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I am an Indian national on H1B with a top company in US. By all means please do not come to US with H1B. The U.S. has broken immigration system. My visa is locked down to my employer and I cannot ask for a raise or get promoted. I accepted the lowest payment as per DOL from my employer just to stay and work in US with my 6 year H1B validity. By all means apply for a Canada work visa. They have now something called Express Entry system. You can also apply for permanent residency. US immigration system is broken and they are not going to fix it anytime soon. Immigrate to Canada. H1B is indentured servitude.

I have started my Express Entry application and very soon I will say goodbye to US , I don't mind the cold in Canada. I will have freedom to change jobs, won't be an indentured servant. I will also get permanent residency fast. US green card for Indian citizen is around 10 years backlogged.

I suggest it's best for you to apply for the Canadian Express Entry for skilled workers.

I'm sorry you're having such a bad experience here, I really am. As an American, you're right, our immigration system is horribly broken; ten years for a green card is average for most immigrants, if not fast for many. US firms, especially tech firms, use H1B to do exactly what you said, acquire people who are effectively indentured servants. Don't like it? Go back to your home country. Don't want to accept the bottom-basement pay? Someone else will, there are plenty of non-Americans to exploit!

And at the same time they lobby the Congress for an increase in H1B visas claiming there aren't enough US workers, they send out ads asking for ten years experience in HTML5 and CPU design, offering $30k for an "entry level" position, and say they can't find anyone here to fill it. Of course not, your requirements are insane and the wage is equally insane.

Yes, there are plenty of companies using H1B ethically, but for every ethical H1B, there are 5 unethical ones. It's a disservice to both American workers AND foreign workers.

PS: I'm not anti-immigration. I'm very much pro-immigration. What's that? You're intelligent, hard working, and want to come to my country to work your butt off and get rich? COME ON OVER! All I want is an immigration system that's fair to everyone, both those coming in to get a fair shake and have protections, and those of us already here, preventing immigrants from being used as cheap replacement labor.

It's actually worse than that. Here's an article from 2 years ago describing how the biggest employers of H1Bs use the program to bring low-paid immigrants into the country, train them, and ship them back home to pay them even less while doing the same work: http://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2013/04/03/176...

Companies like these use up most of the H1B slots such that truly skilled high tech jobs that pay well, and would accept H1B if they could, are going unfilled. This is why you see so many U.S. companies setting up branches in Europe and Canada.

I was working for one of those body shops Indian consultancy company back in India. When they applied for my H1B , I knew what I was signing up for. So after a while I switched to one of the top employer in US (within an year of my arrival in US). So I basically made use of the Indian body shop to get my H1B using them as a bridge.

During that switch, the idiosyncrasies of the US' broken immigration system played a major role in my salary negotiation with my new employer. Many have an opinion that Indian H1Bs are unskilled. I am not going to judge them. AFAIK , I went through many rounds of interviews (whiteboard,project,cognitive) and I am pretty much sure I have engineering skills which are in demand. I am brave enough to state that I have more mathematical skills than many of my American counterparts.

Let me explain the idiosyncrasies of the US immigration system for an H1B worker.

While I was making the switch , my current employer came to know about my interview (possibly through a mole in my team) and the manager wanted to send me back to India. So he started the process of cancelling my petition.

So now I was under pressure to switch. The new employer knows that I am on H1B and they low balled me. This employer is not a body shop. This employer is simply trying to take advantage of my visa restrictions. Since my previous employer was in the process of cancelling my petition , I had no other choice but to accept the offer and join the new employer.

Your petition and visa is tied to your employer. Your job & freedom is under their mercy. If your employer cancels your petition , you are an illegal alien from the very next day. There is no grace time. (think about booking flight tickets, selling your car, breaking the lease and what not. Imagine school, kids and their state of mind. Its a mental torture).

So I joined my new employer and started working. I am beginning to feel that I am assigned a lot of work than my American counter parts , but I am not given any recognition and I am pretty much sure , I will be the one to get the lowest appraisals , because I cannot bargain. If my new employer fires me , I am an illegal resident from the very next day. I cannot search for a job , because there is no grace period. No employer will hire me because my petition would have been cancelled by then.

Not only Indian companies exploit H1B workers. American companies does that too.

Remember , American is a capitalist country. No employer whether Indian or American care about H1B workers. They just exploit them to the maximum extend because of this broken immigration system.

How to change it ? Immigration reforms like employer portability will be a good start.

But I am not waiting on these to decide my career & future. I have applied for the Canada Express Entry system and qualify with high points. My visa & permanent residency will not be controlled by employers in Canada. Soon I will say goodbye to this country. It has taught me many good things to remember and bad things to forget.

Disclaimer: I am an H1B visa holder (though likely on my way out)

You hit the nail on the head. This is why rather than more H1Bs we need a better H1B.

IMO doing away with the lottery and granting the visa to the <N> highest paid applications would go a long way to make things better.

It would kill H1B sweatshops, motivate employers to look for American candidates a little harder and make it easier for companies willing to pay H1B workers well to fill the positions they cannot fill locally.

It's also a proposal that - I feel - could gain bipartisan support in congress. Unfortunately, I don't hear many people speaking out in support of it.

They are. But it's drowned in the noise about undocumented immigrants, which is a much more emotional issue and more in the consciousness of the general public. If a politician says he wants to improve H1B, he'll get a primary opponent running ads saying he is pro-amnesty. Look at the comments section in any news article about improving H1B loopholes and the discussion is dominated by issues relating to the border with Mexico, amnesty, and undocumented immigrants.

As someone from India, Its very nice to hear your thoughts. That's true, tech. companies exploit people, their salaries are too low. Mostly they hire us for cheap labour, not because they can't find talents in america and we are do at it :) I know 95% indian friends who is America or not technically good. They are just close to the management people. 5% of are good.

ps : I never visited aboard, don't want to travel aboard just because i'm a cheap labour :)

<typo-1> and we are good at it :)

<typo-2> who is in America are not technically

You're brutally truthful.

Sorry for the hijack, but am in a different boat of confusion. I have 6 years experience in tech and I've been offered an L1 to transfer to Bay Area with a salary of 145k USD along with a comprehensive medical insurance.

I am not really sure if I should be taking this up considering the ridiculous cost of living in the Bay. Also, I don't know how much I'll be saving at the end of 2 years considering the fact that my wife will be travelling along with me (she doesn't have a STEM degree).

Although there are these cost of living calculators they just take into account a lifestyle that is 'just enough' to get by.

You'll do just fine. It's a great salary.

Hi there

I do have some questions regarding working/living in the Canada. Is there an email I can reach out to you for some questions and advice? Would appreciate it. Cheers

Indian here. I wanted to try for H1B, but after studying the waiting period, conditions under H1B employment, it makes so much sense to go to Canada instead.

Good choice. Do not end up in the ditch of US broken immigration system. Apply for Canadian Express Entry. Take control of your career and future. Your career advancement and future should not be anchored to US employers. They just take advantage of this draconian immigration system to low ball your salary, thus creating an impression that H1B workers are cheap.

I thought H1Bs weren't locked to employers. Can't you transfer the visa?

Yes. The parent's visa can be transferred, for up to a max of 6 years in length. However, the employer needs to be willing to transfer the visa. Lots of employers are willing to transfer the H1B during a good economy but rare to find an employer who would be willing to do so in a bad economy.

Also, if H1B worker wants long term stability and wants to stay in the US beyond the 6 yr period, then the employer needs to apply for Permanent Residency (Green Card). The H1B worker needs to employed for that employer for the entire duration of that GC process. The icing on the cake is that the H1B worker needs to find new employment within a month of being terminated or leave the US. Again, possible in a good economy but near impossible in a bad one.

All in all, this creates the perfect hostage scenario with H1B workers pursuing stability till they get their green card.

Yes you can change employers while on H1B. Its not really a transfer. Its a new petition by the new employer except that its not counted in the annual cap. It has got its quirks. Join the new employer only when the new petition is approved and your employer's lawyer have got the petition in hand.

Never switch before the petition is approved.

Technically yes.

But the poster's employer has probably applied for a green card. Since the poster is Indian, that is a 10+ years process (4 for China and 1 for everyone else). If the poster changes employer (or accepts a promotion), the 10 year clock is reset to 0.

So for all practical purposes, the poster is locked to the employer. He is also locked at the same level and pay. Employers love this since they get an experienced person locked in at the same pay for a decade or more. Obviously this reduces wages for everyone.

> If the poster changes employer (or accepts a promotion), the 10 year clock is reset to 0.

This couldn't be more wrong. there is this little thing known as AC21 clause where you can change employers after some part of your green card has been pending for more than 6 months. This doesn't reset the green card clock at all if you're waiting to be current, but you do have to do the first couple phases again with the new employer (which are really quick)

I have seen many people I know use this to change employer with no problem. If someone under green card is unable to change employer, chances are they just can't find a better job.

Also it is wrong that you can't accept a promotion. For example going from software engineer to senior software engineer is fine. As long as the new position is at least 51% similar to the previous one you are fine, and it is easy to prove on paper with a little bit of magic with your lawyers.

Also wrong that you are locked at the same pay... Seriously I have never heard this yet, where did you get that? I know plenty of people (and myself included) who while waiting for the green card got multiple raises with no problem.

Again you are technically right. But in practice this is of no help.

The AC21 allows you to change employer when you have filed the I-485. That is step 3 of the 4-step green card process. One can't file the I-485 until the "priority date" is current. That is not an issue if you are from any country other than India, China, or Philippines. Else you are looking at a delay of 4 to 11 years. So as I said, not practical for the poster who is from India.

Technically it is also possible to accept "normal career progression" changes in employment, i.e., promotions and raises, as you correctly pointed out. However in practice, what constitutes as "normal" is subjective, completely at the discretion of a visa officer. For a long time, this was very easy and a formality. In the last 1-2 years, the Visa Officers have become anal about this. Cases are being audited for something simple like Data Scientist using Python to Data Scientist using R (actual anecdote in my company).

Also visa officers are going back to approved cases from several years ago and retroactively denying them on some technicality like the above. So even if you know cases that were easily approved in the past, they can be suddenly denied and the employee can retroactively become "undocumented" for the past several years (again actual anecdote).

My understanding is that you can't transfer an H1B. The new employer has to re-apply. You can however go through the process while remaining in the US.

My experience (as an employer) is that it's become much harder over the last year or so to get the re-application through. At the very least they tend to have substantial delays. I'm not aware of the underlying reason.

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