Since H1B is supposed to bring in rare foreign talents to do the jobs not enough Americans are available to do, salary should reflect that. If only the highest paid people receive the visa, then the public would not complain as much about replacing American workers for wage reason.
(Even startups with limited budget often can afford $80,000 these outsourcing firms pay their top 25th percentile H1B employees.  For a technical co-founder role in a Bay area VC-backed startup, it should be higher still.)
Why has this obvious modification not been implemented? I suppose it does not need Congressional approval. Is it because the change would be against certain major corporate interests?
 Relevant infographics http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/11/06/us/outsourcing...
Response to objections:
Objections below regarding salary differences between fields (scientists vs bankers) and costs of living in different areas can be addressed by considering average salary in each field and area. For example, how much higher, in percentage terms, the minimum salary of the proposed H1B is, compared to the average of comparable positions in the same area. (Details need to be worked out, but the same is true for other important systems.)
Assistance to startups can be given using a point system (like Canadian visa) that grants extra points to applications from smaller companies. This extra benefit would also help level the playing field in terms of overhead costs which is a much larger burden for these companies.
The H1B abusers all have the same business model:
Pretend like they can't find an American to do the job (when in reality they can but their client is willing to pay enough) and then fill it.
In the end, everyone loses, because you just get a non-exceptional immigrant in place of an exceptional immigrant.
I've got co-workers who are brilliant guys who have had to go back to their country, while Tata, Wipro, and all the other parasites land H1Bs so they can place a SQL Server admin who works for $45K a year and is afraid to take vacations.
Since the bidding is a solution to a problem caused by the cap on # of H1B visas, why not just do away with the cap?
If you're rearranging the application process to solve problems created with the bidding, which is to solve problems from created from cap, why not just solve the original problem?
The review process and due diligence for H1B takes months, so signals are still only available in large intervals, which creates volatility that favors high quantity employers like H1B shops.
Because flooding the market with indentured $60,000 technical workers isn't good for American workers or America?
So a company doesn't need to hire H1Bs directly. They can just setup a contract with one of these outsourcing firms to supply workers. That's precisely what Disney did when they replaced a huge number of IT employees with H1Bs.
The cap on the number of H1Bs prevents Disney from setting up their own little H1B shell corporation to perform the same function which is why they (along with many other big corporations) complain to Congress about the cap. If the cap weren't there they wouldn't need to outsource to Tata et al in order to completely screw over American workers.
You always have people trying to break rules, and the H1B is no different. H1B wage violators are a separate issue to the cap & lottery issue in the article, and being addressed accordingly.
Cap (or no cap) doesn't influence a select group of employers from breaking the H1B visa rules and being disqualified.
I work at a company where we are trying to hire a data warehouse engineer in the same geographic region. We absolutely can't hire anyone that is remotely qualified for less than $80K a year. Typically we're talking about at least $90K.
It blows my mind that the government isn't able to properly track an average wage for a profession when they have tax data coming in annually from every working American.
The H1B is specifically for educated & highly skilled immigrants, who has a sponsoring employer and is paid more than the average U.S. citizen for the same job in the same area.
Take a look at the publicly disclosed H1B data. Walmart hired people under a lower paid category with the job title 'Data Scientist' for $70K a year.
Let's talk about India, since that's where over half of H1Bs come from:
Educated: Yes, if you want to call a degree from an institution that most likely taught rote learning instead of critical thinking, with massive numbers of students cheating because the culture favors cheating if you can get away with it.
Highly Skilled: This is where the rote learning comes in. Shops which simply pirate some particular enterprise software product, train people how to use it (SAP anything, Business Objects, Microstrategy, Informatica, you name it) and then profit. You then end up with a resource who comes to America knowing Informatica and/or datastage, but suddenly you find out they don't know SQL. Yes, this happened.
The median Wal-Mart data scientist H1B salary in 2015 was $140,000 . There are lot of Indian H1B immigrants who are educated and highly skilled - are you sure you just don't have a passive racial bias?
Littered throughout the data are jobs which are advertised as "Data Scientist", but the official name for the job is something quite different, like "Programmer Analyst".
However, the job description involves building predictive models, working with Apache Spark, Python, and R.
The website doesn't even have a working search function, but let me go ahead and provide a link which supports my point:
Do you really think that $46,000 is a reasonable salary to pay a DATA SCIENTIST??? Please, by all means, explain this to me.
And fuck you for trying to call out a racial bias. My anger at the H1B scammers is strictly based on the fact that I have good friends from India, Malaysia, and Russia who had absolutely bad-ass skills that are incredibly hard to find. They all were turned down for H1B courtesy of the nitwits like Tata bringing in talentless hacks. Talentless hacks are a universal phenomenon in all cultures: they go where the easy, reliable money is. It just so happens that the Indian outsourcing firms have a business model that works very well for talentless hacks. Not unlike the bond trading boom in the US in the 80's.
>Do you really think that $46,000 is a reasonable salary to pay a DATA SCIENTIST??? Please, by all means, explain this to me.
Chill dude. For a lower level data scientist in Westminster, CO, that's appropriate. Notice they have a higher level data scientist getting $76k. Not accusing of cherry picking, but really, this is the second time you've done it.
India and China each graduate many times more software engineers each year than does the US. Many, perhaps even most, would love to work and stay in the US.
With a massive influx of engineers in a short span of time, I can't see how wages would remain where they are now in areas like NYC and SF. This is probably exactly what the Facebooks et al want, I guess.
Competent devs are not cheap anywhere.
In order to noticeably lower wages in the US you need to bring a lot of software developers from other countries.
But the supply of software developers is quite limited.
Besides, as soon as wages start to move downwards, software development products start going down in cost (or go up in quality). That increases sales of software and increases demand for more software developers.
I have seen most of my fellow programmers change their career since having 15 years of experience is bad thing because we are not willing to work for 60K.
Is it to management of lower skilled developers?
How? They can only be approved if they're getting paid the same or more than existing software devs.
Ha. Look at some writeups of the SoCal Edison outsourcing, for example. U.S. citizens making $95K were replaced with H1-B workers earning $60-65K, and that's generously estimating the lower salaries. Tata and Infosys might pay their workers closer to $40-50K.
They're currently under investigation for violating the immigration labor laws surrounding the H1B .
It's a different problem than the cap or the problem in the article. You're always going to have agencies trying to abuse a system regardless of whether there is a cap or not, and they will be investigated and penalized accordingly.
Meaning if there was a cap (or no cap), there would still be enforcement making it a non-issue.
Because there are far, far too many low wage foreign programmers driving down wages already.
Why not abolish the program entirely? That's far more palatable.
BTW, I've heard some indian people submit multiple applications thru multiple companies. It looks like USCIS is not very good at catching it.
The solution is not to bid via salary or total comp package or other BS metrics (also gameable), but to place bids directly on the visa slots - ie, the government simply holds an auction for N visas in sector X and collects the market clearing price as income.
Visas will then flow to companies that can productively use them (ie, high delta between the cost of the visa + salary, and what they figure the employee produces in value. No bias towards high-salary, low-surplus occupations). A low price for visas in a field is also a handy sign that there is no actual "shortage".
Some people think that occupations should just earn a certain amount. But that's not how markets work.
If a mechanic has rare skill to fixing a rare machine. Than that guy is worth a lot. People have to accept that.
Instead people make their mind he's worth 60k, and refuse to pay above. Then claim theirs a skills shortage. That's not how markets and prices work. There's no predetermined price in occupations.
If you think an industry has non-economic benefits or positive externalities the correct response is to help them capture that directly, not futz with the labor market to give them an implicit subsidy.
 http://money.usnews.com/careers/best-jobs/rankings/the-100-b..., drill down to salary details which will show salary by region. This is a roundup of BLS data. You can query that directly at the BLS site, with more than just the median. Interestingly, software developers do earn more than nurses at the 90%ile for both fields, but only by a small margin. At all lower percentiles, registered nurses out earn the equivalent percentile for software developers.
Every time I mention this, someone points out, reasonably enough, that nurses are hard working, smart, valuable people. I think they may be worried that I am implying that it is unfair that nurses make more than software developers. I assure you I have no problem whatsoever with higher salaries for nurses, I think they deserve them! I just see absolutely no reason to help corporations pay a lower value type of worker (software developer) the lower wages they deserve.
There's also a data problem - anyone is allowed to call him or herself a software developer (or even engineer), whereas there are controls on who is allowed the title "registered nurse." Keep in mind, though, higher paid nurse specialists and physicians are not in those numbers either, nor are the lower salaries for nurse orderlies. So I do acknowledge the data is not as simple as I have presented it. What I do think this suggests is that trying to set up separate categories doesn't make much sense (imagine if you could set the H1B minimum pay for a radiologies by averaging it in with the nurse orderly category).
If H1Bs end up going to finance and health care, well, fine. That's a good sign that there isn't a shortage of high tech workers in the first place. If google and netflix want a visa for a $275k a year worker, they'll get one. If someone wants to pay someone $60k a year to update payroll information with .NET and SQL Server and the visas go to better paid nurses and financial analysts, how on earth is that a problem?
Startups that aren't on that growth curve shouldn't be hiring remotely, or hiring at all really.
I'm not certain that a COL adjustment is necessary either. The higher COL in the Bay Area and NYC reflects the higher productivity of workers in firms in those regions. If you want to allocate foreign specialists where they will generate the most economic value, it makes sense that they go to tech hubs with high average salaries and high costs of living. It also solves the "domestic worker displacement" problem, which seems to be more of an issue in Kansas City than in San Jose.
Also, such a change would be in the interests of major tech companies like Microsoft, Google, and Apple. They already pay their H1Bs close to market rate, significantly more than Wipro/Infosys/TCS pay theirs, and so they would win a lot more of the H1B visas under this system. Someone (any insiders here?) should let their public policy teams know; they may be useful allies.
What do you base this on?
Productivity is defined as output/employees, where output is measured in dollar terms as the firm's revenue. You can run the numbers yourself, but the tech industry in Silicon Valley and the financial industry in NYC have consistently high productivity numbers. Google has consistently run at $1M+/employee for the last 10 years, for example, and Apple makes about $2M/employee. Goldman Sachs is similar.
Strong competition between firms within an industry in those locales means that workers can capture a decent share of that productivity. It's not unusual for a senior engineer at Google to pull in $300K+/year in total comp, and Goldman Sachs was famous for having a mean salary of $630K+/year during the height of the financial crisis.
When you have a large number of people in a region with lots of disposable income to spend, it tends to push the price of basic life expenses higher. One or two rich folks is not going to move the price of housing: they buy one or two houses (or maybe 5-10, max), and nobody else can charge more. However, a hundred thousand people that can afford a $5M mortgage is definitely going to push the price higher. They all need housing, and landlords realize that they can demand higher prices and they will find a willing buyer. Hence, cost of living increases.
tl;dr: Firms in these areas hold monopoly positions that let them extract a lot of money out of customers. Employees at these firms hold competitive bargaining positions which let them (as a group) extract significant amounts of money from their employers. Widespread availability of money in the region makes prices rise.
Doctors, startup founders, software engineers, rocket scientists, professors, world-class musicians, and everyone you actually want to be importing foreign talent for, typically gets a modest, medium-range, middle-class salary in the US, at least when they start on any new project. Even Nobel laureates and Pulitzer prize winners usually get very mediocre salaries.
Having the H1B admission be based on salary would probably just fill up all the H1B quota from Wall Street, not serve as an effective talent filter.
Do not worry about CEO's and C-levels outsourcing themselves. Either the H1B will go unused or the salaries will be paid. Either way the market will find out what the 'natural' need for outside talent is. There are other approaches but a salary floor plus an open work permit would be a decent start.
Freedom, ego, and voice have always been a bigger attractant for talent than salary, assuming basic life necessities are met. I've turned down multiple $300K+ job offers just because they were too boring, and simple brain rot would drain me of all the abilities that I have invested time learning and accumulating over the years.
Then they can't compete in that market. Market salary is not a high bar, it's the expected fair wage. If you can't pay market salary, you don't belong in business.
I think it's shortsighted to just throw up your hands and say "because free market" in this kind of scenario. The fact is if "market" salaries for software engineers are based on unicorn thinking and the salaries that Apple, Google and Facebook can pay, then there won't be much of a long-tail of interesting companies, we will all end up working for mega corps.
Supply of developers that both meet the high bar and are willing to accept poorer economic futures (see eg housing costs that have doubled in the last 5 years, expensive childcare, etc) is low. My experienced mid-career engineering peers keep moving to Austin, Seattle, and various cities in the midwest because being able to get a house for $300k, $500k, or $250k, respectively, massively changes their financial outcomes.
All the current H-1B debacle does is increase that power imbalance even further.
So very true; but if you're looking to make a quick buck you shouldn't join a startup  or want to checkout from work 5-6 pm everyday (BTW, there's nothing wrong with that)
With the insane valuations that exist today, a decently funded startup can at least match a base salary with an established company.
A bidding system for H1Bs would in effect prevent earls stage companies to apply for visas. Many actuall do apply for their own founders. A large proportion of startups have foreign founders, and these people need a visa.
It's not always black and white. The same argument has been used against mexicans in low paying jobs. However you kick the mexicans out, farms and restaurants will collapse.
In any case, that's not what the H1B program is officially about: the purpose of the program isn't supposed to be to keep wages down in sectors where wages would otherwise get too high for businesses to afford them. Instead the argument is that businesses literally can't find workers in these areas, so H1Bs constitute talent filling a critical national skills gap. My argument is that, if that were true, the wages in these critically-lacking sectors would rise accordingly.
It will result in a lot of small and mid size business closing down. Unfortunately I dont have any suggestions on improving the h1b program.
because they have based their business on illegal practices.
You're acting like cost of living at work location couldn't easily be tied in, as well as incorporating average salaries at said locations.
Some small nit-picks as an example: H1-B's are not locked to a specific location, so it would be easy enough to bring in employees for the Kansas City office, then immediately relocate them to the Bay Area at the same salary. Changing this will be really hard since free travel across the country is a fundamental US right.
I changed location from South Bay to San Francisco within the same company and they had to file a new LCA and an amended H1-B. It basically is the whole process again, minus the lottery. (Since I already had an H1-B, I'd already been counted against the yearly quota.)
If you create a bidding war and localize it, the H1B shops are going to exploit this even more.
Except that minimum salary thresholds for H1B's are already set (for each region). We're talking about just increasing these thresholds (e.g. 55K --> 85K and so on...).
Now we have to talk about cost of living adjusted thresholds.
But in general you're correct that employees can change work sites while the H1-B petition is pending (because without premium processing that takes months), but only after the new LCA is approved. And the LCA is what determines the prevailing wage for the new site. So you can't move someone from Bumfuck, Nebraska to San Francisco and continue paying Bumfuck wages.
If you think the processing time is too long - I totally agree. 15 days should be regular processing time, not "premium".
I think many of the "nightmare" issues are already present and already being managed just as well (or badly.) The marginal addition in complexity shouldn't be that high.
1. It makes H1B sweat-shops unfeasible
2. It motivates employers to train American workers whenever possible
3. It makes it significantly more likely that the visa will go to the most in-demand skills than the current lottery system does.
To those of you complaining that this is pay-to-play: there is something unpleasant about it on the face of it. The way I look at it though is that we are using salary as the best proxy we have for scarcity of a given skillset.
Calling a $60k job in tech in the US a "sweat shop" really trivializes the term.
The only reason it's worthwhile for the worker is the worker is supporting family and/or setting themselves up back home.
The same reason workers work in actual sweat shops.
San Francisco Median Income Over 65 $57,502
Median Income 25-44 $78,810
Median Income 45-64 $80,875
> Median Income 25-44 $78,810
That's not much higher than $60,000
Which means that about 35% of workers get "sweatshop" income of $60,000 or less.
1) Many of those 35% are living in rent controlled housing which is a maybe $20k/year subsidy.
2) Its also about more than just income. Working 70-80 hours for $60k is very different from working 40 hours for $60k. (Or in the case of retirees working 0 hours for $60k).
3) Many of the working poor in San Fransciso are working in sweatshop conditions. Having to work 3 jobs, having to work 80 hours weeks, having very little job security or savings etc, just to get by is horrible.
What is your solution to that? Take away these "sweatshop" jobs from people who do not have any better options?
Many of them? Yes. But it's usually worth it for them. The difference between our local market and most of India is incredible. The absolute pay difference is like 10x.
To put it in perspective: It's like if you could move to a very expensive location (Richville) and get worked like a dog, but they paid you $1.5 million/year.
Of course a house costs $20-$30 million. And sending your kids to a good school would set you back $500k/year. And you are having to share house with 4 other people you don't really like to afford the rent. And you have very little free time because of all the hours you work. Etc etc. But by living cheaply you manage to save 15% of your salary ($225k USD).
In Richville that isn't even enough to get your kid into a good school, but when you go back to the US you will be very well off.
> What is your solution to that?
Change the h1b system to be an auction based bidding system. That problem with the current system is you distort the local market and make the locals worse off.
The H1B program sets salaries using a "central planning" model, and changing the rules for the central planners won't really fix the problem, because employers will learn how to game the new rules.
A better approach is to remove the "you can only work for one employer" restriction from the H1B, and let the employee take their H1B visa with them to any job they can get. This would give the employee the same negotiating power as other employees, which will allow them to get raises or take higher-paying work for another employer.
Using a market within the central planning of the visa program is still an incremental improvement in the efficiency of the policy and therefore a worthwhile reform to consider.
Which is why you better pay them market rate.
This is also the exact reason for the golden handcuffs idea. Toss them a bunch of stock at the 1 and 2 year marks.
Honestly I'd favor an absolute minimum limit. Hiring someone through this kind of visa should be an extreme method you use to find talent you simply cannot find here at any price (not sidestep the American job market and devalue labor) since their visa is contingent upon them willing to work for you -- it's nearly indentured servitude. So you should have no problem paying them at least $200,000/year.
I worked at a law firm that specialized in immigration and that's exactly what happens. They deflate the title and experience and claim much less than they could/should. The employee doesn't protest because they are still coming out ahead from where they were. All the biggest tech companies are doing this too.
Which is part of the problem. Why can't a visa holder just say screw you to these companies and go out and get a new job without a huge amount of risk and stress.
Not true. The public will complain about how we are rewarding foreigners instead of locals. They will lament that about poor schools, and companies not wanting to train local talent. They will cry about how the "imported workers" are taking their high wages/dollars and sending it out of the country.
I will like to see every company that get's a H1B worker mandated that they must hire two paid interns. The idea behind this is that as they pay H1B workers, they also get to train younger workers who will not be hired for "lack of experience."
The (big) companies that aren't abusing the program (Google, Microsoft, Amazon, etc...) already do this. They hire loads of interns and then give offers to anyone who is up to their standard. It's a win/win system.
So again, seems like we are back to the crappy outsourcing consultants.
There are only 65,000 H1-B visas per year. Surely the fabric of our country wouldn't dissolve if that number were doubled or even tripled.
You should read beyond the first few sentences.
> coming out as gay is still unacceptable, even in educated upper-class circles.
I think it would be difficult and dangerous to try and use the immigration system to select for, say, Obamas over Scalias.
Correlation, meet causation. Lots of countries are more diverse than the USA but are doing far worse when you look at crime/corruption/QoL statistics. Lots of countries are far more progressive and far less diverse.
Essentially, if you're claiming that diversity isn't one of the more defining cultural value of the US, and without it the States would be the same, then I would like to hear your reasoning.
In a way, it's already 6 times higher, because H1-B is not a yearly visa, but (potentially, simplifying here) a six-year visa. 65k is only for "fresh" applications, not the concurrent limit.
In any case, this position only makes sense if you think people are a fungible, replaceable commodity. It does not address the parent's comment at all, which is about culture.
There are millions of people in America who don't think women should have rights. There are millions of people in America who are uncomfortable with free thought. We've got racists, classists, and people who don't think that parents should be allowed to make all of the decisions about their children's upbringing. We've got corruption at all levels, and the only thing that vaguely keeps it in check is something probably fifty million Americans hate hate hate, Federal authority over the states.
You can try to claim these are marginal views, but they're really not. America may have some great things going for it, but cultural unity is not one of them.
There are millions of Americans who believe that women should not be working outside the home, should not be "taking up space" in higher education, should not be associating with men they aren't related to or married to, shouldn't be dressing "provocatively" and "enticing" men to harass or rape them. There are millions who don't think women should serve in the military at all, let alone in combat roles. Disowned for dating or marrying the wrong boy or girl.
I will happily admit that the US is not the worst place in the world. Honor killings and throwing acid at people doesn't really happen here, even if spousal and partner abuse still flourishes and murder by an intimate is (one of) the most common sort of murder.
The equality and respect for human rights you can find in the US is fantastic, and I'm glad pop culture promotes it as a given, but it is not a universal aspect in American culture and in many places it is just a thin veneer over some very ugly deviations, held in place by the continuing hard work of dedicated activists.
As an immigrant who has lived in both coasts as well as "flyover country", I totally agree. The claim that unlimited immigration would ruin American culture is laughable, because there is no such thing as "American culture". America has always been a melting pot of different cultures, much more so than any other country in the history of the world. That is what makes it unique.
This same claim gets made about Canada, and I always found it particularly offensive to anyone who isn't an immigrant with a foreign culture. It's a riduclous statement anyway. The south doesn't have their own culture? East vs west coast? Europeans were pointing out yesterday that Americans have different expectations for housing (bigger housing, suburbs), is that not a part of the culture?
Isn't the idea that we are welcoming to foreign cultures, and actively embrace multiculturalism a part of the culture?
Compare this to, say, Norway, which is significantly more culturally homogeneous, so a sudden influx of a great number of immigrants would actually noticeably erode or at least dilute the native Norwegian culture.
- A belief in the value of hard work
- A strong commitment to individual rights / individualism
- A certain degree of puritanism
- A belief in American Exceptionalism
- A belief that fairness should always be aspired to
- A fairly strong commitment to market capitalism
- A healthy dose of skepticism that government intervention is the solution to many problems
- A commitment that the "American Dream" is something that we should always strive to make real for everyone
If the Average American only holds 6 out of 10 of your imaginary Core American Values, what does it matter if we invite in a hundred million New Americans who also only hold 6 out of the 10, because they were from a different culture? Where is the assimilation problem?
(Also, "free market capitalism" and "skeptical of government intervention"? Really? Are you living in a bubble or just willfully pretending that the last 100 years of American history don't exist?)
Who starts a business without the person that makes it possible in the first place on staff? If you dont have a buisness without someone you cant afford to hire, you dont have a buisness to begin with.
A pure market based approach to immigration will create an overly financialised economy. Who can afford to participate in visa auctions? Financial companies!
If tech companies can afford to participate right now, it's only because they are funded by financial companies. Half of tech companies aren't even profitable...
You definitely want more Mongolian restaurants, not just tech startups dependent on cheap money. Because when the money stops, only one of those will still be in business.
School teachers, nurses, and regional pilots are three fields I can think of where we may well have skill shortages despite fairly low wages. (in the third case, I think it's because of low wages, but no matter...)
Exactly what were trying to avoid here.
If so, you could weight the H1-B salary auctions in the same way. Wouldn't solve the weighting toward high-salary fields, but should make weighting toward $3000/month for a closet areas like SF less of a problem.
Bureaucrats and politicians picking interest groups? That's why technology workers are exempt from overtime rules
Opening up the archaic caps on talented H1B labor. Clearly there is demand for it.
My ideal solution would be a gradual removal of all barriers to entry. However that isn't possible.
So why not make H1B open to all types of workers(not just on job titles/industries), and build in a bidding system based on salary. Maybe a system if you pay a substantial amount of salary, you're allowed unlimited.
The auction is a solution to the problem that the cap creates. Remove the cap and you don't need an auction.
H1B visas traditionally have been for skilled labor, under the assumption that these educated workers will help stimulate the economy. This is good as long as the workers don't drive down the wages for citizens working the same jobs, so an immigrant already has to make the same or more than U.S. citizens. Isn't that wage enough to achieve the goal of H1B visas?
The cap is a solution to the problem the lack of other controls -- like an auction -- creates. With an auction to allocate the visas to companies that need foreigners with actual rare and highly paid skills, we could drop the cap to a more reasonable level like 10,000 per year instead of the ludicrous and destructive 60k.
Second you are inhibiting wage growth reducing the incentive for people to train into those professions
H1B applicant wages must be higher than existing U.S. citizens, so if anything it's increasing average wages for educated labor and further incentivizing citizens to train for these skilled positions.
It would cap wage growth for people in the sector, because instead of increasing salary to attract candidates they search abroad for the same wage. It's a cap on wage growth.
It's not capping wage growth. If anything it's incentivizing wage growth by making positive growth more liquid than negative growth.
It may increate economic growth overall, but those particular workers targeted get screwed.
This is why I think it should equally open for every sector, (Everybody gets screwed equally, which means prices will stay down) or bidding.
This would solve that.
IMO, there is an advantage to importing world class talent, but subsiding companies that don't want to pay the going rate for a junior dev is a real issue.
All employers will be incentivized not to sponsor H1B visas because it will become a bidding war. It's not a 1-day event - most of the sponsored immigrants have been already working for the employer for months through temporary OPT or CPT.
The solution is to finally open up more H1B visa seats and do away with the lottery system. To be approved for the visa the immigrant already needs to be making the same or greater than the average U.S. citizen salary in the same area anyways.
Edit: The problem with a bidding war isn't the price as many of you are thinking, it's the volatility. Employers are setting these wages when they hire immigrants many months in advance, and they won't do it if there is a risk they will be outbid later.
That's the mark of a successful market system: negative feedback loops so that the more out of equilibrium the system gets, the more incentive there is to bring it back into equilibrium.
I'd rather see the caps disappear too, but changing from a lottery to an auction seems politically achievable (particularly since it helps Apple/Google/Facebook, all of which have strong lobbying arms, while hurting TCS/Infosys/Wipro, who most Americans would be happy to see disappear), while declaring open-season on tech immigration would engender strong resistance from people who have nothing to do with tech.
My girlfriend has a PhD from an ivy league university, and even she didn't get an H1-B!
That would be a great compromise. Ph. D.'s instead of high school grads is a good trade. But it was lost among the politics of higher profile illegal alien amnesty negotiations. And then the amnesty didn't go anywhere either.
I think Trump may have mentioned this compromise at the last debate -- even he liked it.
This American Life had a good show about a DV winner from Somalia:
Except the job market isn't limited to immigrants, and not all immigrants are equal in quality. The bottom isn't zero, it's the average wage for U.S. citizens, because otherwise you'll drive down the wages for U.S. citizens.
You will get H1B shops opening in remote, rural locations and then using the immigrants to consult in other, more expensive locations. The goal is to get qualified immigrants to work directly for companies at those company locations.
Speaking as a tech worker in Silicon Valley, I don't care. Everybody who works in tech here makes enough; indeed, one of the reasons why the cost-of-living is so high is because there's broad-based prosperity among techies that drives up the cost of basic necessities like housing. If tech salaries fell, that would actually put less pressure on the non-tech population here, who are the ones who are really hurting.
It'd be far less disruptive than the current system, which puts that pressure on software engineers working for big companies in say, Minneapolis, where the average software engineer salary isn't much more than the general population.
Maybe your employer values you, but I'm guessing someone can do your job for less, especially if there is a H1B visa value added to it.
The whole problem is that H1B shops are gaming the system, and with a national auction, it gives them more leeway to game it further.
That's the ideal benefit. Skilled Americans should be employed when available and their salaries should be high and rising. The more incentives not to use H1-Bs, the better.
The ostensive goal of the program is to provide workers with skills that aren't available in the USA. If they really aren't available, a few disincentives aren't going to slow them down, but we know that a large majority of applications are fraudulent. They exist to replace American jobs with low paid indentured foreign labor. There's no good reason to promote that.
That's not how people are hired in exceptional circumstances, as is the stated intention of the H1-B law. That IS how people are hired for outsourcing body shops, which should not survive this change.
The H1B chop shops are typically hiring just for the lottery that happens once a year.
Exactly how its meant to work.
Which is the issue with your proposal. None of the individuals interviewed would be able to compete with the large corporations if a salary were taken in to account. Which I think is fine because none of them actually sounded like the jobs the foreigners were doing were all that special and the talent could definitely be found within the US borders as long as the right price is willing to be paid.
The law already has a provision to identify these abusive filers -- "H1B dependent employers". As the article notes, Congress let a special fee for such employers lapse. If it cared to, it could easily forbid such employers from filing further applications. Problem solved.
I would also point out that this requirement is not without precedent and the data is already there, because there is exactly such a requirement for O-1 visas (well not exactly a requirement, but you get extra consideration if you are).
Let's say an university want to bring in a Vietnamese teacher to teach about South-East Asian's studies. The university simply could not find someone with that kind of knowledge in the US, hence they want to bring in someone from a foreign country to take the role, and that person is very qualified for that role. Should their application just be dismissed because they can't offer wages that compete with big tech companies offering $200k salaries to foreign engineers?
When comparing h1-b applications to fulfill jobs that are of similar position in similar markets, then comparing salaries make sense, but it doesn't make sense to compare wages across different markets and positions, as it gives a HUGE advantage to profession in more profitable markets like big tech/big pharma.
Most universities (maybe all) are not subjected to the cap. Non-profits in general are not subjected to the cap.
The proposed change should only be for the non-cap exempt jobs anyway (which tend to be at for profit places).
This still doesn't solve the issue. You are just giving the advantage to high paying industry, rather than give the advantage to companies who actually have a very specific need that they have a hard time fulfilling by hiring locally (which is the point of H1-B).
Let's take for example a very profitable industry, like pharmaceutical research. Let's say for a sec that the average pharma researcher makes $200k a year. Let's also assume that there's a decent pool of people in the US that have the necessary skills to work in pharma research. Now, let's say those pharma companies would rather get foreign researchers and pay them $150k a year. Those pharma companies will still have a much easier time getting those H1-b visa compared to another company that really CAN'T find the employees they need locally due to specific need (but are still not in a industry as profitable as pharma).
For example, let's say you work in a marketing firms that does international projects. For example, you want to promote American sporting apparel in a foreign country. The profile you are searching to fill : Speaking the foreign language, familiar with the foreign culture, experience in sport marketing, management experience.
You can't find someone locally, but it would be pretty easy to find someone with this exact profile in the foreign country you are targeting. Unfortunately, now, you can't get that person except if you are willing to pay him the same wage as someone with a Ph.D in pharmaceutical research, because you are auctioning for the same spot. Now let's say you go for it because it's essential to the success of your project, you might end up having to pay someone 3-4 time his "market" value, making it unfair to his "locally hired" colleague that have the same amount of experience and responsibilities, but don't have the right profile for a specific project.
If you are critical to an important project you get paid significantly more. How is that unfair?
That's the system working as intended.
Honestly given your examples you should be more annoyed than most given the current h1b system. When these giant consulting firms get 100,000 h1bs that is 100,000 spots taken away from unique roles.
So the govt will have to go back and forth to get this right, the energy is better utilized in the big ticket job items that have costed america millions of jobs (not a few 10 thousands like in this one).... see my other comment on this topic.
In 1994 dollars, that's about $96k.
They will have job duties broken down for the lowest paying position, with a 5% other work, but on the job they will be doing work of a better paid position, with that 5% other work constituting 90% of what they are doing.
Imagine if the only punishment for theft was having to pay back 200% of what you stole. As long as you don't get caught half the time, it is profitable to steal. That would be both something which is illegal and also a loop hole in the law.
"In a loophole, a law addressing a certain issue exists, but the law can be legally circumvented due to a technical defect in the said law"
Startups wouldn't be able to afford such high salaries (many rely on equity or even founding engineers).
Software engineers that work in startups are different from the corporate ones.
Plus, the question really is 'why not?'. Access to H-1Bs could foster early growth in startups and, in the long-term, increase employment.
Plus a lot of startups have foreign founders and these people need visas. So-called entrepreneur visas an not suited for companies that take investment.
How is that? The more talented, hard-working people, the merrier!
Also, by "us", you are not referring to "those of us on HN", but "those of us on HN who had the good sense to have been born in the US", correct?
The thing most people complain about are how software developers will be reduced to penury if people from other countries are allowed in the US. Were you referring to something else?
If employers bid for the permits themselves, there'd be a large fixed-cost component to employing an H1B, but then no incentive (indeed, an extra disincentive, since the company had to shell out to get them to the U.S.) to pay them well afterwards. And since H1Bs are sponsored by their employer, they have limited job mobility and can't just go work for a competitor, particularly since the competitor would then have to shell out even more money to win the auction for the visa. That'll put downward pressure on immigrant salaries, which in turn will put downward pressure on American salaries for workers who do the same job, as employers could substitute a one-time fixed cost to "lock in" an H1B rather than paying prevailing market wages.
To be clear, I think all these restrictions are terrible, and am an open borders advocate, but find the design of these programs very interesting (and near impossible).
There are two ways to game the H1B, the NYT article covered only one of them. The other is the 20,000 visas given to those who finished a Masters/PhD degree in USA. If they break out the numbers for these, they will find something that is an open secret known to all Indians: this 20K too is totally dominated by Indians.
Among my family and friends back in India, how to game the H1B's other 20K visas is also an open secret. These mediocre-to-hopeless students from India just apply to some university in the US for a Masters. Either it is a shit-degree from a mediocre university or a shit-degree from a shit-university (most of them seem to be in Texas). Doesn't matter. They get the admission, pay the fees, pass the course. Then they take internships to stay on after the degree, keep applying and taking interviews relentlessly until something works out. I believe they can stay on in the US for a few years by extending their visa in this way, until they get a H1B.
They fake their profiles with a many years of fake experience, fake internships and try to fake the background checks as well. These consulting companies take care of all the visa processing etc for these guys.
The major companies benefit from not having to take care of all the hiring processes, visa processes, employee benefits, holidays/vacations for the contractors. They also consider these employees expendable. When something unfortunate happens and these guys end up getting pink slips, the consultancies get them another job at another employer willing to take them.
Are we getting the 'best and the brightest' with the H1-B (which we all agree is a good thing), or the richest and wealthiest willing to pay whatever it takes to get a visa?
Maybe 10 years ago, the best and the brightest of Indians/Chinese, who studied at the top US schools would have got their H1B in this 20K advanced-degree quota. Not true today.
Though the average Indian/Chinese is poor, there are tens of millions of parents in India/China today who can afford the $50K "investment" for their non-so-bright child. I see this among my affluent relatives and friends in India.
There is an easy way to check this: plotting the applicants of this 20K advanced-degree quota against the US News/other university rankings of their university.
An easy but not perfect way to fix this would be to give the 20K slots to the applicants from the highest ranking universities.
And then after that they have to go through a period of intense slogging to clear their student loans they would have taken in India. Then comes the H1B struggle to stay in the US to make a living, then the struggle for green card and so on.
By any means of measure these are exceptionally hard working and bright people. And don't go by what the throwaway29 is saying. These are not idiots who landed by luck and are dragging by. And its not as simple as throwaway29 is making it look like, where a few idiots are stealing away the opportunity from Einstein level geniuses.
That means you do not want to come to the US enough in order to go through unpleasant work that employers are willing to sponsor you for.
Do you think you got a better deal in India in the end?
Firstly, mugging up pointless trivia and math theorems hasn't anything remotely to do with productivity. Which is the only thing that matters in workplaces today. You might be the biggest knowledge repository in your college, you might know everything there is to know if the books. But your knowledge is replaceable by a Google search, or worst anything that you can be learned by any guy in India with a smart phone and a internet connection(both very cheap and accessible today) without ever having to go to a college. In a world with such levels flattening, only thing that counts is ability to get things done with maximum levels of productivity.
>>Today almost all of my classmates are in the US: thanks to H1B.
You should be happy about it, rather than cribbing about it.
>>nor did I want to do the shit work that is offered in these consulting companies (TCS, Infosys).
The very fact that you consider some work beneath you is speaking volumes about your attitude and work ethic. Or may be explains why people like you despite being intelligent are often beaten by every other guy who is ready to burn 20 hours a day to get work done and make a living doing whatever is possible, working and making the best of whatever opportunity comes there way. People in those companies you describe aren't doing 'shit work' as you describe, they do whatever software work everybody else is doing for a lesser salary. Because that is the only opportunity they get, and trust me even after that they don't crib. They remain thankful for the opportunity in a country where people are dying of hunger, they use that opportunity to learn, coming from small towns and lower middle class to poor families they work 20 hours a day, building their career brick by brick making the best of whatever comes their way. Only to be later face people like you who deride the hard work they do to get there.
>>I ended up getting a MS and PhD in a top non-US university that funded me and I'm still finding it difficult to join a US company, thanks to H1B being gamed.
You really must stop blaming the whole world from your problems.
>>These mediocre-to-hopeless students from India just apply to some university in the US for a Masters.
You really should be thinking very hard how all these people you think are below you are able to make a living, while you aren't.
>>Either it is a shit-degree from a mediocre university or a shit-degree from a shit-university (most of them seem to be in Texas). Doesn't matter.
True thing, because what matter is what you are ready to sacrifice as immigrant in foreign nation with a hefty student loan. How much you are ready to burn your self to get where you want to be. Its not about intelligence or grades, its more than that.
I am from a small town in India and my family was lower middle class. My parents burnt up all they had just to pay for my Bachelor degree. That is the reason I could not afford a Masters degree in the US. And there surely are many students from my background who worked hard to get to where they are.
That does not take away from what I see: Indians who have zero interest in computer science or even in their own work are grabbing the H1B of Indians (or Americans) who have that love and work hard.
Also one needs to step out of their fantasy chambers and look at the brutal financial reality of life, which they sooner or later have to face. And work their lives from there. Else soon, the very same intelligent people will complain how a butcher down the street who doesn't know any math beyond basic arithmetic got more richer than a Algorithm expert on TopCoder. And cry that life is 'unfair'.
>>Indians who have zero interest in computer science or even in their own work are grabbing the H1B of Indians (or Americans) who have that love and work hard.
I judge love towards one's work by commitment and what they are ready to do to get there and not by their ability to memorize trivia. On any given day I will hire a TCS/Infosys services guy with 3 years of experience than a M.S or even a Phd, with no experience- Very simply because, that guy would have lived and breathed struggles under tough budgets and demanding timelines. People with such a background can generally learn and do anything. When compared to graduates who expect special things to happen to them because of their marksheet and university.
Either way, India or US. I can assure you- you are going to see ordinary hard working people will get far ahead of most engineers because of a strong work ethic. This should not surprise you even in time to come. The same applies to US too, don't expect basic things like these to change by changing countries.
You may go to the US get a job. But you might find a Indian cab driver after a few years far ahead of you financially.
And throwaway29, you seem to argue that it is unfair to you that you could top your university but not get a H-1B. Here's my personal take on it. It is going to be a little harsh.
- First things first, Yeah, it is unfair to you. No question about it. A person of modest means has less chances to go ahead in life. Let not the hopefuls with rose colored glasses tell you life is going to be fair. That if you work hard, magic happens..There is just as much truth to it as flipping a coin. Look around. There are a lot of people who were born with a silver spoon, inherited property that is "now" worth a lot of money. And there are people who cannot seem to lift themselves out of their harsh life. There isn't a rule book to follow that guarantees anything.
- The sharp sting of pain you may feel right now is because of your social conditioning; that you were led to believe that it
ain't so, that hard work works! It may or may not. No body knows, nor anybody is responsible nor will anybody will hold themselves accountable because they said so.
- Now that we have established that, I want you to really think why you want to go the US. Make money, learn or have a comfortable life? As Kamaal said, you are less likely to become rich as an engineer. If you wanted comfortable life, define for yourself what comfort is. There are downsides to being in the US. I have been here for 13 years now. No body talks about it, but you will feel lonely here. If you are one of "us" introverted types, who will keep to themselves, buddy, I have news
for you. It is going to be very harsh. That loneliness will affect the way you think. Also, I haven't lit a Diwali cracker in all these years. You got to think about that.
- Instead, if you want to learn things, there ain't a place like US anywhere. Concepts, things, ideas that seem unreachable are routinely done by people here. There you don't have feel envious about your H-1B brethren. They are totally missing out on it. They are like cattle in a castle, who know no different, nor feel any difference. They are going to pee and poop on the throne without realizing it, just like cattle. There are blindingly smart people here. If you don't get to work with some of them I feel you missed out the best thing that you can get by living here.
TL;DR - There are negatives and positives about living in the US. Think carefully if you really want to be here. And don't expend energy feeling bad about yourself. Life is finite, harsh and unfair.
What I see is that even in today's MOOC/highly-connected world, I'm missing out on interacting/working with the brightest minds in the world, who all seem to be currently concentrated in the US. I can only go so far by watching their talks online, reading their research papers or studying their code. I wish to live/work in that environment for at least a few years.
Not everyone can get everything they want, I get that. But then, I see folks who are neither the best nor the brightest nor the most hard working getting to the US by gaming the system and that hurts.
PS: This is from the point-of-view of a foreigner from a less privileged background. There is a whole other gamut of concerns of US citizens about their own jobs, assimilation, social concerns and all that and I am aware of that.
All I can say is be patient. If it makes you feel any better,
Einstein wasn't able to get a job out of school. MF* Einstein.. You know what he did? He felt bad for himself! Chew on that.
Source: http://www.amazon.com/Black-Holes-Time-Warps-Commonwealth/dp... (See pages 59-61 in book preview)
The system has been gamed long before I came here in 02. And I don't think people in upper levels of Government are oblivious to it. It works for them now, so they are not going to look too closely there.
I have seen Americans from MIT driving a dinky car, while my friend who could not add two numbers own a 5 series(10 years ago, mind you). As I said, it isn't fair. As they say, keep your calm, focus and carry on.
The fact that intellectual activity seems to be relatively lacking in India is sad to read, and confirms my subjective opinion.
I can understand your sense of intellectual loneliness. Indians worship Saraswati (the goddess of learning), but will do anything not to learn and be intellectually curious. Behold the Hindu nation. The current wave of 'culture' sweeping through India will definitely not improve any of this.
ROFL. Hahahah... Well said
But that is the choice everyone has to make. If you are ready to put in that kind of struggle in the US. Any similar amount of struggle in India will put you a lot farther than you would ever reach in the US.
This is my humble evaluation of Indian life in US. Scary, but true for almost every one I met there.
>>I have been here for 13 years now. No body talks about it, but you will feel lonely here. If you are one of "us" introverted types, who will keep to themselves, buddy, I have news for you. It is going to be very harsh. That loneliness will affect the way you think. Also, I haven't lit a Diwali cracker in all these years. You got to think about that.
Haven't suffered for 13 years like you do. But have worked for short periods of time in the US. I can attest to this. And I understand what you are going through.
>>Instead, if you want to learn things, there ain't a place like US anywhere. Concepts, things, ideas that seem unreachable are routinely done by people here.
Seriously? If you have to come to a new country to learn or else you can't then coming to US will barely help you. You should learn and do new things where ever you are.
True if living in bay area or NY. Housing is not very expensive elsewhere. Hell, it is cheaper
(for what you get) than most cities in India.
>> Haven't suffered for 13 years like you do. But have worked for short periods of time in the US. I can attest to this. And I understand what you are going through.
Hey, it's not all bad. It is one side of a coin. On the positive side I have a large bookshelf, reading stuff in all that time!
>> Seriously? If you have to come to a new country to learn or else you can't then coming to US will barely help you. You should learn and do new things where ever you are.
Um. I learn most things by myself - from books. I think there is a lot of value in working with really smart people. It has expanded my perspective.
Doing MS in USA is a money game (and not merit game at least at second and third tier colleges), most of the students who land up at these place are not from poor or lower middle class families. They come from families with enough means for them to buy tickets to USA, have enough funds to stay on their own at least for initial 6 months (which would be equivalent to life savings of many lower middle class families), demonstrate a big bank balance, show enough property etc. in their family name so that their student visa is not rejected at consulate… I could go on as to how one has to prove to consulate that a student is self sufficient, would not be depending on another source of funds (scholarships, loans etc.), has enough monetary and family reasons to come back after education to stand even a remote chance of getting a student visa.
OP did not have all of above, other less than mediocre students had those, and hence they scored.
Any body can have sex; doesn't mean everybody is getting it;)
But the general point stands; given the large population, there will be enough motivated people who will flatten it out eventually. I don't know if it is possible right this moment, or by everybody.
Hahahahahaahahaahahaahaha, if only.