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New H1-B Visa bill doubles the salary requirements to $130K/yr (indiatimes.com)
537 points by mataug 233 days ago | hide | past | web | 463 comments | favorite



Here is the summary straight from the horses mouth: https://lofgren.house.gov/uploadedfiles/high_skilled_bill_sx...

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.


Thanks for this!

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.


As you said, this seems to penalize the Infosys-type companies, and seems to give favorable treatment to Silicon Valley firms. Given that's her district, this should not be surprising.

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.


EOD, this is just a bill, such bills have been introduced in the past but never saw the light of day, its just that, this time around, this is being introduced under Trump.

All in all, there are some benefits in this bill. Does it say anything about green card backlog? or was my interpretation wrong?


Although a startup might only marginally benefit because a single one would be a significant portion of their employees, right? So it would be over 15% right off the bat if they have fewer than 7 people


I think this 15% rule applies only to companies with more than 50 employees


Note that this bill is completely separate from Trump's possible upcoming executive order which may also affect H1B:

https://www.murthy.com/2017/01/31/possible-executive-order-t...


There are enough unscrupulous actors that will pay 130k on paper and have ways of paying much less in reality. Enforcement and audits will also have to increase correspondingly, and penalties must be severe.


In Australia, 7-11 was paying staff minimum wage then demanding half of it back in cash. Literally mugging their own staff.


A lot of fly in fly out workers too. They make good salaries but have to spend a massive chunk of it "renting" accommodation off their employer.


Since when? Those are (were) real $250k salaries. Accom (a donga) and flights are included. Living in Perth is pretty expensive though, and in fact many live in Bali.


this makes perfect sense. thank you! these sensationalist article titles are very misleading!!!!


And Samsung US. They pay H1B's absolute crap. This would be a good thing for them.



You're including Austin, TX (Semiconductor) in that search. Their CA engineer salaries are much lower. Also, I wonder about that data. I've seen bigger CA databases that have more records and lower salaries. Also, look at what AirBNB pays their H1B's.

http://www.h1bdata.info/index.php?em=SAMSUNG+RESEARCH+AMERIC...

Edit: Sorry, going to retract this. My data is a few years old. It seems like they have started paying market rates.

http://h1bpay.com/salaries?company=samsung+&city=mountain+vi...


> - Startups and small businesses will get 20% of the visas. It'll be interesting to see how this is gamed

Probably the old fashioned way: Tata Startup Services, a wholly owned subsidiary of Tata Consulting Services.


And the hill staffers who wrote the bill will start up a consulting service on how to comply with the small business requirements.


Someone will be using a "startup company name" generator for these wholly owned subsidiaries and be filling out the paperwork for 50 of them all at the same time. No doubt to get a discount on the legal fees.


Breaking news: The name generator is available there https://www.dotomator.com/web20.html


Sounds like automating creating startups and filling out paperwork for H1-Bs is a good idea for a startup.


Is there a simple way to say in legalese "we want startups, but not 1. startups that have large companies as controlling interests at any remove, or 2. startups who exist to serve only one or two large companies"?

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.


Not really, which is why I generally oppose special rules for startups. No way to make sure that it's bona fide startups using them.


I wrote about this earlier:

http://fightthefuture.org/articles/hr-170-will-all-large-com...

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.


But currently they take around 60% of all awarded visas, in the future they will be capped to 20% at most if they went the start up route.


While everyone seems to be focussing on TCS, Infosys etc, the worst abuse of H-1B comes from small staffing firms in US. I foresee them using the 20% set aside for startups.


true that!


Well the "startup" still has to pay roughly 15% (or whatever the number is) more than market rate, so this loophole won't work. They can't just reduce the salary once it's "acquired".

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.


Yep. When money is to be made they need no invitation.


- It takes a "market based" allocation strategy which allows "cash bonuses and similar compensation" to be included. This is a joke.

Honest question, why is this a joke?


It relies on the companies own estimate of the value of those bonuses... but bonuses are discretionary and the value of private company stock can be hard to determine. So you could have a salary of $90k, $10k of healthcare benefits, and $30k worth of "assumed" bonuses in the form of options, restricted shares, etc. which:

a) you're not certain to get anyway (because they're bonuses)

b) might not really be worth $30k


> the value of private company stock can be hard to determine

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?


Well, part of the problem is that even if value is calculated right, there's no adjustment for liquidity. Calculating compensation for H1-B purposes based on 409A is a bit silly if there's no way to cash out. That's made all the more true by the possibility of destroying that value later, for instance by agreeing to a high-multiplier preference in later funding.

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.


You raise a good point about liquidity.

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.


I'm not an expert and 409A valuations are not a joke but the current rules around 409A valuations are there to prevent people valuing them too low to reduce taxes, not too high because - why would you?

Some scenarios: 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.


It is awful when you get hit by this. Modern tax law absolutely wrecks startup founders who are not already rich. It's quite stunning.


It's generally not founders who get screwed by AMT related consequences. Founders should have 83-b'd shares, not vesting options.


You can oy exercise 83b if you have cash on hand in advance. Hence my comment: only wealthy founders tend to get a good deal.

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.


Founders should be receiving shares (not options) before any financing. Fair market value is zero, so an 83b is free.

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.


> Founders should be receiving shares (not options) before any financing. Fair market value is zero, so an 83b is free.

"Fair market value is zero, so an 83b is free." Okkkaayyyy...


Let's say you have $30k in options and you're an H1b. Sometime in the first 4 yrs of work you're fired and you have to go out of US. How likely it is that you will exercise your, especially since you're in a serious life change/upheaval (from moving out of US and closing down anything you might have going on still) and also with an illiquid stock?!


Even if you do get these bonuses, don't you pay taxes on the assumed value?


Employer-provided healthcare is considered compensation, and the "cost" is somewhat determined at will depending on creative accounting.


How is it so? I'd say there are real dollars going to the healthcare providers.


Yup. The fact that compensation is included, is useless. Companies give you unvested shares worth tonnes that take > 4 years to fully vest. The attrition rates are so high, the sweat shops can get away with it.


Startups offer equity, consulting companies don't. That would actually tend to favor startups as the equity they grant drives the "compensation" upwards despite it being monopoly money until the shares actually vest and assuming they're even worth printing at this point.


Absolutely! I completely agree. But what stops the consultancies from doing this without actually ever letting it to fully vest?


Same for the cash bonuses. All the workers might underperform and never see the bonus.


Here's where software people find "loopholes" like they're looking for edge case bugs in code.

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?


That's interesting. So the laws aren't being taken literally?


They are generally not treated as executable code written in English, but rather are interpreted taking into account the facts and circumstances.

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.


Sometimes I wish we could just fine Tata for going against the spirit of the h1b law. If its a large enough fine they might stop their shenanigans.


You dont need to fine Tata, you need to make it not a lottery, reduce restrictions and then let anyone who wants to do it do it.


Tata is just one of MANY similar companies.


Unvested RSUs aren't counted as compensation, at least for tax purposes.


If you get $1,000,000 worth of equity that vests in 100 years, your annual stock compensation is still $10,000.


None of the sweat shops offer equity.


Well, that can change, especially if the "equity" is in a worthless employing subsidiary that never turns a profit or has a liquidity event.


I get the impression that this new bill is like putting lipstick on a pig which is the current system. I was hoping the amendments to the H1-B bill would be one of the silver linings of a Trump presidency, but I guess not anymore.


I've commented on this before, at: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13433540 I'm copying the comment below:

---

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.


One could argue that H-1B is a visa that never was intended to apply for fresh graduates - it's a vehicle for "importing" specialists that USA doesn't have, bringing in unusual expertise that USA can't build locally. Yes, "People from outside who have lots of experience (and skill) and can command a much higher salary upfront" is the exclusive target audience for the intended goals of why the H-1B visa is implemented, and if it's dominated by other people then it's not working as intended.

Likely there should be some path for immigrant students to stay, but H-1B shouldn't be that path.


> 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.


There is a huge range of salary's for recent grads from minimum wage to 200+k/year. So, a minimum salary of say 75k would allow many students to stay but not all students to stay.

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 there where a direct path from student to staying in the US then people would just game that process

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.


"why not let them stay?" has a simple answer that not letting them stay has some benefit to some USA citizens in reducing competition in the workforce. One may argue whether benefits of this 'labor market protectionism' really outweigh the drawbacks in economic competitiveness, but after recent elections this choice has been made and "jobs for Americans instead of immigrants" has become an explicit goal.

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.


Most schools are not very good and have very low admissions criteria. These programs operate as cash cows for the university and students come with the intent to find a US employer to hire them. It's why graduate programs in Computer Science are primarily international students, it's not that they're better it's just that the vast majority of them want a job in the US.


That game is already being played. It's very lucrative for private colleges catering to third world (and second world) kleptocrats that want to plant their children and their dirty cash in the USA.


> Perhaps they should create an exception that allows immigrant student to work for entry-level market wages for a few years after they graduate.

They have something like this, it's called Optional Practical Training (OPT).


Yes, I know about OPT. I was making the general point that if there is going to be reform, we need to make sure that there is some way for immigrant students to stay and work in the country after they graduate. Right now, we've got that through OPT, the 3-year OPT extension for STEM graduates, and the H-1B visa. A few students lose multiple rounds on the H-1B lottery, use up their OPT, and get kicked out. If we're going to reform the system, we should try to not eliminate the pathway that exists, and preferably provide one that's even better.


OPT is only good for 1 year.


The permanent employment based visas (E-2, E-3) should have primacy. Although it is a long process it would be possible to obtain work authorization within the optional practical training period even without the STEM extension if the quota was current. The issue is the employment based quota, especially the per country limits.


Yes, I would like it if they eliminated the quota for the employment-based (EB-2 and EB-3) visas, and created a exemption from labor certification for people who studies in the US.

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...


> E-2, E-3

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.


Yes, that's what I meant.


STEM F-1 students can work under OPT for 3 years. I'd say that's good enough considering the fact that H1B also get issued for 3 years.


H-1B was not setup as a path for graduates to stay in the US. It was intended to allow highly skilled workers in and has been gamed since then to do all kinds of things.

That said, I think a permissive immigration policy is in our intrests, but H-1B is a poor basis for such a policy.


This.

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.


This is true, but on the whole immigrant college graduates are typically a boon to an economy, not a drag. It's in our best interest to keep these people here, rather than shipping them back home.


I don't know the statistics to agree or disagree.

I can only convey that the current system is shady and is rife with abuse. Reform is necessary, preferably nonpartisan.


We do not need more entry level candidates. By allowing the importation of entry level workers you deny graduates the chance to receive training and obtain valuable experience. There's then little incentive for employers to train fresh grads.


[flagged]


We've already asked you to “really, please stop” commenting like this, so we've banned the account.


> F1 students are not American citizens and are not entitled to an immigration pathway through employment

American citizens would be entitled to an immigration pathway?


H-1B is dual intent.


H-1B allows dual intent, but H-1B does not require dual intent.


I'm honestly a bit confused to see this point raised here. I certainly have seen vitriol aimed at H-1B workers, including on HN. Raising minimum salary would be a way to restrict the program, but the comment you're replying to specifically calls that change "lipstick on a pig". I guess 'lipstick' might be an endorsement, but it's fair to say that this bill is about making Americans happier with a still-broken system.

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.


> Firstly, yes, there are a lot of consulting firms

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


> and almost never sponsor a green card

> 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.


The system has been good for you and I don't begrudge that. I'm happy for you. But besides its successes, the current system has fomented a fair bit of abuse of h1bs and suppressed American citizens wages... at least based on what I've seen as a longtime developer (working with h1bs and contractors at times) and job hunter. But it was put in place with the long-broken promise that it would not do that.


People who studied here is a huge untackled problem. I wish there was more movement to make it easier for them (us actually) to stay.

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.


I agree that there should be a different path towards getting a work permit for ppl who studied in the US vs ppl who come over to work off the bat.

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.


I was a student (on an F-1 visa)

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.


> 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.

This line along with the rest of the comment is completely written out of context. I have no idea how your reply is relevant.


While I do agree that the current immigration laws need to change in order to allow for international students with a US college degree to pursue a life in the US, I believe that the original intent/purpose of the H1B was not to provide a way for new grads to stay in the US but rather to attract talented workers from abroad with skillsets that are hard to find in the US.

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.


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

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.


I'd just like to point out the requirement for a family sponsor visa is 5x the poverty rate. At a minimum you currently need to make $100k annual salary.

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'd just like to point out the requirement for a family sponsor visa is 5x the poverty rate. At a minimum you currently need to make $100k annual salary.

I've never heard about this. Where did you get it from?


From the USCIS website. When you file a petition for a family visa one of the forms is the I-864, financial support. Depending on your status you are required to have 3x-5x the poverty line in income or assets. Now, you don't have to do this alone. If you have 3-4 family members willing to apply they use the combined income.


> America is already crowded.

America isn't crowded. America is mostly pretty empty. http://www2.census.gov/geo/pdfs/maps-data/maps/thematic/us_p...


The question isn't how much desert or glacier a country has. It's whether a family can afford a place to live and if you can get where you're going in the city without waiting forever in traffic. America is failing badly at both those essential criteria.


> If you don't qualify for the family-based or refugee route, employment-based immigration is the only viable pathway.

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.)


Parent comment contained none of the "vitriol" you've imputed to it. Perhaps you meant to reply to something else?


I'm pretty sure any negative feelings about H1-Bs are not directed at the workers themselves, but rather the companies that use the program as a form of indentured servitude. That suppresses wages in our industry.


> If you raised wage requirements, you'd basically be not allowing people like me to continue to stay and work in the US

yeah, we know. that's kind of the point.


Americans straight out of undergrad should easily be able to command $105k+ base salary now, plus stock.

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.)


The hard truth is that nobody loves voluntary slaves, and even less of all - their masters.

> These people make it seem like employment-based immigration is not as respectable or legitimate, compared to refugee/asylum and family-based immigration.


If you don't mind me asking, how did you get such an increase over 2.5 years? I find it surprising that $200k is possible 2.5 years out of undergrad. Are there any particular opportunities you made use of?

I can communicate over mail, if that helps.


I can guess that. It mostly comes down to his skill. He is including bonuses. If you interview for a startup in silicon valley or NYC, those figures are not unheard of.


I received multiple discretionary ("spot") bonuses (all cash). My base salary was a lot lower -- which is the only thing the H-1B petition (and LCA) mentions.


Isn't there an OPT for two years in which you can work? That may or may not be enough to get to 130


"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."

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.


This is a proposed bill by California democrat Zoe Lofgren.

Thankfully it has zero chance of passing.


Bloomberg suggests this is going to get upstaged by the administration's proposed changes; but they're not really revealing any details about the draft. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-01-30/trump-s-n...

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. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-01-30/trump-s-n...

But most any substantial change to immigration policy that isn't national security related, must come from Congress.


It looks like you posted the Bloomberg link again the second time, not the Vanity Fair link



>while his senior counselor and strategist thinks there are too many asians in Silicon Valley

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.


I'm tired of this "un-american" nonesense. I remember when it was "un-american" to oppose the Iraq war.

Not wanting to be inundated with foreigners is a valid political position whether you like it or not.


These people aren't "foreigners" they're naturalized citizens. The criticism isn't that there's too many of them, but too many in leadership and wealth positions. That is racism in a nutshell regardless of how you Trump types want to spin it. So Asians can't own businesses or "too many" but whites can own an unlimited amount? Oh ok.


Blatant racism and bigotry is valid? Irish and Italians were once niggers in America too. My view is racist assholes are human, have free speech rights, should not be silenced, but like any cockroach should have light shined on them and their perverted beliefs. Y'all need to read you some John Rawls and learn about the "veil of ignorance" rather than being so fucking ignorant.


I think the shortest fix for the violation part(Corporate/Ed tech loophole and the Implementation/Consultant loophole) is some boots on the ground for DHS to investigate worksites. If there is enough economic incentive vested in any one area, sooner or later people will game it. And the H1B business is very lucrative. Putting in oversight to such a thing is hard without boots on the ground/human resources. AFAIR Visa program is run entirely on applicant fees making to slapstick to a bill even a harder sell given how much congress frowns upon spending.


I think it would be much cheaper and more effective to just auction the the slots (by how much the employer is willing to pay the employee); otherwise, you're just in a quagmire of "is this really a startup for purposes of the exemption", "is this person's role really close enough to Deep Learning Expert", "is this really what similar workers" make, etc -- a hundred loopholes to exploit.


Given what "boots on the ground" typically means for federal agencies (i.e. armed raids), your suggestion makes me twitchy.


You don't need armed raid to audit visa compliance. You need one bespectacled guy with a briefcase. It's true that most of the US law enforcement wants to look like military and tries to use armed troops way out of proportion (I mean, Library of Congress and Department of Education have their owned armed response units, because regular police isn't tough enough to deal with education issues anymore, apparently) - but I hope it's possible to avoid going full Steven Seagal in this case.


You're right that it would be possible with something akin to a health department visit, but need rarely has anything to do with armed raids.


> DHS to investigate worksites

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.


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.

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.


No it won't. It's not fun to live in a country where only way to make people to follow the law is to have armed raids that kills their dogs and destroys their homes. That should be exception reserved to dangerous violent criminals, not the first resort when some paper lacks proper signature.


That's nice. The typical H1-B employer has been breaking the law and ruining prospect for American families for decades and there's no enforcement of the rules in sight anywhere. At this point, we'll take whatever means of enforcement we can get.

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.


> The typical H1-B employer has been breaking the law and ruining prospect for American families for decades

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.


Even a kick-ass ex-Googler is not worth it. Heck, I will divorce my wife if she opens up my house for potential DHS raids.

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.


Thanks for pointing these things out... I've been saying for a few years now, that H1Bs should have a salary floor of 8-12x minimum wage, or the top 10-15% income bracket... given that it's supposed to be for specialized technical skills that aren't able to be found domestically.


^This. Thanks for taking the time to dig through the legislation. I wish news articles were this critical.


> Startups and small businesses will get 20% of the visas. It'll be interesting to see how this is gamed

Probably in exactly the same ways Federal contracts are gamed.


I grant you this is in fact not the perfect reform bill, the question is, is it better than the current situation? To me it looks like it's at least somewhat better, so as a Canadian who may want to move to the US at some point, I'm hoping it passes.


> as a Canadian who may want to move to the US

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.


Definitely aware of this, however the TN visa doesn't have a path to a green card. A common strategy for Canadians is to come in on a TN visa and then repeatedly apply for an H1-B and hope to win the lottery while you are there. It basically just allows you to start work immediately instead of having to wait for an H1-B.


Actually, green card applications are completely separate from whatever visa (TN or H-1B) you have. The H-1B does not give you a path to the green card.

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...


I know a few people who went TN to green card, and I myself went E-3 (a non-immigrant visa) to green card. It made the process more convoluted and risky but in my mind was way better than playing the H1-B lottery.


> so as a Canadian who may want to move to the US at some point, I'm hoping it passes.

Why would it affect you?


You quote the part that explains it. It looks like it might affect him as someone who might move to the US at some point. It might affect him. Large, successful insurance companies work on the notion of probability. It does bear taking into account.


A Canadian would come in under a TN visa which is not a lottery, not H1-B.


No route to permanent residency via the TN visa. With the status of NAFTA up in the air now that Trump's in power, that's potentially a pretty big deal.


There's no real route, no, but you can take the EB Green Card path. You just can't leave the country from the period starting when you file for adjustment of status and ending when you get EAD/AP (otherwise you're never coming back in under TN status again and will likely get banned for a few years :P)


A Canadian could come in under a TN status but it is not a dual-intent status meaning that they could not petition for a green card.


> who may want to move to the US


A Canadian would come in under a TN visa which is not a lottery, not H1-B.

So again, how do H1-B changes affect a Canadian?


A lot of larger companies will switch you to an H1-B at some point since they're trying to put you on a Green Card track (bc of long-run costs? not sure). While you technically can apply for a green card on TN status, since TN is intended for temporary workers, it's frowned upon by DHS and immigration departments at companies know that.

Source: I'm a two-time Canadian > US TN-to-H1B and eventually bailed out of the process by marrying an American.


TN can be extended indefinitely, so if you're being pressured to change to a H1-B you might want to ask why until you get a direct and specific answer.


TNs could be renewed indefinitely, however they're specifically meant to be temporary so you can only renew them if you continue to convince the adjudicating officer that you do not intend to renew them indefinitely. This may become a challenge a decade or two in. They are explicitly not a replacement for a green card. They can also be revoked at each border crossing.

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.


So you can get a green card and thus aren't tied to the company?


because it opens up the options to sponsor you for a green card.


Curious, was the marriage specifically for the purpose of getting out of that rat race?


Nope, just got lucky. :)


Hope I run into the same sort of luck eventually. Sucks having to worry about whether I'll still be in the country when trying to plan for the years to come.

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 :(


He may be looking to pursue a green card which is not possible with TN status.


Thank you. Good points. Is anybody working on a better bill?


>attestations regarding recruitment

Isn't the compliance enforcement budget zeroed out?


Thank for the summary and link. I was about to have a heart attack.


Whoever is working on the bill is disconnected from reality and the damage it is doing long term here.

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.


> Why's everyone so focused on IT? Everyone can learn how to code, it's not a real science.

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.


> In reality it's abused to import cheap labor and undercut average American workers doing common work like building applications or administering systems.

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.


That's the point. It's to discourage employers from using H1-B visas to hire people to make CRUD apps and instead hire domestically.


I think companies will just outsource crud jobs. There's enough talent outside the US. Until now, they were being brought in with H1b. Now they'll just do if from across the world.


> There should be no problem continuing to hire PhDs and other foreigners with actual unique skillsets at $130k.

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?


Scientists used to make a good living in the USA. Now the market is flooded with cheap foreigners and science is a road to poverty. Ending the employment of cheap foreigners, including as TAs and RAs, would go a long way to making science a respectable profession again.

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.


In grad school i was one of those TAs teaching science to 1st/2nd year university kids. Let me tell you, i was horrified and could not believe these kids paid $50k/year to attend these essentially "baby sitting" classes with high school level information.. at most. 95% kids knew nothing IMO and were planning to go to med schools, i pissed off many of them (as i later discovered) by not giving them anything higher than a C (honestly they deserved to fail). They thought i was too hard one them, but all i was looking for is understanding of the subject and they clearly had very over the surface level of understanding .. Where i come from they would not even be able to enter the university at all...

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.


One of the things that annoyed me was the love of multiple choice tests

We said "multiple choice" only to the foreigners and the most uptight profs. They're properly called 'multiple guess' by American students.


No, we Americans call them "multiple-choice tests" too. And they're bullshit.


Foreign science grads are what is driving the US as a leader in R&D. Look at the post-docs at labs in MIT, look at the US Nobel prize winners - the majority of them are immigrants

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 no one seems to talk about is: Why are universities not accepting more "local" grad students? In my experience, it was the standardized tests. I was completing an undergrad in math while attempting to the GRE. Meanwhile I heard stories of students in other countries essentially focusing on the GRE as their undergrad equivalents weren't as time consuming/rigorous.


Trust me the people who spent all their time focused on the GRE don't make it to decent grad programs.

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 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.


In my experience, standardized tests play almost no role in STEM grad school admissions. Why would a math department care about your score on a vocabulary test like the GRE, as long as you speak fluent English?

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.


> 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.


We have to compete against millions of our own country folk at our local examinations, which are way more difficult than the american equivalents.

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.


If you want to go to grad school and you spend more than like maybe two weekends studying for the general GRE, maybe you should consider other options. (The subject GREs are another can of worms entirely)


The abuse of h1b program by IT firms is the issue that has to be separated out and resolved on its own.

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.


I don't see any reason why h1b visa holders shouldn't have a high bar to reach. The whole point of the program is to bring the best of the best, not the average or mediocre, which could likely be filled by an American somewhere.


People seem to be missing his core point - 130k is absurd money for most industries, aside from Tech and Finance.

edit: and not all locations in America pay the same amount of salary for tech workers either.


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.


130k salary is absurdly high amount of money for people outside of IT and finance. Stop living in a bubble. It will price out a lot of talent that will be forced to leave the country. Wich is a huge mistake for American society.


If that talent is really that much difficult to find locally, they'll pay it, don't worry.

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.


I disagree that it would be a huge mistake. American wages are stagnant, and lowering the labor pool will raise demand for workers.


While yes, that newly minted physicist shouldn't be sent back upon receiving her diploma, the H-1B visa is NOT the program that's supposed to keep her here.


There aren't a ton of job for PHds in chemistry, biology, chemist, math etc. They end up working at hedge funds or web developers or things not necessarily related to their PHd. Look at big pharama and see how much they spend on R&D or basic research. Its a very small percentage of revenues.


You are clearly outside of the field. There are tons of jobs in the biotech industry for qualified graduates. The issue is finding people with appropriate scientific and industry backgrounds. This is why h1bs are hired. I don't care what color you are and where you come from. If you know your stuff I will hire you.


I do know something about the industry. A couple a of years ago Merk had a massive layoff. Basically there mission was to get rid of R&D because R&D wasn't cost effective. They would much rather just buy up startups when a drug looked promising. I think most of the other big pharmas are doing the same. I have friends who are phds doing stuff that a tech could do. Look at how many BMEs with BS degrees are getting jobs. A lot of these jobs don't need a phd.


Who do you think is driving a lot of the research work at the biotech start ups that the Merc and others are buying up?


Biotech products are seen as harder to copy (me too drugs), require an expensive-to-validate pipeline (like vaccines), and look very attractive as a novel mechanism of action (as compared to traditional small molecule drugs). Most pharmas are inexpert in large bio-molecule mechanisms and drug design, and the fact that small molecule high-throughput-screening infrastructure cannot compete in that space makes it attractive as a game changer. (Since HTS has not shown the ROI that was hoped.) Many also see RNA-based or immune-based therapies as the next revolution in drugs.


I don't know that much about biotech startups. Maybe you can tell me who pays for them?


Rich guys, speculators, VCs


Independent investment? Is this a trick question?


the scientists that got laid off, and then found funding elsewhere.


>The issue is finding people with appropriate scientific and industry backgrounds.

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?


if there's really a scarcity, then there shouldn't be a problem paying higher wages as these bills require right - especially given how huge money-spinners successful drug molecules can be.


You seem to be assuming that salaries are based only on scarcity. This is of course wrong - they also are based on available budgets. If there's nobody to hire for available money, the result may be not more money offered, but less startups surviving. Startup can be hugely successful - but more likely it would be wasted money. Salary floor means more money wasted, means higher risk, means less startups. Or at least less startups located in the jurisdiction having price floors.


I don't at all assume that and nothing constrains you from hiring your own citizens at lower salaries if they'll accept them or investing in training them, making your colleges more accessible and affordable etc. The proposals merely say if you want to hire non Americans, pay more. If you don't want to invest in training your citizens and also don't want to pay more to hire outsiders, maybe you should relook at your business model or incorporate in another country.

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.


> nothing constrains you from hiring your own citizens at lower salaries

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?


> 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.

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.


Yes, there is a problem paying 130k. For a masters or even phd straight out of school that's a lot. (I'm excluding you living in bubbles like SF).


Even in SF not exactly everybody makes that much. And note that SF is in California, which is a high-tax state. So the cost of $130k salary is much higher than that (and you get to actually keep quite less than that). And SF specifically has long been gunning for levying additional payroll tax on top of that.


Relative to what? There's no such thing as an absolute "that's a lot".

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?


If this was true, salary increases would follow suit. Biotech is not a well-paid industry, especially considering the level of education required. Ergo, we have way more people than we need in this industry already (yes, business owners probably disagree).


"Everyone can learn how to code, it's not a real science." Yes but not everyone who learns to code can get a job coding. Not everyone can get into Google or Facebook just cause they learned to code. The software engineering interviews don't test your ability to code, they test your ability to problem solve w/ data structures & algorithms.


If you live in middle America flyover country it's hard to get any tech job. And the H1-B program is making it a lot harder.


If you think banning access to international talent will make next startup owner to set up shop in Omaha, you are sadly mistaken. It'll be Toronto, or Vancouver.


If you think there won't be people that would try to start businesses in America, you are sadly mistaken.


Of course there would be. There are people trying to start business in Somalia, US is not that bad :) It's just there would be less of them, and when they hit the limitations they'd tend to move to places where such limitations do not exist.


>If you live in middle America flyover country it's hard to get any tech job.

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.


You are exactly right. Single minimum wage doesn't make any sense considering there is such a wide gap between IT and everything else. However keeping minimum wage to the 1989 level hurts H1B IT workers more because many of them literally end up getting just that even if they qualify for far more. I guess the issue is not solvable easily because to create job titles and assign it minimum wage number that is, say, at least 10% more than average current is herculean task in itself.


Your point stands, I just wanted to note that the wage level was established in 1998, not 1989. There is a typo in this article, possibly misread from the bill summary https://lofgren.house.gov/uploadedfiles/high_skilled_bill_sx...


If the demand for other types of workers isn't high enough to warrant that level of pay, why do they need to bring in foreign workers?


Lower pay doesn't mean abundance. For example, professors for mathematics, theoretical physics, geology etc would be low paying job but its also hard to find people with great skills in these areas.


I don't think academic jobs are covered in this. The current system also has exemptions for academic H1-B workers (no lottery).


Also, hard science PhD students are typically hired on J-1 (when they stay in academia/research) or O-1 visas (if they find a relevant position the industry).


After you graduate you have to get h1b to work. Nobody is going to pay straight out of school biologist 130k.


There is no shortage of biologists. Pay and conditions in the life sciences is abysmal. The sausage factory relies on graduates for cheap labour.

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.


Let's hope you are not in a life/death situation later in your life where you get some disease for which treatment could have been available earlier if that foreign student was "allowed" to stay and do the work in the USA...

All because of some delusional billionaire who is allowed (by us) to play his real life monopoly game.


The lack of graduate jobs in biology is one of the reasons why fewer Americans choose to study in the area, and often rapidly leave the field after graduation, usually with a massive student debt. Its extremely hostile to women, a career break is a career end. Its typical of America's decline in STEM fields.

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.


Let's hope we don't see any more of these ridiculous hypothetical, Rube Goldberg karma, curses disguised as well-wishes here on HN. All because Trump trolling has addled our brains to the point we can only perceive our own apocalyptic fever dreams.


Yeah, if only they came to the USA, received an incredible education, and then went back to where they came from and helped that country find or administer treatments for basic diseases that kill people in other countries.


received one of the most expensive educations in the world that effectively requires working in a first-world country to pay off after.


That's something to consider before matriculation. It's just as much a problem for Americans as it is for foreigners, so sympathy might be hard to find...


The difference of course is that if you come to a US university expecting to make US wages afterwards, that's one thing. If you suddenly get sent back to a third-world country, that's a totally different thing. The problem is America has effectively been selling these people a false bill of goods.


Has "America" been selling anything? Other than a few private schools like Boston University who view "international" students as their meal tickets, everyone here is largely indifferent to their presence. Meanwhile there are e.g. Chinese government programs to maximize Chinese study in USA.


As there is a shortage of jobs and overabundance of students, some of these students not being allowed to stay is not going to decrease the amount of people working in research.


But every decision made could have such a consequence. The US is still a more diverse country than most others with bright people everywhere. The universities have only so many space to accommodate students. We have no way to predict the future success of anyone. How can you not say in the same way that admitting a foreign student results in someone else local being denied an education who was "destined" to cure some disease?


You're misunderstanding the immigration system if you think you "need" to be on H-1B. H-1B is just one of many statuses you could get. O-1 is one that is perfectly appropriate for a brilliant PhD.

(Source: I am on an O-1)


A lot of people with core science backgrounds are working on h1b visas today in this country. This bill can really screw up a lot of lives.


I'd argue the situation already has. Untold hollowing out of American kid's futures to save a couple bucks on K-12 education and a bit on wages.


In what sense? Why are they entitled to a PhD?


Again, a lot of these people find positions on J-1, O-1, or cap-exempt H-1 visas.

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.


O-1 is only awarded to an exceptional few.


In theory it should. In practice, I have anecdotal evidence that makes me believe you mostly need a convincing immigration lawyer.


Like any bureaucratic form, you just need to check the requirements boxes. There's spirit and practice. Not a whole lot of them get issued but a lot more than intended, though telling people to abuse an O-1 instead of an H-1B seems to be passing the buck.


You and some other folks seem to be oblivious on how H1-B works and this bill itself. You need to have 12 years of working experience OR bachelors degree OR a mix of both for H1-B eligibility.

Regarding students (PhDs or anyone on F-1 visa), they will get straight path to permanent residence.


At least the pdf file for new H1B visa bill means that there will be new line or new path for F1 visa holders.

Also, F1 visa students provide good enough subsidies and education discounts to American students (both in-state & out-of-state tuition).


There is no straight path for students from F-1 visa to permanent residence.


I would agree with this. These new changes are clearly attempting to address the rampant abuse of the system by the likes of TCS and Infosys and in the process they are affecting other legitimate h1b candidates.

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.


And probably for the best. We kind of need the US to take a back seat for a while. Let it be an inbreeding backwater that it clearly wants to be, the world will breathe easier for it.


We've been drifting in this direction for decades now... if someone else wanted to take the wheel, why haven't they done so already? Sure, Putin wants to be the daddy, but he just doesn't have the industry to get there. Other than him? It's like the rest of the world believes the hype, even more than we do.

Or maybe the hype is true?


China certainly is doing a great job at this and Trump's dismissal of the TPP means China just get a major leg up in its regional ambitions.

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.


>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.

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!


It's fun to pick on W, but it's pure fantasy that his anything has been our main problem. USA was a powerhouse from the late 1930s through the late 60s. Big important things got built and sold and used efficiently. Basically until the Baby Boomers entered the workforce. We've coasted ever since. The military spending you like so much has been more of a drag than a benefit, but perhaps only marginally since we export lots of weapons.

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...


It does appear that that's what we want to be; I question whether the world will be breathing easier once it happens. The tantrums of an insanely weaponized and idiotic civilization bumbling towards irrelevance don't instill in me a sense of calm.


Where else do software engineer get paid close to 130k? Not too many other places.


This makes sense from a distance. Such employees are supposed to be specialists, not hired for the purpose of undercutting wages. I'm not in the bay area, but if you're bringing in a specialist from another country because you can't find one here, this sounds like the sort of wage that person ought to have.

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 think the existing system foments a covert lie-rewarding fear-inducing form of indentured servitude and depresses native nonmanagerial salaries of actual programmers.

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.


Color me surprised, I commented on many related threads recently but this sounds actually pretty good!

$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.


Thing is that the whole of US isn't Silicon Valley or Seattle. Startups in upcoming hubs like Portland and Boulder will suffer(sic) because the salary requirements are too high for them to satisfy given the living costs.

It basically means that the only companies who are gonna be able to hire through H1Bs are the big cos or unicorns.


Companies may have to do something unimaginable and invest in their employees who may not have the exact skill set they need and offer them training or give them time to ramp up....


And yet that delay is antithetical to starting to work in a new area, innovating rapidly, etc. The ability to attract and retain employees from anywhere around the world is a massive advantage, and this sounds like a disincentive program.

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?


"but for niche applications that can be pretty hard, you're talking people who have studied for years."

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.


Agree that 60k is too low. But 130k is too high.

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...


>Consider someone who has just finished their PhD in a relevant area.

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.


Hate to break it to you but someone with a PhD is not a 'new grad', they have often been working in a high pressure job for ~5 years post graduation, usually required to do teaching, assist on their supervisor's research projects (lots of grunt coding), and do research and write a thesis. In this hypothetical, their value comes from having specific expertise on top of general skills.

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...


> Hate to break it to you but someone with a PhD is not a 'new grad'

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.


>supervisor's research projects (lots of grunt coding)

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.


>There is no guarantee you will be able to find an American with those skills, even for $129k.

You could hire an American citizen with a PhD.


Disagree that 130k is too high. Thats 130k total comp. If a startup can afford that kind of payment, then I dont understand how any company requiring a specialist would not.

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.


I have a friend that use to live in Orlando, the cost of living is about the same where I live (a major metropolitan city that's not on the west coast). If I were to join a startup as an software architect - the person whose decisions were going to make or break the company - I would be asking more than 130K. My skills aren't really that "specialized" in the grand scheme of things. If my expertise was going to make or break the company, $130K is not that much to ask.


This is an example of where $130k is too low. It should be $200k for that role in high cost competitive markets, and you would find yourself competing with more skilled applicants who only want $130k. Fixed minimums are just dumb.


>Consider someone who has just finished their PhD in a relevant area.

If they're hiring fresh grads, it should be an American. There's plenty of them.


There are not. By the time you graduate with a masters or PhD you often accomplish a body of research work in a SPECIFIC field, have publications, patents. So yes you are a "fresh" grad but with 5-10 published scientific papers to your name. High tech scientific companies often don't have a luxury of choosing between multiple qualified candidates. Often you have 1-2 qualified applicants ( which takes a long time to find) who are a good fit and often they have foreign backgrounds. Why? I don't know, may be it has something to do with poor American education system? Which noone is interested in fixing it seems.


If they're this incredibly rare then I don't see why paying them 130k is a big deal.


No, not a generic PhD to go be sausage meat at some consultancy factory. Someone with specific skills. Who happens not to be American. There's probably one of them.


Only works if you have enforceable non-compete contracts to prevent your workers from leaving after you trained them, since most employers will pay a premium to get workers who are already trained and the original employer will pretty much never give salary bumps that high year-over-year since it would quickly bankrupt 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.


<blockquote> Only works if you have enforceable non-compete contracts to prevent your workers from leaving after you trained them, since most employers will pay a premium to get workers who are already trained and the original employer will pretty much never give salary bumps that high year-over-year since it would quickly bankrupt them. </blockquote>

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?


Started a company in a college town on the east coast with far lower cost of living than the valley. The existing financial H1B requirements and recently the promises of the new administration made it financially unfeasible to even be able to consider hiring the international students working with us after they graduated. Really unfortunate because they were extremely talented employees and not easily replaced here.


For some reason, people like to ignore the 25,000 infosys H1Bs to talk about a hypothetical startup H1B. Can you please name one of those Boulder or Portland startups? Maybe point me to the "who is hiring" post where they are trying to pay the required wage but nobody wants to work for them?


It basically means that the only companies who are gonna be able to hire through H1Bs are the big cos or unicorns.

It also means that there is an economic incentive at all levels to consider hiring Americans first. Which is the point.


Have you seen the article where Siemens tried hiring people for the new factory...and the majority of American people who showed up to apply couldn't even pass school level tests...?

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.


> Have you seen the article where Siemens tried hiring people for the new factory...and the majority of American people who showed up to apply couldn't even pass school level tests...?

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!"


Yes I saw that. I also saw the part where more people passed the basic test than there were available positions.

No matter how good our educational system is, there will be people in the left tail of the Bell curve.


> Have you seen the article where Siemens tried hiring people for the new factory...and the majority of American people who showed up to apply couldn't even pass school level tests...?

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 in Portland, etc, are trying to arbitrage their low cost of living, which is great, but the fact that the companies in SF, etc can pay more shows that they're providing a greater economic benefit and should probably get the.immigrants that can justify such a salary.


Your assumption is that the startup will have a chance of growing only if it has access to H1B. Why would local talent not be enough for that startup?


That is not my assumption at all. It is about casting a wider net. In an ideal world, the talent a company needs is available instantly and locally. But the world isn't ideal. Sometimes the talent is available instantly but not locally.

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.


That applies to any industry. Might need a specific lawyer today, why not get one from India? Might need another specific doctor, again, why not China?

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.


>In an ideal world, the talent a company needs is available instantly and locally. But the world isn't ideal. Sometimes the talent is available instantly but not locally.

That's a utopia for employers, but it's a dystopia for workers.


I've been working for big companies (Fortune 100) exclusively as a contractor for the last four years. The unspoken expectation has been for me to be able to do the job well enough to produce production quality code without training.


You're absolutely right, and I've said it myself in the past, this heavily favors one kind of companies in a few high CoL areas. You're better off selling ads than trying to cure cancer or solve the energy crisis, and sadly that's not only true when hiring foreign talent.


Nobody is solving the energy crisis by writing a React CRUD app.


Well, I'm fairly sure even Tesla needs CRUD apps.


Well, and given that the premise of H1-B visas is that "we literally couldn't find a local who could do this", I'm OK with that.

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.


There are many loopholes with this logic, although I can see how the "free market will fixit!" philosophy is so common.

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.


> The vitality of American businesses depends critically on the availability of great talent at a reasonable cost.

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'd find that persuasive if I hadn't worked with H1-Bs hired solely because they'd work more cheaply and for longer hours than their local counterparts. The current H1-B program on paper looks great. In practice, in my experience, it seems to be abused all to hell.


Well, if we are going by anecdotes, then all the H1B workers I know have been extremely talented, culturally assimilated, make more than 130k workers. Can you see why we don't rely simply on anecdotes in this forum?

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'm not sure how you're completing misreading what I'm saying. I also work with brilliant H1-B holders that surely make more than $130K and are worth every penny. Each of them have skills that simply aren't available nearby. That's what the system's meant for.

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?


> 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.


>The vitality of American businesses depends critically on the availability of great talent at a reasonable cost.

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.


> Well, and given that the premise of H1-B visas is that "we literally couldn't find a local who could do this", I'm OK with that.

H-1B visa does not have such a premise. Green card applications do though - are you confusing the two?


I think you have that backward. From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H-1B_visa:

> 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.


It says nothing about the availability of these skills locally.


Sigh. Here's the Department of Labor explanation (at https://www.dol.gov/whd/immigration/h1b.htm):

"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."


"The law establishes certain standards in order to protect similarly employed U.S. workers from being adversely affected by the employment of the nonimmigrant workers, as well as to protect the H-1B nonimmigrant workers. Employers must attest to the Department of Labor that they will pay wages to the H-1B nonimmigrant workers that are at least equal to the actual wage paid by the employer to other workers with similar experience and qualifications for the job in question, or the prevailing wage for the occupation in the area of intended employment – whichever is greater."

I think I misunderstood your initial comment. I took "we" to mean the employer; looks like you meant it as the DOL.


> http://www.dollartimes.com/inflation/inflation.php?amount=60...

Those seed stage startups are going to need more capital! Go back to what valuations in 1989 looked like too.

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