Hacker News new | comments | show | ask | jobs | submit login
H-1B visas mainly go to Indian outsourcing firms (economist.com)
421 points by rbanffy 65 days ago | hide | past | web | 444 comments | favorite

I went through the entire comment thread and feel like you guys are missing a lot of the H1B benefits by focusing just on tech and the effect of the Indian consultancies.

Most PhDs, specially in STEM, math, stats, econ, etc. are not American. And almost all of them end up with a H1B visa at some point if they remain in the US.

It might be lottery based if you go to work at any firm, or quota-free if it is in academia/nonprofits/govt, but it's still through H1B.

Now, what happens if you kill the H1B?

1) Applications from qualified foreigners to US PhDs drop a lot, because they know they won't be able to find a US-based job. 2) Every firm that does R&D, from Boeing to Amazon, will lose out on a large pool of very skilled workers, that are very hard to replace (how easy is it to replace a CS PhD working on LIDARs for self driving cars?)

All in all, I don't think critics understand this side of the value of the H1B to the US. Every year, you guys take some of the best engineers and researchers across the world, and move them to very useful roles in the US economy.

Disclaimer: I'm currently in an H1B, and would like to think my work contributes to the US. So reading all this makes me a bit sad (and unwelcome).

Thing is, nobody wants that effect. We want the PhDs. What we do not want it companies that bring in cheap barely-qualified labour for cost-cutting. This hurts the people brought in (they are stuck in bad jobs with bad pay and no way out). This hurts the local workers who cost too much compared to this effectively-slave-labour.

The hard part changing the rules such that PhDs and other productive uses of H1B do not suffer, but the companies exploiting the rules for slave labour do.

I assure you nobody wants to make you feel unwelcome. In fact we are happy to have you here.

"This hurts the people brought in (they are stuck in bad jobs with bad pay and no way out)."


i agree with everything you said except for this part. many of the indian workers are still better off economically than they might otherwise be, even if they are not as well off as their american counterparts.

in any case, we should let every person seeking higher education in the US work indefinitely in this country, not just PhDs. in fact, anyone who wants to work hard should be allowed in. all such workers will accrue a net economic benefit, as the new workers will generate more value than they consume.

the problem with this (playing my own devil's advocate) is that it neglects to account for the status disruption it generates for the incumbent workers. the current H1B visa program happens to account for this by it effectively being indentured servitude, which limits the status of these foreign workers. i don't like this fact, but i believe it's why the H1B visa program is actually palatable in the US.

> many of the indian workers are still better off economically than they might otherwise be

Isn't this obvious? You can be stuck in a job with bad pay and still be better off than if you were in your home country. This is the fundamental condition that was ripe for exploitation.

The solution is to remove any and all incentive and mechanisms for companies to entrap employees and push wages down. I want people who come here to work to enjoy the same salaries we enjoy, and I want them to be able to quickly/easily change jobs when their current employer isn't paying them enough.

I don't know about you, but I'm getting tired of these schemes to exploit bad policy to hire cheap foreign workers. I don't want to live in a country where people associate Mexicans with cheap farm labor and contracting work and Indians with cheap IT workers. This sort of shit seeds to the worst types of prejudices, seeds racist resentment and can leads to drastic/fascist solutions.

Call me an egalitarian sap, but I think we'd all be better off if we didn't have policies that allow companies to profit off of people's prejudices.

> many of the indian workers are still better off economically than they might otherwise be, even if they are not as well off as their american counterparts.

Isn't that exactly the main criticism of current H1B system: driving down salaries and standard of living away from U.S. standards down towards India's?

However better off they are economically they would be even better if companies couldn't exploit their status to pay less. And American counterparts would be better off if they didn't have to compete with lower paid competition. Everyone would be better. Well, except the companies.

> Isn't that exactly the main criticism of current H1B system: driving down salaries and standard of living away from U.S. standards down towards India's?

The issue, of course, is that you can have only one of these 2 things :

1) a global market, easy international travel/living

2) Americans making significantly more than the global average (which I might add is $200/month in actual dollars, $1480 in PPP dollars) (this essentially means you can buy $1480 worth of (cheap) food with it, but only $200 worth of iPads)

Which is going to win here ? There can only be one answer, sadly.

I completely agree that H1B visas drive drives down salaries for US workers. But I cannot see how Indian workers are worse off.

Indian workers are worse off, because they pay the same amount of taxes as an American worker with no salary hikes or promotions. Stuck with the same job for years. No freedom of job portability. Spouses cannot work, always at the edge of relocating based on where the bodyshops deploy them.

The H1B visa is for 6 years temporary stay, but the H1B worker pays for SSN which he have no use of.

well, they are "worse off" compared to their non-H1B counterparts here but are way better off being here as opposed to staying in India, which is why they are here in the first place.

Money isn't everything. Being put through the bodyshops, the stress of making ends meet on those low wages, and not really being able to do things outside work takes it's toll.

All of above is true! H1Bs have to go thru some agony for 5 years or till they get Green Cards. But all of my friends who landed on H1B in 2000 are doing great in 10-15 years now owning multiple homes and many running own businesses. You should also take into account that H1Bs do not carry heavy Student debt like American students do. They get inexpensive education abroad and start working the day they land in USA. They also share accommodation and save money in case they have to go back to home country. I've also worked for a decade with Indian outsourcing companies and understand their business model. As businesses responsible for creating shareholder wealth, they run for profits under current legal framework and even IBM, Accenture, Deloitte, Cap Gemini and other large Multinational consulting firms employ hundreds of thousands of employees in India and bring them to USA on H1B visas in similar business models. H1B reform is important but even more important is to train US students in new technologies. I'm a naturalized US citizen living in San Jose for 17 years. My son is in high school in San Jose and by the time he is ready for college, the 4 year college cost will be $200K. I think that needs to be addressed along with H1B reform. We need to lower entry barrier for US students to get into Science and technology by making college more affordable.

> in any case, we should let every person seeking higher education in the US work indefinitely in this country

This is the discussion that's always missing whenever H1B is discussed anywhere. It always gets hijacked by Indian IT companies abusing the system. Does the administration have a plan on how to deal with students who get their degrees from US universities, who also seek H1Bs to work? If they don't make this distinction and club every applicant together, I can assure you US universities will become extremely unattractive to foreign students. Guess who benefits then? Not the US.

But then Infosys sets up Infosys University and calls all their applicants students

and pay them "Scholarships" if they pass their previous term assignment successfully maintaining the codebase of whoever they're interning for.

There is a F1 and J1 visas for studying (which allows on the job training and some work, at least one year following end of formal study etc). These could easily be extended to answer this - and I believe it should be independent of the H1B itself.

I should've put out a disclaimer in my previous comment, I was an F1 student now working in SV as an H1B. So I've to state my bias. Why do you think it should be independent? F1 students pay a lot of money to study here and I think there should be a fairly easy path to work for a considerable amount of time here. I believe it's mutually beneficial. But I'd love to know alternative views.

I believe his implication was that the F-1 should allow for a post-study work-residence period without the individual having to acquire an H1B or other residency visa. This would constitute an overall relaxation of immigration restrictions, particularly in your case.

If that was the implication, then I agree with it. But this exact discussion is what's missing in the whole H1B debate.

Indeed, I was thinking of extending the 1-year post study work allowance of the f-1 to three, or something along those lines.

One alternative view is that it's good for America to educate the world, give them a positive experience/perspective on the US, then go back to their homelands to improve and run it having said positive American outlook.

Another is that just because you studied here doesn't mean you're actually unique talent -- there are Americans who also need work at the low-to-mid levels whose industries have been displaced and are now jobless.

Obviously there alternative paths to citizenship, and being educated accelerates your prospects. It's not like the H1B or J1 are the only way -- I've known many get the O visa because they actually are unique talent.

Minor detail, but I should note that I haven't talked about path to citizenship at all. I have no opinions on that. Probably because I'm not interested in a citizenship.

As an American, I am much more disposed to policy flexibility for people who want to become American citizens, and much less disposed to policy flexibility for immigrants who just want to get a high US salary for a few years, then take the net proceeds and go home.

The majority wants "immigrants" to go back. The president won an election based on that agenda. I'm not sure who to believe :)

More people didn't vote for Trump than did.

> Guess who benefits then? Not the US.

If demand at US universities goes down, they might just have to reduce prices.

Yeah that would certainly suck for the millions of recent college grads working gig jobs, indebted with tens of thousands of dollars.

Actually the opposite at many public universities. "Out of state" and international students subsidize in state students because they pay far greater tuition.

I have trouble believing students are paying less tuition because there is a greater demand from international students. If anything, the tuition would be higher. That international students are more profitable doesn't change the value of the degree or what everyone else is willing to pay for it.

Foreign students pay full tuition, domestic students rarely do. Simple as that. This applies to public and private schools. Universities deliberately recruit international students for this reason.

I think parent is right, no international students likely means higher tuition for everyone else. If you're in doubt, ask someone who works in admissions, I expect they'll tell you the same thing.

My point is that international students may "subsidize" the university, but in practice this should have very little to do with what the university would charge its students (they are not "subsidizing" the domestic students). Implicit in your assumption is that tuition uses cost-based pricing which I find hard to believe. Admittedly this is all conjecture on my part but I don't find that line of reasoning persuasive.

Students that pay full freight absolutely subsidize those who don't, and a lot of the people who can afford full tuition are foreign.


The recruitment programs for foreign students are way better here (in the Netherlands) with some universities because they get about double from them vs regulars. Though the difference looks even bigger when you take into account that what students pay is not the same as what the University gets.

I think this is even worsened by the fact that foreign students pay directly towards the university and become a primary source of revenue and the 'regular' students money is tertiary (state) or secondary (scholarship) which has conditions and delays attached.

I guess it is probably the same all over the world.

> If anything, the tuition would be higher.

It is higher, but for out-of-state and international students. That's how public universities have been able to offset low in-state tuition and raise more financial aid.

They still need someone to keep the reputation up. The revenue stream has to pass regardless of capability.

At least in the topic of H-1B CS / programmers, a good chunk of them are not paying tuition, but rather working as GTAs and GRAs for stipends and tuition waivers. By and large, tuition does not fund CS departments, research does.

That is only for PhDs. Masters, who comprise a large part of foreign programmers, pay a lot and receive little to no stipends or waivers.

It's not only PhDs. I was a Masters student who worked as a GTA and GRA. The dept head of the CS program I work under now has repeatedly told faculty to focus on hiring more PhDs and fewer masters students.

More than students it would suck for universities, less funding, less infrastructure growth, it would cause a domino effect. If not US then somewhere else, students will figure it out, they are young but it will have a long lasting effect on US. If talented students don't have options out side their home country they will improve the conditions of their home country and cause less brain drain. Especially China and India considering their population.

I think students want to study in US (or are willing to pay to study in US) is because after completing education there, they are eligible to find work there. I dont think students want to spend great sums of money studying overseas, because they dont have options in their own country.

Presumptuous. A lot of students study in the US because their country really doesn't have that level or quality of education accessible. I was perfectly happy salary-wise in my own country, but the institutions of higher education here mainly believed a Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering can't be a good candidate for Masters in Computer Science. I thus had to apply to some good US Universities as they didn't have that problem. After studying there (and yes, I worked there for few years to expose myself to international work culture) I came back to my home country. I know many such people who went to US to study only because they didn't have such quality of education at their respective places. Also, when I worked in the US I don't think I was the 'cheap H-1B labor', I believe I contributed to the company and the US economy as well with my work.

There are a ton of Americans studying medicine in India. Simply because its cheaper. So it goes both ways.

I'm pretty sure these Americans plan on working in America after residency.

Really? I've never heard of people doing that, how many is "a ton" and how realistic is their hope to practice in the US?

A literal metric ton of Americans is about 12 individuals. A short ton is about 11.

I presume that a figurative "ton of Americans" would be many more than that, because it seems like American enrollment in India's medical schools should be more than just 12.

The bars in Bangalore are filled with medical students. There are always a handful of Americans studying with them. I have a few friends who graduated recently and are now back in America doing their residency.

Go check the numbers on how many over seas medical students come back state side and actually end up as medical doctors. Passing the board exam and getting into residency programs is a lot harder these days, since most programs are aware that this is happening.

The context was PhD students.

None of those, at good universities at least, pay for tuition (be it from research grants or TAships). So I would expect the effect on prices to be minimal.

There is a huge pool of international students who join these Universities to take a Masters course, and pay heavy tuition fees. And I have no reason to think they are technically any less than their American counterparts.

I believe US students would benefit, because I think state-sponsored universities are preferring foreign students over in-state students because foreign students pay more tuition than in-state students.

> in any case, we should let every person seeking higher education in the US work indefinitely in this country, not just PhDs. in fact, anyone who wants to work hard should be allowed in. all such workers will accrue a net economic benefit, as the new workers will generate more value than they consume.

A country is more than just an economy of value-producing workers.

yes, absolutely. the kinds of folks that uproot themselves to move to a new country and culture to make a better life also tend to be interesting and add cultural richness as well. =)

I'm an immigrant from Bangladesh. My parents moved here when I was about 5 years old (my dad on an H1-B). I think folks like me, my parents, and other immigrants I know contribute a lot to America. At the same time, America has given us far more than we have given it. It has Americanized us, acculturated us into views and values that are better than what we would have been acculturated into had we stayed in Bangladesh.

Working hard and being smart isn't what makes America great. Bangladeshis are smart and they work incredibly hard, but Bangladesh isn't great. It is the virtue of ordinary American people that makes our society function so well. It's the supermarket employee who goes to work the day after her preferred candidate loses an election instead of participating in a violent strike, or the telephone company worker who doesn't demand a bribe to install your phone line. You threaten to lose that if you allow "anyone who wants to work hard" to move here with no other considerations.

It sounds like you're advocating vetting of immigrants. Was your father vetted before he came?

I too followed a similar path with parents migrating from South Asia.

What seems clear to me is that behaviour is a function of environment.

The same Bangladeshi that needs a bribe to put in the phone line isn't going to be demanding one when he sets it up for you in New Jersey.

(I don't think you even disagree with that)

> It sounds like you're advocating vetting of immigrants.

I'm advocating rate-limiting immigration to a level that allows us to comfortably absorb and Americanize the people coming in.

> What seems clear to me is that behavior is a function of environment.

The "environment" is created by people. If you plop 10 Bangladeshis into New Jersey, they will conform to the environment. If you plop 10,000 Bangladeshis into New Jersey, you will have imported the environment from Bangladesh to New Jersey.

I don't think that's the ax rayiner is grinding here.

> in fact, anyone who wants to work hard should be allowed in.

Do you think other countries should do the same? Do you think it would work out well for all of them?

They're not really stuck by Visa rules though, once they have an H1 they can transfer it without worrying about the cap any time they like to any company in a position to sponsor an H1B. It's definitely not ideal. If there are terms binding them to their employers that should really be addressed. What sucks is they can't go off and found on their own.

> playing my own devil's advocate

That shows a great sense of self awareness, and objective reasoning. I wish more people did that. :)

When looking forward to what could be a good change, it's easy to miss out the importance of the intent of this reform. H-1B system is inefficient, but the intent of the current administration is not to make it efficient but to score the cheap points on nativist sentiment. H-1B reform will not make SV go republican, but anti-immigrant and non-skilled voter base of the president will be pretty happy (especially when there is nothing else to be happy about).

That and given the log of the current administration's initiatives, we can be rest assured that this reform will be as reckless and uninterested in details as possible and will do more harm than good to the US. Or there will be no reform at all.

All these effects are the product of workers being stuck in their jobs through the H1B program. Give H1B workers the same rights as American workers and they will compete on the same terms, getting a competitive salary and not bringing wages down.

If someone's got an H1B, it's because there's demand for the job, unsatisfied by US workers, wether at the original company requesting the visa or in the industry in general. Companies will pay them correctly when foreign workers are free to leave for the competition. And when they do, they're not unfair competition for locals anymore. With equal pay, companies will prioritize US workers over visa hassle.

Also, ban H1B outsourcing.

> All these effects are the product of workers being stuck in their jobs through the H1B program. Give H1B workers the same rights as American workers and they will compete on the same terms, getting a competitive salary and not bringing wages down.

I strongly agree on the general sentiment. But I think you'd continue to need some restrictions, otherwise it'll end up as a means to pay companies to get a US visa. Get visa, switch to a different company with way lower salary, etc. Similarly you could have arrangements where companies move people to cheaper subsidiaries after getting the initial visa.

I presume you'd have to have continuing salary requirements, possibly requiring that the next job's salary is higher than previous ones. That'd have the issue that you could trap somebody by giving a way above market salary, but that seems a fairly remote problem.

> Also, ban H1B outsourcing.

Not sure about that in general. There's plenty of work where it just doesn't make sense to have a full-time employee in a company, but you want somebody available on a regular basis. But it's also quite commonly misused.

> Also, ban H1B outsourcing.

No need to ban it. Just adjust the salary to REAL IT salaries.

From the article:

> The Economist found that between 2012 and 2015 the three biggest Indian outsourcing firms—TCS, Wipro and Infosys—submitted over 150,000 visa applications for positions that paid a median salary of $69,500

Essentially, these Indian firms are wage dumping by paying lower than US market.

If they had to pay 90K+ USD for these H1Bs, the number of applications would drastically reduce.

> What we do not want it companies that bring in cheap barely-qualified labour for cost-cutting.

The alternative at many tech companies (including mine) is to outsource to the cheap overseas labour while they continue to work remotely from their home countries. Still competing against US workers, but no US income tax paid. H1-B's seem like the lesser of two evils for the country. Not having a US visa does not stop said person from working for a US company, in this day and age.

I hear this argument all the time.

If the companies could offshore everything, they would have already done it. If they can't, they can afford to hire Americans for the few onsite employees they've got left.

Otherwise, they should move their whole operation - the executive board and their families, included - to S. India.

No one gets to have their cake and eat it too.

H1Bs are still way more expensive vs offshoring. There's a host of reasons it hasn't been done yet but if it was clearly going to happen it would have long ago. Engineering would have gone the way of manufacturing in this country but instead the opposite is true. I personally think it's because engineering is complex (even CRUD apps) and requires a lot of communication, back and forth etc. There's a lot of nuance that's not easily defined into step by step factory instructions. It's a field where you need to be taught to think first and countries with very weak educational systems cannot compete easily.

India outsourcing doesn't work well from the USA.

Too much time difference (9-12 hours). You never work at the same time, you can't communicate, you can't have any meeting.

>I assure you nobody wants to make you feel unwelcome. In fact we are happy to have you here.

Steve Bannon has explicitly said otherwise, and it's safe to assume he and the President share many of the same opinions, so I would not be too sure about this.

I don't understand why that's hard. One could literally just make a rule giving first priority to PhDs from research 1 universities and setting up a reasonable quota for other smart ppl who may not have a PhD. End of story.


> Now, what happens if you kill the H1B?

Companies all start paying the premium for these most-sought-after and most-specialized technologists, as they should, which then causes more native-born people to pursue these jobs, knowing they won't be arbitrarily undercut by the lottery, and reaping the benefits of a top-dollar US-based education. To me, it's a national investment argument. Does a nation NOT want perfectly capable native citizens to get these lucrative types of jobs, and US-based academic institutions to get the tuition to educate them? No, it wouldn't happen overnight, but we don't have to cut it off all at once, either. The market can, and would, adjust.

My problem is that I see a lot of H1B's doing clerical jobs that don't require anything more than a 12th-grade education. Some even have MS degrees, but they're doing things that, at their most-technical, would take a trade school programming intern to do. I also know several under-employed people, who don't have college degrees, but who would be GREAT at those jobs, but can't get them because of the H1B system. None of this makes sense to me. You think only Ph.D.'s can deal with LIDAR systems? Fine. But dozens of H1B's working around me are doing their jobs without the need for even an Asscociates degree's worth of education. It seems like blatant abuse to get overqualified people on the cheap who can't leave.

Or, they offshore more of it

(which for TCS "Java developer" type of work is just fine and dandy)

> (how easy is it to replace a CS PhD working on LIDARs for self driving cars?)

I have no problem with specializations but how many are in the US doing full stack web or general application development. It seems to me the problem is not surrounding engineers who specialize in a minority field like LIDAR. The problem is when you have a team of 15 engineers building a web application platform and 13 are H1Bs.

Also, don't take this the wrong way because I welcome you and any other H1B with open arms. I do however, personally feel there are a more companies taking advantage of the situation than not.

Curious what you or any other H1B employee feels about this point of view?

> Curious what you or any other H1B employee feels about this point of view?

I'm quite biased, because I failed the H1B lottery. Took me a good while to get a different work visa (and LPR now). So take this with a grain of salt.

From the perspective of somebody working in a niche where I (via companies I work with), would immediately hire anyone qualified in that niche, be it a USian or not, I agree. Trying to hire specialists (abroad, because there none available in the US) and then being unable to get H1Bs for them, is quite frustrating; especially when you see companies/people getting H1Bs in roles with plenty local candidates/low specialization.

PhD in CS at a top university in the US and from India originally. To be honest, from my perspective, the H1B basically doesn't exist (unless I'm working at a university which doesn't have a quota). No way am I gonna gamble on getting lucky with the lottery vs just seeking more stable circumstances outside the US.

H1B success rate isn't that bad. If you got hired at Facebook or some other big tech company, they would figure something out, even if that meant holding in Vancouver or London to qualify for an easier to get transfer visa.

> doing full stack web

Is there really an abundance of really qualified full stack web developers? I met a lot of incompetent US citizens claiming to be full stack devs.

What's your definition of full stack? Anyone that knows a back end language, sql, html and a bit of css and javascript is a full stack web developer.

The going expectation for professional résumés is about honesty and modesty. What you say on that piece of paper should reflect what you would be able to come in the next day and be productive doing.

I interviewed over 15 applicants for just front end development last week and not a single one of all the 6-page résumés from candidates who all apparently have their masters was honest: only 5 even knew what JSON is.

I hear these stories all the time, and yet the value of these degrees seem to hold steady, while experience is often discounted.

Are these graduates? Are they real developers or people that know html, css and photoshop thinking their front end devs? Have they spent their lives in big companies that are still in xml land?

That's all the excuses I can think of. Some of them may be honest, just ignorant.

They generally don't have a clue, or sometimes have had job titles like "Software Engineer" but all they did was basic GUI testing, which is also the case at my company.

Is it possible you aren't offering a wage that attracts talent? You seem to be implying that Indian labor is smarter/more qualified than US labor. In my experience, (hiring in Phoenix) that is simply not the case if you're willing to pay the prevailing wage.

Yeah, this was my first though too. Even outside of the US you see companies wondering why they can't find good local talent, except they're offering wages too low for any qualified applicant to live on. Pay peanuts, you get monkeys (or the extremely desperate/exploited).

I believe that might be part of the problem, but when I joined under this same role I was being fairly compensated, so it might be mixed.

I would have thought JSON was more a back end

That's "JavaScript Object Notation," as in, how to use objects in JS.

one of those things .... most people in the pipeline should know.... since it's a data container format.

I think you need to be able to debug a crash of the web server or kernel. This means C and at least a bit of a clue about assembly.

I suppose it's OK to not be able to debug a hypervisor.

On the other side of things, probably you also ought to be a competent artist and writer.

"a crash of the web server or kernel"

That rules out 99% of people who are successfully doing the work right now.

It rules out 99% of the people successfully doing something which they claim to be "full stack". They might be great at their jobs, but I don't consider them "full stack". Low-level stuff is always part of the stack.

I guess there has been a sort of grade inflation on "full stack". When I go looking in the "Who wants to be hired?" threads for people, my reaction to seeing "full stack" is that the person is almost certainly exaggerating to an extreme. Real "full stack" is super uncommon, but it sounds impressive I guess. It's just not very believable.

I think you're missing the "web developer" part of the full stack. It means you know all tmthe stack required for web development.

Either way, aren't debugging crashes with c/ASM still taught at uni? Or is the idea of using gdb too much these days?

Crash of the web server => read the log and find where you made a typo in the config file

crash of the kernel => google the last error lines (hope you have one)

> I met a lot of incompetent US citizens claiming to be full stack devs.

Does this imply that H1B employee's are guaranteed to be more competent? I don't think it does and also extrapolating your experience to conclude on an entire population of people is hardly justified.

Not at all, I know a number of folks on H-1Bs, L-1s and other visas that are barely able to do their jobs correctly.

I was just sharing an anecdote.

I'm on an H1B too and I don't share your reading of the thread or even the executive order for that matter. I think there is a major hole with the current system. That Infosys and TCS can get away with stuffing applications and snatching so many visas clearly indicates it is an inefficient system. Hopefully, a better system balances academia, startups, entrepreneurs and corporations well. In addition, almost all of H1B is going to IT today. It should be possible for other industries to absorb talent too.

I'll throw my potatoes into the pot:

I don't know of any serious active effort to kill the H1B. I think that would be a disaster for the tech industry as large companies like the ones you mentioned rely on foreign talent.

The only effort I'm aware of is to raise the minimum salary to qualify for an H1B. Right now, the minimum is $60k, which, in the US, is very low for a legitimate programming job. I'm certain that H1B workers at Boeing or Amazon are getting paid more than the minimum right now. However, there do exist shops out there who exploit H1B visas for cheap labor; I've experienced them firsthand. They aren't as uncommon as you might think.

There is talk of raising the minimum to something like $120k. Surely, a PhD trained researcher at Boeing or Amazon is worth at least that. They are probably already getting paid the prevailing wage for their labor, which is a legal requirement of an H1B. In these cases, raising the minimum will not affect them at all.

Recall that the original purpose of the H1B was to fill a demand for high tech, specialist roles. Is there any high tech, specialist role that is only worth $60k these days? I don't think so.

H1B will not be killed. It will be changed. The loophole will be fixed so that Indian outsourcing body shops will not be able to abuse the system. Currently, the vast majority of the H1B visas are hoarded by Indian outsourcing companies such as Tata Consultancy Services, Infosys, Wipro etc. The real highly skilled workers such as US-educated PhD graduates cannot even get one at all. The new system hopefully will keep US-educated graduates and prevent those Indian consulting body shops.

Sorry but it's big business writing the rules. It's not American programmers that have seats in congress. So let me just correct you:

"H1B will not be killed. It will be changed. The loophole will be fixed so that Indian outsourcing body shops will be able to completely flood the market without any restrictions at all. Currently, not all of the H1B visas are hoarded by Indian outsourcing companies such as Tata Consultancy Services, Infosys, Wipro etc, for the purposes of depressing wages in the US.

The real threats to low wages, such as US-educated PhD graduates must never be allowed a visa, unless they sign in blood a contract to work for bread, water and a single bed for at least a decade, after which they'll be required to leave the US. Companies will be allowed to provide bonuses such as a weekly slice of cheese or a bed sheet for software developers, or those who put in more than the customary 252 hours of work per week. The new system hopefully will keep wage depressing suckers and prevent those "educated" upstarts from claiming more of congress' profits".

Even Melania Trump came on H1B to the US.


But H1B abuse needs to stop. It would even help you if there was a proper alternative​.

H-1B3 are specific for fashion models, so it makes sense that she got one, no? https://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/temporary-worker...

The essential problem, as I see it, is that the H-1B is being explicitly used to depress wages for US citizens in the vast majority of cases.

The solution (which we'll never see) is just to de-couple the H1-B from a particular employer. Go on the open market, get a job at market rates, but don't play the indentured servitude game they're forcing you into now. That's all.

There has always been an O-1 visa for super-specialized and talented PHDs.

I came to the US on an H1-B. I work in embedded security (think silicon, PCB level attacks, bootloaders, kernels) which is a field that has, by my best guess, less than a 1000 individuals in it. For whatever reason they are largely European and while there are some that hold PhDs (mostly on the silicon side, some of the attacks there require lots of math) most while barely have finished a bachelors degree (Yours truly included). The US desperately needs these people to secure all the devices you use on a day-to-day basis. They likely do not qualify for O-1's, as their research isn't done in the context of academia and largely done under assumed names for fear of prosecution.

Do we simply not bring these talented people to the US?

I am an American citizen and work in the exact same field. I would describe the field as much larger than you believe it to be (but certainly still rather small) and have lost jobs in this area to H1Bs.

While I'm sure you are exceptionally talented, there's more to the story than "Americans just can't do the job!" The h1b narrative is exactly what you just described. I would say that your company has recruiting issues if you truly can't find qualified Americans to work on embedded security. (Is this a Big 4 company with a crazy hiring bar? That might make sense)

There's always more to the story.

O-1's are not exclusively for academia. You can have extraordinary ability or achievement in many ways. You just need to be able to prove that.

I don't think that anyone is wanting people working on self driving cars to not get a visa. I think the bigger question is if H1Bs are being abused to get cheaper labor for not well skilled positions. Raising the minimum wage for H1B positions is a pretty good way to filter that out.

That's hardly the discussion here... The current administration isn't trying to remove the H1B, but to prevent low-skilled workers from getting the H1B so that these higher degree graduates looking for work can secure a job in the US.

Indian outsourcing firms are notoriously spamming the H1B with low-salary petitions completely offsetting the chances of these post-grads looking for work. What you end up getting is doctors and engineers not being able to work in the US and you have some low level programmer that can't even do their work well without you babysitting through the work they are supposed to be qualified to do.

... on the flipside though you shouldn't be competing for H1Bs with bodyshops which hopefully will be the case once the dust settles, so in the long run (hopefully) the changes that are being proposed will be beneficial to you.

I am glad that you are here, both doing your work, and commenting on HN! Thank you for your contributions, and you are appreciated.

Couldn't they come in on an O1?

Thats what I did.

So the arguments for H1B break down to brain-drain and bringing in talent. Here are some opinions bound to be unpopular on HN.

Brain-drain is a myth. I'm taking an x64 assembler course at an accredited institution right now; the 2 Indian foreign transfer students were worse than the 1 kid in class that literally plays WOW during lecture. They didn't pay attention, they didn't work, they tried to cheat their way through, and eventually dropped. Literally, I have teachers who randomize and change their assignments to catch people like them, and while I'm not going to hang the entire institutions cheating problems on those 2 kids, I will be willing to bet dollars to donuts most of the kids we are getting are rich kids with similar problems.

When I, as an American who's family goes back to before the war for independence, hear of "Rich Foreigners Kids" I think either Russian Mob or some corrupt Russian businessmen, or an Afghani Opium farmer, or some Indian Kshatriya. Call me jerk all you want, but facts are facts. Poor Geniuses from India don't have the resources to come here are foreign transfer students. Recently I had an assignment from my boss to go stalk a Chinese railroad construction company who was putting down roots in the US. Turns out all the people they are hiring state-side are, surprise surprise, Chinese foreign transfer students or people disgruntled with US institutions they want to steal technology from. If poor kids make it into US educational institutions, that is how they get in. Some foreign Government's interest in something in the US. Either way, their background is diametrically opposed to what it is to be American. Being American is not about drawing a nice paycheck; it's fundamentally about fighting for your right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Take a 2nd Generation Mexican down to the gun range sometime, all of a sudden they realize they aren't 2nd class citizens anymore once you explain to them if the cops take your guns and arrest you for your skin color that's a great pay day for you., They understand, intrinsically, because their home country, Mexico, is unbelievably messed up, why firearm ownership is meaningful. If everyone has an AK47, the drug gangs are incentivized to be extraordinarily polite, mass graves do not happen.

You will never, ever get the poor kids who work their way up through their education system or business magnates who persevered without a college degree coming here as transfer students; that is what H1B is for. No Business magnate from Russia is ever going to come to the US to participate in our Ideology; whatever area they are in, they own it lock stock and barrel. The poor kids have to be financed by someone; business magnate or government, pick one. Both of those expect loyalty.

That is what H1B is for. Business managers will argue that they need "IT Geniuses" and honestly, they have zero capability to tell the difference between an entry level "Genius" and a bonafide professional. H1B is not for bringing in entry level people. What it is there for, fundamentally, is when you get the 3rd Reich starting up and they begin burning the Jews, typically, educated people see that coming a-ways off. Economic calamity often leads to political instability; If you're going to get into a war, best to grab as many educated people as possible from that foreign country as you can get. Maybe they get the ideology while they are here, maybe they like it and stay. Who knows. Moving away from your family and friend requires some serious motivation.

Indians by and large do not come here through H1B because India is a horrible hitler-esque dystopia. They do not come here because they urn to be free. They come here to scam, it's an empirical fact, Plain and simple. Let me prove it. Wipro, TaTa, WNS. Whenever Americans are being outsourced, it's one of those companies doing it, it is a scam, it is dishonest, it is asset stripping people's paychecks.

We, like idiots, encourage that scamming blinded by these fantasies about foreigners thinking so highly of of our technology, money, and world power that they want to come here from their whatever shazbot-hole country they come from; it's as if everyone has been infected by the thinking of King George of England. Nowhere anywhere in Mainstream Media, do you ever see anyone quoting an immigrant these days who wants to come here to share in our Ideology. That Ideology is the reason for the economy, capital, and technology and military, and we forget that.

In Summary.

If you're here for the economic incentive, Get the F@##$!@$k out. I don't have time for your kind.

If you're here to be American and contribute, Welcome. We've got a lot of idiots here. Buy them booze and get them hammered. Do that a few times, you'll find friends willing to bury a body with you.

I don't actually understand your comment enough to know how to respond, but I'll try to respond:

> come here to share in our Ideology. That Ideology is the reason for the economy ... If you're here for the economic incentive, Get the F@##$!@$k out ... If you're here to be American and contribute, Welcome

You mean the American Dream of working hard and earning lots of money for doing so? Isn't that the same thing as coming for the "economic incentive" under a capitalist ideology? I'm a Canadian who'd like to emigrate to the US eventually to earn more, following my economic incentive is the same thing as going to the US to work hard, participate, develop technology and engage in mutually beneficial trade to further the nation.

Also, counter-anecdote, I'm a university student and the Indian transfer students I know are just as smart and nice as everyone else and fit in excellently.

Would you support sorting H1-B applications by salary and taking from highest to lowest until the cap is met? That sounds like it would address your concerns about Tata and Wipro.

You are misleading people here. Top CS PHD or other PHDs won't go through H1B; they are most likely going through EB1 which is more efficient. You don't need to wait years to get a green card. Also, people from countries like Australia, Canada, Germany, don't need H1B. Only people from Iran, India, and China need H1B. The better solution, as I talked to variety people and many people suggests, is to raise the salary bar from 60k-ish to 100k-ish, and filter out the unequaled candidates.

Incorrect: people from most all countries do use H1-Bs to work in the US. (Australia is a rare exception, because there's a special visa just for them, thanks to some paid-in-blood Gulf War horse trading.). However, there's a per-country quota, which is why Chinese and Indians have a hard time getting them and most Europeans don't.

Canada is also an exception (TN visa).

How come people from Germany don't need a H1B visa?

FYI: People from Germany, Austria, France, italy, Spain need a H1B.

It's preventing lots of extremely qualified European to join the USA.

I think limiting heavily the use of h1b by body shops make it direct hire only no w2 contractors

I also do not understand why Indian consultancies need to be demonized so much. Their practices might be a bit shady but then as the complexity of law grows the value of pushing the limits of law also goes up.

1. Indian consultancies have provided valuable labor in large quantity to US firms. 2. This has helped US firms remain competitive in the world. From ATT or Bank of America to Toyota and Sears everyone has super large outsourcing centers in India which help them keep costs low for American consumers. 3. Cheap labor with high skills coming to USA is a good thing. It makes the economy get more efficient and grows the size of pie where everyone gets employed. 4. US Tech sector has outperformed all sectors in terms of both growth and employment numbers. Most of the H1Bs goes to tech companies and guess what ? They have the lowest unemployment rate.

There are no job losses because of H1B. If H1B program is completely shut-down US economy would take a pretty bad hit and total number of jobs in USA will go down and more jobs will simply move to India.

I disagree with this post. I am originally from India and used to be on H1. I have worked at companies like LinkedIn and Dropbox - so also know this from the point of view of supposedly highly qualified H1 candidates. I also was in leadership role at a Fortune 15 where we had a big team of low quality contractor on H1 and L1. So kind of have an experience on both the extremes.

The consulting company used to send really low quality candidate. The kind who might not clear high school maths and have some worthless degree from a remote college in India. Then I asked them to get their best people. Their best people were pretty bad. I mean the kind who would get rejected on telephonic screen within 10 minutes. Eventually the model that worked is that I would find great candidates and then this company would bring them on contract (some people prefer working on contract vs full time).

The amount of money waste on such consultancy projects was unbelievable. Companies prefer this because of some tax savings of CapEx vs OpEx. There would be a huge team of people doing near clerical work. I am confident that there are other citizens available who can do that job, at probably an higher cost.

> Companies prefer this because of some tax savings of CapEx vs OpEx.

May be that is where the value of these candidates lies. But hey they are valuable in that sense else no one would have hired them in first place.

"Given that the unemployment rate for college graduates sits at 2.5%, it is fair to say that most native workers displaced by H-1Bs land on their feet."

That's completely ignoring the fact that if you have cheaper workers, you end up being underpaid and/or doing a job you'd rather not be doing. Unemployment rate alone don't tell the whole story, and failing to acknowledge that sounds like poor/partial journalism to me

Average US salary is 45k. Median is 30k. You would think we could train some US persons to do these high skilled jobs. They may like the raise.

The last twenty years have been about deprofessionalization, not professionalization.

Indian universities are terrible but are getting slightly better, US universities have been getting worse over time but are still better.

But the process is about just getting enough numbers - why improve an education system when you can just harvest the small percentage of people who learn despite the poor quality - you only need so many skilled people, after all. The people running this don't care about your average American or Indian but they know there are a lot of Indians.

Training people the usual way costs money and requires an education system where the educators aren't disposable themselves. That's not in the spirit of creating a few highly skilled, energetic, disposable folks who will work 14 hours/day for 10-20 years, squandering their only relatively high salaries until they are replaced by the next batch, with the entire workforce indentured by debt (or visa conditions) despite the poor quality of the education involved.

Indian universities are terrible...

That's a very broad statement. They are so terrible they manage to produce engineers and scientists who then come here and other parts of the world for higher degrees.

Skill engineers and scientists are despite terrible universities, not because of it.

A more accurate statement might be that non top tier universities are terrible?

After doing a little hiring of Indians and working with them I get the impression that the top tier universities are pretty good, but the second tier and below are a lot worse in comparison to similarly ranked institutions in the US.

I initially agreed to your post, but as I reminisced the interviews I took I disagree and I think its the same everywhere. Second tier schools in US are equally bad and students lack practical knowledge. If I were to take an interview without knowing the persons race I don't think I will be able to bucket them into specific countries based on their performance.

Even there, there is selection bias. They admit only most brilliant students, and claims their is best university.

It is not about the salary. Real incentive with H1-B is you get "indenture servants", as long as that incentive is in place the abuse will continue.

To me it appears TCS and Infosys are being made the fall guys to keep the existing system of Indentured servitude in place for another decade or more.

[edit:] Real villain is Microsoft, which has the largest lobbyists machine among the software companies in D.C. to make sure they are able to keep their indenture servants for as many years as possible.

Actually Google spends more on lobbying than Microsoft, and has for a while now.


Google spent almost twice as much as Microsoft in 2015, for example.

It is good that other companies are catching up. But, MSFT got the AWICA and AC-21 acts passed decades ago, which directly resulted in indentured servitude. MSFT lobbyists are the founders and architects of the "indentured servitude".

I'm starting to find the "indentured servitude" thing really pretty irritating. Comparing being a highly paid tech worker with some issues changing jobs to an illegal form of (essentially) slavery is ridiculous.

I also don't really see how either act causes the problems you are describing.

Indentured Servitude is exactly the relationship that exists for many on H1-B. It's not even hyperbole.

This is especially true for people trying to get a green card. The employer can use the green card process to ensure the worker has no career mobility. And this process can take many years.

Interestingly it is NOT Tata/Infosys/WIPRO who are using the green card trick. They don't sponsor green cards. They just rotate people to and from the US and are very upfront about it. It's MSFT, Google, Apple, etc who are using the green card process to indenture their employees.

Indentured servitude was a system where you would enter into a basically unbreakable contract to work in exchange for passage to america (specific case, but general idea). Once you got here the captain of the ship would sell off the contract to whoever and that person basically owned you until it was done. You don't get to quit, they will have someone hunt you down and bring you back. You are not much more than a slave until you finish the contract.

There was good reasons why it was outlawed along with slavery in the 13th amendment.

Having to jump through some hoops to switch jobs, or having to leave the country if you quit/get fired is not nearly the same thing. Not even close.

Getting an I140 takes about a year, and you can transfer it after 180 days. Yes it takes a long time for Indians to get the actual card. That's not a result of companies trying to get you into servitude, it's a result of poor immigration policy and massive demand from India.

> Indentured Servitude is exactly the relationship that exists for many on H1-B. It's not even hyperbole.

It's far from being exactly the same. A H1B is free to break his contract and leave USA at any point, while IS was forced (i.e. hunted down and brought back to the workplace) to fulfill it.

Sure, you can be a highly paid, yet bonded worker. Much different from slavery. MUCH different.

No idea what AWICA is, but AC-21, at least, is good thing for workers, because it allows to move between companies more easily.

disc: Work for Microsoft, run here from real body shop by using AC21 rule

Why is Microsoft villain? Does it provide its H1B employees below market salary? Genuinely asking as I've seen H1B employees at MS paid a huge salary, equal to their citizen counterparts, and also they've been freely jumping companies to get an even bigger pay raise.

As an ex-H1B MSFT employee, there are a few data points I can share.

First, to the best of my knowledge, my salary was not lower than that of my colleagues with citizenship at any point. Nor did I get fewer perks, formally or informally (ability to take days off as and when needed etc).

Second, my H1B status was never used as leverage when talking about raises, amount of time spent at work, and so on. I was never pressured to work more "or else".

Third, Microsoft fully sponsored my green card application, including all direct and indirect filing and legal fees. They were clearly interested in getting me off H1B status as soon as possible.

This is an anecdote. However, all people I know in MS who are or were on H1B have similar experiences. All either have green cards by now, or are in the process of obtaining them, with very few willing exceptions (as in, people who voluntarily decided to not apply, despite all the prodding to do so).

As a manager in MSFT. I can assure you that salaries aren't any different for H1B versus Citizens. I myself had a hard time find great native talents that I ended up hiring quite a few Canadians.

This thread has many comments that either ignore or are unaware of the basic economics of the situation. The contention isn't that H1Bs are paid differently. The argument is that a market with 50k more H1B engineers will result in a lower salary for a U.S. resident with that skill set.

In other words, if people with that skill set were more scarce, compensation would be higher and eventually more U.S. residents would be attracted into to the field.

There may be good points against that contention, but this thread is mostly talking past it.

> The contention isn't that H1Bs are paid differently.

Actually, that is exactly the contention for many. Even if you look at other comments on this story, there are numerous claims that H1Bs are paid less.

Which is true - most H1Bs (the ones employed by "consulting" shops) are indeed paid significantly under the market, because of the leverage their employers have over them making it hard for them to negotiate for better salaries.

Your point is valid, but it's neither the most significant effect of the H1B program, nor the one that's most obviously unfair. More people competing on equal terms is a very different proposition.

Microsoft US citizen employees lost their jobs but first were forced to train their H1B replacements. I know some of these workers that lost their jobs and had to replace their H1B replacements at Microsoft.

Any evidence/article mentioning this?

You still have not answered the question. What has their lobbying done to decrease living standard, and what are they lobbying for, specifically?

Your response is useless in the context of the current conversation.

I disagree with this. Infosys and TCS are the real culprits here. They are bringing extremely bad quality people on low wages to displace American workers. They are the ones abusing the system.

Did you know that any employee at these companies can claim to be a Multi national manager and get a Green Card within six months. That person might not have the qualification to pass high school.

They knowingly bring people with fake degrees. They knowingly break the laws. They claim that people are working at their site while they are really working at the client site. The list goes on and on.

Deal with both of these shitshows on a regular basis. They are exactly this bad. It's almost never worth it in the long run when they come in as opportunities to resell software.

Agreed. Last time US president met the tech CEOs, Nadella lobbied directly to the President about H-1B visas. Let alone all those lobbyists hired by Microsoft in DC. Microsoft alone spent more than $8 Million in lobbying in 2016.

this is happening all over the US with all sorts of companies. I have seen entire departments minus management go this way, its not just a Microsoft phenomenon. BI is the most saturated area in my experience.

MSFT has the biggest lobbying presence in DC and all tech companies follow MSFT's lead.

The history is that during Bill Clinton's Presidency (in the 1990's), there was an attempt to split MSFT up into 3 because of alleged monopolistic behavior. MSFT responded by building up the most formidable lobbying operation DC has ever seen from any Tech company.

After the threat of splitting up MSFT was defeated, they turned their attention to Immigration policy and got passed the AWICA and AC-21 acts which directly resulted in our indentured servitude. MSFT lobbyists are the founders and architects of the "indentured servitude". They have been very unhelpful with any attempts to free people.

Because MSFT has this formidable lobbying infrastructure, in matters of common interest (like H1-B), all Tech companies essentially follow MSFT's lead (or just outsource their immigration lobbying to MSFT).

I'm not sure how you measure "lobbying presence", but Google spends about twice as much as Microsoft per year on lobbying. Facebook and Amazon spend a little more each than Microsoft, but are within about 10% or so.

See: https://www.fool.com/investing/general/2016/02/09/which-tech...

How exactly do either of those acts contribute to current problems?

The point is that these Indian outsourcing firms would hire a white face as a sales person and use them to sell the exact same people on L1 visas (which are temporary work visas; but easy to get) at foreign rates and ship most of the work offshore.

It would cost a little more for the outsourcing firms, sure, but it would be a net drain on the US economy (especially since it would keep real job creating entrepreneurial talent from coming to the US).

> which are temporary work visas; but easy to get

I wouldn't say that the L1 visas are easier to get. The only material differences I've noticed between L1 and H1B visas are

* the first is not lottery based,

* you must have worked for the company in another country for at least a year (time spent in the US while working for the company doesn't count),

* that an L2 holding spouse can have an Employment Authorization Document pretty quickly (instead of H2B visa holders, who can only apply for an EAD fairly late in the process after being in the country for years),

* L1 visa holders cannot change jobs, while H1B visa holders can (as difficult as that process can be).

L1 visas are easier for the company to get, because there is no cap on the number issued. The employee on an L1 is just as qualified as an H1, but less free -- they cannot switch jobs, and if they get fired they must leave the country within 15 (!) days.

I'm just coming up to the end of my L-1A visa.

I can attest that the "leave the country immediately if you lose your job" situation is a very odd thing to have hanging over you every single day.

L-1As are included in the recent USCIS guidance that establishes a 60 day grace period when employment ends.


Look up "Blanket L-1", there is nothing like that for H1.

>That's completely ignoring the fact that if you have cheaper workers, you end up being underpaid and/or doing a job you'd rather not be doing.

It's exactly why I think the H-1B limits might be a bad idea, but equal market pay for the migrant workers is more sensible regulation. (I'm ignoring the obvious cheat, companies can do, i.e: lower the job grade/title and then ask the hire to do the higher work too, but assuming that'll eventually get evened out with cultural assimilation and the hired workers getting upto speed about market rates vs roles vs responsibilities.)

> That's completely ignoring the fact that if you have cheaper workers

Cheaper labor is good just like cheaper raw material. Trump wants American companies to buy expensive American steel instead of cheaper Japanese or Chinese steel of same quality. This is a net loss for American economy and a state sponsored coercive benefit for the American Steel industry.

Personally it is both productive and economically beneficial to hire a SAP experience guy from Infosys instead of an American college kid who needs to be trained and who will leave in 1 year any ways. Of course I would hire the college kid for half the wage but then there is this sense of entitlement.

cheaper labour is good for those who own capital, not the people providing labour.

"Cheaper labor is good"

Not for the vast majority of Americans who's only source of income is selling their labor (physical, creative, intellectual, etc).

Regardless of where these jobs are going, H1-Bs are used for the cheap labor, not the best skills. This system has been abused especially by the financial services corporations.

First hand experience: If you have an open request to hire, you are required to first look to one of the few outsourcing firms we have a contract with. You cannot post the job for external until you have searched for the "best" person within their ranks. The "Best" being somebody super cheap & not qualified, but they assure us that person will learn on the job. I'd rather hire a full time College or High school graduate from the USA at a reasonable cost, train & maybe they will stay for the duration, but I know I'll get great work out of that person, better than the outsourced person.

America is being scammed by the our own American Corporations. I've seen too many people lose their jobs because of outsourcing & they didn't fall back on their feet.

I'd like to see the next Steve Jobs, Bill Gates come out of providing good paying jobs to US Citizens.

Agreed. The current system has been abused by Indian out-sourcing companies such as TCS, Infosys. The vast majority of highly skilled workers cannot get H-1B visas at all.

As abhorrent as the situation is, the body shops are only taking advantage of a legal windfall that American corporate greed has lobbied for. The system has been rigged. You can't completely blame the actors taking advantage of it.

Right, so you are driving along in the middle of now where and come to a red light. You know that the likelihood of a police officer being around is very slim. Do you wait for the light to turn green or do you just go through the red light?

These companies are going through the red light. They are intentional manipulating, gaming, and deceiving in order to make huge profits off their own country people by engaging in nothing more than 21st slavery.

The companies that hire these body shops have the old bait and switch pulled on them. The first initial consultation the A team developers are doing the work. These are ones that are paid on par or higher than their native counterparts. Then the company pulls out team A and sends in the 21st slaves. And you don't think the company that thought they were going to get the A Team developers for the duration of their project instead of just the first month, is because of their greed? That "greedy American corporation" is still paying the 5 million dollar contract. But the body shop, they just walked away with 4.5 million dollars. Who is greedy here?

We are just advocating reform and change. The loophole has been leaking for such a long time. Obama knew the problem a long time ago and did NOT fix it. The middle-class wages have been stagnating for many years. The middle-class families are shrinking. A recent research paper found that H-1B visas have kept down wages by up to 5.1% and employment of US workers by 10.8% between 1994 and 2001. Here is the paper: http://www.nber.org/papers/w23153

"You can't completely blame the actors taking advantage of it."

Why not? Are they not run by adults? Are those adults not capable of taking responsibility for their own actions?

Technically they are legally (and arguably morally) obligated to act in the best interests of the business on behalf of the shareholders who own it. It's up to the govt. and the market to define what falls under "best interests."

I would fail to see how that duty would mean they'd have to do dishonest or immoral things.

American Apparel and Dov Charney tried the hire american model and it was successful until he was forced out.

Well, sort of. American Apparel hired thousands of undocumented workers who were (arguably) not American.

Steve Jobs's dad was a Syrian immigrant.

Edit: Changed country.


Suppose we lived in an America in which if a black person wanted to work in the tech industry they had to get a special license from the federal government called the H-1Black license. Nobody here on HN would then be discussing if companies were abusing the H-1Black system or whether H-1Black workers were being paid less than the going market rate.

A minimally decent person would notice that the obviously correct thing to do would be to remove the requirement that blacks get an H-1Black license before being allowed to work. The ethical intuition that leads to this conclusion, I think, is that one shouldn't be discriminated against based on one's circumstances at birth. Everybody (at least on HN) seems to agree that if an employer is willing to hire me, third parties (i.e. other people who also wanted the same job) shouldn't be allowed to prevent the employer from hiring me just because I was born the wrong race or the wrong gender. But people seem to think that if I were born on the wrong side of the border then its totally fine for third parties to demand preferential treatment.

Can someone explain the logic to me? Why is it not okay to discriminate on the basis of race or gender but okay to discriminate on the basis of citizenship/country of birth? Would it be okay if NYC started requiring people outside New York to obtain a highly scarce license to be able to work in NYC? Could whites start requiring non-whites to obtain a license?

Right, if you assume away the legitimacy of national borders and nations' right to determine admittance and membership, than any immigration restriction whatsoever looks pretty atrocious (including H1Bs).

FWIW, the same assumption would eliminate your ability to object when a foreign army wants to peacefully enter on the pretense of just wanting a better life.

And if you assume away the legitimacy of property rights, you look pretty atrocious turning away the homeless from your property.

I don't think it's hard to see why national and property borders might be not objectionable, but blanket racial job restrictions would be.

I don't give away my right to object when a black army moves into my neighborhood on the pretense of just wanting a better life. And yet I do demand strong evidence that this is a likely scenario before essentially banning black people from my neighborhood.

The correct analogy is not that you're being forced to accept a homeless person into your property. Its that if I want to accept a homeless person into my property, you shouldn't be allowed to prevent me from doing so. Unless you make a convincing case that they're going to invade you. Which I don't think you have.

>I don't give away my right to object when a black army moves into my neighborhood on the pretense of just wanting a better life. And yet I do demand strong evidence that this is a likely scenario before essentially banning black people from my neighborhood.

People moving into your neighborhood to conduct a violent overthrow is not a risk because the national borders have already filtered out people who could draw in a bottomless resources from a foreign power. And you can in fact form neighborhood orgs that restrict who can move there. If anything, you have fewer rights to filter it by race than in an ancap world.

>The correct analogy is not that you're being forced to accept a homeless person into your property. Its that if I want to accept a homeless person into my property, you shouldn't be allowed to prevent me from doing so. Unless you make a convincing case that they're going to invade you. Which I don't think you have.

Sure, admittance to your neighborhood is not admittance to any one person's house. But it is admittance to the public part of it and whoever lets them in. Allowing a foreign army to fill up your country without impediment until their first overt acts is still pretty questionable. But then, once you see why an "immigration policy" against that attack vector is justified, you have to accept the whole regime necessary for trivial permutations of that plan, like rate throttling, a requirement to assimilate, etc.

Other people you live with don't want to accept a homeless person into the home.

And, you are part of a social contract between these other people you live with (e.g. your countrymen) where you can't just override them.

If you had your own country where nobody else lived, where you had no social contract with anyone, it would be fine for you to let anyone in (of course, you wouldn't have a country for long).

Other white people in my neighborhood don't want to accept a black person into the neighborhood. And, I am part of a social contract between these other people I live with (e.g. by fellow neighbors) where I can't just override them.

If you respond by saying that the social contract of the country (which bans discrimination based on race) supercedes the social contract of my neighborhood then I'll say that the social contract of the world supercedes even that.

Except... there is no social contract of the world, and never has been.

You're imagining a global social contract because it makes you feel good. Pure wishful thinking.

In reality, nobody in India or Africa believes they have any responsibility to you in the slightest. They would gladly loot everything you have without the slightest concern for your rights. So it is with perhaps 85% of the world population (e.g. the part outside the West). If they feel themselves to have no responsibility for you whatever, there is no contract, because contracts have two sides.

I'll take the bait.. > Why is it not okay to discriminate on the basis of race or gender but okay to discriminate on the basis of citizenship/country of birth?

Because, a country and it's city, and infrastructure have been built by money spent on by a bunch of people who paid taxes. For a another country, person to come in enjoy the infrastructure, make money and compete with the ones who paid for the infrastructure is unfair by design.

Disclaimer: I'm an Indian working in India.

I am somewhat sympathetic to this argument but only with the following revisions.

An adult foreigner coming to the US has, if anything, better fiscal implications for the US than the children of American citizens since children need are very likely a net fiscal negative for say the first 18 years of their lives. New Americans, whether they are formed by birth, or by immigration enjoy the existing infrastructure without having paid for it.

If you say that American parents have already paid taxes on behalf of their children then I'll say that American employers have already paid taxes on behalf of their foreign employees. I'm fine with having a consistent 'entry fee' for all new Americans as long as said entry fee applies uniformly to both children of Americans and foreigners who wish to immigrate.

People expect their government to protect them from people of other nations in matters of physical and economic security. h1-B workers at Tata etc drive down wages.

Globally, labor isn't scarce. If there were a true global labor pool, wages in USA would be further depressed.

People have no intrinsic right to immigrate into the country of their choice (they do have a right to leave their country if another will take them, however..)

This is funny/ridiculous, after all US and the West was busy shoving Globalization down everyone else's throats just few decades ago and now every wants to reverse Globalization. This should be a case study, which I know won't ever happen!

It's not going to get a case study because it's been extensively studied already.

An easy to understand introduction is to look at the Stolper Samuelson theorem.

This isn't a recent development. It precedes the existence of the United States as a nation. Textiles in the U.K., mill workers. It's been done before.

Protectionism is often just a straight subsidy from whichever society is being protectionist to the members which are being protected.

Or, as people on the Internet are prone to saying: if you can't compete, legislate. If you're somehow losing your job to Infosys, you can't be that good. Real loss for society occurs when a good candidate can't get into the US because Wipro took all the visas.

I did not understand a word you said, the western nations shoved down globalization by force or threats during the start of 2000 and the very same nations are now "banning visas", I guess now they know how it feels. Divine retribution, the circle would be complete if Scotland would breakway from UK.

I was over summarising because I didn't want to write a long comment. It looks like I did a poor job responding as a result and wrote the sort of comment I can't stand.

Anyway, my point was that protectionism and free trade have been fighting a war for centuries. It is not true that this won't be studied. It will and has been. Because it's nothing special and new. This is garden variety protectionism.

Whites expect other whites to protect them from people of other colors in matters of physical and economic security. H-1Black workers drive down white wages.

Blacks have no intrinsic right to move into the white neighborhood of their choice (they do have the right to leave their ghetto if another will take them, however..)

I'll begin with a simple analogy.

Your house is for your family, including children who have never done anything to earn it. Why can't other people come in, eat your food, watch your TV, and sleep in your bed? Why should other people, or other children, not have the same rights to your home as your children do, just because of the circumstances of their birth?


So, you can see that "one shouldn't be discriminated against based on one's circumstances at birth" is not actually a universal principle at all. It's a general goal, but must be tempered by other concerns.

In this it's like honesty - as a general goal, we should try to be honest. But being 100% honest every moment would be foolish and harmful. Morality is more complex than applying simplistic rules without exception.


People have communities which they care about more than other, more distant communities. Your family, then your neighborhood, your city, your province/state, your country, humanity, all of life. You can mix in your tribe (if you have one), language group, class, race, sports team fans, or whatever else you like in there. The point is that an eternal part of human life, since our earliest beginnings, has been to form concentric in-groups with loyalty and concern falling off as you move away from the self.

Why? Since other people are loyal to you the same way, that creates the possibility of a mutual structure - a tight family with strong loyalty in both directions, then a country of people with good mutual loyalty, then a world of humans who care about each other somewhat. We all benefit from this, and it's also sustainable.

If you want to be suicidally moral, you can start treating every human as well as you treat yourself. In some sense, I'd applaud you. But what you're doing won't last and won't have a long-term impact on humanity. You'll rapidly exhaust yourself as you give away your resources while nobody gives anything to you. In the end, your behavior will be wiped out by unstoppable Darwinian forces.

If you want to be sustainably moral, you need to set up loyalty and care that runs reasonably symmetrically across relations, so it can be maintained that way.

Because morality is not absolutes. It is a negotiation between Darwinian principles and our desire to be more than apes, murdering and raping and pumping out as many kids as we can. You cannot ignore either side of this fundamental tension.

I agree than one has greater positive obligations towards one's community, with the degree of obligation decreasing with the size of the community. However, one also has certain negative obligations against strangers. For instance, there is a strong presumption in favor of a stranger's right to not be killed by you. This is just a presumption which can be over-ridden say in self-defense.

Similarly two strangers have the presumptive right to associate with each other (as employer-employee or tenant-landlord). Do you agree that there is such a presumption? If there is, what if your view is the needed to overcome this presumption?

I find very little to disagree with in what you say. All I ask for is a presumption in favor of allowing a willing foreigner to work for a willing employer. And I think that small harms like reduction in wages from say 100k/year to 60k/year is not sufficient to override that presumption especially since for the foreigner, the opportunity to work in the US often translates to a 5-fold increase in their income.

It's actually not legal for a company to discriminate based on citizenship/country of birth: https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/nationalorigin.cfm

However, the US government can decide who is eligible to work in the country, just like it can decide who is eligible for legal residence, citizenship, etc.

Are you seriously asking why it's ethical to encourage American companies to hire Americans?

Yes. And I am looking for an answer that couldn't then be used to argue that it's also ethical to encourage White companies to hire Whites.

And I'm not even asking that you don't "encourage" American companies to hire Americans. I'm simply asking that you don't ban (or make it extremely difficult) American companies who do want to hire non-Americans from doing so.

I'm just trying to wrap my head around the fact that you don't understand the concept of incorporation. In exchange for certain benefits bestowed by the government (limited liability, corporate tax rates, implied protection of physical assets by police, firefighters, armed forces, etc.), a company must follow some policies and laws, one of which could certainly be "hire Americans."

As to your "White company" question, I'm just going to guess that you haven't heard of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution...

Creating a business in America and therefore being a part of the American economy means prioritizing America in your business interests. If you are against that (e.g. willing to undercut American wages by hiring cheaper foreigners), then you should be penalized.

If businesses were free to reap America's rewards without contributing to America's "costs", then America's economy would (continue to) crumble as businesses (continue to) exploit that loophole.

Think of it as a "If you want to use America's resources to thrive, then you should contribute to America's economy" tax.

God is watching--do you honestly see why that policy exists? Or can you still not fathom why the policy is a good idea? Your "white" counterexample is non-nonsensical, primarily because of the Equal Protection clause of the constitution--it has always been illegal/unethical to make a racial distinction...surely this is something you've known since high school gov.

You're completely ignoring the substance of my question. Of course I understand that the US constitution doesn't allow racial discrimination. Surely its the case that racial discrimination is inherently bad and THEREFORE the US constitution prohibits it. Do you really want to hold the position that racial discrimination is bad BECAUSE the US constitution prohibits it?

You seem to ascribe very special moral rights to this particular association of people that we call democratic states. Why is the USG allowed to ban foreigners from coming to the US if they undercut American wages? Is New York State allowed to ban people from NJ from working in NYC by a majority vote (or a super-majority vote)? Again, I'm not asking whether the US constitution allows this - I know that it doesn't. The question is regarding ethics not law.

> Why is the USG allowed to ban foreigners from coming to the US if they undercut American wages?

It's in the interest of a nation to implement rules that boost its economy. Wanting foreigners to prosper over your own countrymen is akin to betraying your country. How is this ethical point even a question?

But wanting blacks to prosper over your fellow whites is surely not akin to betraying your race?

Your argument proves too much. Surely, you agree that its not okay to murder a foreigner if it boosts your country's economy. But you do think its okay to prevent your fellow American from hiring an Indian if it boosts America's economy. Why?

Note that I'm not arguing that you should be required to hire an Indian. I'm just saying that you shouldn't be allowed to prevent Bill Gates from hiring an Indian just because said Indian will do your job for half the money.

In what universe is "race betrayal" not a racist code word? What the fuck.

Do American companies sell only in America? India had a "Be Indian Buy Indian" policy for decades. Look how it turned out.

Within reasonable limits. Being pro American doesn't mean being anti everyone else.

? Needing a work visa is fairly universal thing what does it have to do with discrimination? If US citizen wants to work in EU, Canada, India or whatever other country they too need a work visa.

There's plenty of similar discrimination going on already in trades in professions. Essentially, doctors or unionized skilled workers prefer to give openings in their profession to their kin. With "discrimination" based on nationality it's the same thing, except that you're giving preferential treatment to your fellow Americans. It's not hard to see why given that, as an American, you and most/all of people you care about (family, friends) are likely Americans as well. It's just taking care of people who are important in your life.

(I'm not arguing for or against, because your question is to explain the logic to you)

I believe the logic comes down to the highest constitution you bind yourself to.

By birth we are bound to our country of birth's constitution and once we become an adult we have the ability to renounce that constitution and apply to be bound by another countries constitution.

Jeeze, way to compare apples to oranges. Ultimately this is not a debate of discrimination (which you seem to be trying to shoe-horn into the conversation), it's a debate about exploitation. The argument is about the abuse of a well-intentioned program to exploit workers in other nations that are not protected by systems in the US and are thus, cheaper. I would argue that most people consider H1B-abuse and immigration reform distinct, yet related, discussions. It is possible to oppose the H1B program yet support immigration reform.

Article's concluding sentences: "Reducing the number of visas for TCS and its brethren would probably result in them shifting work to India. A better change would be to end the rule whereby H-1B recipients must stay with the company that sponsored them. For within their ranks may lurk the next Elon Musk or Sergey Brin."

Personally I find this line of thought (cliche?) frustrating. Not just because apparently us proles should be making our policy decisions based merely on whether we just might get to bask in some future billionaire's magnificence, but also because, isn't this a somewhat empirically testable proposition? That is, how many Musk-like or Brin-like individuals have come through TCS or Wipro or Infosys on a H-1B so far?

The H1 visa prohibits all paid work except for the sponsoring employer. This lock-in is precisely what makes these visas lucrative to TCS etc. Removing the lack of mobility will remove a big perverse incentive.

While it is a big incentive for sure, I wouldn't be so quick to dismissive it as the main incentive. A lot of the people who are "indentured servants" (as the people here like to say) are not really the kind of people who would "jump ship". In fact, the selection process is already such that only the really pliant ones are sent to the US.

Which makes me doubt whether this step would make any difference to the problem of H1B abuse. However, it would make a HUGE difference for those who are not abusing the system.

Disclosure: I'm on an H1B visa. Of course I want it to be easier to change employer. Who doesn't? Its like a fundamental right.

> In fact, the selection process is already such that only the really pliant ones are sent to the US. Indian working in India. Can second that. I used to work for the Big Blue in India, it's the yes-guys that got the visa processing approval from managers.

The purpose of the H1B is to allow companies to fill a need the labor market cannot supply. It does not exist for the benefit of the worker. It makes no sense to make these portable.

As a person on H1B I can say that the lock-in is the most frustrating part. I can easily change jobs but I cannot create apps for mobile devices or monetize my website.

Economist is correct that's why it "Triggers" so many people like you, just take a look at electronics industry, if you think that the jobs wont be shipped out to india/China/Canada or reduced due to automation you are living in fantasy land.

By improving portability of H-1B the government can make market fairer and less prone to misuse. Simply banning the visa will just lead to a rush of outsourcing/offshoring draining the economy of secondary benifits.

Sorry guys, but voting his comments down do not change the laws of economics. If someone in Romania can do your job - with the same quality - at 1/10th the price, the market will find a way to move the work there.

In most cases, it really isn't equivalent and the price difference isn't that much for really qualified people, but shutting out lots of talented people might tilt things in that direction.

Except the market already tried that, with pretty poor results.

What exactly do you mean? All the major US tech companies (and plenty of minor ones as well) have huge India offices. If they were delivering "pretty poor results", they wouldn't still be operating.

I can't speak for all major US tech companies, but I can speak for my experience at a major US financial firm, household name, etc. A couple years ago they did the old dump the American devs and move everything to India. I'm the American team lead. The difference, as far as I can tell, is that the time to market for new features has doubled or tripled. This isn't because the Indian devs/QA are lower quality, they're about the same. The cause for all our problems is communication barriers and the time zone problems. All of our customers are in the US. Every single question that goes in either direction takes at least a 24 hour turnaround. God forbid there's some confusion, then there's 2-3 back and forths with a 24-hour turnaround each time until someone decides they're willing to stay up until midnight to have a phone conversation. Not having seen the books I assume this looks a lot better on paper. Where it will hurt is is ten years down the road when our lack of velocity/innovation catches up to us and a more agile competitor eats us alive. If we were in a faster moving market (consumer finance is pretty slow) that ten year timeline would be much faster.

I'm genuinely sorry about your situation. It seems like this is one of those cases in which management couldn't resist the short-term cost savings. I would wager this is a pretty common occurrence and I can see where you're coming from...and I completely agree. In this case its most likely not going to work out in the long term.

It actually doesn't bother me at all. In my younger days I cared a lot more about working on exciting/interesting projects. Now I care most about the fact that I'm 100% telecommute and have 6 weeks of vacation. Others may have had a different experience, but years of consulting have taught me to divorce myself from being emotionally attached to clients. I go in, give them my best advice and work, then go home. If they shoot themselves in the foot, then that's on them.

Working in a (top-50) Fortune 500 company, not tech but in the IT dept: we did outsourcing, CIO and top guys got huge bonuses, now we do in-sourcing to be able to operate. Last CIO recently fired. Entire teams of people based in India, Costa Rica or Manila closed, the skills and productivity are simply not good enough.

If there's enough disparity in pay for equivalent quality (something that is not quite as easy to get right), it'll keep trying.

What irks me is a lot of companies are already doing this and think it's the same quality--only finding out years down the road with their big ball of mud...

Part of capitalism is the freedom to do stupid stuff that ultimately hurts the company. It's part of how smarter companies are supposed to get ahead.

I wouldn't be surprised if a good developer in Romania makes $40k a year (net salary) which is equivalent of $70k ($130k gross) in SF? The market is working.

In a completely friction-free market, if their work is completely equivalent (including the PITA of having them remote) then they're salary would be bid up to the US level.

No, it does not; in socialist Romania the tax is more than 60%, so the net is lower. The net salary for a good developer is ~ $25k.

You set up a company with 16% corporate tax.

>For within their ranks may lurk the next Elon Musk or Sergey Brin

It's poor rhetoric. In fact people do that all the time, "we might be letting in the next terrorist" and are derided for it.

You are correct. But there are market solutions: If visas were auctioned like spectrum, only high value positions would be filled by H1-Bs, which would actually implement the stated purpose of enabling only those who cannot be found domestically to get H1-Bs. And it would largely prevent H1-Bs from lowering wages. AND that "lurking Sergey Brin" would be more likely to be found among those high-value candidates.

Jeez. High skilled jobs outside software engineering pay approximately 10-20% less than software. How do you account for that in an 'auction'-based system? It is just a hard truth that unlike a software company, individual talent is proportionally less valuable in a manufacturing company, leading to lower wages (compared to software developers) for: materials scientists, chemical engineers, mechanical engineers, some electrical engineers (power systems, power electronics, etc.).

The reason for this is that a larger portion of a manufacturing company's competitive strength comes from having great manufacturing equipment, ins into markets, etc. vs. just great engineers or scientists. H1B is necessary because many of these special-skills engineers and scientists are foreigners.

This is also the same reason that hedge fund managers or doctors are paid much more than software engineers- the individual's contribution is more important than in other professions. Does this mean that hedge fund managers are more valuable to society and should be preferred over software engineers in a H1B lottery?

The problem is startups would find it hard to hire since it's hard to value equity in a visa application.

Oh well? If payment in scrip lottery tickets isn't considered good enough for minimum wage laws, I don't see why this would be any different.

You actually bring up an interesting point. A startup lures employees with promise of huge payouts in its shares. But it cannot use those offered shares in an all cash competitive war to get H1B's based solely on cash.

There's a lot of things startups can't afford. And most startups are just fine with local talent.

You do auctions for 64k and 500 for startup founders. Then you set up an extra pool of 10k for startup employees. The company has to be younger than 6 years, raise at least 1 mln from venture capital and only 30% of the workforce could be on visas. It will make pseudo startups expensive to run by outsourcing companies.

Why should there be a requirement to raise venture capital? Some founders fund their own companies and are profitable from the start.

Because the outsourcing companies would set up a pseudo startup to abuse it. The solution is to make it expensive for them.

Ignoring the TCS jibe, there have been several succesful startup founders that have initially held an H1.


I don't care enough to validate if everyone on that list held a H1 at some point, but they're all born in India and went on to start large companies in the US and were likely on a H1 at some point. And this list ignores people of all other nationalities and only limits itself to companies valuing > 1bn.

I don't think anyone would argue against the fact that people born in India sometimes start valuable companies. My problem with the Economist article is, it expects us to take on faith that the current H-1B visa laws have much to do with it, that raising the cap and allowing mobility would make it even better, and that the benefits to American society actually outweigh the costs.

An aside - I wonder if any founders in that list came in on investor visas?

Is the TCS jibe not appropriate? And I think it was part of the GP's point...I suspect there is a big difference between the people who come in on H1B's to the top tech firms and those who come in on H1B's to TCS et al to outsource helpdesk services at a random F500.

I don't have a lot of experience with Tata and their ilk, but from what little I've seen, and everything I've heard, it sounds like they are just as bad as the typical low-level enterprise corporate IT drone you'd expect when that's what you're asking for -- and that's typically how they get involved. I'm sure they have other skill sets, and I'm sure there are some very talented people mixed in that pool, but I'm not convinced that the best of the foreign talent that we want to target is coming through those routes in significant numbers.

Right. Additionally, I personally wonder what effect lowering wages and worsening working conditions in entry level tech jobs has on the domestic talent pipeline.

That is, how many American students meditate on the ineffable mysteries of the efficient market hypothesis and then decide, hey, marketing is an easy major and the job prospects aren't that much worse than tech. Better -- how many did that in 2002?

> How many Musk-like or Brin-like individuals have come through TCS or Wipro or Infosys on a H-1B so far?

You don't know, these people are forced to be in underpaid H1B slavery for decades and are not be able to use business opportunities.

I understand what you're getting at and don't intend to be cruel. Unfortunately, huge employers don't flinch at leveraging natural human sympathies as a convenient way to beat down support of policies that might increase domestic labor's bargaining power. I intend to make a little fun, but not at H-1B workers. Only at journalistic shilling.

[edit - fixed grammar mistake which mangled intended meaning]

this journalistic shilling is a fun game! I'm no journo but here's a stab at it:

These laws against sewing in sweatshops will only lead to them moving abroad and taking the jobs with them. A better change would be to allow them to stay, but ensure they feed their workers properly. For within these sweatshops may lie the next JFK or Rockefeller of fashion design!

Basking in future billionaires could mean taxing them to fix US education systems (or a lifetime supply of mojitos, I don't care) so it's not all bad.

But there's a knock on effect -- if you go to the effort of sponsoring an H1-B with the intention of underpaying them, then changing the rules to allow visa holders to leave you for a job that pays job (or better work-life balance or has a mojito bar) would leave you holding all the processing expense and none of the profit from underpaying people.

I think this is a rather pessimistic view of the benefits of hiring intelligent and hard working people to work for your country's companies. Its most certainly not in the disparity of pay; more because they provide more value, due to said intelligence and proclivity to work hard.

I don't see it as a pessimistic view. Any employer committed to rewarding people for their value shouldn't need to rely on an omnipresent threat of deportation. I see myself as optimistic that such employers do exist, and should be happy to both recruit such foreign workers to US shores, and happy to poach them from other US firms.

Free movement between employers would likely free up only places like Wipro, Tata and the like, whose business models appear to rely on disparity of pay.

Boy do you like mojitos!

No Musk or Brin like individual would emerge unless they are from South Asia. These companies are blatantly racist, and wouldn't hire a German or Russian.

We should just have 3 year visas that allow you to apply for a green card if you are gainfully employed.

My grandparents immigrated here without any strings. No pimp-like employer, no restrictions.

I really miss the past 600 years of free travel.

| ... isn't this a somewhat empirically testable proposition? That is, how many Musk-like or Brin-like individuals have come through TCS or Wipro or Infosys on a H-1B so far?

You're asking to see results for something that is prohibited and presenting its absence as evidence.

That's kind of a paradox right? OP's link wanted H1B rules to allow employees to change companies or start new ones while on that visa unlike the present rules which don't allow for that.

That's what the article wanted to implement. The Indians at the helms of most companies in SV are here because of the H1B(& gradually progressed to green-cards) for higher education from US.

Do you think Sundar Pichai of Google and Satya Nadella got to where they are without a H1-B visa?

It is an extremely nutty addition to the article, and it is editorializing at its most blatant.

I mean, it's the Economist. Editorializing in favor of the global Capitalist order is kind of their premise.

only when they can get some finger-wagging in and finish with a poor pun or end with a non-sequitur smart-aleck sentence

I'm intrigued between the contrast of a sanctuary city, like Los Angeles, and various tech companies in LA hiring H1B employees.

My roommate's on an H1B but he can't just quit his tech job and work on a startup, despite having a few hundred thousand dollars in the bank and being a very successful developer.

Yet there are organizations like Define American, whose founder is an undocumented worker, encouraging people to give sanctuary to people who live here illegally. In 2015, LA allowed undocumented workers to get driver's licenses and 800,000 were issued. There's something like 2-2.5 million people living here illegally.

I have compassion for those who arrived here illegally and have families and lives. And I hope we can find some solution to fixing that problem. But it seems incredibly unfair that we make it hard for smart people to come and work in the US. If you can qualify initially for an H1B visa, I feel like you should be granted a green card with a path to citizenship. I

H-1Bs are law-abiding people and therefore the easiest immigrant group to attack, unlike illegals they will leave when told so.

H-1B visa holders are not immigrants as the H-1B is not an immigrant visa.

It's a dual-intent visa. Which means H1B holders are allowed to apply for a green card (permanent residence) and continue to hold the H1B. This is unlike non-immigrant visas like F1, which you will lose the moment you apply for a green card.

Simply because they are allowed to have immigrant intent they don't become immigrants. They become immigrants when their status is adjusted to legal permanent resident or they are issued an immigrant visa and admitted with it.

I'm not just making this up, these are terms that are very clearly defined by the Immigration and Nationality Act.

It is a dual intent visa - so "immigrant intent" is allowed.

For those in the thread who struggled for H1B's chance of winning, I'd recommend considering an O1 visa - I think the requirement is slightly lower to apply than previous years, and O1 doesn't have a lottery process.

I've stayed in the US as a collage student, then graduate student from a top university then starting my company for a total of 9 years. I lost the H1B lottery twice and have been on F1 then F1-OPT, then F1-OPT-STEM_EXT in the first 8 years. I recently successfully converted into an O1 this year, therefore finally bypassing the H1B lottery. I consider the O1 visa a life saver but not everyone is that lucky to be able to apply. Now the thing is, my O1 visa is a single-entry visa, meaning I have to stay in US for 3 years until it expires and I can't leave the country otherwise I can never come back to this country again.

Edit: Obviously someone found out that O1 is single entry for Chinese nationals, and it might not be the case for most other nationals.

Are you from China? I just looked this up and it seems that for Chinese nationals, O-1 is single entry. I believe it's multiple entry for nationals of nearly every other country.

It has to do with some US-China reciprocity agreement.

Ah, that's right. I have no idea it is country specific. It is good to know.

It confused a whole lot of me the rationale behind single entry O1 visa - it does create a lot of inconvenience as we do have a subsidy in China that I'd wish to be able to travel back to.

Are you sure your O1 is a single-entry? I have an O1 as well, for about 2 years now, and I have traveled out and in multiple times. Did you get the individual-associated O1 or one sponsored in the name of the employer (your startup)?

Edit: just noticed @seanmccann's comment. Dang that sucks. Apply for your EB1 asap! Under the O1, the requirements are pretty colinear, and you can skip the nationality queue that has an 8 year backlog for Chinese citizens on the EB2/3/etc.

My company sponsored my O1 and yes I'm a Chinese national. I'm starting my EB1, thanks for the advice!

Isn't EB1 reserved for "exceptional" people? I was under the impression that it was the "famous person" visa.

So's the O-1. That's why it doesn't have a lottery or cap like the H-1B. Top people in science and engineering qualify for them too, in addition to the top people in athletics and arts (the more traditionally "famous" people).

What happens after the O1 expires? It's a non-immigrant visa right? I'm assuming it doesn't mean you get a green card after 3 years, correct?

You can extend it forever in 1-year increments.

O-1 is dual intent. So while you're in the country you can apply for a green card through EB-2/3 (PERM or NIW) or EB-1.

You can try to apply for an EB1

Who says that O1 is single entry? I do not believe this to be the case.

Just verified it is single-entry for Chinese nationals.

A few questions.

Is "free" trade possible without "free" labor mobility? Currently, 11 of the top 15 tech companies in India are American. For most of the multinational US companies, India (not EU, not China) is the biggest consumer (after US) or growth region. So how many Indians should be employed by the American companies (both tech and non-tech) active in Indian market? Should Indians be working on localization only or on the core technology? It seems to me, at current H-1B levels, the balance is heavily skewed towards trade rather than labor mobility.

Also how does H-1B decrease the salaries of Americans? H-1B makes American companies more competitive. And they are able to sell products in more markets. A cut in free labor mobility will lead to cut in free trade from the other side. Imagine you are a startup founder. You go to a VC and tell him/her that you plan to hire only natives and sell only in the local market. Do you think you will get any funds from the VC? If yes, then will you get more funds (and more revenue and salary) if your startup hires at the best talent/cost and is able to sell all around the world? The point being that there is a reason that as software engineer you earn 150k in US, not 40-70k as earned by software engineers in other developed countries.

And then there are studies showing that each H-1B creates 2-5 jobs in the US (some studies quote a much higher number...)

Isn't this an example of win-win?

H1B as I see it.

American corporations want to make profit year over year. (The announcing the quarterly or annual reports ? )

IT jobs has a tradition of being highly paid. When the revenues are less, the course of action is to cut the expenses and hence the salaries. So if a corporation want to make profit, they can hire workers with the minimum lawful wage. Indian bodyshops are catering to that demand. Its that simple.

Cutting salaries or firing American workers will lead to PR nightmare. So American companies hire bodyshops or majorly Indian IT outsourcing companies like TCS or Infosys to do the IT jobs.

Most enterprise IT do not need high skills. ( I mean who wants to know about data structures or Big O to make a CRUD application or write queries ? ). So a major chunk of Indian IT workers fit in that category.

So American enterprises get the work done at a cheaper rate in India or through the H1B worker. So no firing or salary cuts for the American worker.

Fire an H1B worker, he will keep silent and go back to his country if he is a fulltime worker. If he is from a bodyshop, he will be deployed to another location in the US. No PR nightmare for the corporate company.

In a nutshell:

Indian outsourcing firms are only here because American corporations want more profit and revenues are not that great. Stop being greedy and outsourcing will end, that includes H1B too.

And by "stop being greedy" you mean overpay people to do work because of qualifications that are not applicable to the job, or because they happen to be American? Why should anyone do that?

On these more controversial political threads: How are certain accounts instantaneously downvoted to dead on HN, within single-digit seconds? Seems automated but entirely too hard to tell.

For example, l3m0ndr0p (yeah, I'm totally him/her) made an "America first" type of comment. I know that doesn't play well with a lot of HNers, but seeing it instantly downvoted to dead was weird, too.

I know there's a left-ish bias here, I'm a bit left, but this feels different.

> l3m0ndr0p (yeah, I'm totally him/her) made an "America first" type of comment.

on the topic of "America First", i wonder if there's a double standard.

if Apple/Facebook/Microsoft/Google/et al say "if we don't reform immigration policies to allow more talented people to enter the US, America will lose its position of technical leadership" that's basically an "America First" argument. but in reality these companies are basically motivated by their own desire to make more cash. and it's not very controversial.

by contrast, if some individual middle class US resident says "H1B visa holders are costing me money by depressing salaries" that's basically an "America First" argument too, even though that person is basically motived by their own desire to make more cash. but it's quite controversial.

is corporate greed somehow more acceptable than individual greed? is there a kind of bias against the little guy?

why isn't everyone equally entitled to advocate for their own greed?

That line of thought crossed my mind, as well.

America is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Corporate world. From Statehouses up to Congress, they own our senators and expect 'no moonlighting' for the public.

every person (us born, immigrant, or even outside the US), organization (foreign, domestic, corporation, non-profit, et al) is entitled to say "I am America".

we might be the only country like that.

> we might be the only country like that.


for one thing, the US has a high profile global presence. when the US government or economy does something, people all over the world tend to hear about it and often react. sometimes it effects them in powerful ways (e.g. war, trade, Beyonce).

for another, the US seems to have evolved both the strongest individual free speech protections and some of the freest immigration policies and practices.

because of its global familiarity, in the last 30 or 40 years, many people from around the world have come to the US and felt comfortable exercising that freedom. maybe people think "if the US feels free to reach out and impact my part of the world, then i'm free to go to the US and impact it."

i don't know if there are other countries in a situation like that. maybe the UK? maybe China and India, if you consider the poor rural workers who've migrated into the big cities?

Reading through l3m0ndr0p's comment history is quite a surreal experience. Almost every one of their posts is downvoted to grey, even the extremely uncontroversial and mundane ones. I can get how, with a comment history like that, whatever algos HN has running might automatically drop them to the bottom of the page since it would just run blindly on whatever metrics it sees.

What I find harder to understand is how they ended up in that position in the first place. Their comments aren't exactly in lock-step with the general HN view of the world, but they're not that far out either. If anyone thinks I'm being OTT here, go and see for yourself. Diversity of opinion is a good thing. I'd hate to see HN turn into another mindless echo-chamber.

The account is likely shadowdead or some variant of it. A lot of places have a "silent ban" to stop unwanted trolls from continuing to make accounts.

The "silent" part means the user is cajoled into believing they're not banned. One of the ways to do this is to not kill their comments until a couple people reply to them. That way the system can tell them they have +3 votes or whatever when in reality nobody after the first 2 minutes even sees their post. If nobody ever replied to them it would look suspicious.

Not totally sure that's whats happening but it looks like it

Fair enough. Sounds like, in all probability, it's just an 'overly twitchy' algorithm somewhere; no system is perfect I guess.

Some accounts are dead on arrival due to previous posts. Though in digging through the comments of the account you reference, I can't find anything egregious, so I vouched for the comment.

Personally, I would like to see HN quit the juvenile, passive-aggressive shadow ban. If for no other reason than it seems it is buggy at times, and banning accounts that don't need it. But I don't make the rules.

Interesting, didn't know that.

Yeah, I'm not really invested in some of these less-than-popular sentiments, but it pains me to see against-the-grain comments consistently downvoted in some threads.

It's a security by obscurity thing, right? Let the spammers think they're being seen but ignored?

I don't really feel an obligation to not speak about it though, I didn't choose to get showdead privileges and never heard anything about it.

spammers? or dissidents?

Related, Trump's executive order from today which mentions H-1Bs : https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/04/18/presi...

And a quote from the NYT article[1]:

“This does nothing,” said Senator Charles Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader. “Like all the other executive orders, it’s just words — he’s calling for new studies. It’s not going to fix the problem. It’s not going to create a single job.”

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/18/us/politics/executive-ord...

>Like all the other executive orders, it’s just words

The hypocrisy here is truly disgusting. One moment, executive orders are the end of the world. The next moment, they don't mean anything at all.

If a person can't see past this man's partisanship, then they are hopeless; when reason and logic are out the window, it's over.

For those who want evidence from the mouth of Chuck Schumer himself [1]:

>Schumer said that he called Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly on Saturday "to urge the administration to rescind these anti-American executive actions that will do absolutely nothing to improve our safety."

>"In fact, they will do the opposite. We have a long and proud tradition of accepting refugees who seek safety in the United States, after a long and thorough vetting process. That tradition should continue," he said.

>“These executive orders were mean-spirited and un-American in their origin, and implemented in a way that has caused chaos and confusion across the country. They will only serve to embolden and inspire those around the globe who would do us harm. They must be reversed, immediately," Schumer added.

It's like politicians aren't even pretending anymore. The thing that kills me is that people actually buy this stuff. Maybe Chuck is right about the executive order on immigration. Maybe he's right that executive orders do nothing at all. But he's definitely not right about both things.

1. http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/316711-schumer-ca...

Fking A. It's the problem right now: anything Trump says is horrible. If he says A "its the end of the world" If he says B "its useless"

On the same topic. It doesn't matter what he says, these people will shut him down. Result? he might be bad, terrible - who knows. Nobody trusts anyone or anything anymore - because all sources lies so much it's too unreliable.

This is exactly how I feel. The news is so sensationalized it's ridiculous. As a thought experiment, read the news headlines from a Trump speech, then watch the actual speech. They focus on a sentence or two and ignore the rest of the speech. Yes, he said something stupid, but what else did he say?

Perfect example is the Spicer gas thing. Had he said Hitler didn't use gas on the battlefield, he would have been completely right. In WWI they used gas a lot and everyone expected Hitler to do so. Many theorize it was because Hitler himself was gassed in WWI. What else did Spicer say? You'll have to watch the press conference to find out, the news sure isn't going to tell you. That's subversive as hell.

I don't particularly care for Trump, nor any politician for that matter, but I don't like being treated like a child by the news (left and right).

For what it's worth, many companies have been using H1B to lower wages. That's all that's on their spreadsheets. They're sold on other things like, "you can ramp up when you need it," and, "you never have to worry about losing people because we have redundancy and will train the new person," but that's all BS. I think it will raise US wages and equity packages for at least the next 10 years or so. 10%, 30%, 50% maybe. I'll take that. They've been suppressed for 20.

It's pretty easy to read the executive order yourself. Sec. 5 (b) is the section in question: https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/04/18/presi...

"shall, as soon as practicable, suggest reforms" is the actual meat of it.

>Like all the other executive orders, it’s just words

Was the executive order on immigration "just words" to Chuck Schumer? No. The answer is no. Just plain no. Chuck Schumer is a hypocrite, and if you align with him on both issues, then you clearly don't think for yourself.

Could it not be that some executive orders are meaningful (e.g., orders on immigration) and others aren't (e.g., kinda hand-wavy orders on "creating jobs")?

I really hope Trump follows through with his ideas about the H-1B program. But I'm also not mindlessly aligned with one side of politics, so I can understand that his order today will probably have no effect.

The only purpose Schumer and Pelosi serve in Washington is to sling mud at every single thing the administration does. It makes no difference what it is or where they stood prior.

A month ago: Chuck Schumer proclaims "hey! thing A actually affects people! doing thing A is too powerful to use without careful thought!"

A few weeks later, after Trump does thing A: Chuck Schumer says "thing A is meaningless. thing A doesn't matter at all"

I truly don't understand how people can read the comment above yours and then disagree with you.

The same purpose that the opposition party had during the last 8 years.

> One moment, executive orders are the end of the world. The next moment, they don't mean anything at all.

That's a bit of a simplification, of course it's valid to say one executive order is bad and one is a waste of time - they're different orders that do different things!

More like you're a black and white sorta person and don't actually understand the nuance here.

It's true that Trump's executive order accomplishes nothing in terms of how H1-Bs are processed. It's also true that his rhetoric has a chilling affect on potential immigrants and companies who do business with them.

Schumer is right.

>Like all the other executive orders, it’s just words

If that sentence isn't a contradiction to you, then I won't be able to convince you. Think for yourself. Schumer overstepped in the name of his political ends.

You're hopeless because you apparently don't have the capacity to understand context outside of small sentence fragments.

"The hypocrisy here is truly disgusting. One moment, executive orders are the end of the world. The next moment, they don't mean anything at all."

Talking about different orders which say different things, one which actually does change rules and one which simply directs an agency to "perform a study", doesn't seem hypocritical at all.

>If a person can't see past this man's partisanship, then they are hopeless; when reason and logic are out the window, it's over.

It doesn't seem to be quite reasonable or logical to treat two things which say different things the same.

>It's like politicians aren't even pretending anymore. The thing that kills me is that people actually buy this stuff. Maybe Chuck is right about the executive order on immigration. Maybe he's right that executive orders do nothing at all. But he's definitely not right about both things.

They're two different orders. Is it not logical that they could have two different effects?

What he said was: "Like all the other executive orders, it’s just words"

He didn't distinguish between two different orders here, he said all of the other ones were just words.

That interpretation is a huge stretch.

Noam Chomsky was interviewed the other day and he said something like "the only thing the Democrats seem to be complaining about with Trump is that he wants to ease tensions with Russia, which is probably the only sensible thing he is doing".

Schumer is the Democratic leader, the leader of the party that 80 years ago was very well-connected to working Americans - even in the south. Trump is playing him and the Democrats like a fiddle. This is what the Democratic leadership stand for? Infosys and Tata? Taking a more war-like stance against Russia?

One additional point of Trump's cleverness is he did it in such a way that screws the most disliked element, Tata and Infosys, while not harming too much those actual PHDs that Google, Microsoft, Oracle etc. hire.

And people wonder how Hillary lost to Trump. You all should queue up that video Michael Moore made before the election about why Trump was going to win.

Oh man, being from MI everything he said hit home in a big way, and it got red hot the summer+fall of 2016. (And then Clinton skipped our state, to top it off, after we voted Sanders.)

Moore put into words the devastating alienation the Rust Belt feels from the rest of the country. How they laughed at midwesterner's baseball caps was a big one. And they aren't getting any better. Scary.

In a pro-union pro-local Democrat administration, that Executive Order would be hailed by Schumer as the most fantastic thing since sliced bread.

Not that I agree with Trump, but Schumer is a complete hack.

The article concludes with a great suggestion: "A better change would be to end the rule whereby H-1B recipients must stay with the company that sponsored them"

Its the companies like TCS that get the profits while kind-of-abusing their H1B employees who get stuck for 5-10 years because they want to pursue the American dream

1. Increase the minimum salary a bit - but not too much - you don't want to kill startups

2. Remove the H1B restriction on changing employers

3. Impose a rule to make sure that the employer does restrict movement by imposing any other policy.

4. Let those H1Bs stay in the country, without a job, for max 6 months. This will allow them to circumvent certain irrevocable binding policies from previous employer

5. Also ensure that the H1B employee movement is not restricted by company's policies in other countries. If they want to - make them pay 100K minimum. Example: If TCS is not able to create an employee-binding policy in US, it certainly will do it back home in India.

EDIT: PS: Even as an Indian, I would love to see some blanket H1B restrictions imposed on Indian IT companies, for a multitude of good reasons (for India). I believe that short term pain is necessary for India to get big gains. Unfortunately, this is not something Indian govt can do at the moment.

H1B employees can already change jobs. However there are some caveats around the time interval between jobs so (4) would be great.

Easiest solution is to inflation adjust min salary of $60,000 set back in 1989 and have the limit follow inflation. Lawmakers have this tendency to not build in inflation adjustments(eg: AMT tax limit,min wage) which causes lot issues down the road.

Quite right. $60K in 1989 would be $117K in today's dollars by CPI. But CPI might be a little bit optimistic. I'd peg it to the rate of real estate inflation :)

There are a couple of easy solutions, increasing the min salary is one. This works for the tech sector but may not for some others. Other solutions include:

1. Do not provide a lottery. Approve by highest salary per occupational code/section. This will make sure wages are "high". 2. Mandate that beneficiaries of the H1B actually start employment and receive pay within 2 months of approval. This will ensure that companies don't just "hoard" H1B's. 3. Mandate a minimum of 1 years' work in the US per entry into the country unless employment is terminated due to forced loss.

The program has been misused. It's high time that is rectified.

Or give the visas to the jobs with the highest 85,000 salaries instead of using a lottery.

So H1Bs would end up only working in NYC, Bay Area etc and only for the big players. Not good either.

I guess they'll just have to settle for (horrors!) American workers.

Meh. If H1B were reshaped to actually be for specialist workers as it was intended (at least by some), then that's a lot easier said than done. I got to the US on a temporary work visa (not H1B because of loosing the lottery), and I'd find positions for somebody with my and a bunch of other specializations several times over.

By auctioning based on salary you're preferring areas with absurd costs of living - which is a) not where you necessarily need to get more people making the problem worse b) reinforcing economic inequality between areas of the country.

If there's a company needing some specialist somewhere with a saner cost of living, and they tried to find such a specialist, offering above market wages, what exactly is the benefit of not them having to pay twice or thrice the effective salary of somebody in SF/NYC?

You can always adjust salaries for cost of living in the area to have a more apples to apples comparison.

Ugly side to it is that non H1B salaries growth is behind inflation.

I'm totally fine with H1B Visa reform. Companies have abused it to pay qualified individuals far less than the average market wage.

People raising issue about minimum wage not being high enough don't realize this but the end-effect is that H-1Bs will just fill the low end of the spectrum because the visa itself is on the table no matter what. And maybe that's okay with some, but do realize what effect this is having in the market pool. Americans who are being paid near the minimum wage will most surely be affected.

Makes sense. Three of my cousins are working in the US on H-1B visas. None of them have a technical degree. They do manual software testing. They can do those jobs in India or someone in Alabama can do them. There's no reason to import unskilled labor.

Any argument that looks at job creation in isolation is next to worthless. Such an argument leads to conclusions like "we need visa reforms to ensure that only really skilled people get through". Skill based criteria are almost always absurd. I'm pretty sure that in a country as large as the United states, there's a good chance that you'd find enough number of skilled people in all domains. So the obvious factor which drives companies to recruit foreign workers is the cost of labour. That begs the question: "why are natives not okay to work at the salary levels of immigrant workers?". There could be two reasons: either their liabilities are greater, or it is that prevailing culture that discourages US natives to work at lower salaries". From that perspective, the natural way forward for the US government should be try and reduce the liabilities of the natives. Why cant they make education cheaper and more accessible? What can they do to reduce the price of housing? How do you reduce the cost of transportation?

IMHO blaming immigrants/the companies that hire them is not productive. Businesses try to maximize their profits; that's given. They aren't hiring immigrants through benevolence towards immigrants or aversion towards natives. The US should fix their social problems before blaming the immigrants/corporations.

> ... try and reduce the liabilities of the natives ...

i would add medical care to that list

Thought experiment: suppose the US decided to ban people who aren't permanent residents from working in jobs with minimal potential for creativity, and which are rote in nature: taxi and bus drivers, delivery people, gardeners, waiters, security guards, cashiers, barbers, people running a restaurant or a barbershop, etc.

Simultaneously, jobs with a potential for creativity — tech, artists, entrepreneurs, lawyers, and so on — would have unlimited open borders, perhaps with a minimum salary requirement of $100K, say. If you have a job offer that meets these requirements, a visa can be denied only if the government can provide a reason, like a criminal record or terrorist links or having committed fraud. Otherwise, the US govt would be required to let you in.

This will have the effect of safeguarding local jobs where it's hard to imagine creativity or skills making a difference to the outcome, while having an open market in areas where creativity and skills make all the difference.

I'm using the US as an example, but the principle would apply to all rich countries, or even all countries, if you consider Bangladeshis moving to India, for example.

I've been deeply involved in this for 17 years so my thoughts - H1Bs have to go thru some agony for 5 years or till they get Green Cards. But all of my friends who landed on H1B in Year 2000 are doing great in 10-15 years now owning multiple homes and many running own businesses. You should also take into account that H1Bs do not carry heavy Student debt like American students do. They get inexpensive education abroad and start working the day they land in USA. They also share accommodation and save money in case they have to go back to home country. I've also worked for a decade with Indian outsourcing companies and understand their business model. As businesses responsible for creating shareholder wealth, they run for profits under existing legal framework and even IBM, Accenture, Deloitte, Cap Gemini and other large Multinational consulting firms employ hundreds of thousands of employees in India and bring them to USA on H1B visas in similar business models. H1B reform is important but even more important is to train US students in new technologies. I'm a naturalized US citizen living in San Jose for 17 years. My son is in high school in San Jose and by the time he is ready for college, the 4 year college cost will be $200K. I think that needs to be addressed along with H1B reform. We need to lower entry barrier for US students to get into Science and technology by making college more affordable. Additionally, the H1B is not the only competition for US tech jobs. Tech workers around the world working at $15 to $25 per hour are a bigger competition. But I feel training US workers in tech and reducing college costs should be a priority of current administration.

"Given that the unemployment rate for college graduates sits at 2.5%, it is fair to say that most native workers displaced by H-1Bs land on their feet."

Working at starbucks with a huge debt load is landing on your feet?

Do those Starbucks workers have a technical background? If yes and they're still working for starbuck wages, then there is something wrong.

I think that's the point--something is very wrong here. Plenty of U.S. people have technical backgrounds who are under-employed and/or have abandoned the field due to low job prospects.

I know a dual physics/mechanical engineering major who is driving trucks.

unemployment rate ... 2.5%. This study has 5.6% unemployment and under employment at 12.6%


The article is talking about college graduates in general. The study you linked to is about young college graduates (age 21 to 24).

I graduated in 2011 with a non-STEM degree, and I still don't have a job. I won't be employed until 2020 at this rate (in pursuit of a C.S. M.S.). The "job numbers" after the Great Derecession are lies. Pure lies. The unemployment rate is probably more closer to 25%. You can't survive in this economy if it's not STEM. A lot of people here defending the H1-Bs sadly. One guy said "if you can't compete in this economy get another job"...seriously? That's what you're going to say to your compatriot? Get a job in a different field after slaving for a decade in under and non-employment? That's how we view each other? As obstacles to further a company's bottom line?

We should unequivocally be "America First". Period. Especially after a great depression like we just had. Maybe when we're prosperous and on-top again economically, we can lax the rules. But when shit hits the fan one should generally keep the doors closed.

Could one be the unemployment rate of all with a college degree, and one be the unemployment rate of recent grads?

>> For within their ranks may lurk the next Elon Musk or Sergey Brin.

Just because Elon and Sergey are one in a hundred million in terms of wealth, it doesn't mean that they're also one in a hundred million in terms of talent. In fact, that's extremely unlikely statistically.

I think that Elon and Sergey are in the top 0.1% of the population in terms of talent. This is a good ratio but when you look at it this way, you understand that there are a lot of people who are qualified to be the next Elon or Sergey and the fear that a few select individuals will "miss out" on their rightful position on the Forbes list (based purely on skill/merit) is ridiculous.

Although Infosys and the like apply for a lot of H1Bs, they make very very few (we're talking double-digit numbers) successful applications for green cards. This means most of these people on H1Bs for the consulting companies are actually going back home.

Which means that Infosys, TCS and the like are contributing a rotating pool of about ~30k-40k "migrant" software labor consisting of individuals who live in the US for a maximum of a couple of years. Could this be the reason why Americans wages are depressed? Well, let's run the numbers. There are 3.6 million software developers in the US. 40k is an insignificant fraction of that. So no. That's not it.

Let's examine your math. So this year there were 86,000 visas for 2017 that last for 3 years. So that means by 2020, if the visa limit stays at 86,000, there will be 258,000 H1Bs, of course this assumes that H1Bs were created in 2017, we are ignoring all those that came before. Let's NOT ignore those and look at the below link -


Yes, in 2013, it was 775,957. So by now, let's say it's closer to 1.2 million. That's a third of all software developers in the USA.

So Yes! This is exactly the reason that American wages are depressed in the job markets that H1Bs work in.

A few points - you're assuming all of those visas were for low-skilled software development (however you define it as). The alternative to wages being depressed is the work moves entirely to a different country. The central problem is the consequence of the way balance sheets are structured. Employees are a cost center that reduce profit, rather than an asset. Unless your company is developing software (in which case you never want to outsource), you don't want to hire any IT if possible. So Basically, not hiring H1bs is "leaving money on the table". Its hard to convince someone to not make more money.

Every country has its exports, lets say for a moment that India's export is IT services, and the market is global. The work visas allow them to "sell" into the US market, in a very limited way. Its as good as it gets in terms of protectionism for the US. If we were told J&J could only sell 100 shampoos each year in China or India, that would sound weird and bizarre. I don't believe IT services any different in principle. Its just that when you purchase an iPhone the hundred Chinese employees who worked to produce it are not seen. But they have technically displaced/depressed American wages just like every other import.

You can't stay for more than 6 years on an H1B unless your employer files a PERM application, has that approved, and then you/your employer files an I-140, and that is also approved. In other words, if your employer never filed a PERM, or never had one approved, you have to leave after a maximum of 6 years.

Green card applications for Indians (and to a lesser extent Chinese and Mexicans) are backed up for decades. So you're looking at people who filed PERMs in the last decade and are still waiting for green cards. They're allowed to stay on the H1B, which is why we have 800k people on H1Bs today. But these people are not working for Infosys, they're working for Google and Microsoft.

The 86,000 number contains 20,000 visas allocated to people who have graduate degrees from US universities. I don't think any of these folks are working for Indian consulting firms. So that leaves about 66,000 visas and 40,000 of those, at most, go the consulting firms. I did make an error in my math, which is not accounting for the fact you can stay for 6 years on this visa. Anecdotally, I know that most people of these people leave after about 2-3 years, when their "project" ends. But anyway, let's assume the worst case. You may have 240,000 people in the US on an H1B and working for an Indian tech consulting firm. That is still a small fraction of 3.6 million.

You should really look at TCS/WIPRO/InfoSys employees, or talk to them, it would really enlighten you.

240,000 is way more than your initial 40,000, yet you still say it's a small fraction.

So many articles say differently. I guess they could be all wrong. https://www.forbes.com/sites/quora/2016/04/14/how-the-salari...

Yes, it is 6.67%. That is literally the definition of a small fraction. And that is assuming a gross overestimate of 240k employees for Indian consulting firms in the US. Exact numbers are hard to get but here are some more facts: Infosys had a total of 23,594 employees in the US for 2016. TCS in 2012-13 had a total of only 21,830 employees outside India. With the two biggest H1B employers out of the way, I don't see how you're going to support your claim that there are 700k employees of Indian consulting firms on H1Bs in the US. It is simply not possible.

I have plenty of friends who work for Infosys and TCS. None of my friends even applied for a green card and they all went back to India after a couple of years here at the most. Many postings in the US at these companies last only 9-12 months. And neither TCS nor Infosys have any interest whatsoever in helping people immigrate to the US. (You need an employer to file a PERM application if you want a green card. A green card is required if you want to stay here more than 6 years.) That is the exact opposite of what they want to do.

The article you've mentioned says nothing about H1Bs. Outsourcing is not going to go away even if you eliminate H1Bs. And yes, all these articles making noise about this epidemic of H1Bs are in fact wrong. They're written by a bunch of poorly-informed Americans who wouldn't know the difference between an I-140 and an I-20. And their goal is to just generate clickbait to cater to nativist sentiment in the US. There's a lot of conservatives who emphatically don't want more Indians in this country. But they know they'll never win if they argue that they don't want Google and Microsoft employees here. So instead they've come up with this nonsense about Infosys and TCS stealing American jobs.

> Well, let's run the numbers. There are 3.6 million software developers in the US. 40k is an insignificant fraction of that. So no. That's not it.

What fraction are looking for work at any given time? That's where the race to the bottom takes place.

I did some analysis on the number of applications for H1B, E-3, and PERM to contrast outsourcing firms and other firms in terms of count and wages: http://ashwinikhare.in/tech-firms-guest-visa/

All this data is out there and is released by Department of Labor every year

Your unicorn chart is identical to that for the public companies - could you update it?

You should also be looking at B1 visas. Argentina's Globant (NYSE:GLOB) paid $1 Million to settle allegations of visa fraud days ago. The largest number of B1 visa applicants in the Argentina US Embassy come from employees of that company (and IBM and others too).

source: https://www.justice.gov/usao-ndtx/pr/information-technology-...

IMO one of the easiest ways to tackle the entire issue around H1B visas is to remove or separate the category where a visa is sponsored by company A for someone working as a contractor in company B. This arrangement is the major cause of the scenario where American workers are replaced by people on H1Bs.

If there is genuine skill shortage then the company in need of the said skill can hire the engineers directly instead of going through a middleman whose business model relies entirely on keeping wages low.

Of course they ought to just increase the number of H1-B visas... They have always been a drop in the bucket on the technology market, even in the worst times (2001 and 2009). These are the future immigrants that we want in the US, highly educated, driven, mobile upwards and ready to buy a house. If you can't find a job or compete with H1-Bs in this economy you probably should consider another occupation. I work for a unicorn, and on on the inside we are 80% foreign born, most started as H1-B.

The whole narrative of low skilled and cheap foreign H1-Bs taking American jobs exists somewhere in a parallel universe. In reality, it is hard to find even simply qualified people, regardless of their origin.

So, stop whining and leave H1-B alone, or better increase the cap, like the article suggests. The real danger is your job simply going overseas and being done remotely.

Why don't you just tell these people to stop whining?


It sounds like you have a cushy gig at a Unicorn and you're projecting your status and opportunities onto everyone else.

Interestingly enough, the article you refer supports my point: the alternative to H1-B is jobs shipped overseas entirely. In fact it states that shipping jobs overseas is the end game.

The stories I hear about are very often the IT departments being outsourced. This will happen with or without H1-B. These jobs are being replaced because they are relatively low skill and easy to replace.

Or just fix the US' broken immigration system, move to a points-based system like Canada or Australia uses, and get rid of the kludges like the H1B which exist to circumvent the current system.

If you had an immigration system that prioritized highly skilled immigrants, you wouldn't need special visas. And you'd relieve pressure on the bottom 20% of the population that's being hammered by competition from low-skilled immigration, both legal and illegal.

I've worked for 2 fortune 500 companies that have brought in multiple low payed H1-b visas instead of hiring at the standard US rate. As an engineer I was part of the hiring process. All of the candidates at both places ended up being far less qualified than Wipro claimed and did a terrible job.

So it definitely happens, I'd say it happens a lot.

There are also great H1-b hires like the one I'm working with right now. He is incredibly skilled. He also cant work for another company unless he reapplies so he's stuck.

If his I-140 is approved, make sure he wont lose his line in the long long queue for the greencard. ( 10 years ). Switching H1B is not that easy as it sounds. It comes with its own set of complications depending on what stage you are in for the process of greencard.

heck ! ask him to apply Canada express entry and forget H1B. There are good IT in Canada too if he is skilled enough.

You should tell your friend he can switch. An immigration lawyer can easily advise better but he's not 'stuck' since continuing employment is not subject to the lottery. I had a friend switch last year and it was painless.

>If you can't find a job or compete with H1-Bs in this economy you probably should consider another occupation.

Their strong point is that they work for less. That's not a virtue.

This is the best article I've seen on immigration:


cant buy a house with 80k usd in the bay area :| or 150K for that matter.

some rent, some sleep outside. whatever works.

the ones outside the bay area (of course, not all), i bet, aren't all that qualified.


Don't forget the H1B visa holder is forbidden from doing other work for profit.

I work for a large company that used to outsource all of it's IT to a large contractor. Almost all of the applications and code I've worked with that was done by the outsourcing company was substandard crap. Obviously over complicated to support large (profitable) estimates.

From my experience working with a lot of tech immigrants, I can say that compared to the native population, they seem about the same in terms of competency. The only issue is the language thing. In tech (especially at large companies), so much of what you do is communicating with others and not having a good command of the English language can make an otherwise capable dev a lot less so.

If I were hiring, I would never consider a person that didn't have a good command of English unless they were really a rock star in something that didn't require much communication.

As a former employee with TCS (India) I can say that most of the development work is done with an intention to make the client coming back for improvements, maintenance, fixes, etc.

Some Indians don't have a good command of English, but others do, just not American English. Though this is an academic difference when it comes to working together with an American team.

The first time an American said to me, "Heads up!" I looked up at the ceiling.

Funny when a news headline isn't news at all. How long has this been true? 15 years? More?

I can't say I'll be sad seeing these places have a harder time getting H-1B visas. As long as those companies that do actually need top talent and are willing to pay for it can get them, sounds like everything will be fine.

Couple of questions.

1. Who decides this is an abuse?

2. What is being abused? The possibility of a visa being earmarked for "High skill" being used for "low cost low skill jobs"?

3. If the companies that do have a need for high skill, what is preventing them from "rushing to the queue"?

4. Is it that Indian companies have learnt the ropes of how to get a H1 visa (which has its own calendars, short open-and-close gates)? Is it that hard for, say a Google to replicate and act on this knowledge?

I am an Indian, who had been on H1 work visa early in my career, and was mostly engaged in the the R&D end of the tech world than say Manual QA.

Just to explain another perspective, since you're asking: some people feel there are a lot of H-1B visas out there for people who are only doing trivial, entry level work, or even have misleading job titles – not exactly whom many would consider "specialists."

Why doesn't Germany have the same problem with their 'blue card' which is even more generous than the H1B visa?

For an IT graduate, a German blue card only requires a minimum salary of €39,624. Workers can switch jobs easily and there is no lottery - if you have a degree and a job you are pretty much guaranteed a blue card.

There is a language barrier, but my guess is that's not a big problem. There should be plenty of Indian graduates willing to learn German for a year if it leads to a 500% increase in salary.

Language barrier is a bigger deal that you might think. One "advantage" Indian nationals have is that they learn English as a second language from childhood, and many schools and most colleges use English for instructions and in textbooks. This is a big motivator for emigrating Indians to choose the US.

Also, US has won the mindshare as the country to immigrate to. It is due to a combination of being the biggest economy, having the largest tech industry and research universities, and the "American Dream" being sold in the media.

Objectively, I would rate Canada and Australia as being more favorable destinations for most potential immigrants. But I must admit that ultimately I chose the US as well. But my reasons were slightly different, I fell in love with the national parks, the interstate highways, and the US constitution (especially the 1st, 2nd, and the 4th amendments).

Also: In-n-out Burger.

I am always confused by all the it hurts job market for local candidates thing as it relates to tech jobs. There is huge amount of unfilled positions. The company I am at has many hundreds of open positions that they can not fill with qualified people regardless of their visa/citizenship and I am pretty sure this is not a unique situation. The pay rate is also same regardless of visa status to the best of my knowledge.

But what's your pay rate relative to other tech companies?

I have to ask, every time someone says they have lots of open positions and says they can't find qualified people: Why would someone want to come work at your company? I do not ask this to be snarky or mean, I sincerely ask. Because you need to know the answer to that question, and know it in the context of there being other companies around that probably also provide the things that you're going to say.

I am not the owner I am just a dev, I think glassdoor puts an avg for Senior in 130 +/- range (north VA) which seems to be +/- right especially considering they are flexible about remote work, there is also stock signup bonus which prob varies. To my knowledge the pay rate is not tied to visa status the work is pretty cool. I have no clue whar others have to do with this my comment was about people complaining they can not get a job because of H1Bs.

Imo a easy solution - unless i am mistaken - please explain me where i am wrong:

Make it simple for H1B holder to switch jobs[1]

Wouldn't this lead to non-locked in H1B holders acting naturally on the market => being not more interesting that comparably expensive locals => skillset decides

[1]: i know that you can transfer a H1B visa and it's not crazy complicated - but thinking even easier than that.

H-1s are hard to bring in if you're a startup. On one hand, that's as it should be (the country is insane not to give preference to locals) but on the other hand is painful (since not everybody locally has the needed skills).

And it's impossible if you have non-tech requirements (like the native foreign language teachers we tried to bring in when I was on the school board -- the allotment ran out in October yet teachers are recruited in march-may to start in August).

With emotions so high it's hard to say "the big consultancies are abusing / destroying H-1" without people thinking you're saying either "H-1 is bad for America" or "I'm a troglodyte who hates H-1". H-1 is pretty good for all concerned, actually, if you follow the rules.

Note (not really a disclaimer): despite saying, which I believe, that the big consultancies are abusing H-1, I have friends at Infosys, Tata, Birla etc.

Well, I am currently on F1 student visa. I have done my internship at Blackberry as a Security R&D Intern I was offered a full time position for Information Security Analyst. But I couldn't get that offered position because I don't have a GC or Citizen ship. Recently, I have interviewed for Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory for a CSE1 role The duration of the role is for a year. I am with in my opt. Unfortunately, I was rejected after giving the onsite Interview. I guess that is because of my visa status. I strongly believe that there should be a reform in the H1B visa rules. The priority should be given to American citizens then for GC then for students who graduated from US Universities. I believe if they implemented this then there won't be any H1 abuse by Indian corporations.

I am on F1 as well and I can agree that finding a job is hard on that visa. But I don't care anymore since I am leaving soon anyway :)

American citizens and GC don't need H1Bs.

Looks like an article written in haste. Doesn't seem to be making any point.

H-1b recipients will be mostly Indian because India born immigrants have no option of diversity lottery or direct F1 to EAD (through a green card application thats started well before graduating).

If the government decides that the companies can hire people with the highest skill or the highest pay, it will be very hard for startups to hire H1Bs (or founders to get H1B visas). If a new system is being put into place hopefully it takes into consideration factors such as size of company, location/cost of living etc

Why should start-ups get a free ride and tax payer subsidized employees.

If a start-up isn't economic without underpaying then it does not deserve to exist and is wasting capital.

My belief, that US is a nation that benefits from immigration stops the day that I receive my immigration status.

The whole visa system should be abolished and anybody that can afford a plane ticket should be allowed to live and work in the US.

Wouldn't new regulations defining classes of applicants and the maximum number of H1-B applications they can submit address this?

Inevitable since https://qz.com/889524

Dang, why does the title lack the 'do' that the article title has? The do is an important word.

As a european there is almost 0 chance of going In the us. H1B go to indians, low paid jobs to mexicans. I dont mind either of them, but allowing europeans in would be less discriminatory.

> H1B go to indians

H-1Bs don't "go" to Indians; it does not have any preference for nationality (unlike skilled immigration green cards, which have per-country quotas, which biases towards smaller countries favorably)

I can get why Americans are pissed off by H1Bs going to Indians. Why are you pissed off? You go through the same lottery process as Indians, no?

I would think that there is a percentage of the spots going to people who put in multiple applications, but that affects everyone equally (and that sort of fraud is an equal opportunity employer).

The applications aren't made by people, but by companies willing to employ a foreign worker. To apply for an H-1B visa, you must have a company ready to employ you and to sponsor you.

Indian outsourcing companies flood the applications with Indian nationals, because there is an enormous demand in India (AFAIK). On the other side, Europeans usually don't apply to outsourcing companies, but to tech companies themselves - for whom it is expensive and uncertain (will they get a visa? in how much time?) to make an offer to an European worker. So visas don't exactly go to Indians because they're Indian, they go to Indians because they benefit from (but also, are victim of) the outsourcing companies system - whereas an European worker has to convince an employer to go through the uncertain visa process to hire him/her.

Most tech folks I know over here pretty much gave up on getting hired in the US until things quiet down, or change in their favour - especially since the express lane system was shut down.

Indian consulting companies flood the application pool. Basically throwing a bunch of applications at the wall and some of them will stick. The companies don't care which stick as long as some stick.

How is that fair to individual applicants?

Well at least if you do get your H1B, you can get a green card rather quickly (within a year or so). Most Indian and Chinese nationals have to wait for more than 10 years in the queue before they are even eligible to apply.

Appending the subtitle of the article ("That is not a good argument against them") to the title would more accurately describe it.

I don't see how changing the title from a fact to a fact + an opinion would make it more accurate

Particularly when the body of the article also makes no attempt to argue for them either. The best it can muster is a weak recommendation to end the rule where H1B's are forced to stay with the sponsoring company.

"would more accurately describe the article", not reality.

Because facts are often stated in the context of opinion. It's not about accuracy, it's also about relevancy.


We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14145034 and marked it off-topic.

It is not a miracle. Indians immigrating to US are more educated than the general US population [1] (40.6% have graduate degree, 32.3% have bachelor's).

Have you also thought about why Indian American kids win spelling bee's or Jews win Nobel Prize disproportionately when compared to their population?

Comparing Indians or Asians to blacks is not fair. They are mostly recent immigrants (except few brought in as labourers) and did not have to suffer through the horrors of slavery which left blacks with broken family structure and other things (It is complex, like housing seggregation where the black neighbourhoods did not increase in wealth when compared to white neighbourhoods, criminal justice system)

[1] http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/09/30/5-facts-abou...

So, this is a topic I've very passionate about. I work quite of few H1Bs. Most of them have Masters degrees from India. The QA team is 80% H1Bs, all with Masters degrees from India. Of the 8 QA engineers, only 1 writes code. The others did do some programming when they got their undergrad and graduate degrees in India, but for some reason, none of the 7 write code. None, zero. Can't even get them to press the F12 key, look at the details of a failed request, and add it to the bug. To me this says three things, either the schools in India are horrible, there is lots of cheating going on, or lack of passion in a chosen career renders all advance degrees to null.

So, you do realize that Indians have been coming to the USA for a long time? You do realize that there were pioneers from India in the USA that fought for rights that you are just dismiss as trivial. Here, read something - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_v._Bhagat_Singh_...

Lastly just because someone has more degrees doesn't make them smarter or more intelligent.

I said most Indians are recent immigrants (not all). I cared about most Indians because when you are speaking about median income it is the most that matters not outliers. How is the Bhagat Singh case is anyway related to when you are speaking about median income?

I did not say more degrees makes you smarter but there is a direct correlation between education and income. That was the point being discussed

> Have you also thought about why Indian American kids win spelling bee's

Because their parents and education system still focus on rote learning, we moved on from that waste of time decades ago.

Asians are good at Math than Americans. Is that rote learning too ?

> we moved on from that waste of time decades ago.

No wonder Asians are taking over.

You'll have to be more specific. Quite a lot of what schools consider math is rote learning, from time tables in early years to forumalas in later ones.


You pushed what was already a flamewar into seriously worse territory with your comments here. We don't want uncivil comments like "You make me laugh" at the best of times, let alone in nasty spats about race.

Just because the rest of society is going crazy about this stuff doesn't mean you get to ditch your manners here. We've warned you about this before. If you want to keep posting here, please fix it.

> You make me laugh. Indians are nowhere close to Jews. Sure, Indians make up 1% of the US population, but they also make up almost one fifth of Earth's population as a whole. There are more than one billion Indians on Earth.

The problem really is that you are comparing a geographic (Indian) to followers of a religion (Jews). Indians can be Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Atheists, Christians or even Jews. It's wrong to compare 1 billion Indians of various ethnicities, cultures and religions with followers of a single religion - Jews.

> Of course you will see a generally smart group of people when you specifically only let in the top 0.0001% of the Indian population to begin with.

Also saying that top 0.0001% of Indian populace go to the US is another fallacy. Firstly, you are making an assumption that the top 0.0001% of Indian populace apply to the US in the first place. There is no data to back this up. Secondly, most of the top/successful Indian businessman are from India and not Indian-Americans. Sure, Indian-Americans are on average more successful and wealthy than the average Indian on account of being in an already developed country. That does not mean they are crème de la crème. There is not even a single Indian-American who is as successful, influential or powerful as Ratan Tata, Anil/Mukesh Ambani, Gautam Adani, Azim Premji or even Narayan Murthy. Show me one Indian-American founded company that can compete with the scale of this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ku6SAMsyHbo

>The problem really is that you are comparing a geographic (Indian) to followers of a religion (Jews).

Wrong. Keep telling yourself what you want to hear. I'm talking about Jewish ancestry (i.e., genetics), not Jewish faith. Essentially all of the genius Ashkenazi Jews were non-practicing:

- John Von Neumann

- Albert Einstein

- Bobby Fischer

- Richard Feynman

- Sigmund Freud

- Hans Bethe

- Eugene Wigner

- Milton Friedman

- Karl Marx

- Noam Chomsky

- Scarlett Johansson

You can even read this astounding section on Wikipeida: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashkenazi_Jews#Notable_Ashkena...

> I'm talking about Jewish ancestry (i.e., genetics), not Jewish faith

This has nothing to do with genetics. If genetics was at play, you would have had Jews inventing and discovering prior to 20th century too. That is not the case (at least not comparable to amount of discoveries/inventions that happened in the 20th/21st century). This was because the Jews had a level playing field. The section of Wikipedia you quote also confirms the same: "In those societies where they have been free to enter any profession, they have a record of high occupational achievement, entering professions and fields of commerce where higher education is required". The important part is "free to enter any profession". Were Indians "free to enter any profession" during the 19th-20th century?

The Jews have been migrating to the West for centuries (since at least the 17th century). Indians have been doing so only for the past 40-50 years. Those Indians who were lucky enough to get to travel to the West for education opted to become Barristers to fight the British Colonial rule legally (studying Science/Technology was the last priority for most Indians during that time). Formal education was also denied to majority of Indians during the British Raj (which wasn't the case for Jews in the West). It wasn't as easy for Indians to migrate to the West as it was for the Jews (as wealth, language barrier and travel risks played a huge role). Getting access to quality education was pretty much impossible for Indians until we gained Independence from the British Raj in 1947. I can actually turn around and say that it is quite astonishing that Indians have been so successful considering we gained freedom only 70 years ago.

I'm sure our future generations (2-3 centuries from now) would be studying about Indians in the same way as we are studying about Ashkenazi Jews today. I'm hoping they wouldn't label it as genetics and instead simply attribute it to access to quality education, wealth, prosperity, freedom and liberty.

>I'm sure our future generations (2-3 centuries from now) would be studying about Indians in the same way as we are studying about Ashkenazi Jews today.

That is truly repulsive, man. I'm not sure why you have such a wet dream about being the smartest and most successful race/ethnicity/whatever, but I want nothing to do with it. It's honestly really off-putting.

Also, you're COMPLETELY wrong about Jews having a level playing field prior to the 17th century. Jews were prohibited from nearly every trade in the middle ages.

> Also, you're COMPLETELY wrong about Jews having a level playing field prior to the 17th century. Jews were prohibited from nearly every trade in the middle ages.

I said in the 19th-20th century. You have trouble reading my answers because you have a prejudiced mind. I never said prior to 17th century. So do not twist my answers to your liking (First you changed from "Jews" to "Jewish ancestry" after calling you out on your ridiculous comparison between Indians and Jews and now this). Jews had 3 centuries (starting from 17th century) to adapt and learn all the best things in various fields. Be it science, arts, philosophy etc. Indians have had only 70 years. This is a hard fact and no one can deny this.

> That is truly repulsive, man. I'm not sure why you have such a wet dream about being the smartest and most successful race/ethnicity/whatever, but I want nothing to do with it. It's honestly really off-putting.

We aren't. I'm clearly telling you that we had only 70 years to get to where we are today and we'll need 2-3 centuries more to make it (which is clearly why I said future generations 2-3 centuries from now). And I'm proud of it. It's repulsive to your prejudiced mind that's not my problem. I'm glad that my comments are off-putting to bigots.

> That is truly repulsive, man. I'm not sure why you have such a wet dream about being the smartest and most successful race/ethnicity/whatever, but I want nothing to do with it. It's honestly really off-putting.

And what is more retarded is that you say exactly opposite to what I said: "I'm hoping they wouldn't label it as genetics and instead simply attribute it to access to quality education, wealth, prosperity, freedom and liberty."

I clearly state that it shouldn't be attributed to genetics. Only those who think their race/ethnicity/whatever is superior talk about genetics. You have a wet dream about Jews being a superior race. Read every answer of yours and you'll realize that I'm right. The fact is that most Jews were in the right place at the right time. Given the same opportunity to Indians we would have achieved the same. If you go back in history, you'll find that Science and Mathematics was way more advanced in Ancient India (called Bharat) than in any other country in the World. It was no coincidence that many nations tried to invade India. Even America was founded mainly because Christopher Columbus mistook it for India. Our civilization was destroyed by the invaders (first Islamic invasions and then followed by the British). Our thirst for knowledge, science, philosophy, astronomy and spirituality was replaced by defending our borders and fighting endless battles. We have suffered more than even the Jews. Read about the Biggest Holocaust in World History (And it's a Jew website.. Irony just died a painful death huh?): http://www.jewsnews.co.il/2014/12/31/islamic-india-the-bigge...

And just so you know, there was a great Indian physicist by the name of Satyendra Nath Bose (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satyendra_Nath_Bose) whose work was even appreciated by Einstein. Quoting directly from Wiki: "Einstein, recognising the importance of the paper, translated it into German himself and submitted it on Bose's behalf to the prestigious Zeitschrift für Physik. As a result of this recognition, Bose was able to work for two years in European X-ray and crystallography laboratories, during which he worked with Louis de Broglie, Marie Curie, and Einstein"

Quoting from here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bose%E2%80%93Einstein_statisti...

"Bose adapted this lecture into a short article called "Planck's Law and the Hypothesis of Light Quanta"[1][2] and submitted it to the Philosophical Magazine. However, the referee's report was negative, and the paper was rejected. Undaunted, he sent the manuscript to Albert Einstein requesting publication in the Zeitschrift für Physik. Einstein immediately agreed, personally translated the article from English into German (Bose had earlier translated Einstein's article on the theory of General Relativity from German to English), and saw to it that it was published. Bose's theory achieved respect when Einstein sent his own paper in support of Bose's to Zeitschrift für Physik, asking that they be published together. This was done in 1924.[3]"

The worst part was that Nobel Prize was awarded for research related to concepts of Higgs-Boson, Bose-Einstein statistics and Bose-Einstein condensate. However, Bose himself was never awarded the Nobel Prize.

Quoting from the same article: "SN Bose's work on particle statistics (c. 1922), which clarified the behaviour of photons (the particles of light in an enclosure) and opened the door to new ideas on statistics of Microsystems that obey the rules of quantum theory, was one of the top ten achievements of 20th century Indian science and could be considered in the Nobel Prize class.[33]

When Bose himself was once asked that question, he simply replied, “I have got all the recognition I deserve”— probably because in the realms of science to which he belonged, what is important is not a Nobel, but whether one’s name will live on in scientific discussions in the decades to come.[34]"

There are many such Indian scientists in the 20th century who made immense contributions to Science and Technology but were never recognized by the West. Maybe it's racism, maybe it's indifference. But I'm sure the future generations will recognize these contributions without any prejudice whatsoever.

Is it cronyism or is it "you will see a generally smart group of people when you specifically only let in the top 0.0001% of the Indian population to begin with"?

Or is it both? Or maybe Indians are lizard people that eat babies.

thank you cscurmudgeon. Only you seem to get it. I included Jews to prove that being model minority is quite complex and not all minorities can be compared. I think most missed the point and went into genetics which i don't believe in. I was expecting people to understand that if your parents are educated, you are more likely to be educated which proves to be the case for Jews and Indians in US.

I'm genuinely curious to know what you are implying here. Indians in the US are making highest median income because of some kind of racism/cronyism favoring them? I always thought it's because a significant percentage (not all) who immigrate are at the top already

Or a combination of both. It is something I've noticed, companies with indians doing the hiring end up with a lot of indians, companies with chinese doing the hiring end up with a lot of chinese. It's rare to find indians in a chinese software shop and vise versa.

White people don't have a monopoly on racism.

I never said white people have monopoly on racism. Like your ancedata, my experience with white people have been completely unracist, very welcoming and acknowledging talent. Believe me, I've seen indian racism first hand back home, and it's as ugly as it can get. "Racism", somehow, seems to be hardwired in humans, given its prevalence.

Also, ancedata, I've seen engineering departments evenly split between Indian and Chinese, marketing and sales mostly towards Caucasian.

So, my two cents. Individuals enjoy working with other Individuals from similar backgrounds. I worked for a very well know software company on the west coast for 15 years. In that company, there were groups you didn't interview in, because they were controlled by the "Indian Mafia". There weren't any teams of all native born Americans. There were a lot of teams of just men, but that changed a lot towards the last few years in the company. In my current job, I was asked to sit in some interviews by lead/mid-level engineers. The lead engineer couldn't make it to the interview, not sure why. One of the engineers started by asking what the candidates immigration status was. The candidate said they were a GC. The engineer said, we don't need to continue this interview, we only want H1Bs. Of course in my 20+ years, I had never actually witnessed someone asking a question that could end up as a lawsuit. Of course I let HR know and they barred that engineer from conducting interviews. But it took the HR about six months to realize that the interviewers were looking for any reason to reject anyone not H1B from India. They barred them all from interviewing and made it so that HR could over rule any rejected candidate. Most of other companies I had been at, this would have been grounds for immediate dismissal.

Looking at the distribution of h1b's from the Asian subcontinent it would be interesting to break it down by caste.

Maybe Caste needs to be added to the protected classes as we did in the UK I know one of the MP's that was involved in this

> I can say without a doubt in my mind that there is enormous cronyism and nepotism going on in the US.

And do you have any evidence that is more than anecdotal?

FWIW (not much) I am finishing up a CS PhD, and there are many Indian students in our grad department, and many Chinese in undergrad. Haven't seen much favoritism towards these groups at either grad or undergrad (by my observations TAing) over the 5 years I've been here.

It's crazy to me that not only you think there is epidemic cronyism, but that you also have "no doubt" about your beliefs...


> I think it's disgusting that you say you're contributing to my country

> If this is what you believe you most certainly are not welcome.

I'm late to this thread but need to tell you that if you post like this again we will ban you. Racial and national flamewars are not ok on HN.

We detached this flagged subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14144409.

> Americans don't get PhDs because graduate schools are flooded with applications from those trying to gain entry to the US. Once in industry foreigners tend to hire only members of their own race further discouraging Americans from pursuing advanced degrees.

That's not true. The American Universities don't choose to admit foreign students just because. The good schools always try to balance the mix of students admitted into the program.

> you're not welcome

This makes me sad.

>That's not true. The American Universities don't choose to admit foreign students just because. The good schools always try to balance the mix of students admitted into the program.

Then why do Indians make up more than 30% of my school's CS program, despite them making up less than 1% of the US population?

Probably cause the admission committee thought all those students are equally talented as you are. India has a huge population with 50% of its population below the age of 25. India and China together are close to 1/3rd of the worlds population. You should be happy the you are getting to interact with the cream of smart students from these countries :) Key part of education is learning and working with your smart peers.

You don't get to interact, learn with, and work with them. They separate themselves from you. They speak their own language, which isn't easy to learn. They don't celebrate your holidays, either national or religious. Since they are likely leaving the country, neither professional nor romantic relationships are likely to be viable. Half of the ones from India even sort of despise you based on religion.

So in a classroom, you and they may occupy chairs, but to each it's like the other people might as well not be there. This puts you farther from the front of the class and gives you less time to interact with the instructor, but you gain nothing for your loss. The hallways are more crowded, but with fewer people you know. It's the same in the cafeteria, where you might want to meet people. The dating scene is cut in half, assuming 50% non-American.

Textbook stereotyping if I ever saw one.

> You should be happy the you are getting to interact with the cream of smart students from these countries :)

Smart and wealthy - not everyone in India or China can afford to study in US.

One thing to remember is that colleges do take a lot of international students, specifically because they pay a lot more in tuition generally than in-state tuition.


Almost no student pays for PhD or MS programs in the top universities.

If you look at the post graduate programs of top universities, it is still dominated by non US students.

Why do you think that is the case?

It's mostly economics and a bit of societal incentives.

For an American CS graduate, the opportunity cost of joining grad school is too high. It makes more sense to join the industry immediately and start paying back the massive loans.

For an Indian college graduate, it makes more sense to spend 2-5 years in the grad school if it means getting a job in the US later. With little or no loans to pay back, the earning potential is worth the extra few years of study.

Also on average, Indians and Chinese people tend to value higher education more than their US counterparts. Anecdotally, I have met few Americans who would prefer their spouse and children to go to grad school instead of working full-time after college.

Yes, Indian people tend to value higher education and cheating.

Just look at all these articles on cheating in India. http://www.cnn.com/videos/world/2015/03/20/pkg-walker-india-... http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-36431885 http://www.latimes.com/world/great-reads/la-fg-c1-india-test...

Let's be honest. Americans cheat too, but not to this level.

"Let's be honest. Americans cheat too, but not to this level."


Great response, totally agree.

One more thing, I've seen a lot of people who go to undergrad in China or India, then go to graduate school in the US. The name of their undergrad doesn't matter, but really it's about getting a reputable name that US companies trust so a US company will hire / sponsor them. On this level, they are usually treated on par with someone you don't have to sponsor with a good undergrad degree.

because most americans don't like CS?they like arts, history etc.. most indians and foreigners go to CS because of $$ alone. the motivation for a US citizen is "i want to study what my interests are."

I assure you, most american-born students get a free pass in stanford/berkeley/CMU if you pit them against a foreign-born. the fact there are almost zero americans mean nobodywants to study it.

You have no idea about the kind of competition that exists for undergrad positions in top-10 CS departments.

Did you mean American-Indians constitute only "1% of US population"? I am not following you.

> That's not true

It's true for not so good schools.

I came to the US on an H1-B to fill a position that was open for 2 years. They simply could not find a qualified candidate. I don't have a PhD, and I wasn't educated in the United States.

I was hired because of all the extra-curricular projects I pursued in electrical engineering, embedded systems, and most notably, security. There is nothing _at all_ preventing an American from doing what I do, but my field is dominated by Europeans. It could be laws, it could be culture. Whatever it is, American companies need these skills and they can't find them in the US.

If a foreigner with a fraction of your assets and no network can replace you, it's your own fault.

The fact the positions would not otherwise go unfilled does nothing to diminish the contributions of OP to the country.

You may have a valid point (at first) but then it gets ugly. There isn't a reason to make someone just trying to get the best out of life feel bad.

Why not just index H-1B allotments according to unemployment rate + career field + geographic region?

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | DMCA | Apply to YC | Contact