A few points:
- This does not raise the salary requirement to $130k/yr. This only applies to employers that do not want to do the extra paper work for "attestations regarding recruitment and non-displacement of U.S. workers"
- It takes a "market based" allocation strategy which allows "cash bonuses and similar compensation" to be included. This is a joke.
- Startups and small businesses will get 20% of the visas. It'll be interesting to see how this is gamed
- This does not fix the Corporate/Higher Ed partnership loophole
- This does not fix the power imbalance between visa holders and employers
I personally don't see this bill going anywhere. Zoe just needs to look like she is doing something.
I've been on multiple H1B visas, at both large companies and startups. I've also sponsored H1B visas as an employer. I would support this bill.
The headline is a classic example of sensational journalism by the Times of India.
The $130k salary requirement applies only to "dependent employers", defined as employers with over 15% of their workforce on H1Bs. This is clearly aimed at reducing H1B misuse by TCS, Infosys, and their ilk.
The vast majority of companies who employ people on H1Bs aren't "dependent" employers by this definition, and hence will be unaffected by the salary increase rule. If anything, they'll benefit from more visas being available to non-dependent employers.
Also, startups will likely benefit from the 20% requirement.
Regardless of the merits of this particular bill, at least we now have a conversation going with both political sides weighing in.
Here's hoping that they end up somewhere rational.
All in all, there are some benefits in this bill. Does it say anything about green card backlog? or was my interpretation wrong?
Just a glance, doesn't seem that bad.
Edit: Sorry, going to retract this. My data is a few years old. It seems like they have started paying market rates.
Probably the old fashioned way: Tata Startup Services, a wholly owned subsidiary of Tata Consulting Services.
Sure, you'd exclude a few enterprise-B2B startups from your program, and startups that have been invested in "over a barrel" such that the founders no longer retain control, but you'd also filter out these ne'er-do-wells.
Basically bills like this will allow Tata, Wipro and others to just absorb all the talent within the industry. Some versions I've seen do restrict the wage increase to companies that have n% of their workers being H1-B employees, which seems a bit more reasonable.
EDIT: Also this is one of three H1B related bills in Congress. I suppose there will be some compromise between them, considering that they are sponsored both by Republicans and Democrats.
Honest question, why is this a joke?
a) you're not certain to get anyway (because they're bonuses)
b) might not really be worth $30k
The IRS uses 409A valuation. These valuations have been high enough to cause huge AMT burden to engineers. Sam Altman etc have written about it; Zoe Lofgren herself has been trying for years to fix it.
Why do you think it is a joke?
I would accept 409A as a reasonable assessment of a company's value, but that's somewhat different than an assessment of what compensation an H1-B worker is getting.
The PDF linked by OP said "including cash bonuses and similar compensation", and the knee-jerk reaction was "it is a joke". Furthermore, it was explainted that "the value of private company stock can be hard to determine". I pointed out the 409A valuation as a response to this.
I do not know if equity will be counted against income.
But I think it is reasonable to count vested and exercised equity into the pay calculation. After all, IRS uses that to determine taxes.
A company's "real" fair market value is $50 and this is also what they report to the IRS. They issue options with a strike price of $60, which are $10 out-of-the-money. This is an allowed transaction.
B) The FMV reported to the IRS is $40 but the "real" FMV is $50. Options are issued with a strike price of $50. The IRS thinks that these options are $10 out of the money and therefore allowed, but they should actually have been taxed more-or-less as income.
C) The FMV reported to the IRS is $60 but the "real" FMV is $50. Options are issued with a strike price of $65. The IRS is happy that these options are out of the money, which they really are. If the IRS audits and challenges the valuation, they may come up with a price closer to $50 but that only means that too much tax might have been paid which they're not going to be too upset about. Meanwhile, for the purposes of reporting compensation of their prospective H1B staff member, the barely out of the money options look a lot better than they should.
The IRS is set up to look for B, no-one looks out for C.
And for Engineers and Designers it's even harder.
It is very wrong to treat employees as investors when they're invariably taking major income hits to be there.
The people who get screwed are early employees, who join and get options when shares are not worth a lot but non-zero. Then your choices are front the cash to early exercise (if the company even allows that) and 83b what are probably going to be worthless shares or wait until later and find that the shares are worth a lot now but still illiquid (and risky!) and the AMT hit of exercising is enormous.
"Fair market value is zero, so an 83b is free." Okkkaayyyy...
Suppose Tata pulls exactly what you describe. Do you think that stands a half a chance in hell of standing up to scrutiny by DoL?
If Tata has hundreds of employees, all making $80K and a $50K bonus, none earning the bonus due to poor individual performance, but all being retained by the company and sent on new client engagements (presumably due to acceptable performance).
In finance, this is often referred to as substance over form, but the same concept applies in other areas of civil law as well.
I'm on an H-1B, and the thing that infuriates me about the dialogue on this is that they are effectively trying to ban skilled immigration, and exclude people like me from coming.
If you don't qualify for the family-based or refugee route, employment-based immigration is the only viable pathway. The amount of hate I see piled on people trying to come here via the employment-based immigration seems insane to me. These people make it seem like employment-based immigration is not as respectable or legitimate, compared to refugee/asylum and family-based immigration.
The problem with requiring higher wagers is that for people like me, who were students in US -- it's very hard to get an ultra-high salary for the first job out of college. (I did my undergrad here, and I don't have a Master's.) I was a student (on an F-1 visa), and my first job out of college offered me $60,000/year. On my first job on my H-1B visa (in NYC), I was offered $85,000 a year (got slightly over $100,000 with bonuses). Then, just about a year and half later, I was paid (incl. lucky cash bonuses) slightly over $200,000 in a single year. (My base salary is $130,000 now.)
If you raised wage requirements, you'd basically be not allowing people like me to continue to stay and work in the US (after graduation from college), and would instead only allow people from outside who have lots of experience (and skill) and can command a much higher salary upfront.
It's very disappointing to see the level of vitriol directed towards people who are just trying to build a better life in this country, especially here on HN.
Likely there should be some path for immigrant students to stay, but H-1B shouldn't be that path.
Perhaps they should create an exception that allows immigrant student to work for entry-level market wages for a few years after they graduate.
I mean, immigrants students will need some kind of visa that lets them work to stay here after school. It could be the H-1B, or something else.
But the only way they can stay is if that visa requires only paying what new graduates normally make.
PS: I suspect if there where a direct path from student to staying in the US then people would just game that process. Which would reduce the number of 'real' students and cause a political backlash.
If someone manages to get accepted at a genuine accredited U.S. high-education institution, and completes their studies, and graduates, why not let them stay? I understand there will be a lot more demand to study in the U.S. if such a pathway existed; so you would want to make sure that there are no diploma mills, and that only people graduating from accredited colleges are allowed to stay. Perhaps capping the number of international students at a college to something like 20% would go further in mitigating your concern. The flow of student immigrants would then be naturally regulated by the admissions process, and by the number of available seats for international students in U.S. universities and institutions.
It really doesn't make much practical sense to attract students, educate them, and have them leave. But having the flow of student immigrants be naturally regulated by the admissions process, as you propose, seems to be putting the cart before the horse policy wise. From the gov't perspective, the interests and education goals of the (potential) immigrants are irrelevant but the flow of skilled immigrant labor matters a lot - what would be a practical solution is to make a decision about what amount and kind of post-college immigrants staying would be best for the interests of current USA citizens (which might reasonably be close to 0 in some areas of study), and then set the limits and conditions for student visas/admissions to match that goal.
They have something like this, it's called Optional Practical Training (OPT).
It's already incredibly difficult, time-consuming, and expensive to secure an employment-based immigration path. The process takes between 1 to 2 years. In addition, the employer is required to attest (via labor certification) that there are no minimally qualified U.S. workers who can do the same job. The quotas create just decades-long backlogs, and make things even worse for immigrants.
The regulatory red tape for EB immigrant visas is incredible. I've read comments on HN and other forums saying that companies typically spent circa $40,000 to get an EB-2/EB-3 visa. In fact, Congress intentionally made it easier to get H-1B visas for precisely this reason: https://www.cato.org/blog/why-congress-rejected-h-1b-recruit...
You mean EB-2 and EB-3 (Employment Based green cards)?
E-3 is a US work visa for Australian citizens only, almost identical to H1-B but with a separate cap. It was a thank you to Australia from the Bush Administration for helping in the Iraq war.
That said, I think a permissive immigration policy is in our intrests, but H-1B is a poor basis for such a policy.
F1 students are not American citizens and are not entitled to an immigration pathway through employment.
They are on a student visa with the right to study at an American university.
I can only convey that the current system is shady and is rife with abuse. Reform is necessary, preferably nonpartisan.
American citizens would be entitled to an immigration pathway?
Suggesting that the existing H-1B system is broken and in need of reform isn't necessarily a call for less skilled immigration. My two biggest complaints about it are actually both pro-immigration.
First, I think what was meant as a way to integrate skilled immigrants into the economy has been transformed into a way to marginalize many visa-holders into non-standard consulting work.
Second, I think the H-1B system has created a distorted market which hurts both visa holders and domestic workers by creating a labor pool which is basically unable to bargain. Tying someone's immigration status to the actions of a single employer makes even basic negotiations like "this work environment is terrible" or "I'm underpaid for the work I'm doing" untentable, since the employer has an irrefutable lever over the employee. That's terrible for visa-holders working at inappropriate wages or under unpleasant or unsafe conditions. It's also bad news for domestic workers, who rightly complain that they're not just competing against international labor but handicapped-by-law labor. In an industry which has already seen one major wage-fixing conspiracy, I think it's understandable that there's some nervousness about employers using the law to create an artificial boundary on labor prices.
I'd like to see skilled immigration massively expanded, and I think part of that process is reforming the H-1B system. Many companies use the system quite reasonably, but others are specifically using it to avoid treating American or international workers fairly.
That's true, there are a lot of consulting firms like Tata/Infosys/Wipro that use up a large chunk of the available H-1B visas. They only pay their workers like $80,000 on average, and almost never sponsor a green card. The other thing is that a big chunk (like >50%) of the people at these firms are on visas. I'd like to see a solution that limits that sort of use, and instead provides visas to more legitimate companies, without making it impossible for immigrant students to stay in the country.
One possible solution might be to require higher wages if more than 20% of the employees are on visas. At most of the companies I worked, at least 80% of my coworkers were Americans. But at the same time, I've heard that a high percentage of developers Facebook and Google are on visas. Simply requiring that companies higher wages if more than like 20% of their workforce are on visas, would end the use by consulting firms that are heavily staffed by H-1B workers. It also would not completely shut the door on immigrant students looking for a job after they graduate.
> Tying someone's immigration status to the actions of a single employer makes even basic negotiations like "this work environment is terrible"
This is a misconception. I can change jobs to any employer that is willing to do an H-1B visa transfer. Of course, it reduces the set of companies I can work for, but in tech, most companies will transfer your visa. Another fact is that, before January 17, 2017, you couldn't have gaps in employment, and had to find a new job while working. But this has been fixed, and now H-1B visa holders can quit freely, and have 60 days to find a new H-1B employer. I've pointed it out here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13452381
In addition, I have been in the exact situation you described -- i.e. "this work environment is terrible". This was before the 60-day rule came into effect, and I actually quit my job anyways. I lost my legal status in the country as a result, but it really wasn't that big of a deal. I just had to do find a new job, fly out of the country, and re-enter, to regain my legal status (and start my new job). I've explained what I did in detail, here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13361827
> to require higher wages if more than 20% of the employees are on visa
This is the sort of change I'd like to see. H-1B should be a stepping-stone to offering citizenship to skilled workers who want it. (Regardless of original intent - it's both practical and moral for the US to do this.) The possibility of creating a perpetual pool of visa contractors is one of my main complaints, and I'd like to see more visa slots opened to companies willing to pay well and sponsor for green cards.
> This is a misconception.
Interesting context, thank you. I knew about the change of employer (I think that's common knowledge?) but I'd heard horror stories of people being told, basically, "shut up or we'll fire you right now and you'll have an employment gap". Or just being fired outright, to show other visa employees how little bargaining power they had.
I didn't know about the 2017 allowance for employment gaps. That's awesome news, and that change specifically is one I've wanted to see for a while.
As for your experience, I'm glad it worked out, but I do consider it a horrible problem with the visa system. Forcing people to leave the country during their application process is stupid (and harmful to anyone short on money), it worsens problems like the recent re-entry ban Trump enacted, and it's a bit delicate with actual legal status; losing legal status here can have consequences almost immediately if someone cares to enforce them.
More broadly, I hate how much of the US visa system involves getting lucky with paperwork, or having an administrator look the other way. I'm glad to know about the 60 day improvement, and I'd love to see further extensions to allow easier green card access or student-to-work rollovers.
I studied here, but never really had to deal with the immigration aspect because I'm here to be with my American wife. However, I vaguely remember that F1 students could work for a very limited amount of time with the F1 visa and work even longer if they studied a STEM field. I guess that's something. But having to hustle like nuts to get above some magical salary boundary is crazy. Especially since that likely would include changing employers since that seems to be the best way to get a raise.
The changes aimed at fixing the abuse of the system by consultant "super companies" are going to affect ppl who finish their studies and get paid a market-level salary at their first gig which in most cases still won't come close to 130K.
These are typically well adjusted folks with drivers licenses, their own apartments/houses/families even (so they need to make more than 5 TCS consultants cramped in a studio apartment) etc. One would think they'd be in the batch of prime candidates for the long-term or even permanent immigration.
Note that during the F-1 visa application, you needed to prove that you had no intent to stay. This is a current requirement for the F-1 visa.
While there are problems with the proposed legislation, at a minimum, it does allow for dual-intent for F-1 visas, and allows for a bridge from F-1 status to legal permanent resident. This means that an F-1 visa petitioner doesn't have to lie on their application, and there is no incentive to use the H1-B program in a way it wasn't intended.
This small piece, seems like a attempt at solving this student-to-resident pathway issues.
This line along with the rest of the comment is completely written out of context. I have no idea how your reply is relevant.
That being said, as someone in a similar boat (graduated from a US college, lived in the US for more than half of my life), I strongly believe that there is a need for a reform in US immigration laws. Even though I spent more than half my life in the States, I don't qualify for any programs/paths to pursue permanent residency in the US except for the H1B route.
Clearly the rate of family-based immigration is insane. And the lack of requirements for any kind of skills that would benefit America for relatives is costing America. Outside spouses and minor children, family has no special right to follow immigrants into the USA and privileging unskilled family migrants reduces the chance for a community to assimilate.
That reunification migration program should be regulated and limited severely.
But there is no right for employment based immigration either. There does not need to be a pathway for every single person on Earth to come to America. America is already crowded.
If there's no viable visa category to come to the USA, there are 200 other countries for a person to migrate to. And staying put is a fine option for most migrants as well, though there are exceptions.
The idea that the USA and only the USA is the acceptable destiny for every person is ludicrous and has to stop. We have the highest proportion of foreign born people in hour history already and it's time for a long immigration moratorium to help us absorb the immigrants we have.
Also, family sponsored visas don't come out of the same quota pool as other visas so your statements are functionally irrelevant to this topic.
I've never heard about this. Where did you get it from?
America isn't crowded. America is mostly pretty empty.
This is, I think, the fundamental problem of our immigration system and ultimately tied to the source of the illegal immigration.problem that arises whenever the economic and social climate is relatively good (right now, we've got negative net rate of illegal immigration, because the economic and social climate sucks), and also much of our border security problem.
Our immigration policy seeks to do three main things:
(1) prevent people we absolutely don't want in this country (usually, for safety/security reasons) from coming in for any reason at any time.
(2) Allow people we specifically do want in the country to come in, and
(3) Manage the costs incurred as a result of the total level of immigration.
#1 is pretty straightforward: we prohibit certain people from entry, period, based on certain rules.
#2 and #3 together are served by a complex set of visa categories, with quotas in each category (both global and per country, in each category.) And we treat anyone that doesn't get a slot in the quota.or doesn't fit a preference category exactly like the prohibited individuals in #1.
A better way to address #3 (and to replace some existing categories, like the H-1B) would be to allow either entry- or annual- (possibly both as options) fee-based immigration or annual residency with work status for immigrants above the caps. The fee structure might be different for people eligible for dofferent existing preference categories but "skipping the line", and higher than any of those for non-prohibited immigrants in no preference category. Third parties could sponsor such supernumerary visas, but would have no special status for doing so (other than contract rights, but even then law could limit contract enforcement to recovery of the cost of sponsorship according to the rules applicable to general debts.)
yeah, we know. that's kind of the point.
I have seen H-1Bs get paid less than their American counterparts, for doing the exact same work.
Raising the salary floor on H-1Bs would be good for all employees in the sector, both Americans and those on H-1Bs. (There might be a small drop in the number of jobs, but the quality of life in those jobs will be much better.)
> These people make it seem like employment-based immigration is not as respectable or legitimate, compared to refugee/asylum and family-based immigration.
I can communicate over mail, if that helps.
I hate to break it to you, but those are the exact kind of people that H-1B visas are SUPPOSED to be used for. Not fresh out of college people. Your employer abused the visa program.
Thankfully it has zero chance of passing.
This months old Vanity Fair article gives some insight that Trump feels there is a role for immigration policy to make it easy for foreign students getting good jobs in the U.S. and innovating here; while his senior counselor and strategist thinks there are too many asians in Silicon Valley, and that it risks degrading civil society.
But most any substantial change to immigration policy that isn't national security related, must come from Congress.
The idea that you can have "too many" of any type of person is about an un-american as one can be. Somehow Trump has no problem with 'too many' chubby white supremacists in the white house. Oh right, whites get a pass on everything. Its only non-whites that have to worry about being too high profile or too successful as to not upset whites. Or dating/marrying white women.
This is straight up racism, open and direct from the white house. I'm not sure how anyone is tolerating this and why there isn't more of an uproar.
Not wanting to be inundated with foreigners is a valid political position whether you like it or not.
This is not a man in suite arriving at site via Uber asking polite questions. This is mostly a SWAT team storming through all doors and killing dogs if any an then taking away all your documents, interviewing all employees. In short that is end of business to you.
Remember they will not come alone. They will bring sleuths from all other departments and you will be fined for not having appropriate number of fire extinguishers and for not having a separate bin for dry cells.
You clients will avoid you and your landlord will be upset.
Yes. That is exactly what I want employers thinking when the offer of cheap H1-Bs tempts them. Let's have a lot more on-site enforcement, please.
And a few horror stories in the media would be a great benefit to Americans.
This is what blowback from years of privileged abuse of the law looks like.
Heck, the entire Trump phenomenon is what blowback from extended abuse of elite privilege looks like. It isn't pretty, but the elites refused all other means of curbing their exploitation.
No it wasn't. Typical H1B employer has been following all the laws to the letter, filling a crapton of paperwork and paying a crapton of money to the lawyers for it. And has been paying tons of taxes and creating tons of jobs and amazing things we are all now using. There are a bunch of a-typical abusers, which need to be reined in, but one does not need jackbooted stormtroopers for this, one needs a competent lawyer and an accountant. It's not a fortress of Dr. Evil, it's paperwork.
> no enforcement of the rules in sight anywhere
Nobody argues against enforcement. I argue against enforcement with idiotic overblown supermacho glamour attached. I understand everybody wants to feel like Captain America, but if you look at those movies closely when Captain America gets to business, it usually ends up in a couple of cities leveled to the ground. I'd rather take an accountant, thank you very much. When interdimensional space reptilians attack, we'll be sure to call the Captain then.
> Heck, the entire Trump phenomenon is what blowback from extended abuse
Blowback is usually not something good. That's exactly my point. Enforcement - yes. Going overboard and hurting the cause you try to fix - no.
I smell Schadenfreude here !
Jokes apart the boots on the ground regulatory approach increases compliance cost for everyone even for someone who has employed a potential Turing award winner foreigner.
Probably in exactly the same ways Federal contracts are gamed.
You can move to the US on the TN visa (as long as NAFTA is still valid). I've met programmers from Canada and Mexico who are on the TN visa.
The only benefit of an H-1B over TN is that it is a dual-intent visa, and you are guaranteed to not have "immigrant intent"-related trouble at the border. However, there was a guideline issued by the CBP back in 2008 that stated that a pending employment-based green card application (I-140) would not alone be considered as immigrant intent: https://www.hooyou.com/news/news021709tn.html Quoted:
"A recently published authoritative letter from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency (CBP) addressing the TN nonimmigrant visa category offers new and definite insight on the CBP’s policy for determining immigrant intent. In the letter, dated April 2008, the Executive Director of Admissibility and Passenger Protection Programs details clearly that filing an immigrant petition (I-140) alone is not automatically considered a demonstration of immigrant intent, and aliens with pending I-140s may still be admitted into US with a TN visa."
I don't know if that policy is still in effect, but if it is, then you have nothing to fear, and your employer can apply for your green card. The programmer from Mexico on TN that I knew actually had USCIS approval of his TN status. For TN status, USCIS approval isn't necessary, but it helps avoid problems at the border even further: https://www.tnvisabulletin.com/nafta-tn-blog/2012/4/12/cbp-m...
Why would it affect you?
So again, how do H1-B changes affect a Canadian?
Source: I'm a two-time Canadian > US TN-to-H1B and eventually bailed out of the process by marrying an American.
An H-1B gives you a defined 6 year window with doctrine of dual intent allowing you to pursue a green card, which a TN status does not.
All this on top of worrying about work, relationships, personal health, and always trying to catch up and learn the "fundamental" bits of knowledge required to do my job. Sometimes I feel like I wasn't born with as many cores as others :(
Isn't the compliance enforcement budget zeroed out?
Why's everyone so focused on IT? Everyone can learn how to code, it's not a real science.. Oh it's hacker news :)
Now walk into any major university science department. See who the newly minted PhD students are in biology, chemistry, physics, math ... Most are foreigners. This bill will send them home after they graduate... USA will lose here and other countries win big time on people with great science backgrounds with brains who are willing to work and move the science forward. It will take decades for American educational system to change (if it ever changes) and generate the replacements.
I think that's exactly why people are focusing on IT. The H-1B program is meant to allow companies to hire foreigners with rare skills that are hard to find domestically. In reality it's abused to import cheap labor and undercut average American workers doing common work like building applications or administering systems. There should be no problem continuing to hire PhDs and other foreigners with actual unique skillsets at $130k.
Really? How much should it cost to do common work like building crud applications or administering systems? Right now, (based on all the H1-B, and similar visa holders I know, which is a good amount) it's ~2X the median household income to pay one visa holder to do it.
Don't get me wrong, I'd love to make $200-300K to sling crud apps and keep the lights on in a datacenter.
You're applying your software-dev tainted view of salaries to the sciences - how much do you think a typical PhD-holding research scientist earns?
And it would open the field to American women. When math and science professors can't make a decent living to support a family until after their prime child bearing years, any claims of equal treatment and equal opportunity are nothing but a sham. Science careers today practically demand that women permanently give up any hope of a family just to get on the professor track.
And things are just getting worse. It's time to stop importing foreign science grads.
To me the educational system is clearly broken, most schools in USA are unable to produce quality talent. One of the things that annoyed me was the love of multiple choice tests .. i never encountered one in academia until i came to the USA. What, they tell you the answer when you take the test? Whats the point of the test?
Until USA fixes education system ground up starting from the elementary school to high school to college there will continue to be a need for talent from outside of the country. Until teaching becomes a highly respected and competitive profession (see Japan) - things will not change.
There is a lot of demand for smart well educated people in this country and Since America does not have enough of these people inside (see last election results lol) there will continue to be a flow of brains from the outside of the country.
We said "multiple choice" only to the foreigners and the most uptight profs. They're properly called 'multiple guess' by American students.
If companies are limited to domestic scientists then they'll quite happily move their R&D departments to countries with more relaxed immigration laws. Foreign universities will happily take the best researchers from around the world that are denied work in the US.
We're seeing this in the UK from the Brexit fallout. We were getting the brightest from around Europe working in our research labs. Now that we're going to make it more difficult for them they're probably going to go elsewhere.
The elephant in the room isn't why aren't more universities accepting 'local' students. No department would choose a foreigner over a local. You wanna know why? How much the student is going to cost them. Foreign students never qualify for in-state tuition (well at a state school anyways) and right off the bat are much more expensive to their advisor's budget. Local students can also apply for NSF Graduate Fellowship, and bring in their own funding, something most foreign students can't. Both of these factors make it so that the first preference is to hire local.
That said, in a large number of departments (especially in CS, and other sciences) you see a burgeoning international student population. Why? There just weren't enough decent local applicants to go around and science needs its foot-soldiers.
That's not really true. The basic problem is that while a foreigner can take a US PhD and apply for a fairly prestigious job in their home country, an American with a US PhD gets their career stuck in a rut. Multiple post-docs, for low salaries and long hours, followed by a desperate rush to find a job in a national lab, an industrial lab, or academia. There are hundreds of applicants for each permanent job, and even if you get a permanent job, you're not really guaranteed job-security (tenure). Many "permanent" jobs are even on soft money, which means if you fail to bring in enough grants (and grant rates have fallen dreadfully low in recent years due to Congressional budget cuts), you're a "professor" who can't pay for food or housing.
American academia relies too much on having legions of cheap grad-students to do much of the footwork, and then throwing those "students" out of science entirely when they graduate. It also relies on Congress actually funding the NSF, NIH, NASA, etc. at rates proportional to how much science is being done, which of course nowadays Congress steadfastly refuses to do.
American science careers are in crisis because the career model has become based upon exploitation: getting as much cheap labor out of as many people as possible before throwing them away.
The keys are, above all, good recommendations from respectable academics and some kind of research experience followed by high undergrad grades. A high GRE score can't substitute for any of those.
Of course, the foreigners can manufacture the grades and recommendations with a little cash. Maybe even the research experience. They probably do have to study English to pass the standardized tests: The one that matters for them is the TOEFL.
Wow. Do you have any source for this? I would love to hear one. DO you have ANY idea how difficult it is to get an application accepted at a top tier grad school? Especially if you are an international student? We have to compete against millions of our own country folk at our local examinations, which are way more difficult than the american equivalents. Google IIT-JEE for a starter, and probably try to solve a few sample questions. We work hard to get to where we are and don't expect/feel entitled a job/education just because we are born in a certain country. No one is conspiring to keep local students out, it just happens to be that when graded on a uniform scale (set by the universities themselves (Not every foreign institution's scores are accepted)) the international counterparts are better.
With respect to my credentials and experience, I was a grad student from India in one of the tier one schools and work as an architect in the Big 4. You see a huge international presence here in the big companies frankly because we compete at a completely different scale than what you would like to think. I have interviewed enough people to not judge them based on where they come from or how well they can talk english.
It's much harder in America because it doesn't matter how you do on the examinations. Your fate is decided by personal opinions and relationships and what your local school thinks of you. There is no simple IIT exam or A-level or Baccalaureate or Sooneung where you can just study hard, write a great exam and get admitted.
How we dreamed of the ease foreign students had with their exams! Instead it's a deep dreary slog of obsequiousness, obedience, busy work, group projects, supplication, and being seen but seldom heard. And the results are secret evaluations you're never entitled to see and which are never documented in public.
But that's all for undergrad.
The fact remains that the only exam that matters much in top tier grad admissions for US schools is the TOEFL and that's only for foreigners. Documented research work experience is much more important than any test.
There is no reason why we should send a freshly graduated physics scientist back to Uganda or whatever because he can't find an employer willing to pay him/her some abstract 130k salary straight out of school (which is A LOT OF MONEY).
Again, when I hire - I do it strictly based on skills and experience. If I have to do a bit more paper work to get this talented guy work for us I'll do it - but there is a limit. And at 130k limit a lot of these brains will flow back overseas. It would be a huge mistake for USA to get rid of willing to work just talent like that.
edit: and not all locations in America pay the same amount of salary for tech workers either.
Indeed. The $130k limit should be raised to $310k in SF, NY, DC, LA, and Boston.
And if they don't, that doesn't make the situation any worse. It's impossible to get a H1B VISA right now and they have zero chances to get one, because the quota is ridiculously low and they are all taken by the Indian sweat shops, on top of requiring 1-2 years ahead for the procedure.
My wife worked in biotech. It's very easy to find people with the appropriate undergrad and Master's degrees. It's hard to find someone with a postdoc in exactly what your company does. Unfortunately, the firm wanted to do exactly that: any advancement required going back to academia for a very precise degree/research program. There was no system of internal training or advancement at all, and as a direct result, the firm is (still) chronically understaffed, chronically overworking its employees, and frankly not at all a good place to work.
Thing is, that's your problem as a biotech firm, since the doctoral and postdoctoral job track was never meant to produce workers for industry. You really ought to just take people at an earlier stage of their career, train them for your unique needs, and advance them over the years. While doing so, you should also provide competitive salaries, reasonable hours, and job security.
Oh, and respect for basic safety. None of this "if a chemical fire starts, see if you can put it out before pulling the fire-alarm" crap I've heard about.
Lastly, if we're going to talk xenophobia, why should a firm in the Northeastern United States receive visas to hire a Serbian postdoc (educated in one of Europe's many cheap, publicly-funded university systems!) instead of hiring and training up an undergrad from Nebraska? Are Nebraskans less deserving to "immigrate" to the Northeast than Europeans?
Or are American firms just trying to leech off other countries' public education systems while not paying into making the American system comparably cheap and accessible? How come the undergrad from Nebraska has massive student-loan debt, while the European postdoc has been earning net income since grad school?
This level of open regulatory capture, gaming of the system and not looking out for the interests of the 99% strikes me as dangerous and destabilizing over the long term (but you know that already - that's why Trump won). No one wants a de-stabilized nuclear power.
I'm saying this as a citizen of a country that will certainly get affected by any of these proposed restrictions.
Except if those are not available, or do not want to work for this salary, e.g. because fringe benefits of the position (getting into US, visa being handled by somebody else, etc.) do not apply to them. Or just because they are used to much higher standards of living and demand salary that pays for well located apartment in SF, new Tesla car, etc. while some other people would be OK living with roommates and using public transportation.
> making your colleges more accessible and affordable
I'm not sure how a startup should go about making colleges more accessible and affordable. And why more accessible college necessarily would produce more highly qualified professionals exactly required by this startup and not just more people with college diploma, which means increasingly less as everybody has them now.
> The proposals merely say if you want to hire non Americans, pay more.
That is an import tariff. Tariffs are measures that harm consumers and destroy value, ask any economist.
> not looking out for the interests of the 99%
You are assuming 99% have the same interest. It is not true - it's more likely you ascribe a narrow interest to a lot of people without even trying to consider what their actual interests are.
> No one wants a de-stabilized nuclear power.
That's not even an argument. "I am right because you will lead to a nuclear war". Really?
In such a case, the point of view of your democratically elected representatives & president seems to be that either you should pay more or you should relocate your business to another country where you'll find people working for lower salary.
Your choices therefore are - become politically active & work to change the new policy, figure out ways to game the new policy (which is what led to the mess in the first place) or rethink your business model.
> That is an import tariff. Tariffs are measures that harm consumers and destroy value, ask any economist.
Unfortunately, the social harm that results from ordinary people losing their livelihood or hope of bettering their lives (as opposed to go-getting business-owners) tends to not enter the calculations of academic economists. Politicians of course have always instinctively understood this (Idle hands are a devil's workshop - to give you an idea of how old this is) and that's why they ignore the advice of economists & impose import tariffs in the real world.
If you poke into it, you'll probably find that the "lot" assumption is typically "relative to what other masters and PhDs from universities are paid". So why not hire them instead?
Mind, that might have something to do with middle America having defunded its state university systems, making skilled labor difficult to produce. We live in an economy where gluts of unskilled labor are a very bad thing for productivity, and it's about time state governments got that through their damned heads.
So if foreign students knew the couldn't even get a poorly paid job after graduating, would they go elsewhere? Would this cause a collapse of the university pyramid scheme? Would labs have to start paying real living wages for staff?
Lots less science would get done in the short term. US universities would no longer get the best and the brightest from around the world. The size of departments would plummet. But in a few years the number of graduates wouldn't totally dwarf the number of jobs available. That might not be a bad thing.
All because of some delusional billionaire who is allowed (by us) to play his real life monopoly game.
So the system is so fundamentally broken it needs massive re-engineering. I don't think the trumpists have a clue about how to do it, nor care, but their magic 8-ball approach to reform will have an impact.
(Source: I am on an O-1)
Edit: you can downvote me but it'd be nice to explain why at least. I have a hard time understanding how raising the salary requirement for capped H-1B visas will affect core science PhD students.
Regarding students (PhDs or anyone on F-1 visa), they will get straight path to permanent residence.
Also, F1 visa students provide good enough subsidies and education discounts to American students (both in-state & out-of-state tuition).
A potential solution can be something like a different type of work permits or different requirements for h1b applicants applying after they studied here, something along those lines.
Or maybe the hype is true?
The US still is an 800lbs gorilla, but it got there by making a lot of aggressive globalization, immigration, military, and investment moves. Now we have an administration that is against all those things and is run by a man who has a cult of personality behind him and can do 'not wrong' to his base. We're on a completely new path that, historically, has not ended well for modern economies. Isolationism and protectionism in a globalized economy simply does not work. Ask Hugo Chavez how well his Venezuelan experiment worked.
>We've been drifting in this direction for decades now...
This is untrue. Ignoring Bush's recession, we've been on a non-stop upwards path in almost any metric that matters: gdp, gdp per capita, military power, science publishing, space, tech innovations, environment regulations, social progress, healthcare access, etc. We are hard to beat when managed correctly. The current administration is going against all the things that have given us a leg up over the years. That is something to be concerned about. US supremacy is not a given. Its hard fought and Trump is giving up the global fight for bizarre reasons like trying to bring coal and manufacturing jobs back, neither of which is even feasible considering natural gas/renewable competition and what automation is doing to manufacturing right now.
You mean, ignoring the Second Great Depression that, outside America's richest metro areas, never ended and is still ruining lives right now?
Oh yes, other than the unbearable, unfathomable misery of tens of millions of people, we're doing great!
I'd like to believe that China will be the next nation to drag the rest of the world in the direction of progress, but they have so much standing in their way... USA might come to its senses before they get started...
Whether this restriction makes sense in the first place is a different question, but this does sound like it fits the spirit of the h1-b.
I'd be curious to hear an opposing claim on this as I don't know a great deal about it and wonder if I'm missing something.
I was told early in my career by at least two CEOs that I shouldn't waste my time doing programming (and should join the managerial class) because it would be done overseas or by low cost labor onshore. I do think it's a bummer for those hoping to move/live here from overseas and may slightly reduce US tech industry competitiveness, but it looks to me to be a removal of a capital-favoring wage-surpressing distortionary loophole in our immigration policy that at the end of the day is probably a good thing.
$130k is maybe a little high for seed stage startups but given that we're talking about relocating engineers to the most expensive region in the world, I believe it's fair. And the path from F-1 to Green Card will solve companies taking advantage of people on OPT status, at least partially.
It basically means that the only companies who are gonna be able to hire through H1Bs are the big cos or unicorns.
I agree with you that training is part of the solution, but for niche applications that can be pretty hard, you're talking people who have studied for years. So if you are doing work like that, why wouldn't you set up in a country without such restrictions? E.g. Vancouver.
How about caps on the percentage of H1Bs/L1s in any company (e.g. 15%), and the ability for H1B workers to transfer employers?
How many people that have studied for years to become experts at niche applications are being paid only $60,000 a year - the current minimum for H1B Visas? I would think that getting such an expert is well worth $130,000 a year.
Consider someone who has just finished their PhD in a relevant area. You want to employ them in your startup in e.g. Orlando, where the cost of living is much lower than SF. Maybe 80k is reasonable. But you'll have to pay a 50k premium.
Or you could set up an office in Montreal. And then your tech team will come to Florida for a 3 month code camp every December anyway...
Why? The H1B is supposed to bring in high skilled labor not new grads. If 80K is the going market rate for someone with those skills then you will be able to find someone to do the job for 80K. Artificially suppressing wages is the reason you can't find anyone to do the job for the "reasonable" rate.
A pay spike will draw more people in to the field and allow wages to find their natural level.
There is no guarantee you will be able to find an American with those skills, even for $129k. If there is a long term need, and the industry doesn't move somewhere cheaper, eventually there will be more applicants. I've yet to meet any company who says 'no problem, we'll just delay that project until we can find someone'.
You could have a payroll tax on H1Bs, say 25%, that goes toward funding STEM PhD stipends, and peg their minimum salaries to be greater than the median of comparable American salaries. Though that may create a perverse incentive for companies to pay locals a lot LESS so as to reduce the overall salary bill. Needs some expert modelling...
Then they'll have no problem to get a 130k jobs.
Looks like a good thing. Companies won't be able to pretend that they are fresh inexperienced workers and pay them peanuts.
Hobby projects that A) have no users so stability and usability is unimportant, B) have no one review code, or the results so correctness is unimportant, C) have no requirements to support it after the paper is written, so maintainability is unimportant all add up to shit general skills.
If a PhD has specific expertise you need then great, otherwise expect a mediocre entry level dev with a chip on their shoulder.
You could hire an American citizen with a PhD.
If you can't afford a dedicated specialist you'd pay for a consultancy firm who can lend you the specialist for a short period of time.
If they're hiring fresh grads, it should be an American. There's plenty of them.
Non-compete clauses are unenforceable in California exactly because it's desirable in a macroeconomic sense for employees to spread their skills throughout all the businesses in the economic cluster by osmosis. Bringing back non-competes to deal with a lack of talent (especially when that talent exists, it's just abroad) is regressive.
Companies are just going to focus on remote-only work cultures until Trump forbids outsourcing work overseas altogether.
If an employer won't pay an employee based on market rates, when that employee leaves, they are going to have to pay the next employee they get to replace them at least market rate anyway and on top of that probably 30% more for a recruiters fee, plus the loss productivity while they are looking for a replacement, plus they are losing a person with knowledge of the company.
I read something somewhere.
A software dev manager asked his manager for a training budget for his employees. His manager asked him, what if we spend the money on training and they leave? The software dev manager asked his manager, what if we don't train them and they stay?
It also means that there is an economic incentive at all levels to consider hiring Americans first. Which is the point.
Educational system in usa is broken. THAT should be number one item to address for this administration. Instead they are playing smoke and mirrors game worth us diverting our attention from the real issues.
P.s. it is convenient to have poorly educated constituents - they are much easier to brain wash and control. So chances are education system will not be fixed any time soon.
So Siemens was forced to hire H1-B workers, but if this bill passed they couldn't because of a $130K premium?
Oh, I see, you're conflating manual labor with highly skilled technical work and hoping no one will notice because you wave your hands and shout "the educational system, man, it's broken!"
No matter how good our educational system is, there will be people in the left tail of the Bell curve.
Could of have also been Siemens trying to game the system. Oh look nobody local passed this test we gotta hire foreign workers who work for less money and avoid unions....then they fail to give the test to their foreign workers who might also fail the test.
Startups can't afford to train and develop developers as much as big companies can. It is in the interest of the startups to hire quickly and to hire as close to the profile they want to hire. Not being able to do that might stall progress at the desired pace.
There's a wide enough net in the USA, which is not a small country. It just costs money in wages or time in training. If we did what you're suggesting with everything, we'd have more buoys of the American middle class collapsing other than just tech.
That's a utopia for employers, but it's a dystopia for workers.
Outside the Bay Area, you're probably not going to pay a frontend website programmer $130K on an H1-B. You're not supposed to, though! You can find plenty of that talent already in the country. If you need specific PhD-level STEM skills that you haven't been able to find locally, you're probably not going to mind paying them $130K because they're likely critical to your business, and that would be their market rate anyway.
The unavailability of required talent does not magically make it economically feasible to pay more for that talent. Especially the process of hiring new employees is an expensive and slow process. The vitality of American businesses depends critically on the availability of great talent at a reasonable cost. And 130k seems like a really really huge expense, especially to non-silicon valley businesses.
> You can find plenty of that talent already in the country.
No you cannot. Sure the H1B is abused horse gets beat a lot and sure there is a lot of abuse. But what shouldn't be missed is that the H1B gives American companies access to a market of the best talent in the world, to allow them to hire that talent for themselves.
History has shown how diversity and pluralism, along with dynamic markets have contributed to the blooming of civilizations. It has also shown how jingoism and trade wars have led to their fall.
You could just as easily say that the vitality of American businesses depend on a well paid consumer class. Aka the people we're raising wages for.
> But what shouldn't be missed is that the H1B gives American companies access to a market of the best talent in the world, to allow them to hire that talent for themselves.
It still does unless I'm missing something?
I'm certainly not denying the existence of a problem. I am pointing out the flaw in your reasoning that simply raising the minimum salary will benefit American society (Businesses + Workers). It won't, because it will make them incapable of accessing the best talent at a reasonable rate.
I have also seen it used in incredibly abusive ways. Bumping the minimum salary to $130K would remove the profit motive of using them to undercut the local labor market. Quite frankly, the best talent can command make more than $130K anyway. You think someone's going to pack up their family, move to another continent, and land in a small town in Iowa happy to make $50K?
$50k is still a lot of money, especially to live in Iowa. And to answer your question: yes, there are people who would do that.
Perhaps I was not clear, it is my mistake. I'm not advocating keeping the minimum salary desperately low, or lowering it than what it currently is. 130k seems rather unreasonable though.
If the vitality of American business depends critically on keeping high-skilled labor as cheap as possible, then capitalism is a failure and we should throw it in the trash-heap of history.
H-1B visa does not have such a premise. Green card applications do though - are you confusing the two?
> The regulations define a "specialty occupation" as requiring theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge in a field of human endeavor including but not limited to biotechnology, chemistry, architecture, engineering, mathematics, physical sciences, social sciences, medicine and health, education, law, accounting, business specialties, theology, and the arts, and requiring the attainment of a bachelor's degree or its equivalent as a minimum (with the exception of fashion models, who must be "of distinguished merit and ability"). Likewise, the foreign worker must possess at least a bachelor's degree or its equivalent and state licensure, if required to practice in that field.
"The H-1B program applies to employers seeking to hire nonimmigrant aliens as workers in specialty occupations or as fashion models of distinguished merit and ability. A specialty occupation is one that requires the application of a body of highly specialized knowledge and the attainment of at least a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent. The intent of the H-1B provisions is to help employers who cannot otherwise obtain needed business skills and abilities from the U.S. workforce by authorizing the temporary employment of qualified individuals who are not otherwise authorized to work in the United States."
I think I misunderstood your initial comment. I took "we" to mean the employer; looks like you meant it as the DOL.
Those seed stage startups are going to need more capital! Go back to what valuations in 1989 looked like too.