should control the visa.  If corporations want to donate their attorneys towards that cause, that is fine.  But at the end of the day corporations shouldn't be able to halt, revoke, or otherwise impact someone's immigration process.

                                                                                                                  What's next?  Corporate sponsored passports?

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                                                                                                            Tim_Rothchild  Paul Herzog

                                                                                                               you mean all the fraud that is committed with H1b's, B1's and L1 visas, and how indian outsourcing companies are using these visas not to do anything other than move more and more jobs offshore, is that the part you are referring to that is being left out ?

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                                                                                                              John80224  andygoswildy

                                                                                                                I haven't forgotten about the fields you mention but ([IC design] + robotics + [device driver] + statistician)   
                                                                                                                Were the abuse limited to a couple examples, do you really believe there would be such resistence?  There have been hundreds of thousands of examples.  The LCA data is available for you to verify this.

                                                                                                                India and China are nations of immigrants.  You just have to go back further.  Most of us aren't anti-immigrant.  Most of us are anti-government-supplied-tools-for-companies-to-damage-the-nations-citizens.  I believe there can be a version of immigration that complements the existing workforce.  The current way the H-1b is primarily used, however, parasytic.

                                                                                                                "It is not your jobs to decide anyways...it is Govt. job"  Civics lesson, here.  It is in fact my job to decide/influence the decision.  That's at least a right (and many feel a duty) of being a citizen of the US.  The government is (theoretically) our collective employee.

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                                                                                                                  andygoswildy  John80224

                                                                                                                    John80224, I do agree about the Civic lesson that you mentioned - it was my bad to say so.

                                                                                                                    I think there are other problems - 
                                                                                                                    1. increasing Quota of H1-B or not
                                                                                                                    2. What to do with the existing H1B holders
                                                                                                                    3. What to do with the workers who have been applying for green cards and waiting to be citizen so they can add more into the economy

                                                                                                                    I think this should be thought out properly. Changing the number of H1B is not a solution. Anybody can build an empire - but maintenance can not be neglected. So I think it is a problem of maintenance what Govt. is facing not necessarily the shortage (ofcourse only in certain areas). So, I think IT should be made a separate sub-category and then Visa should be processed based on the that, as IT skills and people can be acquired by anybody-anywhere who has a logical sense to do basic coding and such - it doesn't necessarily requires hard-core programming expertise...

                                                                                                                    Being a foreigner, I understand that H1B is abused by the IT companies...but isn't it Govt's job to implement the policies to support the decision that they made....

                                                                                                                    I would say...give green card to the existing HIGHLY skilled people and then there will be no more H1b quota increases required....That will solve major problems, because then Govt. will not have anything to complaint - e.g. shortage of labour and stuff. If they give GreenCard to the people sooner which they think are the highly skilled population..then there will be citizens in the pipeline to add more into US economy.

                                                                                                                    Actually US Govt. created the shortage problem by not giving green cards faster to the highly skilled workers..because they are highly skilled - they don't wait for green card years and years, they simply go back their country and create their own companies....duhhhh

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                                                                                                                      John80224  andygoswildy

                                                                                                                        And my apologies if I seemed to lash out.  I can see the frustration of often encountering backlash as you do.  I've been characterized as lazy, stupid and outdated on the other side of the discussion by people who assume I'm a woman for no more reason (I think) than they believe that would somehow make me less worthy of consideration.

                                                                                                                        My general fear is that companies find it much easier to work around well-intended programs that government seems impotent to fix.  My specific fear with I-squared is that with no change, not only would IT be run out of the country even faster, but that other STEM fields would have enough visas available to follow a similar model.  Offshoring and globalization will continue, I just don't support my government accelerating it to the detriment of its people.

                                                                                                                        I don't have all the answers but I wouldn't suggest (barring outright fraud, serious crime, etc.) sending everyone home.  
                                                                                                                        Automatic GC's across STEM scare me somewhat.  They solve the exploitive side of the wage equation, but could very quickly flood supply in fields.  But I'm open to some middle ground.

                                                                                                                        The visa itself could stay, even expand if overhauled.  Starting with common sense, this nation in theory does not stand for discrimination and exploitation.   No more 90% of domestic staff from one nation, unless that nation is the US.  No more 90% of staff under age 40.  No more "work 80 hours...or else."  Some real wage criteria needs to be met and it must be based on the field as a whole and position. 

                                                                                                                        Weakening the employer hold on the visa holder is one key.  For example, it might make sense to extend the length of time a visa holder can be unemployed so long as they can take care of themselves.  I'd like to see fees escalate and red tape diminish.  As it stands, I think attorneys are making more on the visa system than any training programs.  I'd also like to see a change in higher education.  There's comparatively very little value to an advanced degree for domestic students.

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                                                                                                                        SamHarnett  andygoswildy

                                                                                                                          Interesting points Andy. 

                                                                                                                          One of the knots in this whole process is determining who is truly "high skilled." Wage seems to be a possible solution.

                                                                                                                          The new blue card in the EU would rely on salaries heavily to determine who could immigrate. But then again, there's a whole debate about what those wages should be.


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                                                                                                                            rlawson  SamHarnett

                                                                                                                              In my mind salary is the best arbitor.  If it is truly a skill in high demand with a shortage, it should demand a high salary.  Otherwise we've got to re-examine the who concept of supply and demand.

                                                                                                                              Yes, there would certainly be a debate as to what the wages should be. 

                                                                                                                              I would apply two measures - sort by salary and grant to the highest.  Set a minimal salary at the 75th percentile.  Make this a race to the top instead a race to the bottom.  You could also include other factors (like level of education).  But let's at least try to be smarter than our current approach that is essentially random and cares about those who file first more than who the most qualified are.

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