Regulation for H-1B Program Appears Inevitable

Ann All

The H-1B visa program has generated plenty of dialogue over the last few years, with tech companies that want more visas squaring off against folks who insist that H-1Bs damage the U.S. economy and that the application process needs an overhaul. Yet Congress has largely stood pat on the issue.


That appears about to change -- although it's unclear whether legislation that will allow more of the visas or proposals to make it tougher on employers applying for them will prevail.


We recently blogged about a bill introduced by Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) that would require employers submitting applications for H-1B visas to jump through more regulatory hoops.


Other pending bills appear to side with President George Bush, who has long supported raising the current cap of 65,000 annual visas. Bills introduced by Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Reps. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) would both exempt U.S. educated folks with certain advanced degrees from the cap.


Both bills would also permit more visas (a market-based cap, expanding or decreasing with demand, in Cornyn's bill, and a cap of 115,000 that could increase to 180,000 in any year that demand exceeds supply, in the Gutierrez/Flake proposal).


While we hate to appear wishy-washy, certain elements of all of these bills appear to make sense. The recent exhaustion of the annual visa limit on the first day that applications were accepted seems to indicate that more of them are needed. Yet making those applying for H-1Bs adhere to more requirements should help reduce the number of companies that appear to be willfully exploiting the system.


Though they aren't included in any bill, we also like some suggestions proposed by ZDNet blogger Jon Carroll. Among them: allowing H-1B holders to market their services to companies other than their employers in the U.S., and requiring H-1B holders, rather than the companies who employ them, to initiate and pay for visa renewals.

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Apr 16, 2007 3:09 PM Brandon Brandon  says:
There's plenty of empirical and hard evidence to support the notion that there is no U.S.citizen labor shortage.The reality of is not as simple as industry would like to suggest.I think the jury is not yet in as to the outcome of H-1B's, and whether more are necessaryespecially if rapidly growing grassroots organizations like NumbersUSA and other similar entities concerned with both legal immigration and illegal migrants can help it.See additional links below for additional perspective.SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE Thursday, December 7, 2006 Should the U.S.increase its H-1B visa program?CON:Wages belie claims of a labor shortage By Norman Matloff The program's scope is far more general than just the tech industry.For example, the San Francisco Unified School District has hired a number of H-1B visa-holding school psychologists, elementary school teachers and so on.But the most common field in which employers hire H-1B visa holders is software development.The visas granted in computer-related fields are 10 times more numerous than in the next most common tech field, electrical engineering.The industry claims that it needs to import workers to remedy a severe labor shortage.Yet this flies in the face of the economic data.A Business Week article has pointed out that starting salaries for new bachelor's degree graduates in computer science and electrical engineering, adjusted for inflation, have been flat or falling in recent years.This belies the industry's claim of a labor shortage.Additional analysis at the master's degree level shows the same trend, flat wages -- contradicting the industry's claim that workers at the postgraduate level are in especially short supply.The hidden agenda here is industry access to cheap laborFull article www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2006/12/07/EDGOULJ5BC1.DTLFor a compilation of links to other articles on this topic goto:www.numbersusa.com/absearch?action=showresults&;start=0&searchType=&body=&author=Norm+Matloff&publication=&title=&startMonth=1&startDay=1&startYear=2006&endMonth=1&endDay=1&endYear=2010&Submit=Search1) Gates goes to the Senate (03/12/07)During the March 7 testimony of Bill Gates, the senators fell all over themselves in adulation.Quite an honor for someone who, in Google's words, is a "convicted monopolist." In fact, in 1998 Gates was called on the carpet by the Senate for Microsoft' 2) Globalization Conference at U.C.Berkeley (02/06/07)Last Friday I attended a conference at UC Berkeley titled "Globalization Comes Home." It was actually a three-day conference, held in conjunction with the publication of a three-volume book on the subject.Friday's session was on economic issues.As 3) Articles on Stuart Anderson H-1B Study (11/16/06)Stuart Anderson, author of numerous industry-sponsored reports supporting the H-1B since 1996, has come out with his glitziest yet, available at www.m 4) WSJ Disputes Engineer 'Shortage' (11/16/05)+sb+Slim Pickings-sb- By SHARON BEGLEYTHE WALL STREET JOURNAL November 16, 2005 Many companies say they're facing an increasingly severe shortage of engineers.It's so bad, some executives say, that Congress must act to boost funding for eng 5) 2 Duke studies of offshoring--the rest of the story (11/14/06)In our case here, BAH appears to be the financial sponsor of the Fuqau study. Reply
Apr 16, 2007 3:09 PM Brandon Brandon  says:
That of course is a danger signal from the beginning;as John Miano pointed out to me, "Who ever heard of an academic study that devotes a full page to listing its sales office 6) Duke studies of offshoring (11/13/06)There seems to be a bit of an academic civil war developing at Duke University over the offshoring issue, with the recent release of two dueling studies.On the one hand, there is the study by Arie Lewin and Carine Peeters of Duke's Fuqau School 7) Dept.of Commerce Succumbs At Last to Politicization (10/17/05)+sr+The Dept.of Commerce is by its very nature pro-business.Thus it has been very gratifying that ever since 1998 it has given labor a fair shake on the issues of H-1B and the industry lobbyists' claim of a tech labor shortage.For example, after an u 8) Self-Serving Study Reaches Preordained Conclusions (02/27/06)In Professor Norm Matloff's latest discussion of H-1B issues, he has selected two recent articles on a new study by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM).Matloff writes, "The findings of the report are that contrary to popular perception, jobs 9) High-tech workers feel betrayed by visa hires (01/10/06)High-tech workers feel betrayed by visa hires New bills side with group that says programs give foreigners unfair edge BY MICHAEL DAIGLEDAILY RECORD An organized group of engineers and computer p 10) Norm Matloff on the Miano report and Pascrell bill (01/04/06)[The hyperlink to the left leads to] a very interesting article in the EE Times on the Miano H-1B wage report, and the Pascrell H-1B reform bill.I must say that it is one of the most careful pieces I've seen on the subject in quite a while.As usual, Reply
Apr 16, 2007 6:27 PM jgo jgo  says:
www.issues.org/23.3/wadhwa.htmlWhere the engineers areVivek Wadhwa was, himself, a body shopper, and made quite a bit of money on it before moving to academe.www.usnews.com/usnews/biztech/articles/000710/archive_015150.htmprogrammersguild.blogspot.com/2007/04/news-flash-corporate-executives-and.htmlCorporate executives, immigration lawyers and lobbyists are big fat liars: H-1B can be hired even when capable American wrkers are available and apply for the jobUS DoL Strategic Planwww.dol.gov/_sec/stratplan/strat_plan_2006_2011.pdf"US DOL's Strategic Plan on page 35 states: 'H-1B workers may be hired even when a qualified U.S. worker wants the job, and a U.S. worker can be displaced from the job in favor of the foreign worker.'"programmersguild.blogspot.com/2007/04/raising-h-1b-cap-will-accelerate-loss.htmlRaising H-1B cap will accelerate loss of US jobs and technologyNational Science Foundation, in pushing Congress to establish the H-1B program and increase student visas back in 1989, explicitly stated that they felt that PhD salaries in science and engineering were too high, and advocated bringing in foreign students to hold down wages. It also stated that a consequence of this would be that Americans would not find PhD study financially attractive and thus would not pursue it. The NSF stated:"A growing influx of foreign PhDs into U.S. labor markets will hold down the level of PhD salaries to the extent that foreign students are attracted to U.S. doctoral programs as a way of immigrating to the U.S.A. A related point is that for this group the PhD salary premium is much higher [than it is for Americans], because it is based on BS-level pay in students' home nations versus PhD-level pay in the U.S.A... [If] doctoral studies are failing to appeal to a large (or growing) percentage of the best citizen baccalaureates, then a key issue is pay... A number of [the Americans] will select alternative career paths... For these baccalaureates, the effective premium for acquiring a PhD may actually be negative." Reply
Apr 17, 2007 11:54 AM Dave Dave  says:
The US is under severe threat economically if this quota is not raised soon. It doesn't matter if theres no shortage of US workers or - what matters is the quality of available workers and meeting market demand.If the US does not meet market demand, tech companies in particular will probably start looking to locations where they aren't constrained by an arbitrary quota of visas and a bureaucratic system that is in bad need of overhaul.Moreover, is protecting US jobs really in America's interest? When London shook up the old guard of investment bankers back in the eighties, allowing foreign nationals to work there, it started an influx of high quality people from very diverse backgrounds that most would agree has been the key to its prolonged success in financial and consulting services. The question of whether having a ridiculously small quota of H1-Bs is good for America's global competitiveness should be asked.US companies should hire the best people for the job, regardless of origin to remain competitive. Reply
Apr 23, 2007 9:55 AM Lilit Ghazaryan Lilit Ghazaryan  says:
Dear directoryReading of H-1B program I would like to partisipate, as I have master degree and want to study at the U.S.A. and work, as I'm from Armenia.Please, write me details what I need to do. Reply
Apr 23, 2007 7:28 PM Ray Ray  says:
As an employer, and parent of college age kids, the issue of H1B's was relatively untouched. That is until you realize that the education system here vs. in other economies (countries) is failing. We have become a "lowest common denominator" education system driven by cost benefit to the nearest quarter. Education is measured in career's, not quarters. Education is an INVESTMENT - I am no longer convinced that the administration/politicians understand INVESTMENT vs. INTEREST - as in self. The economy is global. We need to educate globally - not just locally. Educate to be competitive, not to bring complacency. Reply
Apr 23, 2007 7:32 PM Ray Ray  says:
To Dave on April 17 I would ask, why is this situation the case? Raising quota's will only take the pressure and focus off the problem. There IS a place for H1B's. But not at the expense of our future. Reply

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