In a Recession, H-1Bs Get the Boot

I’m a life-long Democrat, but one aspect of the Democratic party message that has at times bothered me in recent years is the tendency towards protectionism. It was one of the things (among many) that annoyed me about John Kerry’s campaign, and I was somewhat relieved that Obama wielded this axe a bit more lightly during his campaign, at least after Iowa (notice how most of that talk about NAFTA disappeared too?).

During a bad recession with spiralling unemployment, of course, any earlier caution we might have seen from politicians regarding protectionism is going to be in danger. Congressional politicians from both parties are increasingly turning to populist language to ensure their own political survival. And the easiest group to pick on politically in recent years, by both Republicans and Democrats, has been immigrants, since they can’t vote anyway.

As many readers may already be aware, the recent American economic stimulus bill contained explicit language concerning foreign workers in the U.S.:

The stimulus bill contained the Employ American Workers Act, which was sponsored by Sens. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) and Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.). They say that they are worried that laid-off Americans struggling to find work are being displaced by foreign junior investment analysts, computer programmers and corporate lawyers who accept a fraction of the pay commanded by Americans.

“This H-1B program is a sweetheart deal for employers, in many instances, to be able to gain cheap labor from abroad,” Sanders, the son of a Polish immigrant, said in a telephone interview. “Immigration made this country great. But ask those American laid-off workers if they want $40,000-a-year engineers from Russia or India taking the place of an American engineer who would earn $80,000 a year. I don’t think anyone is going to tell me with a straight face that they can’t find some of that American talent right here on the unemployment lines.” (link)

Actually, Senator Sanders, I’m perfectly happy to tell you, with a straight face, that American IT companies are deeply dependent on foreign workers, whose positions could not easily be filled by American counterparts. Also, I can assure you that are not thousands of unemployed American software engineers on unemployment because Indian and Russian engineers in the U.S. are getting paid $40,000. Indeed, I’m fairly sure that H-1B engineers from India are getting paid considerably more than $40,000 a year on average.

The clampdown on foreign workers is also occurring in financial institutions, especially those that are getting federal bailout money:

During the past several months, the largest banks in the United States have announced 100,000 job cuts, Sanders said. Those same banks, which are receiving $150 billion in a taxpayer-funded bailout package, requested visas for more than 21,800 foreign workers over the past six years for positions such as senior vice presidents, corporate lawyers and human resources specialists, Sanders said, citing an Associated Press review of visa applications that the banks filed with the Labor Department.

As the economy worsened last year and employees were laid off, the number of visas sought by the dozen banks in the AP analysis increased by nearly a third, from 3,258 in fiscal 2007 to 4,163 in fiscal 2008.

What do readers make of the growing drift towards protectionism in American political discourse? How do you feel about the “Employ American Workers Act”? Are there effective ways to counter protectionist thinking during a recession? And: have any of these changes affected you or someone you know personally?

As a side note, I have heard some talking heads on TV–I forget who–arguing that in fact one possibly effective way to counter the housing slump might actually be an increase in high-skilled immigration: highly skilled immigrants in well-paying jobs might eventually start buying up all those empty condos everywhere. But that seems like kind of a strange argument to make right now, since, really, it seems like no one is hiring.

Also see: this Forum thread on the Employ American Workers Act at Immigration Voice. And here is an earlier SM post of mine related to the plight of Indian H-1B workers.

155 thoughts on “In a Recession, H-1Bs Get the Boot

  1. I find it very ironic that for all the values about freedom that America trumpets, we get as desperate as the annybody else when times are tough and look for scapegoats.

    that’s the mark of a true democracy, isn’t it – holding up said values in all situations. it’s not ironic, neale – it’s america, and this isn’t the first time we’ve seen this happen.

  2. I think there should be a cap on American evangelists trolling the backstreets of the developing world.>>>

    boss, they are there only to help the poor sdre’s, only. much like the british colonial empire. wait, did i say empire? i meant british free trade regime. that was close.

  3. I don’t see immigration to the US as some sort of ‘right’

    Labor cannot be equated with goods and capital but third-world countries can argue that if they have to buy our boeings, pepsi, and potato chips then they need opportunities to make money (in this case H1Bs) besides selling agricultural products and textiles which anyways have to compete against huge subsidies of US mechanized farms. on this count i am on the side of the arundhati roys of communists of kerala and bengal…right metric would be to look at balance of trade.

    reg. the argument of innovation in some of the comments…i concur with razib on this. not everybody even an MIT graduate can be an innovator..out of a constant supply of people and in the right conditions people innovate…… Any R&D lab/industry too has a fixed number of people who are in the business of creating new products…the rest is abt testing, producing, marketing and business and support for which one needn’t be a genius (EB1) but just hard-working professionals (EB2, EB3) who can prob produce the occasional sparks. now if the economic conditions are not right this constant supply of people which were needed for the “pool” becomes an economic burden…..

    In fact any ambitious nation (like China and India) can cross the US on the wrong path on these issues so the best for US would be to diversify to other smaller countries..invest in their educational system and make them a supply temp pool of innovators. This will be good for the entire world.

  4. they need opportunities to make money (in this case H1Bs)

    The service equivalent of free trade manufactured goods would be outsourcing, not immigration.

  5. I think there should be a cap on American evangelists trolling the backstreets of the developing world.

    That’s already been talked about for years now in India….

  6. ‘i believe that economic productivity growth is driven by innovation, and that innovation arises from individuals with a unique combination of skills as well as luck. specifically, i’m talking about people with technical skills. on the margin i don’t think that thousands of HB1s are necessary to sustain the US economy, but over the long term i believe that once they get naturalized one can make the case that a subset of these are likely to be entrepreneurs and innovators, and i tend to favor that.”

    America is suffering from the innovation of wall street financial geniuses. In America free trade boils down to China selling junk products to the american masses for dollars and wall street selling junk financial products to the chinese, japanese and europeans for american dollars.

  7. America is suffering from the innovation of wall street financial geniuses. In America free trade boils down to China selling junk products to the american masses for dollars and wall street selling junk financial products to the chinese, japanese and europeans for american dollars.

    he..he.. I burst out laughing.. :-)

  8. It’s strange that nobody talks about 50000 diversity lottery immigrant visas issued every year to people with a high school degree (or higher academic qualification). So, it’s alright to bring in an additional 50000 individuals who could take jobs/resources from locals, but everyone is up against 65000 H1B holders most of whom have a graduate degree – some from US institutions, and went through a naturalization process? And, what about the L1 visas that companies use? Isn’t it depressing salary? Situation here won’t improve unless there is a complete restructuring of immigration process. Most Americans follow the buzzwords to argue about it, but you can see in each and every forum (not this forum, ofcourse) how they are unaware of the details or other aspects of it.

    Melbourne Desi: Thanks for explaining your case; either way, you are not affected by the process now. So, well…….:)

  9. either way, you are not affected by the process now.

    not completely true – have family and close friends in the H1B lmerry go round. This is also my pitch for H1Bs to move to Australia :) – much better deal and you get a GC-PR in about 12-18 months and a citizen in 4 years after GC. The immigration process favours skills – also few illegals.

  10. This is also my pitch for H1Bs to move to Australia :) – much better deal and you get a GC-PR in about 12-18 months and a citizen in 4 years after GC.

    Sounds good for now. But remember this, in a post apocalyptic world, while you are getting eaten up by wild, rabid boomerang wielding dogs, driven mad by watching too many films starring Mel Gibson, we will be laughing our hearts out from the safe, secure environs of Guantanamo Bay. Karma is a mean female dingo. .. oh yeah.

  11. Please forgive my grammar and bad English:

    I came to this country on a H1.. do I think the H1 visa’s should be eliminated/reduced? Yep! with out doubt.. till this recession passes.

    This isn’t about innovation or capability or free trade.. this also isn’t about Indians being geniuses and Americans being lazy…this is about cheap labor – period. (If Americans were lazy.. this would not be the country we’re all trying to immigrate to, wake up guys.. no nationality has monopoly on brains)

    Also.. this is the US folks.. they have every right to protect their economy and jobs for Americans (Not that Corp America will ever let that happen). How would you feel if all of Bangladesh/Pakistan/Nepal and Burma swamped our country and took our IT jobs for a thousand rupees..we’d have no where to go to.

    There is also a real discrepancy is living standards and expectations.. we can’t explain that away by arguing “free trade” and other such bull crap. I regularly run into four of our country men packed into 2 bed apartments, sleeping on the floor and eating rice 3 times a day(nothing wrong with that). The expectation here is very low.. will code for peanuts.. coz the $ translate into huge Rs. If you don’t believe it coz you shop at GAP and Old Navy.. and “give” money back to the economy.. remember you are taking it first.

    The H1b program now is “really” used to bring in cheap labor, if you can’t wrap your mind around that you should return to India.. I doubt you’re the kind they intended to bring in the first place. Cheap labor undermines wages and results in job losses of native born Americans… it’s pretty straight forward and simple… I’ve seen it happen quite a few times. Actually – I was laid off a couple of times because someone on a H1 was willing to do my job for 15k less. I had to find another position.. move, lost income for a few months.. fun stuff. Like I said, this is about cheap labor and in some sense a race to the bottom.

    You can’t talk supply – demand.. People have emotions and needs and have to pay bills. Widgets don’t care if they are sold for a million or a cent. Well, if you still must.. then do consider.. you are creating an imbalance in the system by pumping up supply. This isn’t organic or planned.. it’s mostly chaotic and very unorganized. It will upset and break a lot of other sub systems. Nothing about the H1b program is organic.

    Business will hire the one willing to work for less.. period! Where you create an “artificial” supply of workers willing to work for less.. Slowly but surely.. wages will adjust downwards till native born Americans can’t compete. I’ve seen this happen time and again.. all that noise we’re hearing is them complaining about it.

    This also wrecks the school / college system and undermines native capability, few native born Americans are taking up CS courses. The US already lost Manufacturing (Auto, steel etc) and if it continues down this path.. It’ll lose IT too.

    The H1b workers are a temporary and artificial supply. They are not a product of this economy, but from outside the system. They have no skin in the game.. .their start up/setup costs are virtually nil. The Govt back home subsidizes our education and pretty much everything else.

    When you pay an arm and a leg to put your self through (here)college and run up a huge debts for housing and putting your kids through college and sustaining a life style here in the US.. it’ll hit home. You can argue till your face is blue and say all sorts of smart things.. but the Americans are getting shafted… no doubt about it.

    The bottom line is that this is their country. An accident of fate. We (indians) don’t have a God given right to H1b visas (and to work here) nor some magical right to residence /citizenship in the US.

    If you are annoyed by protectionism in the US, just read the manifest destiny-esque tone of our H1b debate. It’s ridiculous.

    In the end.. it’s not about us.. it’s about Corp America and it’s thirst for cheap labor. If Corp America can find a half dead monkey to code Java or Sql for a buck fifty tomorrow.. you betcha they’ll have a visa category for it. The Democrats and Republicans will do what ever Corp America tells them they need to stay competitive. So relax..the H1b program is here to stay… but we’re not god’s gift to the US economy (all my friends are convinced we are)… and we didn’t build this economy either (try telling my friends)

    Some Number: Current H1b population : 65k(every year) * 6 (validity period) = 390,0000 Add the F1′s and other’s exempt for quota. Add they L1′s My estimate is there are well over half a million in the US economy, 80% of these in IT.

    Now compare against the total IT work force (not as some clever ppl here compared it to the total US work force).. the numbers are pretty telling.

    I’d say that’s about 25% to 30% of the IT US workforce is on H1b or some sort of temporary visa. I’ve worked in places that have over 75% h1b’s in their IT department..so don’t bother trying to throw a 2% at me.

    If you still think “temporary” workers are not displacing locals you are smoking something really weird dude.

    My suggestion would be to not eliminate H1b visas.. but to Tax companies (not the employees) that bring in H1b visas up to about 50% of salary on top of all applicable salaries. A sort of H1 tax. The Govt can use these funds to re-train Americans displaced by the H1 program. This will also reduce the intake of H1′s only to the really really deserving and really really needed. Not like now.. where the bulk of H1′s are used to drive down implementation cost while perfectly qualified US citizens are told they are too expensive or that they don’t qualify. You’ll also then find.. all of a sudden Bill Gates say that all the Geniuses he’ll ever need are born here in the US.. there must be something in the water in America that produces the best coders in the world.

  12. If Corp America can find a half dead monkey to code Java or Sql for a buck fifty tomorrow.. you betcha they’ll have a visa category for it.

    ramesh – well said.

    If you still think “temporary” workers are not displacing locals you are smoking something really weird dude.

    precisely my point. ramesh has pretty much said it all.

  13. Responding to a specific point that Ramesh (#112) made: There is also a real discrepancy is living standards and expectations.. we can’t explain that away by arguing “free trade” and other such bull crap. I regularly run into four of our country men packed into 2 bed apartments, sleeping on the floor and eating rice 3 times a day(nothing wrong with that). The expectation here is very low.. will code for peanuts.. coz the $ translate into huge Rs. If you don’t believe it coz you shop at GAP and Old Navy.. and “give” money back to the economy.. remember you are taking it first.

    I find that somewhat unfair. Yes, there is a definite difference of living standards between India and the US. But this is how everyone starts out. I lived with 3 other people in a 2-bed apt. for the 1st 2 years of my grad school, simply because anything better was unaffordable on a grad student stipend (which was equal to what every American student was also paid). Having saved up, we all then moved to more spacious quarters. Isn’t that how people should start out in any set of circumstances? Live frugally, save, get re-oriented in a new place and a new culture, and then get on with life? I’m curious how many of these people you observed still lived in packed houses after years of stay in this country. It’s most likely a 1st 2 years phenomenon. I would rather people live this way than be fiscally irresponsible like all the people who bought unaffordable houses just so they could keep up with the Joneses.

  14. @114 · Rama

    You miss the point.. let me explain.. by stretching the example to the extreame..

    Why not pack 16 in a 2 bed appartment.. more frugal eh? Save more eh? Don’t buy houses.. rent forever.. even better eh? Not really.. your idea – if that, is suited for a temporary worker with an end game… not for a native who has roots here and this is his one and only game.

    My point: Americans are “forced” to accumulate debt (bcoz they live in this economy – for education and life style reasons etc) and then forced to compete with a foreign work force that has no debt and is willing to live in sub par living conditions and undercut wages to gain employment. Even with discounted wages the foreign work force saves because the savings translate into huge savings in the native country and obviousely – they don’t have the over heads the natives have.

    The foreign work force has the option of returning to the home country.. mean while the native is left high and dry. The native has no where to go.

    Making two very different work forces compete for the same wages is patently unfair..

    How would you feel say if India offers 65k visas annually for IT and say martians who live on bread and water, pack 20 in a card board shanty arrive in huge numbers.. would you be able to compete with them? I bet you’d be singing a different tune.

    To stretch this further.. let me give you my last experience.. “Bob” at 45 was laid off from a 105k job so “Suresh” at 27 could be hired 70k. You can slice this any way you want.. but Bob was laid off because Suresh was willing to work for 70k. Bob has a mortgage and 2 kids ready to go to college. Suresh is 27, still single and arrived from India 3 years ago. Bob is declaring bankruptcy. Suresh is saving for a flat in Bangalore.

    You can argue that Bob needs to re-train or go back to school or man up or any such crap.. but the plain truth is that the industry found cheaper labor and hired it. Bob got shafted. The industry will continue to do so as long as they can. It’s up to the Congress to legislate changes so Americans are protected from American companies that are addicted to cheap labor. Instead of focusing on productivity and innovation.. the industry is focused on getting cheap labor.. this is an unhealthy and unsustainable situation.

    PS: I’ve have quite a few folks on H1b who bought houses at the top.. pretty silly.. but that’s not the debate.

  15. but IMHO, the more H1B’s/skilled immigrants we get in the US, the better! may i ask why ? would like to know how you arrived at your position

    Melbourne desi, Sure–my thought goes as follows–suppose native-born population of the US is something like .6X in skilled positions, .4X in unskilled positions. If you can increase the population of skilled workers (as via H1B) then your ratio of skilled to unskilled improves from 1.5 to 1 to something higher–given that, the “drag” of the unskilled is reduced, so overall welfare should improve. This is, I take it, why life is more pleasant in Santa Monica, CA than in Alabama. . . . ratio of skilled to unskilled is higher in the former. . . . maybe I’m missing something, but that is why I think the way I do.

  16. And the easiest group to pick on politically in recent years, by both Republicans and Democrats, has been immigrants, since they can’t vote anyway.

    It was not that long ago in the town of Springfield, where Mayor Quimby made immigrants the scapegoat after his bear tax did not go over well with the locals. Despite the fact his plan to stop the bear attacks worked, the 5 dollar tax hike was too much, so the immigrants were blamed. A very sad story.

  17. Ramesh (#116): You miss the point.. let me explain.. by stretching the example to the extreame..

    Why not pack 16 in a 2 bed appartment.. more frugal eh? Save more eh? Don’t buy houses.. rent forever.. even better eh? Not really.. your idea – if that, is suited for a temporary worker with an end game… not for a native who has roots here and this is his one and only game.

    I get the point you are making above, and in your entire posting, that settled Americans cannot compete with young, single people from abroad who are comfortable with a lower standard of living. But your arguments are unconvincing for a number of reasons. I was emphasizing the fact that living more frugally than the average American is a temporary condition for a large number of people on work visas, and they soon adjust to the American lifestyle (I don’t have any statistics to back up my claim, but neither do you present any to show that a large majority of people on work permits live in sweatshop-like conditions). Also, in my experience, most American students (unless they have really wealthy parents) tend to live as frugally as Indian students. I also disagree that the threat to your metaphorical “Bob” comes from people like Suresh. Substitute Joe (a US citizen freshly graduated from college) for Suresh, and Bob still cannot compete. Also, I am not convinced that companies are laying off experienced “Bobs” for rookie “Sureshs” by the thousands just to pinch pennies. Such companies will soon go down the drain. You also fail to present a direct causal link between the laying off of Bob and the hiring of Suresh (now all anti-H1b and anti-immigrant people make this claim, but if you have solid numbers to back this up, I would love to see them). As I see it, Suresh and Joe are competing, not Suresh and Bob.

    The kind of layoffs you are talking about happened with more frequency back in the dot-com boom. The main reason (as I see it) was that the software industry was just taking off, and the skills necessary for software development were becoming commoditized to an extent they had not before. Older people with niche experience in old technology (having learnt their skills at a time when most people hadn’t heard of computers) were beign phased out because their knowledge was not as necessary to the development of Internet-based applications that were all the craze. I don’t see that happening today. The negative effect those layoffs was that it scared off a generation of native students from even entering these fields and going on to grad school (the CS graduate program in my school, one of the top ones in the country, had ~75% foreign enrollment). If companies go to any campus today with the intention of selecting only citizens, they simply won’t be able to fill their positions. And the H1 applications today increasingly come for workers who graduated from US universities.

    I am simply making an economic argument here. I understand that you are making more of an emotional argument, and I completely get it. Unfortunately, that is how industries (and capitalism) work.

  18. Hey Ramesh, Shut that door tight man, the same door you entered through. Make sure no one enters here after you, good job buddy, now you are one of us, hell with those outsiders getting screwed !

  19. There are 2 issues here, one is getting more people in from outside the country (which it can be argued is not needed at this moment). Second is the treatment of the people who are already here for years and years. These are the people who either did their grad schooling here or came here via other means but one way or another made this place their home. They invested years and years here, piad taxes, paid SS. Most of the people lived a life of a model citizen(alien). These guys, who BTW were welcomed with open arms in good times(because all citizens were busy making money in other lucrative options like mortgage broker or real estate agents), made a life here, put down their roots. There was always a niggling fear that if you lose a job, you have to sell your car, your house, pack your bags and go back to home with your kids. But that will not happen, they were always told. It can never get that bad. Dont worry, wait for 10 years, give the best time of your life to this country and one day you will get a green card and then you can start a business the way you always wanted, in the meantime, I want this code done by monday morning. Now suddenly, because of the shenanigans of a few and greed of quite a few and reckless spending of everyone except a few, these guys are without a job or will be without a job soon. In the meantime, everyone looks at them like they are some kind of crooks, the hate on some peoples faces just oozes out.

    Time to pack and go to a place where everything has changed, they have changed, their best years are half gone. Its back to starting all over again, minus the youthful optimism. Sometimes, changing town invoulantirily can be quite a nightmare, so imagine how changing country invoulantarily might feel.

    Sorry for the rambling, but just wanted to represent someone who never gets represented.

  20. @Ramesh: your example of 45 year old Bob doesn’t work. This is because Bob making 105K will be replaced by a 27 year old American, if there were no H1B’s, making 70K. If Bob hasn’t moved up in the value chain by 45, that 105K paid to him is too much. Thats the reason why in layoffs such positions are the first to be eliminated.

    H1B is a valuable program but abused like any other. Remember, IIT rank #1 with a PhD from a leading university here, will join the workforce too as a H1B. Everyone can agree that losing this person is not in America’s best interest. On the other hand, I know of cases where 4 consultants are packed in a 1 BR apartment with just grocery money given to them. That is clearly an abuse which authorities need to crackdown on.

    As others have pointed out too, the huge green card wait is a major problem with H1B program. If you are stuck in your job due to the GC wait, that clearly is distorting the salary market because you agree to a lower wage in exchange for the wait for the GC.

    Its a complicated situation. If you put lots of regulations and checks in the H1B visa issuing process, H1 processing will take forever to clear the checks. That’ll clearly dissuade companies from using these visa. Further, H1B and outsourcing will go hand in hand. Even if you eliminate the H1B program, the jobs will simply be shipped offshore.

  21. The economy can be fixed if the US gov stops starting wars in foreign lands, the US people stop eating out and start making low budget vegetarian cuisine at home, and people stop paying for cable and wearing makeup or buying expensive cellulite vanishing creams and cars.

  22. Offshoring is often combined with outsoucing. In IT, outsourcing companies hire a lot of H1s. And yes H-1B visa are often abused. BUT they are 3 different, distinct concepts here. I am shocked that even here people keep mixing up the three concepts, given the large number of H1s here. So here’s a quick note:

    H1-B visa The visa is used to bring skilled people into a company. This always costs a company more upfront than hiring a citizen. probably by upto 10 K. (Application fees, lawyers fees,mandatory notices, mandatory interviews, etc). In the long term, things get more complicated.

    Ramesh .. if you lost a job to a H1, hired by the company, for a 15 K difference, its highly unlikely that money was behind the decision. In addition to upfront costs, there are huge costs to projects beyond just wages, when switching resources (cost of the learning curve, impact to the timelines, lost knowledge, etc)

    Outsourcing Outsourcing is subcontracting a process to a third party. This is usually a good thing. Companies can then focus on their core business. When a company tries to do everything in a process, it almost always falls behind in various places over time. Outsourcing needs to be managed well, and a variety of factors need to be taken into account before outsourcing, (reliability, criticality, competetive advantages to current processes). The impact of this on wages is uncertain. For example, IBM used to maintain big iron mainframes for other compaines (outsourcing), and IBM paid well. People with valuable skills get much more, while people who have routine skills get less. And the skills’ value change over time.

    Off shoring Work is done in a different location offsite. This directly lowers the wages of the people who used to do this job in the original location. Overall though it it might be a boon to the the original location. For example if ebay’s costs are low due to outsourcing, Hundreds of thousands of people (millions?) of people are able to afford to open country wide stores at a low cost. Plus today multinational companies make a ton of money outside US and bring it into America. Offshoring helps them establish a presence in those countries. Global Trade has been good for America. For decades America inc has been making out like bandits overseas, and we are slowly seeing a semblance of a return to balance.

    Losing core competencies to offshoring is bad. We have seen what happened in vaious electronics sectors and then the auto industry. But It needs a lot of thought to decide what needs to be retained and planning and implementation to ensure that this occurs. Of course to scapegoat H1Bs is much simpler.

  23. I agree with Ramesh 100%. Just because he came through an H1B does not mean he cannot have an objective view of the situation. Why should a country with rising unemployment have a program to import foreign labor. Yes, we need the few IIT types and the 65.000 number will more than accommodate for that if you eliminate the bum rush from the IT body shops which imports mediocre (at best) talent. Most desis have their heads in the sand about the H1B issue. H1Bs are not the birthright of desis. It is (has to be) a need based program for the benefit of the United States and not meant to serve as an immigration channel. What part of temporary worker in the H1B don’t you understand? I am sure you will all cry foul about implicit promises – but how can the US be responsible for an assumed promise – namely the Green Card? And stop preaching about what the US should and should not do – please be honest and realize that we couldn’t hack it in India and had to move out.

    Comments earlier suggested having this argument on sites and blogs that are anti-H1B where the affected American workforce voices its opinion – small wonder you guys don’t give your highfalutin opinions there. Because you know your argument is hollow in front of the real Bobs on those sites that lost their jobs to H1Bs and outsourcing.

  24. Correction: Because you know your argument is hollow in front of the real Bobs on those sites that lost their jobs to H1Bs and outsourcing.

  25. Correction: Because you know your argument is hollow in front of the real Bobs on those sites that lost their jobs to H1Bs and offshoring. Now I’ve lost all credibility :-)

  26. H1-B visa The visa is used to bring skilled people into a company. This always costs a company more upfront than hiring a citizen. probably by upto 10 K. (Application fees, lawyers fees,mandatory notices, mandatory interviews, etc).

    False. If lawyer fees are eliminated (This is not hard to do. It doesn’t take much time to fill out an H-1B application. I know because I did it for myself), the H-1B costs $1500 (without expedited processing, in 2006). There are no mandatory notices or interviews to be conducted (unless the company is H-1B dependent, ie has more than X% of its employees on H-1B. I don’t remember what X is; I think it’s 15).

  27. I don’t believe temporary workers should be sent back, that would have catastrophic effect on the current employers and the economy. Indeed they should be allowed an easier path to permanent residentship and citizenship. It really isn’t their fault that they are here.

    I think the issuance of new H1b visas in the current economic condition is absurd. Here’s something in the papers today: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Business/Only-42000-H-1B-petitions-in-1-week/articleshow/4385677.cms

    H1b visas were instituted to suppliment the native work force. My argument is they have been used to replace the native work force for some years years now. They’ve also been used to drive down wages… to a point where it’s having deep professional and personal consequences for the natives.

    Please bear in mind, for the sake of debate, I’m recounting my negative experiences with h1b’s, there are positive experiences too. People will raise to meet expectations.. I’ve seen that a lot at my work.

    Also, the reason I write here..is because there is deep dishonesty by the Pro – H1b crowd on if the H1b visas have negative consequences for the natives. I’ve seen some pretty devastating economic and personal consequences for the natives, but there is a surprising lack of discussion or talk about it. In fact the folks on temporary visas will go to great lengths to deny that there are any consequences for the natives.. It is as if the only people of consequence are the recipient of H1b visas and by extension.. India and Indians, everyone else be dammed… especially the natives.

    Also the general attitude is if you have and engg or science degree and are barely able to pronounce Java or Sql you are entitled to work in the US.. at any cost and consequence.

    It is reasonable to argue ones own agenda and try to preserve ones own advantages, but to completely ignore or deny that there are negative consequences for the natives is an outright lie.

    No one it seems, wants to talk about the big fat pink elephant in the room.

    Some more on Bob: Bob was fired in 2005 from his full time position at a large Enterprise IT company. Bob wasn’t a dinosaur from a forgotten age. He had deep product knowledge and superlative expertise in product development, he was an out standing performer and a great manager. He was sorta my mentor too and helped me at work in many ways. He was part of a cost cutting/restructuring lay off.

    “No” the supply of fresh (or native) grads is nearly not enough to precipitate a cost cutting/restructuring lay off. I think a fresh grad would be taken in as a trainee and would have reported to bob if there was a need. In normal times, the newly minted grad students would have a clear entry and a career path into IT. It’s now gone, because you can get a h1b to work for less than what a newly minted grad would accept.

    Bob’s firing was a cost cutting measure.. and was precipitated because of the availability of cheaper alternatives, and the falling wage levels – because of the availability of cheaper labor.

    My point is that the H1′s were originally brought in supplement, in this case it clearly replaced the native. This excess “supply” (if you must) is an anomaly.

    How could suresh replace bob? That is an interesting question.. suresh is a stop gap that will be retained if he grows into the (jr)role or be fired if he fails to live up to expectations. The company was able to gamble, because the cost savings on the gamble made absolute sense. When you have a low cost labor, you can take risks and do some really creative things… usually to the determent of the very same labor.

    Bob’s career has halted cold on it’s track by no fault of his. The laws that congress enacted, allowed for someone with lower skills, lower expectations and lower qualification to replace him. He’s done some temporary work since.. but is still struggling to find a position.

    Mind you, my point is that H1b was a temporary solution to over come temporary labor shortage. There is no labor shortage now, it’s far out lived it’s mandate.

    I consulted for a few years and here are some other experiences:

    Infrastructure services: A (“A”) company I was contracting at had a native DBA contractor at market rates (2006). He was replaced by 2 onsite DBA’s from a large Indian consulting company that charged just $5/hr each over what Company “A” paid for it’s janitorial services. Both the replacement DBA’s were on H1′s, were paid peanuts and lived 4 in a two bed apartment. Neither had any means of transportation. Both lived out of their suite case. Now if you can replace an IT contractor with a masters and 10 years of IT experience with two other IT contractors that are paid $5 more than what a janitor will charge you.. we have a serious problem. The Indian IT company was engaging in predatory pricing and wiped out all native contractors and replaced them with it’s bunch of H1b’s at barely sustainable rates.

    Testing: At another large implementation, there were two native college grads in product testing. They were replaced by a team of 4 “experienced” testing engineers on H1b at the same cost total rate/hr, by a third tier vendor. They did the exact same work the two replaced workers did. I shudder to think what the H1′s were paid. By the time I got there.. much of the implementation team too, was made up of h1b’s from third tier vendors and most lived 3 to 4 in an apartment and shared transportation. Amazingly some had lived out of their suite cases for 4 to 5 years now. This isn’t about skills or capability. This is all about lowering costs… because if you bend the law a little or turn a blind eye, you can realize huge cost savings… at the expense of the natives.

    Both the native testers lost their jobs at the very start of their careers. One took to bar tending… because the money was better.

    PS: I haven’t talked about serious consequences for the natives. I’ve seen two first hand.. a dear friend who’s marriage ended due to his job loss and financial stress and another who move out of state at great expense to family and children. Though you can argue that both could be result of other causes and bad choices, the main contributing cause were – job losses.

  28. Following up to Ramesh’s will worded analysis, note that the very lawyers who make a very good living off working the system for dodgy H1-B certifications have their profession guarded by various associations and bar exams to prevent H1-B lawyers from invading their turf. I wonder if that gate was opened up, whether the lawyers would be quite as enthusiastic about the H1-B program.

  29. The economy can be fixed if the US gov stops starting wars in foreign lands

    “If you want to see what it really takes to boot the economy out of a debt trap, look at the large public works program, otherwise known as World War II, that ended the Great Depression”

    –Paul Krugman

  30. “If you want to see what it really takes to boot the economy out of a debt trap, look at the large public works program, otherwise known as World War II, that ended the Great Depression” –Paul Krugman

    That was then. This is now. Your average American is not benefitting financially from this war, though granted, some private corporations are.

    I think the big question that needs to be asked is why are so many desis still clammoring to get into the USA. What do they want here? More money? For what? More products?

    But why?

  31. There is one other aspect I have seen first hand with so many H1B cases that does not get discussed as much – the H1Bs (men) invariably bring a spouse who is also in IT (or a techie wannabe) to the US from India. The girl/woman simply waits for an EAD (employment authorization document) after applying for the Green Card and then joins the workforce. Once again, replacing the native workers. Ask yourselves honestly about how many such cases each of you personally know.

    The honest look in the mirror I implore desis to take is what Ramesh has articulated very well.

  32. @Just_Sayin: Why stop there? Once they become citizens they sponsor their families too further hurting the natives!!! EAD is obtained after satisfying permanent residency requirements and spouses should be entitled to work. If you have problems with that, then the discussion is about employment based GC’s not about H1B which is being discussed here.

    Ramesh has articulated well the problems with H1 program. It definitely needs revision. But banning it outright at this moment would not be right. There are still deserving candidates who can help the country. Maybe an H1 program along lines of EB1 category in GC (national interest candidates), is needed at this time. If the candidate is exceptionally qualified, let them get work visas.

  33. That was then. This is now

    Well, take it up with the neo-keynesians…I’m just an unpricipled libertine libertarian

    I think the big question that needs to be asked is why are so many desis still clammoring to get into the USA. What do they want here? More money?

    Yeah, money.

    For what? More products? But why?

    “In this country,first you get the money, then you get the power,THEN you get the woman.”

    –Tony Montana

  34. I think the big question that needs to be asked is why are so many desis still clammoring to get into the USA. What do they want here? More money? Yeah, money.

    For what? More products? But why? “In this country,first you get the money, then you get the power,THEN you get the woman.”

    True. it’s all about getting the woman, after all! :D

    More seriously, a lot of people came/come here and stay simply because they find a much better work atmosphere and a work culture. Possibilities for innovation and for for doing what you like as opposed to working in a straitjacketed role in a hierarchical work culture (India, possibly China too) are much higher. Everyone seems to be talkign about money, cheap labor, etc., but the quality of work and the career opportunities are (to me) what drove the craze to emigrate to the US. Now people are changing in India, the work culture also seems to be slowly changing there, so you DO see a lot of people choosing either not to come here, or go back after finishing grad school (a positive trend, in my opinion, for both countries). People like Ramesh and Just Saying need not get too worried, it will take a few years for this trend to play out to its complete extent, but I predict that by the late 2010s the number of H1B seekers from India will be miniscule (IMHO).

  35. “In this country,first you get the money, then you get the power,THEN you get the woman.” –Tony Montana

    Desi men have never had a problem getting wives, whether rich or poor. So my questions still stand.

  36. Desi men have never had a problem getting wives, whether rich or poor. So my questions still stand.

    Who said anything about wives?

  37. Who said anything about wives? I did.

    You said money and power gets the woman. Desi men have never needed money and power to get women – wives are women by the way.

    So where is the problem? Why the need to immigrate to get some pum pum when one can get it right from where one started.

    And – the desis that have immigrated, like my grandparents, were already getting pum pum and lund right where they were BEFORE coming over here. Coming over here and making money didn’t get them a wider variety of pum pum or lund. They stuck with the ones they already had. (Like my aunt, who despite her extensive education and fabulous career, stayed in a loveless marriage with the same ‘ol lund for decades, go figure).

  38. @Just_Sayin and Detroit Indian: thank you for agreeing and validating what I wrote.. at least I’m not the only (desi) indian who feels this way. Frankly it’s a relief to not have to toe the H1b line, or the – you are indian.. hence you have to be pro h1b and any other opinion you have is like kicking the ladder after you’ve climbed or closing the door on others.

    This unprecedented boom in IT sector should have befitted the locals in the way of employment, I can’t say it has. The unintended consequence of the H1b program and the resultant depression in wages is a marked lack of interest among locals for IT related careers. The next generations of locals are not taking to IT at all. It’s seen as a very unrewarding profession.

    In the good old days, industry would train/groom their employees, IT had a clear career path, wages were also relatively higher. Now (Industry) it is down to use and throw… even full time employees are looked on a temporary workers – very dispensable.

    Industry has always craved cheap raw material, cheap power/oil and – cheap labor.. it will make what ever case it can/has to get to it.

    @Rama Unfortunately, I think you are mistaken. You are underestimating the power of industry over legislature and the industry’s dependence on cheap labor for growth and expansion.

    Also the motivations for coming to the US are/were: money and then later quality of life. You are in a minority if you emigrated to the Us for the quality of life as the primary/sole motive. Generally, you don’t realize the quality of life till after you get here. I’d argue that money is the first/major draw, wanting to stay back for life style reasons or because you’ve put down roots here comes later after a few years of being here.

    People like Ramesh and Just Saying need not get too worried, it will take a few years for this trend to play out to its complete extent, but I predict that by the late 2010s the number of H1B seekers from India will be miniscule (IMHO).

    I disagree. As long as there is a source of cheap labor and access to it… Industry will find a way to import it. It’s the way industry works. They will vociferously argue their case. Lots of papers will be published, they will lobby the congress and put all sorts of pressure. It’s not solely up to the individual, Remember H1′s are sponsored by industry. The wage disparity (dollar to Rs) will also ensure a constant stream of temporary workers who will want to work here… and some if not many opt to become permanent residents (not a bad thing if you ask me).

    You may want to read todays news in both times of india and hindustan times. This year for the first time in many years the H1b quota was not used up in the first 24 hours. Because companies did not apply in the numbers they used to. There is increased scrutiny of applications. A huge chunk of second / third tier body shoppers simply did not apply. This is not because workers in India don’t want to come here.. or that the desire has diminished, it’s because the old ploy of circumventing H1b guide lines have become riskier to circumvent. Consulting companies used (to sponsor) a H1b fleet to drive down costs( wages) in their quest for projects/revenue. The mantra (if you remember) was – cost savings (operational efficiency). You can replace full time “Joe” with a consultant that costs half as much if not lesser.

    Cost cutting and achieving operational efficiency (through lower labor costs) has been the un-wavering trend the past 5 years or more.. ever since the Y2k and the dot com bubble burst.

    My prediction: As soon as the economy recovers, it’ll be business as usual and a new re-vitalized stream of temporary workers will flow in. This current over supply will be forgotten. Wages will continue to stagnate if not tend lower. The industry has no interest in nurturing local talent when there is a ready supply of willing workers from over seas for less than prevailing wages.

  39. Wrong; Europeans women are much better looking on average (and I’m attracted to red heads or raven brunettes – eastern european,, cant stand blondes) I’m here because of money, Money that I can use to create more money so I’m not dependent on money. Then, I do charity work in Africa/India rest of my life. I also have a peculiar attraction towards cars and motorcycles.

  40. The industry has no interest in nurturing local talent when there is a ready supply of willing workers from over seas for less than prevailing wages.

    I am sure the industry and their pro- H1-B shills will do an abrupt about face if suddenly H1-B CEOs and upper management started replacing the $20 million/ year CEOs and their cronies. Then suddenly we’d be bombarded with studies (from the industry of course) showing how this trend would damage US “talent”, despite the millions saved.

  41. I had previously commented on this that Indian companies have made the most applications for H1B visas. For instance, in 2006 Infosys which requested for 22590 H1B visas had a 56,441 software professionals on its books. Infosys applied H1B visas for 40% of its staff and secured 4908 visas, an application success rate of 21.73%. Either attrition rates are extremely high or the company doesn’t care whom they send to the US as long as it is able to send a required number, thereby defeating the “best and brightest” argument for these visas.

    Melbourne Desi You have another category to visa to work in US, the E-3, It is for 20K Australian citizens and unlike the H1B spouse who on an H4 can not work, the spouse of an E-3 can work even if the spouse is not an Australian citizen.

  42. Ramesh@139 I specifically said that the number of Indian H1B applicants would reduce. It is quite possible that applications from other (relatively poor) countries could rise. You say that industry will always look to cut costs, and look for cheap labor. As I mentioned earlier, that is how market economics works. Companies cannot compete against each other if they can’t produce equivalent goods for less cost. An economy where job protection is the highest ideal is great for the people who have already managed to get a job. But such an economy would not grow, and no one would have any incentive to start a new company. My prime example would be Detroit, which is now (seemingly) on the verge of collapse. And their main competition did not come from Japan and Korea, but from the southern states (which are anti-union and have right-to-work laws; let’s leave aside the merits/demerits of that for now). The flip side of this is that consumers will also jump to buy cheaper products (the Walmart effect). You cannot change industry’s mentality until you change the consumer’s. Also, as many other commenters have mentioned, it is not the case that most H1B workers are cheap, or even cheaper, than native workers. You seem to have a particular set of experiences/anecdotal evidence to share, which have by and large been different from mine. Only numbers will tell the true story (perhaps they are out there, and I just need to do more research). I’m not particularly pro-H1B. I agree with a number of commenters who suggest that it should be scrapped, and foreigners who have the necessary skills should get green cards and be free agents in the marketplace. I’m not sure that would preserve Bob’s job though. You cannot wish away competition.

  43. I do agree H1b is a privilege not a right. I see it as a give and take between the US and the H1-b visa holder. Let me just point out how.

    I am of the F1,H1 route. I work for a semiconductor company and honestly as far as I know there are simply not enough american citizens to meet the demand and supply in this area. Infact the defense & other such similar companies with restrictions that they cant hire non-US citizens have a tough time and they pretty much consume the local students or sometimes contract it out whenever they can.

    During the Last recession there were restrictions by big companies against H1-b and I know several companies ended up opening branches in India and China. I am sure a trend study in these countries can clearly see the branches opening up exactly at the sametime. When I came to this country for education just few years ago, there was hardly any opportunity for my chosen field of work back home. Now, I could pretty much do the same job that I get to do it here. Hasnt the US lost out its edginess?

    In the job space I am in, it is US which is equally benefitting. A Mutually beneficial one.

    The same goes for people in the R&D. You just have to walk in to gradschool science or engineering dept, to see how dependent the research in US is on immigrants. Not just Indians and Americans, people from across the world come to do reasearch? why? because of the opportunities and facilities they wont get anywhere else(pay in universities is pathetic it is purely for job satisfication). And enough Americans for whatever reason arent interested in Science. This is a problem, the engineering week held every feb gave me enough details about. Plus added to this, the natural immigrant drive which was enough to make them leave the comfort of their homes also makes them aggressive in their research who benefits US universities and US companies that sponsor the research and hte US citizens who buy shares of these company and the US citizens who get employed due these R&D.

    Also I know I am paid as much as any American. else, I can move to a company that would offer me better, H1b visa status allows me to do that. I am not going to offer my services for lesser money as well. An H1-b worker is more expensive due to all the immigrant and lawyer cost associated. I do believe people with similar background would constitute a significant part of the H1-b visas. Ignoring these cases and concentrating only on the other part is propaganda than making an argument.

    I am not denying that there is misuse. The companies you state are heavily involved in it.But that is the hole that INS should prevent. There is labor ceritication process as part of H1-b.The INS should be able to filter out these set of applications. They have the power to monitor pay checks(dont they?) to ensure the system is not misused.

    Let us be honest here, even if they make LCA more stringent, the company will simply offshore. because it is cheaper and more profitable for the company. Which is what probably Bob who got fired wants as a share holder in wallstreet.

    I cant believe the theory that some newbee got hired as Bob’s replacement. This is the only way the scenario would have happened. Normally,companies cutoff middle level mangement as the first step in employee reduction program. So Bob got affected. Normally, new college graduates arent as easily affected by the hriing freeze because they are cheap. So the newbie got hired not as a replacement but completely two irrelevant incidents. Their nationalities helped people who want to create conspiracy theories such as these.

    And if US does get all protectionist then I guess other countries should start becoming protectionist in terms of trade and may be US companies shouldnt be allowed to sell products in these countries and so on. Till date, American companies are the biggest benefactors of this globalization and as a result the American who lives on social security or gets employed by these American Mncs.

    Ramesh, I am not sure what your motives that you tend to argue so vehemently on this when you are not even involved with the said country.(sour grapes? that would be bad attitude)

  44. ROMEO 86 / Samir / 2_H1B_Or_Not_2_H1B : Thank you for backing my observations.. I was fully expecting to be hated on for writing them here… but am surprised at the lack of flames and hate mail. Also am pretty relieved that I’m not the only one with these observations.

    @Rama I’m happy that you agree with my general views.. but I don’t understand what you are trying to say.

    I’m not particularly pro-H1B. I agree with a number of commenters who suggest that it should be scrapped

    You’re not pro-h1b.. and think that it should be scrapped.. but don’t agree that it causes the locals / natives a great injustice nor that it depress wages. May I ask then, “why” are you against H1b visas? The reason I ask is because my only objection to new H1b’s is that it “does” cause a variety of problems to the locals and it “does” depress wages. In the IT industry, H1b’s have been used quite heavily the past 5 odd years to replace locals in a variety of creative ways.

    Having said that, I don’t really care if a million new workers come into economy as long as there is a need, and the economy can absorb them all, and the existing workers in the system can still flourish. The current h1b influx is driven by industry thirst for cheap labor.. not by any true demand. The industry would love it if new IT workers can be hired at min wages… even then they’d complain that in a far off land IT costs are cheaper and that we need more workers to compete with “xxx” company in “yyy” country.

    In general more workers in IT mean a broader/larger Tax base.. and more productivity at the higher income levels. But it becomes unsavory when the new ones are used to game the system and undermine citizens / locals / natives. My argument is that the current H1b program is used to do precisely that.. game the system… all in the pursuit of cost savings.. mind you.. not innovation or productivity.. just cost savings.

    An economy where job protection is the highest ideal is great for the people who have already managed to get a job. But such an economy would not grow, and no one would have any incentive to start a new company.

    I think you are confusing two very different issues here. Cutting back on new H1b visas so cheaper talent does not flood the market and under cut local talent is not Job protection. Job protection would mean keeping a lousy performer on pay roll because of union / tenure and a variety of other reasons. You are under the impression that everyone has the right to work any where in the world they choose, and anything less than that is protectionism. I’m sorry if this is what you think ( I may be wrong) you are sadly mistaken. The IT industry in the US is a highly volatile job market.. it has by and large a very transparent and on demand work force. You are so off mark with your “protection” comment it’ll take a completely different discussion to address it.

    “and no one would have any incentive to start a new company”

    I don’t even know how to react to this remark. Where are you coming from? What are you trying to say? Are companies started solely on cheap labor? What about innovation and product ideas? Are you saying citizens / natives are incapable of starting new companies?

    The flip side of this is that consumers will also jump to buy cheaper products (the Walmart effect).

    I don’t know how this is relevant in a H1b discussion.

    Also, as many other commenters have mentioned, it is not the case that most H1B workers are cheap, or even cheaper, than native workers.

    This sort of comment would require some deep ignorance or deep denial or a deep need to out right lie. On an average in IT, H1b workers are about 20% to 30% cheaper up front. When you factor in rolled back benefits and reduction in corresponding taxes on the new lower salary (and take away options, bonuses, profit sharing etc) you’d achieve an easy 50% total reduction in payroll expenses. I’ve seen this done more than a few times, and the only reason it’s done is because there is an abundance of cheap labor, you don’t have to reward your work force if the next one in line will settle for less. If you look up and around you’d probably see it too. I can give you specific first hand instances from at least three places where people were let go for cost savings alone and benefits were rolled back because there was no incentive to reward workers… the new ones were willing to work more for less.

    More on Bob: Unfortunately, you’ve missed the point again. Bob was let go only because the company could afford to gamble, the reward was well worth it. If the new guy did not pan out, they could always grab another new one. This isn’t about “preserving” Bob’s job.. it was about the unfair situation he found himself in and continues to find him self in… even though he was great at his job. Let me be heartless and say some politically un-acceptable stuff.. if you take away the huge pool of temporary workers from the current market.. Bob will suddenly be in such high demand that, he’d probably be making more now than at his previous job. The availability of a huge surplus of cheap temp workers has forced the IT industry to fundamentally reorg in such a manner that people like bob are made obsolete. This is a case where cheap trumps talent.. and will continue to do so for some time.

    Rama, I really can’t reconcile what you are saying with your views.. I can’t keep writing .. it’s pretty exhausting, this is probably my last post.

  45. @Indiangalfromsiliconvalley

    I do agree H1b is a privilege not a right. I see it as a give and take between the US and the H1-b visa holder. Let me just point out how.

    H1b visa is really not a privilege.. it is a need based program for the benefit of the United States and not meant to serve as an immigration channel for the privileged. What it means is that if they need a bunch of half dead monkeys to test widgets they will get them in for it. If they need a few genius to split atoms they’ll get them too. It’s got nothing to do (and should have nothing to do) with the rest of the world and availability or how desperate they are to get into this economy. But you must be talking about how it’s not a birthright.. it’s more of an opportunity and an avenue. Driving on the roads is a privilege..

    I am of the F1,H1 route. I work for a semiconductor company and honestly as far as I know there are simply not enough american citizens to meet the demand and supply in this area.

    The F1 to H1 visas are not counted in the 65k awarded annually each year. The F1 to H1 conversions are a fraction of the total H1′s awarded each year and don’t really make any serious impact on opportunities for the locals. I don’t really know about the semi conductor industry, you could be right.. may be there is a real need there. But is there an effort to nurture or encourage local talent?

    During the Last recession there were restrictions by big companies against H1-b and I know several companies ended up opening branches in India and China.

    During the last recession.. there were no such restrictions. What are you trying to say? If they stop h1 visas, the jobs will flow to India and China? Won’t they eventually anyways? But that is at best a wild speculation.. but that is another debate. This debate is about if H1′s hurt local talent and depress wages.

    When I came to this country for education just few years ago, there was hardly any opportunity for my chosen field of work back home. Now, I could pretty much do the same job that I get to do it here. Hasnt the US lost out its edginess?”

    Sure, it has, and if it continues to rely on alien workers for hi-tech skills it will continue to do so.

    Also I know I am paid as much as any American. else, I can move to a company that would offer me better, H1b visa status allows me to do that. I am not going to offer my services for lesser money as well. An H1-b worker is more expensive due to all the immigrant and lawyer cost associated. I do believe people with similar background would constitute a significant part of the H1-b visas. Ignoring these cases and concentrating only on the other part is propaganda than making an argument.
    I am not denying that there is misuse. The companies you state are heavily involved in it.But that is the hole that INS should prevent. There is labor ceritication process as part of H1-b.The INS should be able to filter out these set of applications. They have the power to monitor pay checks(dont they?) to ensure the system is not misused.

    I’m sorry this shows how delusional you are, you should really read about this issue before making wild claims. btw it’s UICIS not INS.

    Let us be honest here, even if they make LCA more stringent, the company will simply offshore. because it is cheaper and more profitable for the company. Which is what probably Bob who got fired wants as a share holder in wallstreet. I cant believe the theory that some newbee got hired as Bob’s replacement. This is the only way the scenario would have happened. Normally,companies cutoff middle level mangement as the first step in employee reduction program. So Bob got affected. Normally, new college graduates arent as easily affected by the hriing freeze because they are cheap. So the newbie got hired not as a replacement but completely two irrelevant incidents. Their nationalities helped people who want to create conspiracy theories such as these.

    Your ignorance continues to astound me. Perhaps if you got out of school and worked a real job for a few years you’ll know better.

    And if US does get all protectionist then I guess other countries should start becoming protectionist in terms of trade and may be US companies shouldnt be allowed to sell products in these countries and so on. Till date, American companies are the biggest benefactors of this globalization and as a result the American who lives on social security or gets employed by these American Mncs.

    This really takes the cake. You can’t pack that many absurd statements in one little paragraph. Are you sure you really are a grad student?

    This conversation is getting really absurd. I quit! Bye – Bye!

  46. The F1 to H1 visas are not counted in the 65k awarded annually each year. The F1 to H1 conversions are a fraction of the total H1′s awarded each year and don’t really make any serious impact on opportunities for the locals.

    Dude,

    for all your diatribe against H1Bs you are kinda not strong on facts. F1 to H1 visas are still counted in the 65K limit, just that they can make use of another 20K limit in case of students educated in the US. And it is a recent rule. Another exception I know is that any H1 visas offered to academic institutions are not counted for the limit.

    If you think about the number of Indian students entering US campuses every year (one year they were more than 80000, and it is just the Indian students) and they would enter the job market after a couple (or 4) of years you would realise that F1 to H1 is not a miniscule portion of H1 visas.

    Just as I said H1 is not a right but a privilege I think you need to realise people on H1 visas are not the root cause of all evil.

    What the gal from Silicon Valley says is true. It is not quite easy to find qualified American candidates in certain areas.

    WHat s UICIS?. Did you mean USCIS?. USCIS is previously called as INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service) and only after 9/11 was re-orged with the new Homeland security department and got a new name. Are you a new immigrant or do you pretend to be one?. :-)

  47. Ramesh,

    I live in US. I studied here and I have been working for semiconductor companies for the past 5 years. And Your experience is from a different side and looks like a different time.

    I acknowledge the different side but I saw in all these comments,that the scenario that I see isnt adequately represented. You say that is a small bunch. I disagree.

    And whatever I have argued back, all you have argued back is by calling me ignorant, if i say what i see that makes me ignorant. 1. I know that I couldnt get hired as an intern as an F1 in 2002.Things did change slighlty better by 2003 but the original company changed its policy only in 2004. 2. I have friends working in various semiconductors and other popular companies like microsoft, yahoo, google and so on.That this sizable chunk is ignored in this discussion is the only reason I wrote. 3. I just checked my first h1 paper, it does only say INS. this was in 2004.

    Except for the bob speculation where I just tried fitting the scenerio with what I have seen around, rest of it is my personal experience. Ponniyin selvan above is correct. in the beginnning,every one gets their visa from the 65000 visas only after that the if there are applications of F1 remaining those get through the 20000 visas. If you left USA long ago,things have changed. Lot more grad students are entering from india and they are making this transition.

    It is a specialized visa. A data entry person should not be hired through H1b(though I am told this does happen). it was specifically to meet the specialized needs. If there is misuse prevent that and besides as I say face the consequence of these companies opening offices in other countries, that is much cheaper than even paying half of the local salary in the current scenario.

    As of today, this whole bill doesnt affect me. I just wanted to prevent the picture being all one-sided.

    ” What it means is that if they need a bunch of half dead monkeys to test widgets they will get them in for it.” that bunch of half dead monkeys being hired is a problem,there are clear restrictions against this.

    I dont have time to look for numbers but I do remember reading there is a serious gap between the number of engineers India and china churn out to the ones US churns out.

    H1 visa is purely for the US needs. It is to ensure US companies dont lose out their edge because of shortage of specialized skill set. As far as that goes the final bill that got passed on doesnt affect it. infact, it is redundant, the whole h1b process should take care of this as i said.

  48. 2 choices really..Globalisation ( see where that has got us with the USA banking system) or Protectionism… USA trades only with Canada, Mexico etc…UK and Europe only trade amongst themselves, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka etc etc

  49. Imo, ppl like Ramesh and co getting their time in the sun is among the signs that US is circling the drain. But the (albeit softer each passing day) voice of many others in the US who want to keep doors open is a sign that the US may yet flourish.

    Let me explain. However flawed the demand of self imposed virtuosity was, the US has prospered through reaching out to other countries. Today you see this notion turned on its head—-despite ample evidence that the welcoming immigration policy has paid off hugely, Ramesh wants to focus on a few bad eggs, gets his facts almost completely wrong to support xenophobia, and fence the borders to “prevent depression of wages”. Why is this wrong?

    I usually think of the following analogy when I think of arguments like Ramesh’s—what separates a savage justice system from a civilized one is its focus. A savage system is intent on punishing the perpetrators, a civilized one is doubly careful not to punish someone innocent even at the expense of potentially letting a few criminals go free. Human history will amply demonstrate which one works.

    I don’t expect to convince Ramesh and the like, nor am I interested. I have nothing at stake in this matter, and I doubt logic is the reason for Ramesh’s diatribes.

    But let me add one thing about depression of wages. It is hardly about H1-B or local. If you expect to get paid in six figures—twice a fresh Phd in pure sciences, three times a cop who risks his life every other day, four times that of a school teacher with a decade of experience—for a job whose skills you can pick up in a year or two of community college, your company isn’t going to be very competitive. What many have here is a ridiculous sense of entitlement, not a real grievance.

    That said, a majority of H1-Bs are legitimate—and part of the process involves verification with the USCIS that you cannot hire a native, that you are paying at least the market wages for the job, and you made reasonable efforts to hire a native. As with any system, there are some who game the system, no doubts about that.

    But, it makes no sense to keep all guests out because there are a few who do it wrong. So, the shifting change in tone—from a policy where the US tries to welcome immigrants as far as possible, to one that toys with immigrants and their lives since you are giving them the privilege of entering—bothers me. It is unfortunate that every society succumbs to the whims of its idiots, but I hope there is an exception in this case.