Mr. Gates Goes to Washington to Push H-1B Visas

Ann All

Bill Gates may have reduced his day-to-day responsibilities at Microsoft, but he's still one of the biggest boosters around for increasing the number of H-1B visas.


Gates recently addressed the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee, telling the legislators that Microsoft and other high-tech employers are facing a "critical shortage" of qualified employees.


Gates was invited to speak by Sens. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass) and John McCain (R-Ariz.), who are working on an immigration bill that may include an increase in the annual H-1B visa cap.


The last immigration bill including a proposed H-1B increase, from the current 65,000 to 115,000, didn't fare so well.


To hear Gates tell it, even 115,000 won't be enough. The U.S. should have access to an "infinite" number of skilled foreign workers to fill IT posts, he told the committee. During the dot-com days, the annual H-1B visa cap was as high as 195,000.


IT hiring shows no signs of slowing, according to a recent Robert Half Technology report, which is predicting a 12 percent net hiring increase in 2007's second quarter, the highest since the third quarter of 2002.


Irina Plumlee, head of immigration for law firm Gardere Wynne Sewell, said in a recent IT Business Edge interview that the current shortfall of H-1Bs, evidenced by the early run on the documents at the outset of the filing season on April 1, is "the typical lagging behind the economy on the part of the government."


Companies that want a shot at the visas for the upcoming year should plan to file in the first half of April, Plumlee said. She also recommends "meticulous" preparation of H-1B applications.


To read the entire interview with Plumlee, click here.

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Mar 19, 2007 8:40 AM jhm jhm  says:
Vias run out fast becauce when an employer replaces an American with a H-1B he save about one third of the salary. It is not edvidence of a shortage of skilled Americans but that employers get a subsidy for each H-1B hired. Reply
Mar 19, 2007 9:04 AM Vicars Vicars  says:
India will train (six weeks of programming instruction) their software engineers and send over as many as stupid hiring managers require, and amazingly, these engineers will have 'exactly' the right experience as required, every time. Ever wonder where these engineers are getting their experience, well, the hiring managers don't...stupid. Reply
Mar 19, 2007 10:33 AM Test Test  says:
This is rediculous."IT hiring shows no sign of slowing, within the next three months." So therefore, we should bring in hundreds of thousands of immigrants who wish to spend spend THE REST OF THEIR LIVES here, programming on a particular skillset that can be easily replaced.What are we going to do with hundreds of thousands of C# H-1B programmers, when C# isn't the cool skillset anymore? Tell them to go home?Not likely.H-1B is a PERMANENT increase in supply in response to a TEMPORARY shortage. And the shortage exists for one reason only:It isn't worth it to Americans to learn difficult technologies when they watch the news and see this happening.Dude, I know C#. I've worked for the countries top brokerages, the nations largest defense contractors...a substatial fraction of the fortune 500.I have recruiters calling me unsolicited. And I'm not interested.Because I'm young, the present doesn't matter. The future does. And the future looks darn awful with these types of arguments being made.I got a business that pays me 30K-35K a year. I can take any one of several programming contracts that will pay over $50/hr. And I'm turning them down.Why?Disregard for my future. That's why. I see no reason to invest my time in a company that's making moves behind my back to eliminate that investment.Besides, what's 100K a year going to be 10 years from now? Programmer's salaries aren't going up. They're tampering with the market to make sure that's the case.Sit down with a C# book. Read it. Go read up on AJAX. Now say to yourself, "a guy who understands that should only make slightly more than a truck driver." Truck drivers make 50K now. H1-B programmers make around 60K.I'm leaving the country. So there's one less programmer for you.My business, paying a mere 30K--but growing--makes five times what most truckdrivers make in the country going to. My girlfriend there, a lawyer, thinks 30K is a lot of money.Lawyers wouldn't even consider dating programmers in the US. I guess programmers are supposed to date stupid people, and then have smart kids.You want to keep programmers here? Examine how well you're treating the truckdrivers, and how well you're treating the programmers. Are you treating them the same? Or are programmers mentioned in the visa laws, and truckdrivers aren't?The economy always responds to a supply shock. You can't get cheap programmers by passing a special exception in the visa laws forever. Reply
Mar 19, 2007 5:42 PM Jake Leone Jake Leone  says:
Businessweek: The h-1b program is a "conduit to offshoring"http://www.businessweek.com/bwdaily/dnflash/content/feb2007/db20070208_553356.htmThis article details that the top 3 users of h-1b visa, for 2006, are Indian IT Off-shore outsourcing corporationsInfosys used 22,600Wipro used 19,400There isn't an american company in the top 6.There are only ~65,000 h-1b visas per year. So if Universities and Medical institutions are wondering why they can't get Visas, it's because most of them are being used to off-shore U.S. jobs.Quoting this BusinessWeek article"In addition, the (h-1b) temporary visa program includes no requirement that companies in the U.S. try to hire American employees before they turn to foreign workers"So even if you complained about your company prefering to hire a Indian workers, you wouldn't have a leg to stand on in court. And Even if you applied for a job and were the best candidate, it could "legally" be taken by a worker from India, and you "the american citizen" can stay on the unemployment line. Reply
Mar 19, 2007 7:58 PM Bill Gates Bill Gates  says:
65,000? Just because the other Bill Gates says it doesn't make it so.The number of visas approved under the current law has been:2004: 130,4972005: 116,927Obviously a claim by the lobbyists and politicians bought by them that their bill (SKIL BILL) would increase the number of visas from 65,000 to 115,000 is a deception perpetrated on the electorate.In reality, the SKIL bill contained many increases including- 20,000 visas for people with foreign graduate degrees.- 4,8000 visas for trade agreements.- Unlimited visas for people with U.S. graduate degrees.- Unlimited visas for nonprofits.- And yes, another increase to initially raise the quota for all others from 65,000 to 115,000 with automatic increases whenever this limit is reached.What we really had was an initial increase from 116,000 - 130,000 to probably over 200,000 (116-130,000 + 50,000 + 4,800 + 20,000 + unknown exemptions)the first year with no limit in the future. Reply
Mar 20, 2007 10:13 AM S. Eng S. Eng  says:
IEEE-USA has come out against the H-1B visa and it's members just came back from DC. Here's the report:http://www.computerworld.com/blogs/node/5208 Reply
Mar 20, 2007 2:35 PM jgo jgo  says:
"To hear Gates tell it, even 115,000 wont be enough. The U.S. should have access to an 'infinite' number of skilled foreign workers to fill IT posts, he told the committee. During the dot-com days, the annual H-1B visa cap was as high as 195,000."This at the same time he says only 100K tech workers will be hired in each of the next 7 years or so.The current limit is over 85K, but the government regularly issues over 116K, as another poster mentioned.The limit was increased to 195K per year about 10 months after the economic depression had started.There was no shortage of capable science & tech workers in the USA -- temporary or long-term. There is no shortage of capable S&T workers in the USA. There is no reason to believe there will be a shortage of capable S&T workers in the next 20 years... a shortage of cheap, easily brow-beaten S&T workers maybe.According to NCES, we're graduating 65K US citizen computer workers per year. According to NACE, some 30% of all S&T grads aren't hired upon graduation. According to NSF, some 20% of capable S&T workers have degrees in something other than S&T, and some 20% of all capable S&T workers have no degrees at all.Oh, and H-1B visa holders are neither the "best and brightest" nor as "innovative" as US citizens, nor, on average, paid the prevailing local compensation. Reply
Mar 20, 2007 3:28 PM XYZ XYZ  says:
Current limit is 85,000 and not 65,000. Current limit runs out fast as staffing firms apply for visas in so that they make huge sum by body shopping. This is soun investment. Modify the law, so that the employer develop software only can hire, that means you can not exploit him by sending him to other companies (body shopping), visa will NOT run out.Computer science is now least popular subject in USA and most popular subject in India. Still most of the visa holders coming from India do not have computer science degree. Majority of Indians who come to USA have sub standard degree. Majority of H1 holders work for USA companies who are not represented by high tech companies (truely speaking body shoppers). Reply
Mar 20, 2007 6:16 PM Colleen Yuan Colleen Yuan  says:
Join Programmers Guildhttp://www.ProgrammersGuild.OrgH1Bs... go home. Reply
Apr 30, 2007 7:42 PM taboo taboo  says:
"a critical shortage of qualified employees." wtf is he talking about. there are plenty of Americans that can do that job. look i'm all for globalization if you don't fuqing lie through your teeth about why you want it. whats so bad about being upfront with it? Gates: "Hi I just want to be upfront with you all and say I'm going to be just like all the other overly-rich CEO goons and hire cheap labor... and I could care less if it's OK with you."Gates is now not only a douche bag but a huge liar about his intentions too. Reply
Nov 14, 2007 9:39 AM Dragon Horse Dragon Horse  says:
Lou Dobb's chimed in tonight:http://pmsol3.wordpress.com/2007/11/14/immigration-h1bs/ Reply

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