U.S. Citizen or H-1B Candidate? You Make the Call

Don Tennant

After reading my "H-1B Spotlight Shines on a Distraction" post earlier this week, Kim Berry, president of the Programmers Guild, drew the conclusion that I "favor allowing employers to sponsor H-1B workers regardless of whether qualified Americans are available to do the job."

 

Although that was certainly not the thrust of my post (in this case, qualified Americans were reportedly not available), my response to Berry's statement is that it's accurate. That said, the way I look at it is more a matter of not wanting to see employers categorically prohibited from hiring an H-1B worker when a qualified American is available to do the job. Here's why:

 

Just for the sake of the argument, let's set up a hypothetical situation. Two men, Joe and Jitin, have applied for the same job, and they're the only two candidates the prospective employer can find who have the specialized skills needed. Joe was born in the United States and is a U.S. citizen. Jitin is a citizen of India, and is applying for the job under the H-1B visa program. The project team that the successful applicant will join is made up of 10 people, all U.S. citizens. The scenario is based on the following assumptions. Joe and Jitin:

 

  • have demonstrated that they are equally qualified for the job.
  • are roughly the same age, and are in equally good health.
  • would be responsible for their own relocation expenses.
  • would receive the same compensation.

 

Now, suppose that it all comes down to the intangibles. Jitin just comes across as a really good guy-he has an upbeat nature and a very friendly disposition, and he seems to have a real chemistry with the team. Joe is kind of a sourpuss, he's prone to making comments that are inappropriate in the workplace, and the team finds him to be somewhat aloof.

 


What happens, then, when the two candidates are equally qualified, but the H-1B candidate is determined to be a better fit with the organization because he has a more pleasant demeanor that embraces teamwork and camaraderie? Should the employer be compelled to choose the candidate who lacks those qualities over a person who exemplifies them, just because that candidate is a U.S. citizen?

 

It all comes down to this: Are there any considerations that trump U.S. citizenship when a hiring decision has to be made?



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Feb 3, 2010 5:37 AM Ray Ray  says:

OK, Don, so how does your contrived thought experiment with two applicants apply to the real-world situation where America has millions of unemployed and underemployed, hundreds of thousands of unemployed and underemployed techies, and nearly every job opening has hundreds of qualified applicants (unless so larded with questionably detailed and contrived requirements)?

The creation of the H-1B in 1990 was predicated on false claims of shortage-shouting with proven collusion from the National Science Foundation that sought to justify more money and a new funding stream not requiring funding from annual appropriations bills.  By distorting the salary structure through glutting the supply of tech labor, it has greatly reduced the return on investment of spending years of additional study in the hard sciences, accumulating large college debts, and  losing the opportunity to earn a living for those years, which in turn guarantees that the rational American collegian select an easier, more employable major, perhaps in business.  Thus H-1B is the CAUSE of -- not the REMEDY for -- America's decreasing number of STEM grads.

What arrogance that business feels entitled to effectively sell US citizenship while dispossessing Americans and taxing us to provide the infrastructure for large numbers of cheaper imported workers!  Half of all these "temporary workers" on  H-1Bs never leave.  Not only was the law predicated on lies, but the very law was deliberately crafted by lobbyists and immigration lawyers so as to be unenforceable.  Instead of producing  workers, it's getting us to produce fewer resident STEM workers, facilitating off-shoring, destroying the livelihood and lives of those who spent many years mastering tech areas, and producing a lazier class of businessmen who feel entitled to massive bonuses for replacing US residents with cheaper foreign residents rather than by managing better or making better business decisions.

Would you also justify hiring Jitin rather than Joe on the grounds that he would better fit in with the others in his department, almost all of whom are Indian? That happens every day in America despite EEO and no one even blinks.  You seem to instantiate rare situations to justify the H-1B visa and close your eyes to the more usual cases.

You might receive less venom, which is after all a natural protective measure, if you were more open-eyed about the actual destructive effects your views have supported.

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Feb 3, 2010 6:07 AM Unemployed in Detroit Unemployed in Detroit  says:

Don:

Even for you this garbage is incredible. It is obvious by your example that you are nothing more than a shill for the Indian IT industry. How can you live with yourself? Your patronizing and insulting attitude is as transparent as glass: hire the Indian.

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Feb 3, 2010 7:06 AM R. Lawson R. Lawson  says:

"It all comes down to this: Are there any considerations that trump U.S. citizenship when a hiring decision has to be made?"

In this case, the company has several factors to consider:

1) PR - they just accepted TARP money and if we catch wind of this, there will be bad publicity.

2) Corporate citizenry - There are other factors that should be considered.  Is there high unemployment in the country?  Did my company just take a large bailouot from tax payers in order to create jobs?  Was this program created to fill a shortage, that doesn't exist in our case?

If corporations want to wash their hands of corporate citizenry that is a call for more regulation.  Whenever corporations have a financial incentive to act against national interest - and routinely take that opportunity - that's our queue to step in and regulate.

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Feb 3, 2010 10:05 AM prousa prousa  says:

Why does anyone think so many H-1Bs, L1s, OPTs, etc come from India and not higher wage countries such as Japan?  It's certainly NOT that Indians are more qualified on average than Japanese.  Let's face it, NIV is largely about flooding the labor market with cheap indentured labor from low wage countries and driving down American wages.

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Feb 4, 2010 1:46 AM R. Lawson R. Lawson  says: in response to Indian_H1B

"but is actually a net exporter of services ($30 billion or so)."

Your data is old.  We lost the status of net exporter several years ago.  Services run a deficit also, which is climbing.

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Feb 4, 2010 2:15 AM Indian_H1B Indian_H1B  says: in response to R. Lawson

This report from November 2009 states that Services were at a surplus:

www.census.gov/indicator/www/ustrade.html

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Feb 4, 2010 2:28 AM Indian_H1B Indian_H1B  says: in response to Gokul

In fact, I am on my 3rd H-1B because my greencard has been pending 6 years.

The wasted allocation of 600,000 greencards over the last 15 years does not get much press, but without it, people like me would have been on the same side of the fence as many others here - just as prone to being replaced by an H-1B, if one can believe that's a significant threat. I certainly believe that people have been replaced by lower paid, lower skilled H-1Bs, but I think their number is statistical noise in relation to the number that have done just fine, or for that matter the number of Americans that have lost jobs due to this debilitating recession.

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Feb 4, 2010 2:54 AM James H. Murphy James H. Murphy  says:

The assumption about both getting the same compensation is seldom the case.  In fact the lower pay of the H-1B is a prime problem.  Even if the pay is the same it is to the advantage to hire the H-1B.  The H-1B is more tied to the job.  In order to change jobs the H-1B must find an employer willing to do the paperwork and keep a job open for months while the paperwork is being processed.

If the compensation is the same but low the H-1B is more willing to take the job because he gets substantial non-monitory compensation: US citizenship. For all practical purposes, citizenship comes with the visas.  True the wait can be long but it is automatic for the H-1B's children.  Quite an advantage.

But the main reason the American should get the job is patriotism.   Every Republican presidential candidate from Abraham Lincoln to Herbert Hoover was a protectionist who would never have allowed the free trade in the form of the H-1B.  The most outspoken of these was William McKinley.  Here is what he said in 1892:

"Free trade (H-1B) means cheap labor, and cheap labor means diminished comforts - diminished capacity to buy, poor and enfeebled industries and a dependent condition generally. And every step taken in the direction of free trade, beginning with free raw material, is an advance, and a very long one and a very straight one, in the direction of reduced wages and a changed condition of the American workingman, not confined to the labor engaged in preparing raw materials for use, but will widen, and in the end enter every department of labor and skill."

"I would secure the American market to the American producer, and I would not hesitate to raise the duties whenever necessary to secure this patriotic end.  I would not have an idle man or an idle mill or an idle spindle in this country if, by holding exclusively the American market, we could keep them employed and running. Every yard of cloth imported here makes a demand for one yard less of American fabrication.

"Let England take care of herself; let France look after her interests ; let Germany take care of her own people, but in God's name let Americans look after America !  Every ton of steel imported diminishes that much of home production. Every blow struck on the other side upon an article which comes here in competition with like articles produced here, makes the demand for one blow less at home. Every day's labor upon the foreign products sent to the United States takes one day's labor from American workingmen. I would give the day's labor to our own, first, last, and all the time, and that policy which fails in this is opposed to American interests."

To which I would add let India take care of India.

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Feb 4, 2010 2:59 AM Peter Peter  says: in response to Indian_H1B

The replacement of local workers is not statistical noise.  Over the last 15 years or so I have seen the gradual replacement of American workers by Indians and Chinese.   I happen to know even some Indians in their late 40's and 50's, who can no longer find jobs after having worked here their whole careers, and have now returned to India.

If you walk into many Silicon Valley companies you will find that Americans have largely disappeared from the engineering staff.  I happened to go to a chip company where they had only 18 full time employees and 58 L-1 visa employees from India.

Fifteen years ago the Indians were the minority but now they seem to be the majority in many companies.  Once the older local people retire in the next 10 years or so the pigeons will come home to roost.  The American technology industry will be gutted by then by the low quality H-1B influx.  First it was manufacturing and now it is the technology industry.

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Feb 4, 2010 3:24 AM Gokul Gokul  says: in response to Indian_H1B

6 years? I assume you are EB3 then. Have you considered porting to EB2? If your current job does not meet an EB2 requirement, you might even switch jobs just so you can port to EB2 and get a Green Card within a couple of months. Just an idea.

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Feb 4, 2010 3:29 AM Gokul Gokul  says: in response to Peter

I agree with you that there are large numbers of H1B workers in this country who are truly low-skilled - but remember that technology has improved so much that software development is not the super skilled task it was in the earlier decades. So it's not as bad as you think it is even though I believe there are certain areas in software development that will continue to need highly skilled people.

Of course since I am Indian myself and thus prone to being stereotyped as one of the above referenced low-skilled workers, it is kinda hard for me to drive my point across

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Feb 4, 2010 3:52 AM Peter Peter  says: in response to Gokul

It is not just low skilled software jobs that are being replaced.  I for one work in the chip industry and the same H-1B influx started albeit later than in the software industry. H-1Bs are replacing locals all across the scientific engineering profession. In many of these companies the managers know very well that they are getting poorer quality work but they still do it because the budgets for engineering can be made to look lower.  They know in reality it is not lower because the projects take longer but in annual terms it is lower.  I for one have first hand experience of this when dealing with companies in Silicon Valley including very well known companies.

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Feb 4, 2010 4:13 AM Jake Leone Jake Leone  says:

(Please take my percentages as illustrative only, based upon my own experience)

Your example would only make sense if the job being applied for is event coordinator (Party-planner).

For the following reasons:

- Most (80% or more) IT jobs are not  for a manager, but for people who are to be managed.

For the remaining 20% (or less) cases to which your example might apply:

- Every techie needs a boss who is on top of things and aware of what they are doing.  Attentiveness to detail, good memory, sharp-thinking heavily outweigh personality. (that takes care of about 98% of all case).  I have seen many (about 10) management candidates rejected (by those they would manage) because of fear that their nice-easy-going personality would cause more problems (big problems).

For the remaining 2% in which your case might apply:

- Most job candidates make an extreme effort to show a good personality during interviews.  You can't get a real feel for someone's personality during an interview (you are fooling yourself if you think you can), because everyone puts on a good face.  Maybe ten percent of the time you can actually see the real personality, because the interviewee makes a mistakes during and interview.

So Don, (in my opinion) your case applies to maybe one case in about 500 of the actual H-1b versus Citizen decision situations.  And therefore is hardly worth considering.

Other factors, such as ethnic discrimination against U.S. citizens and fraud heavily outweigh your rarely occuring scenario.

H-1b fraud is (by United States government statistics) more than 100 times more likely to be the reason why an H-1b is hired versus even considering a U.S. candidate for a U.S. job.

Can you please consider (for the sake of your own sanity and intelligence) a more realistic example.

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Feb 4, 2010 5:20 AM WageSlave WageSlave  says:

Thanks for bringing this up. I have a problem with Peter principal managers that don't know how to manage people. That is the job title they have reached. They may be very capable of managing a project, a system, or a budget, but when it comes to managing people they are clueless. People are not machines. You can't buy the right model set it on max and walk away. Managing people requires a different skill set. To maximize out put you need to provide the proper environment and start with reasonable expectations.

When I see a job listing stating a fast pace environment as a plus, I'm thinking a poorly managed work environment where work flow is out of control. When I hear things like we run a lean work force, I'm thinking management by budget manager who may be pushing their people to hard. When I hear managers complain about poorly written code, I'm thinking manager who didn't set and/or enforce standards. When I hear managers say that coders should fight with management to let them do things right the first time, I'm thinking WTFKOMIT. The truth is that if you point out any of these things from managements perspective you have a bad attitude, I'm hearing a manager who doesn't listen to their employees.   

This brings us to your hypothetical example of Joe. Joe is kind of a sourpuss, he's prone to making comments that are inappropriate in the workplace, and the team finds him to be somewhat aloof. I'm hearing signs of bad management past and present. Some of these judgments are very subjective and may or may not affect job performance. All of them can be addressed. I've seen good managers turn people like Joe into top producers. I've also seen bad mangers turn good people into people like Joe. Hell I've seen bad managers turn entire shops into people like Joe. A poor workman always blames their tools and a poor manager always blames their underlings.   

Most old timers in this industry will agree that poor management is a real problem and have ulcers to prove it. Especially the ones that are smart enough to keep their opinions to themselves. I call them employed. Bad managers want docile workers and weed out the ones who speak up. The problem is that the issues never get addressed and managers need to start taking responsibility for their own short comings.  

Nice try Don, your red herring argument doesn't hold water. From my perspective, H1b's are just another symptom of failed management. All you are doing is providing another excuse for them to continue on their path of personal failure.   

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Feb 4, 2010 5:50 AM IOnGov IOnGov  says:

Don,

I believe that you have totally missed the point of the H-1B debate.

Here's why:

As you know, technology does not stand still. It is ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL for IT workers to have the ability to be able to get a job in a new technology from time to time in order to keep up with technology and remain employable, and the primary barrier to getting a job in a new technology is the requirement for most job postings that A CANDIDATE NEEDS TO HAVE AT LEAST ONE YEAR OF EXPERIENCE IN A PARTICULAR SKILL in order to get the job.

Now consider a wider view of your situation. Consider that the job in question is a lower level job in a new technology, a situation which is very realistic since a huge number of H-1Bs are used to fill lower-level positions in a new technology that many US citizens don't have experience in. Consider that besides Joe and Jitin, there are also quite a number of US citizen applicants who do not have experience in the skill in question, but have taken classes and who are eager to update their skills and keep up with technology (after all, there are a huge number of unemployed people with all kinds of time to update their skills, not to mention employed people who also want to update their skills). Also, consider that these other applicants are willing to take a pay cut from their current or previous position salaries since they view being up-to-date with technology as being more important in the long run than the extra money they are (or were) making.

Now let's consider a situation where, on a later interview Joe actually does show himself to be really obnoxious and disruptive, and actually has to be hauled away by the cops in handcuffs. Well, now you HAVE TO hire Jitin, right? WRONG! This is the situation where it is EXACTLY the hiring corporation's duty to re-train a US Citizen in a new technology. It is exactly this situation that gives many prospective U.S.citizens of any race and age group THEIR ONLY OPPORTUNITY to re-tool for the skills in the new technology! Under your scenario, the US citizen of any race and age is DENIED THE OPPORTUNITY TO UPDATE THEIR SKILLS UNDER VIRTUALLY ALL HIRING CIRCUMSTANCES!

IN OTHER WORDS:

YOUR SCENARIO UNIVERSALLY EXCLUDES ALL US CITIZENS OF ANY RACE AND AGE WHO WANT TO UPDATE THEIR SKILLS FROM GETTING THE OPPORTUNITY TO RE-TRAIN IN THE NEW TECHNOLOGY!

WHAT YOU ARE SAYING IS THAT IF A JOB EXISTS WHERE U.S.COMPANIES HAVE TO RE-TRAIN A U.S.CITIZEN, IT IS THE COMPANY'S DUTY TO "ACT IN THE SHAREHOLDER'S INTERESTS" AND "DO WHAT MAKES BUSINESS SENSE" BY ALWAYS EXCLUDING US CITIZENS FROM RE-TRAINING OPPORTUNITIES (and thus saving a little money). 

So to simplify this business rule we can state:

"It is always CONTRARY to business and shareholder interests to re-train U.S.citizens as long as we have a nearly infinite supply of low-priced, pre-trained foreign H-1B workers"

If a pre-trained Indian is always available with the necessary skill set, does an American ever get the chance to be re-trained for the job (or be able to re-train himself)? If we take your viewpoint, wouldn't it always be a "prudent business decision" and "be in the shareholder's interests" to always hire a pre-trained Indian and never train or re-train another American again? Not only that, but isn't this entirely possible with the current H-1B laws if the company is a smaller business and the cap is raised for H-1B guest workers?

Now if you were a U.S. Reply

Feb 4, 2010 5:50 AM IOnGov IOnGov  says:
citizen college student, and given that it is highly likely that you will need re-training (or at least the ability to re-train yourself) at some point in your career in order to keep up with technology and keep working, would you major in a subject where the "business rule" is to always deny you the ability to re-train? Isn't this risking your career coming to a screeching halt at sometime in your career?

Here's how business works in the U.S.:

- Assert that U.S.businesses need workers with up-to-date technological skills.

- DENY U.S.CITIZENS THE ABILITY TO RE-TRAIN THEMSELVES IN THOSE NEW SKILLS.

- Blame those same U.S.citizen workers for not updating their skills.

- Assert that U.S.citizen workers are lazy for not updating their skill sets.

- Assert that U.S.students are lazy and are not up to doing the "tough science and math" work (even though most business leaders and politicians avoided the tough math and science classes like the plague).

- LOBBY FOR MORE SKILLED FOREIGN WORKERS.

Consider that it is the strategy of several FOREIGN COUNTRIES and THEIR CORPORATIONS to train their workers SPECIFICALLY SO THAT THEY CAN TAKE THESE JOBS FROM THE "STUPID AND GREEDY" AMERICANS!

So by allowing their own citizens to get experience in their own countries in a wide variety of technologies, these countries will always have workers that will have more experience in new technologies than Americans have, and thus will continually be considered to be "more qualified" than American workers. Thus the Indian gets the job over an American, and collectively they send large amounts of money back home - out of the U.S.economy - and into the Indian economy, providing a huge return on investment for a relatively small amount of money invested in training.

Discrimination happens when a particular group of people within a country continually get shut out of opportunities that other groups of people within the country have. Science and technology fields have the H-1B and L-1 visa programs that allow U.S.businesses to import cheap foreign labor instead of re-training U.S.workers who otherwise have the educational background to do the work. Many other fields of work do not have to contend with foreign worker programs that continually deny workers the ability to get new job skills;thus, the H-1B and L-1 visa programs discriminate against U.S.citizen technology workers by denying these workers the ability to update their technological skill sets by way of taking classes and getting a job in that new skill set when job openings become available-the new position is always filled by a foreign guest worker.

Contrary to your contention that this is such a minor problem that it should not even be considered, THE SITUATION YOU HAVE JUST DESCRIBED OF DENYING U.S.CITIZENS THE ABILITY TO RE-TRAIN IS ACTUALLY ONE OF THE PRIMARY PROBLEMS WITH H-1B.

The situation you described above IS EXACTLY WHY U.S.CITIZENS ARE UNABLE TO UPDATE THEIR SKILLS. The idea behind the H-1B program was to supply labor UNTIL U.S.CITIZENS GET RE-TRAINED IN THE NEW TECHNOLOGIES, NOT PREVENT U.S.CITIZENS WHO OTHERWISE HAVE THE EDUCATIONAL QUALIFICATIONS FOR THESE JOBS FROM GETTING THESE JOBS!

A U.S.citizen in Information Technology should always be able to get re-trained for any of the lower level positions that a large amount of these H-1Bs are currently used for if they have the educational background (and there are a ton of these people available right now with the huge unemployment).

NOW IS THE TIME TO GET UNEMPLOYED U.S. Reply

Feb 4, 2010 5:50 AM IOnGov IOnGov  says:
CITIZEN IT WORKERS AND U.S.WORKERS FROM OLDER TECHNOLOGIES RE-TRAINED INTO THESE LOWER LEVEL NEW TECHNOLOGY JOBS THAT ARE CURRENTLY OCCUPIED BY A LARGE PROPORTION OF THE H-1Bs. AS THE ECONOMY IMPROVES, THESE U.S.CITIZEN WORKERS CAN THEN EASILY REPLACE THE MUCH SMALLER PROPORTION OF H-1Bs IN HIGHER LEVEL JOBS. NOW IS THE TIME TO SHUT DOWN THE H-1B / L-1 SCAM. AT THE VERY LEAST, WE CAN GET RID OF ALL OF THE LOWER-LEVEL GUYS SINCE WE DON'T NEED THEM.

Sorry guys, Object Oriented Programming is not rocket science. Many of the guys doing traditional Structured Programming could easily be re-trained to do the jobs of the huge amount of low-level OOP jobs currently held by H-1Bs. This training could easily be done online, which is exactly how many of the Indians who are currently employed as H-1Bs got their training. If you doubt me, just have a look at Indian sites like sulekha.com.

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Feb 4, 2010 5:58 AM Wage Slave Wage Slave  says: in response to IOnGov

IOnGov, great post.

I devote a lot of time and resources to continuing education. Each month I go to more then three user groups and all the code camps I can. I've meet thousands of displaced workers just holding their noses above water about to drown. Flailing for a life line (job) hoping someone in the community will help them get a years experience with the latest technology so they can stay in the industry. They come to one or two events and then disappear below the surface never to be heard from again. Some get picked up. Most give up and drop out of the profession.

Sometimes, I wonder if I'm the only one who notices the absence of their voices at future events. These are the uncounted fatalities of this industry they litter the halls of these events. Some are top producers that have out lived their usefulness with the out dated technology they once mastered. They are paying the price for staying loyal and sticking around maintaining legacy systems.

A lot of Peter managers reward loyalty with pink slips, but do they even consider the stress they put legacy system workers through as their friends disappear while the shop repopulates with people who have three or more years of experience in the latest technology. I once had a Peter manager in a different division tell me that he couldn't hire me for a lesser job working with newer technology because his boss would have his head. He said I was too important where I was. A year and a half later I was so important that I was unemployed and unemployable, flailing away in the hallways at code camps.

It would be nice to have that Peter manager walk a mile in our shoes. They might gain some valuable insight into how to motivate workers and become better managers. Good managers align their goals with the goals of their employees. Win win is the basis of good management. Bad manager's use what ever means is available to suppress costs and blame the workers for all the problems their own policies generate. As long as government provides an alternative to good management in the form of work visas, displaced IT workers will not get the on the job experience they need and will not get reabsorbed by this dysfunctional labor market. College grads will continue to hit the same wall. Without a job they can't get experience and without experience they can't get a job. We are going to loose an entire generation of American IT workers to unemployment and underemployment.   

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Feb 4, 2010 6:15 AM Ray of Feb 3 Comment Ray of Feb 3 Comment  says: in response to Gokul

@Gokul

That was exactly my point in my post! Whether they marry a citizen to stay here, or get sponsored by relatives, or get a further extension beyond 6 years on their H-1B visas waiting for priority, or claim F-1 student status,or otherwise use some other visa class, they still put demands on the infrastructure that affect us all and reduce employment and career development opportunities for those already here.

The dual-intent visas were a fraud from the beginning, like the rest of the H-1B visa, designed to give political cover to our corrupt politicians who foisted this on us. For the uninitiated, the applicants attest that they intend to return to their home country but the day after their H-1B is approved they can apply for permanent residence. 

The visas are declared to be nonimmigrant visas but are largely used to facilitate immigration. The visas were created in 1990 in response to a phony "shortage" promulgated by the NSF, lawyers, and lobbyists (see Rep.Howard Wolpe's hearing of April 8, 1992, "Projecting Science and Engineering Personnel Requirements for the 1990s:How Good Are the Numbers?" for a solid expose) and were said to be for temporary employment, but the dual intent provision, the ready familiarity of the H-1B holder with the job he's worked for 5-6 years, and the immigration lawyer stratagems make it almost impossible for any American citizen (or permanent resident) to successfully compete for the job. 

If I exposed all the duplicities in the US Code relating to H-1B, I wouldn't have space or time to make further comments, so I'll stop for now.

I won't minimize the personal sacrifice made by would-be immigrants, but the decision to emigrate from a developing country to a more developed, less crowded, more healthful country with a developed infrastructure, SSI payments for aging parents, etc., is a decision THEY choose for their own benefit. When choosing where to live, why wouldn't one prefer to choose a wealthier, less crowded developed country with clean water, adequate electricity, treated sewage, less congested roadways, a larger voice in their government, more accessible education, affirmative action for his ethnicity, and (somewhat) less corruption? 

Indian_H1B wrote in response to a different Ray presupposes that America will continue its downward spiral by not insisting on a more balanced, even-handed re-negotiation of GATT-94 in the few years we have left before becoming an impoverished economic basket-case, and sadly, he's probably right, given the thinly disguised bribes called campaign contributions. 

He seems to think that only H-1Bs can do the jobs, an expression of racial pride but hardly realistic, especially when most US college grads in STEM cannot find employment in their field of study and when so many American STEM-workers are unemployed (and set up to die in poverty). This is the self-serving myth of the indispensable immigrant.  I'm not deprecating your talent, but I resent your implicit deprecation of American skills. Moreover, the talented but displaced American STEM-worker (like Douglas Prasher, reduced to driving an airport shuttle bus) would have contributed at least as much in taxes but is now destined to be a net consumer of taxes.

But please spare me your concern that decreasing H-1Bs would seriously impact the $30 billion annual trade surplus from "services" when provides a trifling offset to our exports and would thus have a negligible effect on our trade imbalance if services all disappeared.  Reply

Feb 4, 2010 6:15 AM Ray of Feb 3 Comment Ray of Feb 3 Comment  says: in response to Gokul
Accession to the WTO, enshrinement of the ratchet principle allowing Europe to subsidize exports (while penalizing the US for similar measures), and China's valuation of the renminbi deprive us of almost all control over our balance of trade. The unequal trade agreements will not only suck the remaining wealth out of the country, but will put our progeny into perpetual bondage while trying to service the debt.

Yes, every precipitous change has dramatic effects, but the focus should be on the long-term effects of those changes (like a moratorium on first-time H-1Bs, who take more tech jobs each year than our net increase in tech jobs, and deceptively claimed to be 65000, or 85000 additional H-1Bs per year by counting only select classes of H-1Bs, when it's closer to 140000 first-time H-1Bs/year -- renewals are not counted against any cap). 

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Feb 4, 2010 8:29 AM Drunken Economist Drunken Economist  says:

Wow, Mumbai Don. This is a new low, even for you. I guess you get to join Bill Gates in the "Inverse Racist" club: is.gd/7GgDL

The other commenters are right: This false dichotomy post of yours isn't even worth the repost at my blog or any other.

Your handlers must be paying you. Very well.

-Drunken Economist

  mindtaker.blogspot.com/

  twitter.com/drunk_economist

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Feb 4, 2010 8:43 AM Don Tennant Don Tennant  says:

My clearly stated purpose in writing this post was to raise the question of whether there are any considerations that trump citizenship when a hiring decision has to be made. I raised the question as a point of discussion so that differing viewpoints could be heard, not to make a statement of forgone conclusion. I provided a scenario just to give an example of the type of consideration I was talking about. I believe it did raise an interesting discussion, although I think the only person who actually answered the question was the person who posted the very first comment.

Getting all riled up just because the question was raised doesn't make any sense. Misinformed screams of what "THE LAW" states, for example, hardly contribute to the discussion. It's gratifying that that nonsense was the thrust of relatively few comments, and that most of the comments have been well-informed and constructive.

I remain very interested in hearing different views on whether there are any considerations that trump citizenship. Is citizenship the ultimate determiner of whether a particular person should be hired, or is there ever a case where citizenship should take a back seat to something else?

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Feb 4, 2010 8:56 AM Kim Berry - Programmers Guild Kim Berry - Programmers Guild  says: in response to Mike

Mike,

We wish Title 8, Section 1182 of U.S. Federal code applied to H-1b admissions, but Congress only applies it to Permanent immigration, thus the PERM sham ads to get a green card AFTER the immigrant has already been admitted and started working. It's backwards - they harm has already occured!

Somehow Congress doesn't grasp that H-1b "temporary" (six years) and L-1 foreign workers can negatively impact U.S. workers. It's an interesting area of law that needs reform.

Reply
Feb 4, 2010 9:06 AM Kim Berry - Programmers Guild Kim Berry - Programmers Guild  says: in response to IOnGov

IOnGov makes a good point. While Microsoft et al raise the red herring that more Americans need to pursue STEM degrees, new grads, even from top schools and top GPAs, find few openings at Microsoft et al. www.microsoft.com/careers/ job openings almost all require 3+ years of EXPERIENCE in several technologies. Even though Microsoft sells MSCE training, none of the openings will accept training and certifications in lieu of prior on-the-job experience.

In the U.S. both new grads and degreed professionals with 20 years of experience have a hard time finding work, because the flood of H-1b with recent skills disuades corporations from "hiring a good candidate and giving them a few months to get mentored and up to speed." This is the harm of the H-1b program that is huge and hard to quantify.

You can ask "have you ever been displaced by an H-1b worker" and most will say "No." But the secondary displacement is huge. (I believe that Norm Matloff has researched this.)

Reply
Feb 4, 2010 9:12 AM Ray Ray  says: in response to Drunken Economist

The problem is the American politician who continually sell out to foreign interests.  There are a lot of foreign owned companies that the bottom line is PROFIT.  They don't care how PROFIT is made just as long as it is made.  America started selling itself out a long time ago and this has lead to the current situation where making a buck is more important and always has been, than having a competing technology workforce edge.  This country will cease to exist in less than a century because of decisions made and being made now by politicians.  God help us if we ever need to have highly trained technologists for the next war.

Reply
Feb 4, 2010 9:17 AM Ray Ray  says: in response to Kim Berry - Programmers Guild

Check out USAA, San Antonio, TX, they hire nothing but H1s for the lower level positions.  They only hire experienced americans for a few meager manager positions, managing the Indians.

Reply
Feb 4, 2010 10:21 AM Indian_H1B Indian_H1B  says: in response to Ray

The US imports a lot more than it exports ($600 - $700 billion annually), but is actually a net exporter of services ($30 billion or so). Since many above appear opposed to free-trade, it's interesting to note that the overnight unwinding of trade positions to make the US a closed economy would result in more service industry job losses. The US will however gain a number manufacturing jobs overnight, something I don't think is relevant to the type of jobs that H-1Bs currently hold.

It's critical to disambiguate the loss of a job to an H-1B as compared to the loss of a job that's outsourced. Many seem quite unhappy that H-1Bs stay on here. But doesn't that mean they pay taxes and have to earn enough to face the higher cost of living in the US? The loss of a job to India or elsewhere brings in neither tax revenue nor does it require much compensation due to the dramatic difference in nominal and real per-capita GDP.

Reply
Feb 4, 2010 10:25 AM Gokul Gokul  says: in response to prousa

@prousa

A substantial improvement  in the standard of living is the biggest reason for that anomaly. The Japanese and Europeans have comparable standards of living to the US/Canada. Not so in India and this explains why people make the very difficult decision to move away from familiar culture, family, friends etc.

Reply
Feb 4, 2010 10:28 AM Gokul Gokul  says: in response to Indian_H1B

I'd like to add that the H-1B is a dual intent Visa, and after living/working here for 5+ years the majority of people just continue on a Green Card (which is backlogged right now, but that's a different story). So when you say H-1Bs stay here for ever, after the first 5 years or so they are not H-1Bs any more, they are either on a Green Card or are awaiting AOS (adjustment of status) visa numbers.

Reply
Feb 4, 2010 12:05 PM Kim Berry - Programmers Guild Kim Berry - Programmers Guild  says:

Hi Don,

At this time I just thank you for raising and providing a forum for this important debate. I hope that people on both sides of the debate keep it civil.

(Ray raised an important point that the key factor is that the Indian is a "better fit" primarily because the hiring manager and rest of the team are Indian Nationals. This is the case at the largest users of H-1b - and is likely true across the board, as hiring managers at HP and other places try to hope their friends and family back home come to the U.S. -- at the exclusion of the U.S. job applicants.)

Thanks,

Kim

Reply
Feb 4, 2010 12:08 PM Dolores Dolores  says: in response to Gokul

Not true about the limits on an H-1B staying here. Over on their websites you can see posts by people claiming to be 7th, 9th year H-1Bs. They just have to keep getting extensions. Or get a new H-1B.

Reply
Feb 4, 2010 12:20 PM Gokul Gokul  says: in response to Dolores

@Dolores,

The H-1B is restricted to 6 years maximum unless a Green Card application is in process and the 140 has been approved. In this stage the applicant is merely awaiting a 485 visa number, and the USCIS permits visa extensions beyond the 6th year. But these people are essentially future GC  holders and the only reason they have to wait 8-10 years is because the country quota for India is retrogressed.

Reply
Feb 4, 2010 12:28 PM Peter Peter  says:

Most politicians seem to be tone deaf to the job displacement caused by H-1B Indians.  Sarah Palin seems to be able to attract attention and claims to be a maverick.  She also has a husband working in the oil fields.   May be Kim Berry can consider contacting her to see if she will be willing to high light this issue and hopefully get the H-1Bs repatriated just as India as done with Chinese workers.

Reply
Feb 4, 2010 12:32 PM R. Lawson R. Lawson  says: in response to Kim Berry - Programmers Guild

"At this time I just thank you for raising and providing a forum for this important debate."

Ditto. 

We may not agree on everything Don, but this is certainly an issue worth talking about.  I appreciate your willingness to tackle the most controversial and heated issue facing our profession.

-Roy

Reply
Feb 4, 2010 12:38 PM Mike Mike  says:

Doesn't matter what you think or want Don. What matters is what the LAW says (unless of course you are advocating ignoring the rule of law just to fullfil your socialist agenda).

Go read Title 8, Section 1182 of U.S. Federal code. That law is called INADMISSIBLE ALIENS and says that if one American in unemployed or has their wages or working conditions negatively impacted by a foreign worker, then that foreign worker is not even admissible into the U.S. - at all. So in your example, the law says Jintin has to go home and the job has to go to a U.S. citizen worker.

What do you have to say about that? Why do liberals scream bloddy murder for "civil rights" and the "rule of law" - except in the cases where it interferes with their agenda.

Sorry Don, but we have laws protecting American workers and those laws say no foreign workers can come in here and replace/take jobs from U.S. citizens. It's called protectionism and IT'S THE LAW DON.

Reply
Feb 4, 2010 12:40 PM USITworkerAgainstH1B USITworkerAgainstH1B  says:

A lot of company's are figuring it out: Their business model that moves IT to off-shore is not profitable and is not working. Likewise, company's are finding out that the "best and brightest" are not so good and bright. They allow body shops to bring in personnel from foreign countries (i.e. India) and subsequently find out that can not do the job; there has been fabrication in the credentials, thus jeopardizing the project.

That person may have had a cheap bill rate, but as the saying states: "You get what you pay for". POOR ROI!!!! Now they are paying more for the services, but if they had hired a QUALIFIED US Citizen, that cost would be no where near what they have shelled out.

JR

Member of PG, AntiH1B, American Workers Coalition, NoSlave.com, H1B_go_home

"Guest will leave your home; why don't these GUEST WORKERS leave?"

Reply
Feb 4, 2010 12:42 PM Mike Mike  says: in response to prousa

According to last year's DOL/DHS report on H-1B, 71% of them came from India. We're not importing smart people from Japan, Germany, and Australia because those are all developed 1st world countries and thus don't qualify for Don's big International Socialist handout called Free Jobs For The 3rd World.

Go to Silicon Valley and tell me how many Japanese you find working there - in any profession. The place is SWARMING with people from India and China (since they are here to steal our tech and get trained by us).

Reply
Feb 4, 2010 12:44 PM USITworkerAgainstH1B USITworkerAgainstH1B  says: in response to Mike

Mike -


it's not just the LIBERALS that want these people replacing US workers, it's CONSERVATIONS. They are saying "it's good for the economy".

Reply
Feb 5, 2010 1:18 AM Don Tennant Don Tennant  says: in response to yoyome

It's a shame you're steering your kids away from technology. I have a son with undergraduate and graduate degrees in computer science who's about to get out of the Navy and is seeking employment. He interviewed with Deloitte yesterday and IBM today. In both cases he was presented with lucrative job offers within hours of his interview. He has another interview tomorrow. I'll let you know how it goes.

By the way, the insulting accusation thing does nothing to bolster your position. And I'm not certain whom you were referring to when you advised me not to "betray your own" -- whom you assume my "own" are -- but just so you know, my "own" are people, regardless of nationality. If you think that's a bad thing, we'll have to agree to disagree.

Reply
Feb 5, 2010 2:39 AM SiliconValleyEngineer SiliconValleyEngineer  says:

Don,

You must be living in another planet to give such an-out-of-this-world example.    I work in Silicon Valley alongside with many H-1-B, many of them from Indian.    The reputation of the H1B Indians are not "nice" as in your example.   Rather, they are described as "boss-ass-kisser" and "subordinate-oppressors."     I bet you that if you ask 10 out of the non-Indians who work alongside with them, at least 8 will say the same thing as I mention above.

Now let me tell you why an American should be hired over an H1B.

1.   H1B people don't contribute as much to the local economy as an American.    I don't know if you are aware, here in Silicon Valley, many H1B engineers (8-10) share a tiny apartment.    They don't eat out and buy stuff so they can save money to send back to their families in India.   Thus less money is spent locally that hurts local businesses and the money that leaves the USA doesn't contribute to the American economy.

2.  As soon as they receive a green card, they sponsor their elderly parents to come to the U.S.   Their elderly parents then receive money (SSI) and free healthcare (Medicare) but they haven't contributed.   It's a great burden to American taxpayers.

3.  By allowing H1Bs to take over American jobs, it discourages a new generation of American students from studying science and technology because there will be much less job opportunity for them.     The H1Bs also lower American workers' salaries.

4.   It's economic suicide for the U.S. to train its potential competitors (China & India).    By allowing the H1B, the U.S. is basically training the Indian and Chinese engineers for free (China & India don't have to spend a dime training their workers -- that's why these countries love the H1B program).    While their workers are getting paid, American workers are unemployed.    Thus their skills get rusty and over time, the knowledge and the skills are lost in America since they have been transferred to India & China (it already happens in manufacturing).    By losing such knowledge, America's industry becomes much less competitive and we will lose our wealth and status in the world.

5.   The H1B program is a national security issue.    China and India among others are so eager to penetrate American businesses to steal intellectual property (there are quite a few cases here in Silicon Valley in which foreign engineers steal company's secrets for China).    The H1B is the perfect vehicle for a Trojan Horse.

Reply
Feb 5, 2010 11:25 AM Indian_H1B Indian_H1B  says: in response to SiliconValleyEngineer

At least one of your points is a sad lie. Greencards cannot sponsor their parents to come to the US. You need a US citizenship to do that.

Reply
Feb 5, 2010 12:47 PM yoyome yoyome  says:

Don

Are you out of mind Don ??? Why you keep discuss this H-1B issue over and over while American are suffered with high unemployment because of these H-1B workers. My question to you; are you a NASSCOM troller ?

I think you knew the purpose of using H-1B visa better than the rest of us. In the past companies told congress to introduce the H-1B Visa to care of shortage of high skill. But turn around the companies use to replace American workers with cheaper labors. This type of visa is not intent to replace or compete with American jobs. Hire H-1B or American, it should be American first. If company can't find one American do the same job they can seek outside. Since I have no problem if the US does not have enough talent to look else where or import the talents but is not the case. Companies are not even take a look at American resumes, they just pick those cheaper pay instead. American have to take care with high living standard, the have to pay their Mortgage and bunch of other thing. I have a chance to ask salary of to some of H-1B visa workers I worked with, they told me they made 30K in average a year. Come on Don, 30K is McDonald salary in the US. How can we support our family with those kind of pay. It is so sad.

In the past, my company brought bunch of H-1B visa workers in the big group from 20-30 of them without a single interview. Due the high turn over, one day I dared to ask the manager why you don't you interview them, he told me the upper management told me to do so and he has to do what they told. It is so unfair Don..

Don ! you don't walk the same shoe with us and you don't feel the suffering like us please do not talk about the topic anymore. I think you have a better life if you focus some other topic. If you are on the NASSCOM payroll, I would suggest you don't betray your own. Some day it will be on your turn or your kids turn.

H-1B visa is clearly a scam business. It hurts American so bad. I  told my wife and my kids and relatives don't pick the technologies route for your future because you will end up unemployment like many other American. We have no problem with brain competition but not salary. I have many unemployment friends in the IT field, they told their relatives the same thing. Imagine some day there will be no more technical worker in the US. I am sure the US will collapse like any other empire in the past. So sad..

Reply
Feb 6, 2010 2:15 AM SiliconValleyEngineer SiliconValleyEngineer  says: in response to Indian_H1B

It's just a small step from Green Cards to Citizenship.     As Green Card holders, H1Bs still place a great burden to American taxpayers by sponsoring their spouses and children to the U.S.

www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis/menuitem.eb1d4c2a3e5b9ac89243c6a7543f6d1a/?vgnextoid=75783e4d77d73210VgnVCM100000082ca60aRCRD&;vgnextchannel=75783e4d77d73210VgnVCM100000082ca60aRCRD

And I haven't mentioned about the illegals.    It seems to me like for every H1B here, his entire village is visiting on a tourist/visitor visa and then they overstay the visas to become illegals (INTENTIONALLY OF COURSE).     It's no wonder why "Indians are the fastest-growing illegals in the U.S."

www.thaindian.com/newsportal/world-news/indians-fastest-growing-illegal-immigrant-group-in-us_100230560.html

Since Mexico is next door, I can understand why there is so many Mexican illegals in the U.S.   But Indians?    Give me a break!    Thanks to the H1Bs, American taxpayers are being robbed.

Reply
Feb 6, 2010 2:20 AM latif latif  says: in response to SiliconValleyEngineer

nice

Reply
Feb 6, 2010 4:44 AM S Levy S Levy  says:

Ultimately it comes down to whether we support the ethnic cleansing of the payrolls of Corporate America.  The American worker is seen as a liability, a problem that needs purging.  The H1B-Visa holder is seen as a cheap and ultra compliant commodity. 

If we care about the middle-class in America and whether we remain a democracy then we need to realize that the H1B-Visa holder represents a serious threat.  We need for politicians to stop hiding their heads in the sand and to acknowledge the problem and deal with it.

As long as the livelihoods of American techies remain in the current perilous position that they are in when so many employers prefer to hire the H1B Visa holders, it is to the detriment of all American workers and our very way of life.

So, yes, hire the American!

Reply
Feb 6, 2010 5:39 AM Chris-pl Chris-pl  says: in response to S Levy

OK guys. But look on the whole issue as on the system (cybernetics theory). If you change just little part of the system it will change in other part. Do you think that banning H1B would be the solution ? Comapnies may import workers, but on the other hand they can export work places as well. In long-term, the salaries would go higher. US become less competetive on the global market of services matching for China/India or Eastern Europe countries. Do you know how much Jr IT Developer earns in Poland (Europe) ? For instance, one of business consulting US Co. pays theirs employes 650$/month. Cost of living there are mostly higher than in US. Food for thoughts. Those people earn not so much and even though they are highly motivated. 

Reply
Feb 6, 2010 7:37 AM IOnGov IOnGov  says: in response to Don Tennant

Don,

Your response is a standard "Elitist" response, likely trying to say "See, if you look at this case here you will find you that if you are real smart and you work real hard you won't have any trouble getting or retaining a job. See, the system really does work."

Have you done any real research at all on the issues surrounding the H-1B controversy? Many of the employment problems people have had have to do with age discrimination. Sure, with a graduate degree your son is marketable right now-but keep in mind that his MARKETABILITY WILL DECREASE AS TIME PASSES, even if he does good. Thus, he might be marketable now, but with H-1B and L-1 it is quite likely that he will run into problems a number of years down the road. Having known too many tech people with good skills who have had severe job problems, many techies are simply trying to look out for their young by steering them into employment areas that don't have labor arbitrage programs and rampant age discrimination.

Here's a good one for you:

What do you say to an H-1B job applicant with an advanced degree, up-to-date skills, and 20 years of experience?

- You're hired.

What do you say to a U.S.citizen job applicant with an advanced degree, up-to-date skills, and 20 years of experience?

- You're overqualified.

The real problem is that you automatically attribute employment problems to a person being incompetent. While this certainly can be the case, you need to keep in mind that in the not too distant past (and even today in many cases) many employers equated being African American, Hispanic, or a woman to being incompetent (or less competent).

The problem is that "the Devil is in the details" as the common saying goes. People really need to take a hard look at the details to really understand what is going on, and also they must understand that the existence of an applicable fair labor law doesn't necessarily solve the problem. Labor laws, like tax laws, are full of loopholes and there are people that are hired by businesses to specifically find and exploit these loopholes-after all, many bonuses depend on this sort of thing. Not only that, but there are armies of lobbyists and mainstream media propagandists employed specifically to derail any reforms that might get rid of those loopholes, all in the name of "giving fair representation to their employer's interests" (you wouldn't know anything about that, would you Don? Nah, you're an idealist ).

Without having the full details of the circumstances, many people come to foregone conclusions about why technology workers are having employment difficulties. These foregone conclusions are often based on such things as greed, ideologies, racism, selfish desire, entitlement mentalities, and selfish misconceptions. One that I often see is these guys who say "Get the facts right, an H1B visa holder must get by law the same wage as an American worker." (actual quote from comments on your site). They are assuming, of course, that the law is perfectly written, perfectly implemented, perfectly enforced, and that few or no people are violating it;when in fact NO LAW IN THIS COUNTRY HAS THESE CHARACTERISTICS. It is all about the EXTENT to which these qualities are true that determines a law's effectiveness, especially when there is big money to be made by circumventing these laws.  Reply

Feb 6, 2010 7:37 AM IOnGov IOnGov  says: in response to Don Tennant
A certain red flag indicating problems with a law would be, however, that 50% of the workers in a program that supposedly consists entirely of the "best and brightest" are paid less than an entry level U.S.citizen with a BS in Computer Science and no experience. Just taking this into account, wouldn't this indicate that the law in question is indeed so flawed that it is practically irrelevant with respect to its supposed intent?

Many of us in technology personally know quite a number of people who we have worked with either in school or on a project who we know are good workers from our personal interactions with them;and we have seen these people discriminated against in the job market. Too much of the time I have seen people like yourself gloss over the details of what the conditions and circumstances really are because they assume that a particular set of supposedly "obvious" outcomes should happen that will lead to employment if the person in question is not incompetent.

As an example, many people assume that an IT worker should be able to at least get a job which is at a lower, perhaps simpler technological level than he had before unless he is totally incompetent. NOT SO! Once you are at a certain level, most employers will not let an experienced higher skilled worker move into a lower skilled job, even though these same employers complain endlessly that they cannot find workers even for the lower skilled job. Not only that, a worker in many cases cannot even switch to a similar or less complex programming language that he could easily learn on the job in a few short weeks. Again, the word "overqualified" is frequently used.

MY QUESTION TO YOU, DON, IS: How do we know that tech workers are getting the same fair employment and advancement opportunities as people who are in employment fields that are not subject to or are not the main focus of guest worker programs like H-1B and L-1? My point is that the MERE EXISTENCE of H-1B and L-1 EQUATES TO DISCRIMINATION OF TECH WORKERS, especially in IT. Your argument is likely to be that H-1B and L-1 do more good than harm by creating more jobs (false by the way) and that they are therefore justified. My counter to that is that any form of economic exploitation similar to indentured servitude where one group is exploited could generate more profits for a business, thus allowing it to expand and hire more people;however, you are forgetting that it is unfair to bestow the responsibility of generating this extra profit on a particular exploited group of people.  Fair and equal opportunity is supposed to be one of the basic principles our country is based on, yet many other employment fields are not subject to foreign worker programs like H-1B and L-1. Isn't the existence of these programs paramount to discrimination against tech workers? In your "World Citizen" definition elsewhere on this page, you seem to subscribe to the "World Citizen" ideology and you state as part of this definition:

"World citizenship encompasses the principles of social and economic justice, both within and between nations;non-adversarial decision making at all levels of society;equality of the sexes;racial, ethnic, national and religious harmony;and the willingness to sacrifice for the common good."

So how does discriminating against technology workers by having the H-1B and L-1 programs just for them and not for other areas of employment fit in with "the principles of social and economic justice"?  Reply

Feb 6, 2010 7:37 AM IOnGov IOnGov  says: in response to Don Tennant
Wouldn't a society that subscribed to "the principles of social and economic justice" either have guest worker programs for all workers in all areas of employment with equal percentage-wise quotas for each field of employment -OR- have NO guest worker programs at all? And with such a system, who decides what the quotas will be and what will they be based on?

Reply
Feb 6, 2010 9:07 AM Don Tennant Don Tennant  says: in response to S Levy

Thanks -- I appreciate your response to the question.

Reply
Feb 8, 2010 6:19 AM IOnGov IOnGov  says: in response to Don Tennant

Don,

Your response is a standard "Elitist" response, likely trying to say "See, if you look at this case here you will find you that if you are real smart and you work real hard you won't have any trouble getting or retaining a job. See, the system really does work."

Have you done any real research at all on the issues surrounding the H-1B controversy? Many of the employment problems people have had have to do with age discrimination. Sure, with a graduate degree your son is marketable right now-but keep in mind that his MARKETABILITY WILL DECREASE AS TIME PASSES, even if he does good. Thus, he might be marketable now, but with H-1B and L-1 it is quite likely that he will run into problems a number of years down the road. Having known too many tech people with good skills who have had severe job problems, many techies are simply trying to look out for their young by steering them into employment areas that don't have labor arbitrage programs and rampant age discrimination.

Here's a good one for you:

What do you say to an H-1B job applicant with an advanced degree, up-to-date skills, and 20 years of experience?

- You're hired.

What do you say to a U.S.citizen job applicant with an advanced degree, up-to-date skills, and 20 years of experience?

- You're overqualified.

The real problem is that you automatically attribute employment problems to a person being incompetent. While this certainly can be the case, you need to keep in mind that in the not too distant past (and even today in many cases) many employers equated being African American, Hispanic, or a woman to being incompetent (or less competent).

The problem is that "the Devil is in the details" as the common saying goes. People really need to take a hard look at the details to really understand what is going on, and also they must understand that the existence of an applicable fair labor law doesn't necessarily solve the problem. Labor laws, like tax laws, are full of loopholes and there are people that are hired by businesses to specifically find and exploit these loopholes-after all, many bonuses depend on this sort of thing. Not only that, but there are armies of lobbyists and mainstream media propagandists employed specifically to derail any reforms that might get rid of those loopholes, all in the name of "giving fair representation to their employer's interests" (you wouldn't know anything about that, would you Don? Nah, you're an idealist ).

Without having the full details of the circumstances, many people come to foregone conclusions about why technology workers are having employment difficulties. These foregone conclusions are often based on such things as greed, ideologies, racism, selfish desire, entitlement mentalities, and selfish misconceptions. One that I often see is these guys who say "Get the facts right, an H1B visa holder must get by law the same wage as an American worker." (actual quote from comments on your site). They are assuming, of course, that the law is perfectly written, perfectly implemented, perfectly enforced, and that few or no people are violating it;when in fact NO LAW IN THIS COUNTRY HAS THESE CHARACTERISTICS. It is all about the EXTENT to which these qualities are true that determines a law's effectiveness, especially when there is big money to be made by circumventing these laws.  Reply

Feb 8, 2010 6:19 AM IOnGov IOnGov  says: in response to Don Tennant
A certain red flag indicating problems with a law would be, however, that 50% of the workers in a program that supposedly consists entirely of the "best and brightest" are paid less than an entry level U.S.citizen with a BS in Computer Science and no experience. Just taking this into account, wouldn't this indicate that the law in question is indeed so flawed that it is practically irrelevant with respect to its supposed intent?

Many of us in technology personally know quite a number of people who we have worked with either in school or on a project who we know are good workers from our personal interactions with them;and we have seen these people discriminated against in the job market. Too much of the time I have seen people like yourself gloss over the details of what the conditions and circumstances really are because they assume that a particular set of supposedly "obvious" outcomes should happen that will lead to employment if the person in question is not incompetent.

As an example, many people assume that an IT worker should be able to at least get a job which is at a lower, perhaps simpler technological level than he had before unless he is totally incompetent. NOT SO! Once you are at a certain level, most employers will not let an experienced higher skilled worker move into a lower skilled job, even though these same employers complain endlessly that they cannot find workers even for the lower skilled job. Not only that, a worker in many cases cannot even switch to a similar or less complex programming language that he could easily learn on the job in a few short weeks. Again, the word "overqualified" is frequently used.

MY QUESTION TO YOU, DON, IS: How do we know that tech workers are getting the same fair employment and advancement opportunities as people who are in employment fields that are not subject to or are not the main focus of guest worker programs like H-1B and L-1? My point is that the MERE EXISTENCE of H-1B and L-1 EQUATES TO DISCRIMINATION OF TECH WORKERS, especially in IT. Your argument is likely to be that H-1B and L-1 do more good than harm by creating more jobs (false by the way) and that they are therefore justified. My counter to that is that any form of economic exploitation similar to indentured servitude where one group is exploited could generate more profits for a business, thus allowing it to expand and hire more people;however, you are forgetting that it is unfair to bestow the responsibility of generating this extra profit on a particular exploited group of people.  Fair and equal opportunity is supposed to be one of the basic principles our country is based on, yet many other employment fields are not subject to foreign worker programs like H-1B and L-1. Isn't the existence of these programs paramount to discrimination against tech workers? In your "World Citizen" definition elsewhere on this page, you seem to subscribe to the "World Citizen" ideology and you state as part of this definition:

"World citizenship encompasses the principles of social and economic justice, both within and between nations;non-adversarial decision making at all levels of society;equality of the sexes;racial, ethnic, national and religious harmony;and the willingness to sacrifice for the common good."

So how does discriminating against technology workers by having the H-1B and L-1 programs just for them and not for other areas of employment fit in with "the principles of social and economic justice"?  Reply

Feb 8, 2010 6:19 AM IOnGov IOnGov  says: in response to Don Tennant
Wouldn't a society that subscribed to "the principles of social and economic justice" either have guest worker programs for all workers in all areas of employment with equal percentage-wise quotas for each field of employment -OR- have NO guest worker programs at all? And with such a system, who decides what the quotas will be and what will they be based on?

Reply
Feb 12, 2010 12:48 PM 6' 5 6' 5" Western European  says:

Just for laughs folks...

I took a big pay cut from my well paying mid tier leadership job in IBM in Europe to come and work in New Jersey on a H1B visa in an IT director role in a $2B+ corporation. Of the various teams under my direction I had a combination of Indians and Americans at different levels of experience and seniority. I was say that the split between smart/dedicated/productive vs. dumb/ass-kissing/lazy was totally independent of race.

Now, if I set aside the Indian workers and think only of the decent hard-working Americans of European descent they had one thing in common: the majority of them were in positions and salary well below their capabilities and experience. They had not been displaced by Indians - their careers had suffered at the hands of arrogant dumb white male management who favored ass-kissers below them at the expense of progress and efficiency.

We could send every foreigner home and reskill lots of mature experienced Americans - but I think you all know many examples of petty immature white males in (senior) management positions who would be threated by brains and experience and do everything to remove the threat coming from "their own kind."

The greatest enemy of the American worker is the ability of US corporations to tolerate and promote 3rd rate leaders....

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Feb 14, 2010 5:38 AM Cee Cee  says: in response to Gokul

Gokul

If the effort in training IT and other workers for export was spent on training individuals in the skills needed to drag India into the 21st century, there would be no need for Indians to leave their country. If Indians were educated to address the issues of clean water, sanitation, safe transportation, a health care system eliminating the horrible rates of maternal death and malnutrition, and an educational system to increase the literacy rates in rural areas they would help not only the well educated but those whom the upper castes seem to want to keep in the Dark Ages..

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Mar 12, 2010 6:25 AM Common Sense Common Sense  says: in response to Ray

Actually, the Indian argument is that business is conducted throughout the world and Indians consume a lot, so the Indians should get all the world's jobs.  Illogical I know.  But that's their take on it.  They are not satisfied with the profits the MNCs that have set up shop in the U.S. because, apparently, the MNCs aren't sending enough back home.

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Apr 20, 2010 1:26 AM Jim Jim  says:

Every year over 200,000 U.S.workers loss their job to a foreigner imported specifically to replace them. The U.S.Dept.of Labor statistics and studies from several Universities, establish that there has never been a year with a "shortage" of U.S.workers to fill all the jobs, especially in the computer field.Yet, Congress takes money every year from employers to allow the replacement of qualified U.S.workers with low pay foreign workers.

Congress allows the firing of over 200,000 Americans every year thought the H-1B and other visa categories.Originally, Congress intended the use of H-1B visas to allow the U.S.employer to import foreign labor when no qualified American workers were available.Initially, Congress passed safe guards for the U.S.worker including the requirements that the foreigner must maintain a permanent residence in his home country because the H-1B visa was for "temporary" visitors;that the foreign worker must be paid the same as his U.S.counterpart in other companies;that the U.S.worker can not be adversely affected by the importing of the foreign worker;and that the U.S.Department of Labor should investigate all applications and actual use of the foreign worker.

It did not take long for employers to realize that they could import cheap foreign labor under the H-1B and L-1 visa programs.Following large donations from employers to your Congressmen, Congress created numerous loopholes in the program that made it easy, then easier, now very easy, to import foreign workers to displace qualified American workers.For example, the H-1B visa is now allowed for "permanent visitors" (thus, the availability of U.S.workers and home country residence are no longer issues) and the U.S.Department of Labor ("DOL") may not investigate either the applications and/or actual use of the foreign worker including when the foreign worker is not paid the same as his U.S.counterpart in other companies and when the U.S.worker is adversely affected by the importing of the foreign worker.The DOL has investigated the fraudulent use of the H-1B visa holder.Based on its own experience the DOL estimates that at least 20% of all H-1B visas were obtained by fraud.Yet, DOL investigations are few and far between and restricted to only the very small employer.  

For the past 15 years, it is undisputed that the H-1B program is used by most, if not all, companies to outsource American jobs to foreign countries. Because of Congress, a company uses their competent American worker to train H-1B foreigners, then fires the American worker and reduces the pay to the H-1B foreigner.Congress has always known of this practice to replace U.S.workers and in response passed laws to make it easier to do so.

In fact, Indian Commerce Minister Kamal Nath referred to the H-1B as "the outsourcing visa" because of the ease of exporting cheap Indian labor to the U.S. 

It is estimated that over the last 15 years more than 6,000,000 competent U.S.workers have been fired when the employer discriminated against the qualified Americans by replacing them without cause and recruiting only H-1B workers to replace them. According to the U.S.Department of Labor (DOL) and Senators Dick Durbin and Chuck Grassely, both on the Senate Judiciary Committee, H-1B workers are hired even when qualified U.S.workers want the job, and a U.S.worker is displaced from the job in favor of a foreign worker. Reply

Apr 20, 2010 1:26 AM Jim Jim  says:
The Senators acknowledge that "Some companies that discriminate against American workers are so brazen that their job advertisements say H-1B visa holders only.' And some companies in the United States have workforces that consist almost entirely of H-1B guest-workers."

Why hasn't the Department of Labor stepped in to prosecute the fraudulent employers?Because Congress has prohibited the Department from doing so.

Things must change.To day, the U.S.is faced with high unemployment, staggering financial demands to support the unemployed and too many immigrates taking U.S.jobs.Yet, the U.S.government allows over 200,000 competent Americans to be replaced by imported foreigners.The unemployed American is forced onto welfare, cannot pay his mortgage or car loan.Thus, he is either forced into bankruptcy or takes a low paying job and becomes under productive.The American dream is shattered, the American family is shattered, the American taxpayer is overburdened and the American government, who made it all possible, continues to stand by all the while taking money from employers and Wall Street bankers.    

Image how far and fast the unemployment rate would drop if the H-1B program were scrapped immediately and the employer charged with sending the H-1B home and re-hire the wrongfully fired U.S worker.Image the savings to taxpayers if the unemployed U.S.worker had his old job back and could get off welfare, afford his own home (again) and buy a car, in stead of counting the days until he goes home to his foreign country.

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Apr 29, 2010 11:13 AM kris kris  says: in response to Mike

Stop calling people like Don "liberals"...Call them greedy capitalist pigs. It is clear he would probably fire any American to save a few bucks and he'd probably pretend that that person "wasn't a good fit" also.

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Apr 18, 2011 10:16 AM Ken Ken  says: in response to kris

It is unpatriotic and morally wrong to hire a foreigner over us citizen at any cost. As we can't replace our politicial with best and bright politicial from other country so should not we replace our workers.

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Aug 22, 2012 10:31 AM rama rao rama rao  says:
H1 b is a big sham. When the economy was good it was okay to bring in people with high tech skills which can fill in some of the jobs but the reality is that all the skilled jobs that they are telling is a bunch of lies. Average American is too good and he is very patient. If the same scenario would have happened in the countries like India or China they would have kicked all the Americans. This Country people are good but a vey few i mean top 1% of the people who are interested only in their pays and bonuses do not care to mortgage there own people for profits. No personal ethics they are taking taxpayers money and doing insoourcing .They will have 1 job and the 9 jobs will be outsourced. The only way to beat this by boycotting their businessess and not buying anything from them. That way they feel the pinch. They expect amrican people to buy there services but will not give them jobs. All corporate places should be investgated. Lot of companies in california are bringing people on L1 Visas and there is no limit. and once they get the job they are claiming they are better than american workers. Just cheap crap. If the government is serious they can root this evil practices Reply
Oct 4, 2012 3:05 PM PCSA PCSA  says: in response to Indian_H1B
They started with just a few sponsored by companies that only wanted to "pay" less, then they formed companies, then they started sponsoring themselves. Since the DOL does not validate every single certification application for H1B, they have been bringing less-qualified than any US Citizen trained in the US at 20+ times the cost of the offshore-trained individual. I have accidentally seen applications for relatives of H1Bs to be brought under the same company the H1B was working for. It can't be POSSIBLE that almost 100% of most big companies are composed of H1Bs provided by Indian companies as consultants. Does that mean that all of them met the DOL guidelines and there are no US Citizens who can actually do the job? http://www.dol.gov/compliance/guide/h1b.htm The big companies may think they have found a loophole to the DOL rules, but sooner or later the H1B bubble will pop too. Reply
Oct 4, 2012 3:09 PM PCSA PCSA  says: in response to rama rao
I second the motion.. All big companies should be visited to find out that almost 100% of their IT technical people are not US Citizens Reply
Oct 5, 2012 7:12 AM PCSA PCSA  says: in response to Peter
The question is what to do? If we post something here, it just shows our frustration. If we complain to the DOL for not validating that the H1B applications are not displacing US Citizens, we run the risk of our names being published and being discriminated for any other reason. The H1B are not better trained than US citizens, in fact it is well known that a great number of H1B applicants faked their resumes, and continue to do so once they are here. Is there a way to report the companies that do not comply with the DOL laws without risking being relegated by those same companies? Reply
Oct 5, 2012 8:33 AM PCSA PCSA  says: in response to Peter
We should find a way to convey all these sentiments to the Department of Labor, the White House and Congress People. Remember... all US Citizens' jobs are at risk, even the news people. ABC, NBC, CBS will start looking to replace their very expensive anchors and news reporters with much less expensive Indians who, as we speak, are being trained to remove their thick accent, so they can be understood by the average US Citizen. After all, news are just facts, and can be told by anyone with the ability to communicate. Also medical doctors are being targeted to be replaced by Indian Doctors, They are even experimenting with "Remote" consultations and "remote" robotic surgery procedures. Lawyers are next, laws are being digitized, cases will be heard online, evidence is being digitized and will be shared online. Teachers will follow, since online education has been in the real life LAB for about 20 years now, it will follow that teacher's classes will be done online.. Schools will only need someone to make sure students watch the monitor (this can also be a cheaper Indian and since this will be a new job classification, it will be easier to come up with the qualification for more H1Bs). Reply
Aug 18, 2015 7:45 PM PCSA PCSA  says:
5 years later Jitin is a citizen and now hire's exclusively Indian H1B candidates... Reply
Mar 15, 2016 10:44 PM john john  says:
Americans are being discriminated. First, Corp America keeps telling our government that they can not find enough American workers to do the jobs. Complete BS!!! Corp America can not find enough American tech workers that can work for $30/hour. So the tech companies scream for more H1B's and pile money into political campaigns. AND, now over 70% of the recruiting companies are now nothing more than shadow fronts to mainstream a constant flow and reassignment of H1Bs – cheap labor. So an American applies for a job posting. We're interviewed by a man named Jim Tripathi with a Hindi accent. Really(?), his name is really Jim? And when we actually get an interview, said interview is sabotaged via questions designed to disqualify the candidate – not hard to do in technology. WHY? To continue the flow, selection, and reassignment ofH1Bs. I actually once received a forwarded email from an Indian hiring manager stating that he "does not hire white people" (meaning Americans). Absolutely,Americans are being discriminated. Reply

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