Maltreated H-1B Workers Begin to Find a Voice

There was a thought-provoking article in the SF Chronicle Sunday on the current quandaries faced by high-skilled foreign workers on H-1B Visas in the U.S. A very large proportion of these are Indian (49%), and in high-tech and computer fields (45%).

Currently, the system has problems on every side: first, representatives of software companies (chief among them Microsoft’s Bill Gates) have loudly asserted that they need for the number of available H-1B visas to be increased, as there are currently significant numbers of unfilled positions in many computer related fields (and this is even despite the explosion of outsourcing in the past five years). Secondly, there is confusion about whether H-1B should be understood as a temporary visa, or the first stage on the path to a green card; most Indians I know presume it’s the latter, while the government still seems to think it’s the former. And finally, the system clearly hasn’t been working very well for the immigrants themselves: it currently takes between 6 and 12 years for an Indian on an H1-B to be given a green card, even with employers willing to sponsor them. Confusingly, it takes much less time for H-1B workers from other national backgrounds to be given a green card once they find sponsorship. One of the surprises to me in the SF Chronicle article is the fact that the USCIS doesn’t even really know how many H-1B workers with Green Card sponsors there are:

Stuck in the middle is a federal government that has problems tracking the visas. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the federal agency that oversees this guest-worker program, can’t answer basic questions including:

– How many foreign-born professionals are working in the United States on H-1B visas now?

– What percentage of H-1B visa holders seek green cards instead of returning home?

– How many H-1B visa holders and family members are awaiting green cards?

“The cumulative numbers you are looking for simply aren’t available,” said Citizenship and Immigration Services spokesman Chris Bentley. “These are not issues we track.”

This admission of ignorance is really depressing: it suggests how low on the government’s priority list the H-1B workers really are. “It’s not something we track” is a way of saying, “no one really seems to care about this.”

Fortunately, a new organization has cropped up to advocate for H1-B workers: Immigration Voice. They’ve hired a PR firm to help them make their case in public, and they’re trying to influence the push to reform the H1-B system that is currently starting to work its way through Congress.

On a personal note, I should say that my wife started working in the U.S. (in the Bay Area) on an H-1B visa, and I’ve seen the ins and outs of this deeply flawed system at work. I feel strongly that the H1-B system is essential to the U.S. economy, and that H1-B workers, who come to the U.S. with advanced university degrees and unique skills, ought to be fast-tracked to permanent resident (Green Card) status. As it is, 1.1 million people (according to Immigration Voice’s number) are currently waiting in limbo, unsure whether to plan on staying in the U.S. permanently — and everything that might come with that — or whether they should continue to presume they’ll be heading back to the countries they started from.

Finally, I also think second-gen desis in the U.S. — particularly all the desi lawyers out there — ought to be advocating for better treatment for the Indians who are here on H-1B visas. As of now I haven’t seen much of this.

342 thoughts on “Maltreated H-1B Workers Begin to Find a Voice

  1. ak (#243), I did not intend to make any personal insinuations against you. However, I did find your position a tad unrealistic, though rationally consistent, yes. Sympathy with people with a similar ethnicity, background, etc, is pretty much human nature, and I’d be surprised if the people on this blog are somehow immune to that. The very fact that they spend so much time on a brown blog is to some extent evidence that they are not. Of course you might be following that principle consistently. But the argument that everyone on this blog does that is a bit of a stretch, and in a way a cop-out from a difficult question.

  2. ak # 250

    Thats why I removed the personal equation from the scenario – personal affiliation trumps everything.

    And yet , ironically, we are disagreeing on a South Asian board , because you and I – we have nothing in common

  3. If a building is burning and you have a choice between saving me – whom you do not know – and a US Marine – whom you do not know – I would expect you to save the Marine .Because its country and community over imagined kinship everytime.

    Really, Runa? I would save you (the stranger) because I would assume the Marine had better training to save himself/herself. :)

    HMF, I hear ya, I just don’t know that I fully agree.

    hema, hear hear! Thanks for clarifying the difference. Germany has not used “jus soli” only for a while now.

  4. sakshi (251) with that i do agree – in reality, the cosmopolitanism i outlined is rarely practised. and i do understand – it is human nature to associate ourselves with people of common affiliations. but for me, being brown is not enough. whether that’s a bad thing – i don’t know. part of it stems from the fact that i am secure/content enough in my desiness that it ends with myself – i don’t need other people to validate my desiness for me. but maybe this in an oddity, and there is no judgment on how others lead their lives differently. my parents are very secure in their tamil community in NY, and sometimes i envy that strong pull towards a specific community.

  5. Camille,

    Thanks for that :-) I should have clarified that both the Marine and I are in need of rescue .After all why not go all the way when its only a fictional Scenario?

    One thing about SM – never a dull day !

  6. Sympathy with people with a similar ethnicity, background, etc, is pretty much human nature,

    Sure… insofar as they contribute to shared experiences. I’d imagine this H1B business is not a shared experience, not that I disagree with empathy, but just offering an explanation.

  7. sakshi (251) with that i do agree – in reality, the cosmopolitanism i outlined is rarely practised. and i do understand – it is human nature to associate ourselves with people of common affiliations. but for me, being brown is not enough. whether that’s a bad thing – i don’t know.

    It is certainly not a bad thing: that is probably how it should be. I had no particular affection for my community over others back in India. But I have to admit that in the US I have developed a stronger sense of my brownness/desiness/Indianness-whatever it is. Maybe its just a function of how securely you feel you belong in the larger world out there.

  8. I lied about singing off.

    First, I do feel bad for people who are caught in H1b limbo; the immigration system seems terribly unfair to people who play by the rules, but, you know, it’s progressives who feel that it’s unfair to judge between illegals and legals in this way. I think people who play by the rules should be first in line, althoug I have sympathy with those who come here like Mexicans who are trying to get a better life. The process should be regulated, though. It’s random and chaotic, now.

    Second, although I don’t like the populist backlash I’m hearing in the States, it’s a political reality and has to be dealt with. If the Indian government started to hand out special visas to Western desis for some special purpose, and Indians were displaced from jobs, what do you think the Indian public reaction would be?

    Third, I was watching Swades, and Shah Rukh says I’m right: you shouldn’t put down American culture and tradition. America has hers, and India has hers. Hey, it’s Shah Rukh, not me, saying this.

    Fourth, I agree with Amardeep. If you feel strongly about shortcomings in this bill, get involved.

    Okay, not it’s really the last. Back to Swades….

  9. 249 hema

    Yeah, Germany has a limited for of Jus Soli where legal residence is required unlike USA where anyone born in USA becomes a citizen no questions asked.

  10. Third, I was watching Swades, and Shah Rukh says I’m right:

    i sincerely felt shah rukh’s pain in that scene. and i dug the dhoti.

  11. “ABCDs” directly descend from “FOBs” the very people they mock and wish to distance themselves from…

    As Oscar Wilde said, Children begin by loving their parents. After a time they judge them. Rarely, if ever, do they forgive them.

    Pray tell, what the fuck kind of yogurt do you like, though?

    Surely it behooves you to answer the question you ask so insistently?

    …or had an ancestor in the Battle of Wounded Knee – wrong Indian then!

    Runa, as somebody who takes great pride in being offended, surely you must know that calling them Indians is not what they like? Or if you do, I recommend going the whole way – “feather, not dot”.

    In the end, what is best for this country and it’s people and it’s future is what concerns me.

    And this? All this bleeding heart protectionist concern when globalization was the greatest thing as long as it involved American companies in the developing world? Well, thanks to the Internet, those chickens (or DBDs or FOBs or whatever we’re calling them that’s deemed inoffensive) are now coming home to roost. Deal with it. People, even in the US, are getting displaced from all kinds of jobs all the time. Witness the dissolution of various American heavy industry towns into ghost towns over the last 30 years. Or the current closure of American car factories, or other clothing manufacturing being outsourced to Mexico or South Asia/China. I’m not seeing you get all upset about that? Does the threat on white collar jobs hit closer to home?

    And, seriously, all this complaining about complaining and the gratitude immigrants must expect for their deliverance is just plain ridiculous. As long as they are making a positive contribution to the economy (which is apparently why they are here), and are not making negative social contributions or introducing law and order issues, who cares if they whinge every day about the glory of their mother country, and think the apple pie isn’t all that? They’ve voted with their feet by staying here, and they are fully free to make any remarks or rationalizations they want.

  12. i believe

    1) H1B workers should be fast-tracked to greencard status because

    a) they are the type of well educated high human capital immigrant we need b) overloading high skilled professions might have a short term negative impact on those of us in high skilled professions (i work in IT), but it is a boon for our nation to have so much “depth” off the bench (e.g., big difference from low skilled immigration, where we have to bet that future generations will climb up the skill & educational ladder) c) the existence of a separate H1B category is a really screw-over to native workers and the H1B workers themselves because of the differences in bargaining power. one category of high skilled works, immigrant & native, would eliminate a lot of the negative feeling on the part of the latter and insecurity on the parter of the former. our nation was founded with indentured servitude in jamestown, but i thought that was part of the past?

    2) we should switch from family reunification to skills & education. you can’t get too many skilled people, even if they have to end up working at starbucks, at least you get more interesting repartee :-) overloading the “top” of the educational pyramid creates problems, but they are good problems, and it mitigates inequality in a society as more and more people of various incomes have high qualifications

  13. Sympathy with people with a similar ethnicity, background, etc, is pretty much human nature

    from the discussions in this comments thread it is clear that sympathy with one’s own ethnicity is not enough … was it Yagnavalkya who said ‘neti, neti’ … ‘not this, not this’… (apophatic theology)…

    It might also be human nature to love another group … I know Pittinsky and Rosenthal are doing some research on allophilia. But again, the Hindus got there first (not known by that name at that time, and with no inclination for citations) and had observed long ago .. the entire world is one family … vasudhaiva kutumbakam…

    In the ‘Cultural Heritage of India‘ edited by Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, I think it was Tagore who made a very interesting observation: Indian philosophy originated from the forests (ref: Aranyakas) , and was much more concerned with the natural order of things, whereas European Philosophy originated in city states of Greece formed of walls.

    The idea of a nation-state (and the assorted paraphernalia – 1001 kinds of visas, dumb idiotic points systems, ‘skills’ of a certain kind, passports) is quite a modern invention.. it will be interesting to see its fate in my lifetime

  14. MD (#229): butter chicken talked about a ‘subthread’, implying, to me, many comments. That’s not fair to the rest of us who were making completely different comments.

    Sorry, dude! I should have taken a deep breath rather than a swig of coffee before posting. On the whole, the thread has been fair.

  15. Sympathy with people with a similar ethnicity, background, etc, is pretty much human nature from the discussions in this comments thread it is clear that sympathy with one’s own ethnicity is not enough .

    I recommend that we find a new unifying force. The love of Indian yogurt. I propose the rallying call of Neale #207 – “I don’t like America because they call it yogurt.”

  16. i believe,

    1. Indians should not come to the US because they need us, but because coming here fulfills our needs

    2. There is no need to move from filial bonds to skills and education. To hell with that kind of education. Do your measurements in your lonely corner, haggling for citations and mutual back scratching. Interestingly, the anarcaps and the communists agree on at least one thing: do not bother about your parents and relatives and friends. Anarcaps are about personal gains, and the communists genuflect to the state.

  17. If you’re born here, it is an entitlement. What did the fat fuck on the desk next to me (or me for that matter) do to deserve this privaledge. nothing. my dad came here. i was born here. i am a citizen.

    Last week I read an op-ed in the New York Times wherein the author argued that potential immigrants should “audition” for entry to the U.S. by achieving demonstrable excellence in educational and business pursuits. What if that theatre metaphor is taken to its logical conclusion? An actor who scores a big part is not set for life. He or she has to keep competing for roles in the next movie or play. Even those who achieve stardom often descend back into obscurity(or the reality show circuit).

    The current trend in America is to dispose of entitlements. I’m not sure that even the most basic entitlement of them all, citizenship by birth, is immune. After Katrina, government inaction was excused or justified… not just by extremists and fanatics, but by a sizeable portion of the mainstream… with the assertion that New Orleans had collectively forfeited its right to protection and aid. Due to its lack of industriousness and achievement and departure from the social and cultural mores of the country as a whole, this city no longer deserved the rights accorded to a community of citizens.

    It would not surprise me if that in the next few decades such attitudes become actual law. Currently, the only way to involuntarily lose your citizenship (or significant portions of the rights thereof) is to be convicted of a serious crime. In the future, Americans, native born or otherwise, might have to prove their right to citizenship by meeting certain professional, financial and/or moral standards. Presumably such a failure would not lead to outright expulsion(who would take them?) but to a serious restriction of rights, most notably those involving voting and office holding. It would be a step down from full citizenship to something more like the status of a green card holder or even an H1-B. “Lean, hungry” immigrants (of all colors) will be encouraged to step in as the “fat fucks” (ditto) are psuhed aside…

  18. Great .. another meaningful SM post degenerating into a ‘DBD vs ABD’ mud-sling fest.

    I have no patience to go through the 260 comments before me, but let me make my contributions with the hope that at least some of them haven’t been made before.

    • H1Bs are impt to the US. If it weren’t for H1Bs , the US would have lost A LOT of the software market completely by now. It is better for an overall ‘reduction in salary’ for the masses than the country losing the whole industry altogether. Take what’s happening to the Fords and GMs of today … either cut costs or run out of business!

    • To all the people who are complaining about ppl whose jobs were lost to H1Bs – Wake up and smell the chai, if there’s more value for money coming from China or India, your job is going to be lost eventually. Note that the term is not ‘value’ , but ‘value for money’…

    • It’s not like the H1Bs are sitting pretty … they can lose their jobs to outsourcing as well! And unlike their ABD counterparts, there is no ‘great, let me take some time to search for another job now’ – We gotta pack our bags and head home… and our families if they depended on us.

    • To those complaining about DBD’s loyalties – we are here for the money. Period … of course we love our pyaare bharath.

    • Speaking for myself( DBD and prospective H1B ), I would be happy with a software job US salary for the next decade … it gives me time to decide if I want to be here or go back home.

  19. And all the people who go on about getting to decide who gets to enter because, well, they were here first, oh, I mean their parents, oh, and that’s if you ignore the Europeans who came before that, what’s that you say, there were already people on this land… will do well to take a lesson in humility from this man.

    One of his quotes, which I think we’ll all to well to apply to various contexts is this: “I don’t believe in dynastic wealth,” he said, calling those who grow up in wealthy circumstances “members of the lucky sperm club.” Another relevant observation of his was…

    Warren Buffett made this case while observing that the marketplace isn’t always the most reliable way of determining true value. “My only skill is knowing how to allocate capital,” he said. “Today the market values that skill at $45 billion or so. A few thousand years ago I would have been some animal’s food.” Mr. Buffett also went on to observe that the most important thing that happened to him in his life was that he won the ovarian lottery when he was born white, male, American, and the son of remarkable parents.

    If he can have this humility, surely, we can realize, that there but for the grace of a random hand of chance, go, erm, us.

  20. More on point… if this country needs an immigrant’s skills that badly, it should just pony up with a green card. Permanent residency and eventual citizenship should be encouraged over “guest worker” status. Even if an immigrant does not decide to stay, he/she should be a free agent for the duration. Any system where workers… or actually, their employers… profit unfairly through below-market wages is messed up…

  21. Rahul # 261

    The comment was supposed to be funny not offensive.And yes , even back in the des, we know better than to call Native Americans ‘Indians’.( Though I think the point can be argued :See Indian gaming)

    I do not take any pride in being offended or being offensive, thank you very much.

  22. * To those complaining about DBD’s loyalties – we are here for the money. Period … of course we love our pyaare bharath.

    even people that have been here for 35 plus years and have long since retired say the same stuff. and never go back.

  23. I haven’t gone thru the 260+ comments. I think H1-B is a dual intent visa. While I was a student on a F-1 visa, I did not pay Social Security + Medicare taxes. But on H1-B, those taxes are withheld. the idea is that the people in temporary H1 visas are potential immigrants and it is better for the taxman to get as much and as early as possible. I’ve read about discussions between Indian and US commerce ministries on the issue (money involves billions of dollars), but do not know much on what happened.

    On the issue of greencards, I don’t care either way.

  24. i would like to note that tax dollars go far beyond SS and medicare etc – so that even if you do not stay long enough to see those sorts of direct benefits, tax dollars go to general infrastructure and other aspects, from which all residents benefit. so the complaint about tax dollars not benefitting non-citizens only goes part of the way.

  25. I live in Australia. A Permanent Resident. Got the PR visa by applying from India :) took me 2 years – even had a HIV test done.

    Been here 20 months, have already bought a house.

    I lived in USA for a couple of years 2002-2003 on a L1 and was not willing to spend a decade running around to get a GC / citizenship. Decided to move to a country that would provide me with a “white passport” the fastest. Australia was the best choice at the time. I am eligible to be a citizen in 4 months. The current rules are 1) 2 years of PR 2) Citizenship test

    If you are student in Australia the time period to move from a Student visa to a PR is about 6-12 months.

    I came on points system which I think is inherently fairer than the family based migration but then I am biased.

    Australia has always had an immigration policy based on value to the economy. In the post war years, refugees were selected based on their ability to perform hard physical labour. Now, it is based on ‘intellectual horsepower’.

    No country based quotas. All offshore applications are put into one big basket depending on the category. All onshore applications are in another category.

    Limited illegal migration due to the landlocked nature of the continent. Cant really walk across the border.

    I feel sorry for some of my ex-colleagues who have been on the H1B path for the last 6 years. My sibling lives in USA but preferred to obtain a Canadian PR. He also chose not to go down the GC path.

    Incidentally I lived in Sweden as well for a year but dont know the citizenship rules now. When I was there only refugees and family based immigration was allowed. I would have had to marry a viking.

    Why a “white passport” one might ask. Travelling the globe is a lot easier if you have the right passport / reside in the correct country.

  26. Branch Dravidian (270):

    I don’t know of them firsthand, and can’t seem to find them on the BCIS website, but I’d heard from a coworker that there actually are categories for expedited green card and immigration, determined largely by educational background and professional skills and qualifications (the nearest I can find is the “O” visa, which seems to fit the bill).

    But it is up to the sponsoring company to file for that on behalf of the H1B holder, if they even want to file for immigration at all. Some companies balk at the extra legal cost involved.

    I should say this, Amardeep: I am opposed to the H1B program as it stands today, because I believe it does not serve you (nor your wife, nor my friends and coworkers, nor the country overall) well. It serves companies that employ H1Bs. They also benefit from the confusion that results from the immigration / temporary visa classification. They gain lower paid workers who they have more leverage, and thus more control, over, and they will do the same work (and at the same billable rate, or, if there’s competition to face, at a lower rate without hurting your margin).

    I frequently find myself in awe of how much legislation is created in this country blatantly in favor of companies, and very much against individuals. And I am no anti-industrialist who fears globalization. I just think America could use a dose of individual rights in this arena again.

  27. The L1 -A visa( Which implies International Manager – have to prove to be of management cadre with X number of direct reports etc) does away with the first ( and sometimes longest ) stage to a Green Card – Labor certification. The other stages :EAD, Adjustment of status remain the same as for all other Green card applications. This route shortens the process somewhat but the paperwork is immense and carefully checked ! Note: Don’t know if the current immigration bill changes this

  28. As someone mentioned above, give them a green card with their graduate degrees.

    Absolutely not! This will make the university system extremely exploitative. They are already addicted to cheap labor.

  29. Absolutely not! This will make the university system extremely exploitative. They are already addicted to cheap labor.

    Second that. The number of colleges that offer admissions into Masters program for a fee will explode.

  30. A few points that have come up repeatedly and bear further discussion, IMHO:

    1) The idea that the H1 visa is meant to be temporary and no-one should expect or assume that it’s a step to citizenship – fair enough, that is indeed how it is advertised. But like all temporary work programs anywhere, and Britain and France and Germany in the post WWII period have excellent examples of this, they don’t really work – family reunification, workers investing in homes and putting down roots, maybe marrying a local, all of these contribute to making workers “permanent” much of the time. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, if you’re benefitting from someone’s labour it behooves you to see them as human and with human/familial needs, the alternative is the “bachelor” system in the UAE where workers (mostly construction and low-skilled ones) aren’t allowed to bring families and made to live in separate quarters/neighbourhoods because they’re seen as a menace to society,etc. Is that how a country built on immigration wants to treat migrants?

    2) The idea that non-citizens should be taxed just like citizens are because they enjoy the same benefits – well, they should pay local and state taxes of course, and there’s an argument for paying federal income tax, but none really for FICA. Unless you assume that everyone will become permanent, which actually the immigration system does not. The flip side is that American citizens working elsewhere in the world don’t pay local taxes where they are, and pay taxes to the US on the assumption that they will return, but these are subject to large deductions and there’s almost no way of checking on the accuracy of reporting unless you work for a US firm abroad, so people end up paying what they like, essentially. I know tons of these expats and they certainly don’t feel any responsibility to contribute for the benefits they’re receiving overseas…so the USG is, in a sense, trying to have it both ways.

    3) The idea that desis are the only ones who bitch and moan about the country that gives them their bread and butter – well, as I mentioned before, this is a classic pattern for all economic migrants, even to cities, and again, spending a lot of time with US expats where I am, I can tell you that they’ll match any desi uncle or aunty for dissing the place they’re in :)

  31. Oh and I forgot the most important one:

    4) Those who worry about migrant labour and outsourcing lowering wages and taking their jobs from them – economists like Dani Rodrik have written extensively about the impact of outsourcing etc on wage rates in the US, and only about 10% of the US economy is tied to “the outside world” – even accounting for the ripple effects and the wider fear effects of losing one’s job to outsourcing that makes an American worker settle for a lower wage, economists have concluded that the depression of wages and job cuts in the US is really owed much much more to companies’ cost-cutting and competitive strategies based on domestic considerations than on outsourcing. It’s just easier to blame migrants than it is to blame the logic of the market economy that generally benefits most of us. (And btw, this does not mean that I’m a fan of paying H-1B workers less than the prevailing market wage and the other slimy tactics that many companies use)

  32. i would like to note that tax dollars go far beyond SS and medicare etc

    ak, I think people complain about these in particular, because a chunk of your tax is specifically marked as SS and medicare and goes into a pool accessible only to citizens.

  33. Wow, I actually did read all off the 280 comments and not sure where to start.. Maybe you’ll have touched it at one point or the other.

    1- I think the purpose of the post really was to bring attention to the fact that most h1-b’s do have it hard. Whether you bear angst against them or not, you have to understand that most of us/them look at you not just for sympathy but also, because you are citizens and thus, have rights, we look to you to bring attention to the current immigration policy and help reform. Seeing as to how most of you’ll know what it was like for your parents.

    2- The complaining never stops. It’s just us as desis. I do it, my in laws do it. My husband and my bro-in-law are in this “transitioned DBD” category where they have both started bitching about fellow desis who have just come here. Personally, I think we need to help them adjust but only when it comes to certain things like body odor and such. I am just not sure how to approach them without seeming like a bitch.

    3- I came here on an F1, studied my way thru 4 years with decent grades, and am now stuck in an h4 situation cos noone wanted to sponsor me. Now, I am waiting for my green card. I certainly didn’t come here to sit on my ass. I stayed back b’cos I had to pay off my uncle for the loan he took for me to send me to college. If I worked here, I could pay him faster. I have been off the market for 4 years now. I am infuriated that someone I know has an h1 doing IT when she never studied for it. It makes me mad.

    4- I recently found out that my name doesn’t come up in the system cos they can’t find my 1-94. If it wasn’t for my documents I have, I’d basically be called and illegal immigrant.

    So, no I don’t want your sympathy but i want you to understand so you can help me figure out how I can bring this to someone’s attention so that i am not forever stuck as a NUMBER!

  34. 275 Melbourne desi

    Limited illegal migration due to the landlocked nature of the continent. Cant really walk across the border.

    Actually Melbourne Desi that is coz of mandatory detention of illegal aliens for an indefinite period of time. Most illegal arivals in Australia are not economic migrants but political refugees. They face years in detention on Christmas Island or Nauru (as part of the Pacific Solution) or Baxter in the SA desert. You have children born there who have spent the first 5-6 years of their life in detention in really inhumane conditions. Its out of sight out of mind.

    There was this “possible desi” called Peter Qasim who spent 8 years in mandatory detention. I call him possible desi coz he claims to be Kashmiri but the Indian Government says he is not. It detained Cornilia Rau a German citizen and an Australian PR migrant who was having mental health problems coz they thought she was an illegal.

    Desi on the other hand have had it reasonably good here coz most of them are from IT /Accounting / Medical / business migrants. They also had the advantage of being under the radar from any attacks on their level of migration. The post war period saw attacks on Greeks, Italians, Eastern Europeans & Jews for being lesser White (WOGS – derogatory when used by SKIPPS), the 70s saw attacks on Vietnamese & Lebanese (LEBS) people, the 90s saw attacks on Asians immigration. (Pauline Hanson, PM John Howard – original views not present ones). Now you have Muslims and Africans as whipping boys. We escaped coz when Asians were being vilified most people thought Asians = Chinese and Indians (CURRY MUNCHERS) just were under the radar.

    Also since you live in Melbourne your views will be different coz that’s a more integrated city where as Sydney is more of a collection of Ghettos due to the nature of the housing market. I heard people describe extremely wealthy and uber fashionable Rose Bay in Sydney as a Jewish Ghetto and equally wealthy but picket fenced boring North Shore as a White Ghetto.

  35. While I was a student on a F-1 visa, I did not pay Social Security + Medicare taxes. But on H1-B, those taxes are withheld. the idea is that the people in temporary H1 visas are potential immigrants and it is better for the taxman to get as much and as early as possible.

    F-1s are only exempt from FICA for the first five years of their stay in the US. J-1s are exempt for the first two years.

  36. SP #283

    2)…know tons of these expats and they certainly don’t feel any responsibility to contribute for the benefits they’re receiving overseas…so the USG is, in a sense, trying to have it both ways.

    That is, actually, not true. The US taxes its citizens based on their worldwide income – i.e. citizenship means you must pay tax on all income, no matter where it was earned. This actually works against US citizens, because most countries only require taxes paid on income within the specific country. Thus, a US citizen can end up paying more than his US rate of tax – he will be taxed on his worldwide income at the applicable US marginal rate, and also have to pay the foreign countries the tax on the income earned there (if they are residency-based tax systems). Because of this inconsistency, the IRS allows a foreign tax credit (FTC) for taxes paid abroad, but only up to what they would have paid on that amount in the US – i.e. it is essentially capped by your marginal tax rate. So, if the foreign jurisdiction has a higher marginal tax rate, the US citizen will never get the credit for that portion of the taxes that exceeds the US rate. This is why the US has tax treaties with certain countries – to ensure the tax rate applied to the US citizens is favourable, or at least does not exceed what they would have paid in the US. But you cannot deny that US citizens are still paying the foreign government taxes for the benefits they receive by residing or earning money from that country, except that usually the US (but not the foreign country) will give the citizen a credit.

  37. It’s funny how 35 years ago when my dad came to the USA as an engineer their was a shortage of engineers then yet there is still a shortage of engineers now.. Even with all the desi’s that come over here their is still a shortage so it doesn’t make any sense to me as how some people are being layed off and outsourced.. Also you would think that by now the gap would have closed and the shortage would have been filled but apparently that hasn’t happened yet..

  38. ak, I think people complain about these in particular, because a chunk of your tax is specifically marked as SS and medicare and goes into a pool accessible only to citizens.

    of course – that’s why i said that complaint is partially correct. but if you look at things practically, we are sort of all in the same boat – both SS and medicare are a mess, and even the citizens who pay these taxes do not benefit from them – each generation is actually paying for the current current receipients of SS and medicare, even though theoretically it is to be set aside for their own future. and as we all know, there might not be any SS in a few decades. so it is quite possible that none of us in this age-group – citizen or not – will ever see those benefits.

  39. we know better than to call Native Americans ‘Indians’

    OT, but I just wanted to address this. “Indian” is the correct legal term for Native Americans, i.e. Bureau of Indian Affairs, Indian Civil Rights Act, Indian Gaming Rights Act, Indian Health Services, etc. Most Native Americans I meant aren’t particularly offended by the term “Indian”, although they would prefer to be referred to by their tribal affiliation rather than by generic terms like “Indian” or “Native American”.

  40. Man, some people on this forum have identity issues. Stop worrying your whole life about how you ‘want’ to be seen. You don’t have to put down other people just because they happen to be your race! You aint getting a medal for that from Uncle Sam. Unless you want to be as clueless as clueless.

    Puliogre, you are spewing nonsense based on a few examples you have seen. There are stupid and insensitive people everywhere and that should be obvious to anyone, but you’d rather see things as you want to see them. So when Americans talk about bad haircuts etc and throw in stuff about snake charmers, how the fuck is that different? And that from ABDs, who have to take the same shit from less well-informed Americans.

  41. Melbourne Desi, I’m with you on the ‘White Passport’ issue. That is the one reason I’d think about getting an Australian passport or PR, especially given the dual citizenship opportunity. It is frustrating to have to apply for a bloody visa when you’re just going somewhere for a corporate conference. If I could move around just like an American or a European, what reason do I have to obsessively seek citizenship of a country where at the slightest opportunity I might be told I need to go back because I complain too much or they don’t like my haircut or because I don’t eat crappy meat pie in a suburban pub (thankfully Melbourne has been a refreshing experience)?

  42. Pulliogre has made a habit on this board of spewing such generalities, I am not sure what his or her issue is but it seems deep seated, someone called Michael correctly diagnosed it is “Compensatory Delusion”

  43. we know better than to call Native Americans ‘Indians’

    Dear God, the football team in the US capital is called the “Redskins” for crying out loud. That’s like Germany having a team called “The Berlin Kikes” Being called “Indians” is something most indigenous I’ve met, would rather not bicker about.

  44. of course – that’s why i said that complaint is partially correct.

    Why so?. I have explicitly mentioned Social Security and Medicare available only to citizens and omitted the Federal/State/Local taxes that are used for everyone.

  45. 272 Pulliogre:

    ” even people that have been here for 35 plus years and have long since retired say the same stuff. and never go back. “

    So if you spent the next 35 years in Egypt, you are supposed to foster no feelings of affection for America, right ? (Assuming you are ABD).

    … So these DBDs love the money/benefits of the USA and are too comfortable to go back. So what ? Just because one enjoys the comforts of the US doesn’t mean he shouldn’t love/miss/boast about the chaat stalls back home, or long for the pretty shy women in his home town, or generally take pride in the nation of his upbringing. We all take pride in where we come from – And no matter how many years I might live here, I don’t expect to disown my hometown by any means whatsoever.

  46. wow. its amazing how you guys can determine im delusional by message board comments. im clearly not very good at reading people. i would require far more information. in any case. i think im tired of getting personally insulted on a message board by strangers. i think ill go now.

  47. So if you spent the next 35 years in Egypt, you are supposed to foster no feelings of affection for America, right ? (Assuming you are ABD). … So these DBDs love the money/benefits of the USA and are too comfortable to go back. So what ? Just because one enjoys the comforts of the US doesn’t mean he shouldn’t love/miss/boast about the chaat stalls back home, or long for the pretty shy women in his home town, or generally take pride in the nation of his upbringing. We all take pride in where we come from – And no matter how many years I might live here, I don’t expect to disown my hometown by any means whatsoever.

    I dont expect anyone for forget his home town , or even miss it. i dont even think its a bad thing to criticize where you are. but, why would you insult an entire country of people as “cultureless”? i owuld prob miss america if i lived out in the middle east for a hwile, but i wouldnt assume the inherant superiority of american culture or anything, and the inherant culturelessness of egypt, and stay. i would be a bit more respectufll than that to my egyptian hosts

  48. Pulliogre has made a habit on this board of spewing such generalities, I am not sure what his or her issue is but it seems deep seated, someone called Michael correctly diagnosed it is “Compensatory Delusion”

    you cant diagnose anything on a message board. psychiatric diagnosis is a rigerous process done by highly trained professionals after far more personal interactions with a person. pl dont attack individuals. it is disrespectful. I am going now.