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How the H-1B Visa System Can Hurt American Workers (2015) (nytimes.com)
71 points by howard941 36 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 107 comments



Significant changes since this article was published:

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/04/20/big-american-tech-companies-...

> Four U.S. tech companies — Amazon, Microsoft, Intel and Google — were among the top 10 employers for approved H-1B applications in FY 2017,

> The top seven Indian technology companies were given a total of 8,468 H-1B visas in FY 2017 .. a massive drop from FY 2015, when these companies got 14,792 H-1B visas. One of the largest Indian outsourcing firms, Infosys, saw a 49 percent drop between FY 2016 and FY 2017.


Amen to that. The labor pool must not be artificially expanded when we have had no real income growth in a generation.

Free and Fair Trade and assisting the American worker are the only things Trump is good for. The rest has been a disaster. But if Hilary were in charge, we´d still have unfettered globalization no empathy for the disenfranchised deplorables. Let´s just keep pumping them full of opiods.

https://freebeacon.com/issues/hillary-clintons-prescription-...


> The labor pool must not be artificially expanded

It's the other way around - visas and borders artificially limit it.

You can argue whether it's a good thing or not, just understand that you're basically demanding more regulation. Rather ironic, coming from "J. Galt".


I see your point, but certain companies hogging the lion's share of the H1-B's is not Free Enterprise.


If the American worker is less competent than the foreign worker, it goes against everything your namesake stands for to have government intervene to assist the American worker.

(And yes, national borders are themselves a form of government interference, and a fairly significant one at that.)


It is less about the average American worker and more about statistics.

There are 1 billion Indians and Chinese each. When a few thousand of them are migrating to the US every year, you get to meet the candidates that have been pre-screened to be among the best in their respective could tries.

Now since the US has better amenities, the 99th percentile Indian, probably rubs shoulders with a 95th percentile American. But even then, there are just as many 99th percentile Asians as there are 95th percentile Americans (due to population differences)

If Amazon needs a person who is in the 95th percentile on Math/Analytics/CS , then at a certain point they run out of Americans. They then have 2 options. Either hire 99th percentile Indians or lower the hiring bar.

IMO, the US has managed to stay on top in the tech through shameless poaching of top talent across the world. (Among other things) Letting go of this talent, across the board, might lead to short term citizen job growth, but may cause long term job loss as companies setup base elsewhere, in search of talent or competition gets stiffer.


Why should Amazon "run out of" Americans? If they want the best candidates and the pools are statistically equivalent, they should be taking Indians, Chinese, and Americans in proportion to their worldwide population from their first hires onwards.

The only reason to prefer Americans is American government intervention. Without a government telling you who you can hire and who you can't - and in particular, in the utopia of John Galt - there's no rational reason for Amazon to prefer extending offers to people born anywhere vs. people born anywhere else.


H1-B employees and American Workers have both been abused by corporations in the US.

I have seen this first hand how many people trying to get a junior software development job with decent background experience get the “ladder of opportunity” shoved down the second they try to approach it.

I work for one of the Big 4 Consulting companies. Three months ago I met a random barista at a coffee shop who said they wanted to get into software development. I remember thinking “sure whatever”. A month later I was really impressed by their progress. A month after that with even more progress I said I’d hire him because I easily could give him 15-20 hours of extra work that he could do for my team. I said the typical Freelancer hourly rate is to take the yearly salary, divide it by 2, and then that’s the hourly rate. So assuming he would make 80k entry level, hourly rate is $40. This person person just started to cry, loudly and emotionally, when I said that. He said he’d never though he’d make that kind of money in his life. Keep in mind this person had a college degree and was 29. My dad was the kind of person who would never cry, and I try to be like that too, but it was really hard not too at that point.


There are two major sectors relying on H1-B employees - companies whose product is some core tech (mainly in Silicon Valley and Seattle) and companies whose core product is outsourcing & consulting fees. The abuse disproportionately happens with the latter as it’s built into the business model - difference between money billed to clients and money paid out to employees is all pure margin.

The question is how to encourage the former type while discouraging the latter.

To me a priority queue based on salary makes sense - Facebook or Microsoft are likely to shell out $150,000+ a year for an employee they want, a consulting body shop would not.

It also makes sense for the federal government who stands to collect more income tax from higher salaries.


Another way is to require companies to offer green card sponsorship for any employee that asks. Sweat shops that use H1B to hire cheap labor are not going to invest in that kind of thing, especially since the end result is that they have less leverage over the employee.


Sponsoring a green card does not necessarily mean the employee will receive it anytime soon.

Because of country-of-birth quotas, an individual can be approved for a skilled employment based green card but have to wait many decades, potentially over a century, to receive one.

Making it much faster to receive an employment-based green card once approved is the core problem that needs to be solved.


I'm well aware - I went through that process myself.

What I'm saying is that it can still be a useful filter - companies that abuse H-1B likely won't sponsor them for green cards at all.


The priority queue sounds like a great idea. But, certain factors (COL of area, pay discrepancies between CS and other branches and lower pay in some challenges jobs (JPL)) must be taken into account.


To add to that, in the valley I’ve worked alongside H-1Bs whose main job was quotidian SQL queries —nothing one could claim we had a dearth of local talent for. I’m not denigrating the work, it’s honest work, just that it’s hardly the case for an H-1B.


Curious, what kind of companies were these?

In my experience in the valley, almost all of the h1b's I have worked with are the smartest people I know from top colleges.


This is a dumb question. How do you get into freelance work? What skills are needed?


I'd love to hear a follow up to the story!


As an american, I'm really surprised at the quality of responses here which are mostly skeptical of H-1B immigration benefits but then I see full throated support to low skilled immigration. Is this because I'm from a flyover state and can see the first hand damage low skilled immigration causes and most here are ignoring that?


I like to think of it this way: the H1B program is well-intentioned, but has been hijacked to a large degree by outsourcing companies and corporations just looking to cut costs to the detriment of American workers. There are companies using the program in a good way, but there are also a lot using it in a bad way so you get a mix of opinions in comment threads like this one.

On the low-skill immigration side, it can be a good thing when immigrants come to areas with plenty of jobs and act as supplementary labor rather than as direct competition. For example, in some urban centers, immigrants make up a large portion of nannies because working parents need help raising kids, but local residents often don't want to do that kind of work. The net result is more productive parents and an immigrant labor pool fulfilling a needed role. On the other hand, in flyover states you tend to have a different set of labor supply and demand situations and low skill immigrants can be detrimental. Most HN commenters are yuppies rather than rural residents, so you get more emphasis on immigration being a good thing.


> immigrants make up a large portion of nannies

Those jobs would go to citizens if they weren't taken up by immigrants. Sure, the salary requirements would increase, but isn't that literally the rallying cry of politics right now? To pay people more?

So I have trouble squaring this: we want more low skilled immigrants, we don't want to build a wall or any deterrant actually but we need to cap and reduce high skilled immigration? Meanwhile, we need to lobby for more destructive policies that will reduce the flyover states voting power?


That's highly debatable. Nannies only make sense if you pay your nanny significantly less than your own after-tax salary. If the price is too high, one parent just stops working because doing otherwise is foolish financially and because "I'm spending all my money to pay a stranger to raise my kids." So if immigrants were not available for the work and salaries rose accordingly, a significant number of parents would leave the workforce and lower overall productivity in the local economy. That's what I mean by supplementary labor.

Your last comment is assuming complete lack of nuance in common opinions. You need to add some qualifiers to make it accurate. Something like this:

We want more low skilled immigrants where they supplement rather than compete with local labor, ... we need to revise the program for highly-skilled immigration without necessarily reducing overall number of immigrants since it has been abused by multiple companies.

I'm not sure what you're referring to on your last point. Flyover states and rural communities in general are rather overrepresented in politics today [1]. Most debate on this issue I'm aware of is focused on returning to parity in representation.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/21/upshot/as-american-as-app...


As an H1-B visa holder, on EB2 green card queue for 7 years, and in the US for over 12 years, working for a FAANG in the Valley, make a ton of money, I must say it is kind of grinding reading repeated headlines (in HN and elsewhere) about how I am the enemy of the American worker.


I know the politics are complicated, so take this with a grain of salt, but I can't help but think that the easiest way to keep H1-B visa holders from taking high tech jobs away from American citizens is to make them American citizens. :)


That's a great answer! Barring that, just hand H1-B people a green card or something that makes it easy for them to switch jobs. That means they can easily compete for the same wages everyone else gets, rather than being stuck with one company.


"Give them a green card" is essentially the same thing - the standard track to citizenship is ... -> green card -> citizenship, you pretty much never jump straight to the latter. Generally speaking, green card holders can apply for citizenship after 5 years, and it's pretty hard to be ineligible for one, but not the other (some people prefer to stay on green cards for other reasons).


yes yes yes


A lot of H1-B's don't want to become American Citizens and are satisfied with obtaining a green card.


Citation needed


As the adage goes, we don’t hate the player, we hate the game. Companies local and international are gaming the visa process at the expense of American workers.

Just as China or Japan don’t owe Americans jobs, we don’t owe foreign nationals jobs.

That said, there are good cases for H-1B visas when we don’t have local talent. It has good uses, but it gets abused and there’s the rub.


Hating the player vs hating the game is a distinction without a difference as the manifestation of the hate is on the individual. I sincerely believed that unlike China and Japan, US is the land of immigrants where you work hard and there is a path to citizenship. I guess I fell for the attractive marketing there.


Given that we’re still politically organized by nations, governments owe allegiance to those who have nurtured that government to do good by its people.

That’s to say, protect our workforce, but where it makes sense, import labor to bridge gaps in skills or labor pool. America will always allow immigrants and will always welcome those who go through the official process (we allow in over one million legal immigrants yearly). But we must also be vigilant against abuse as many of these so called body shops do. You may be a bona fide needed professional skilled worker and thanks for your contribution, but for every you there is a doubiously skilled H-1B undermining the system.


Here we might be able to get a glimpse into part of the problem that the US is having with its immigration system, that certain jobs are linked directly with certain immigration status (in a sense of semantic interdependence). And thus, whenever someone who is a current US citizen loses his job, entirely (e.g. layoff) or partially (e.g. wage cut or reduced working hours), then an assumption based on equivalence arithmetic can easily arise for him that the part of the job he loses would be occupied by another person, who is very likely an immigrant, due to that 2nd degree link (from his perspective in reasoning) between job and immigration status. But the root cause for his job loss can be much more complicated (if we thinks a bit harder), and more real, than someone who was born in another country and fresh-off-boat took that job away (or stole, if the process was not a concrete thing that could be touched or seen)...Then suspicion, hatred, and sometimes even aggressiveness naturally follow...

But the job market, in its traditional sense, can still shrink, as long as there is increasingly more automation and growing average productivity in our society, even if we chase away all the workers born outside the United States who are not US citizens, and build a wall to create a certain physical separation between us and them. But would we hate and become aggressive towards our new machines and our more productive way of working? Sometimes we would...But it's still much easier to do that towards a living person, especially when he is more vulnerable, legally, than us on our land...

Perhaps the most interesting point here is whether such exclusion, expulsion or isolation could eventually solve our problem...Admittedly, they really work sometimes, for us, and for certain other nations throughout the history, for this or other problem or "question" -- and this indeed is our problem (or at least we have a share in the overall situation) -- and perhaps it's not our responsibility to worry about what that would leave those who are not the "same" as us to...

But is this really the best solution? And best in what sense, and best for whom?


For what it's worth, I don't think there's anything wrong with having an H1B. The system of tech consultancy companies (some of which are American) staffed up by H1Bs are what is being abused, where there are already people doing the job being directly replaced.


You absolutely are not the enemy. I've worked with tons of H1Bs who explained the hoops they had to jump through and ongoing citizenship issues they faced. The system is convoluted and it's difficult to have a discussion that doesn't descend into race-baiting garbage.

I feel the real threat to American workers as a whole isn't about individual (hard)workers rather entire departments being outsourced to overseas companies as a proxy to void the rights Americans are entitled to in order for some middle manager to show increased profits because the money comes out of a different 'bucket'.

H1B 'outrage' articles are just a distraction. The crap you guys have to go through to come here is insane.


You are not. But others from your country are (the ones coming through staffing companies). It is tough to be punished for being from a wrong country. Maybe people like you should speak up more and join in fighting the H1 system abuse instead of joining with the abusers in demanding more visas?

The only thing that would happen had they allocated more visas - more people would be brought. You will still be stuck.


We have been fighting and have sponsored specific legislation to alleviate this. But there is no appetite in the US government to reform immigration. There are no votes there.


It is not the engineers. It is the staffing companies that abuse the system. The engineers are just pawns in the game.


But you're not, and insisting that others say you are seems to be a bit of a melodramatic strawman.

The H1B system has been abused by corporations. This has been to the detriment of American workers and H1B holders.


It is not a strawman. The Trump administration views ALL H1 workers as detrimental to the American economy. My H1 extension with a FAANG was denied last year and I had to jump through thousands of hoops, beg managers who I haven't spoken with in 10 years, beg HR of companies that I left decades ago to give me specific, USCIS approved reference letters.


Nothing you wrote in anyway refutes the article's points. If the article is correct, should your feelings be put ahead of the economic wellbeing of citizens of a nation of which you are not a citizen? If the article is not correct, then there are arguments you can make that don't involve your emotional state.


The framing of the article is incredibly rude and dehumanizing to the workers themselves, while burying the actual lede (global outsourcing companies) deep at the end of the page.

It's part-and-parcel of the New York Times to lay the blame for bad policies at the feet of the people least in control of and most harmed by those policies.

It's objectively bad reporting.


For perspective, remember that "12 years" means that you were working in the US throughout the "Great Recession", when hundreds of thousands of residents with tech degrees were unemployed and underemployed.


In the same situation (not FAANG, earning a lot less), but been here almost 10 years, in the queue for close to 5 years.

One must understand that not all H1B folks are the same. Some are genuinely highly skilled and add a lot to the existing workforce. I do agree, some do not really qualify as highly skilled. Maybe the cap on the annual salary to be qualified for H1B should be higher.


Congrats. I was a H1-B holder myself and I agree.

How did you manage to get beyond the 6 years limit for H1-B?


Once you have your I-140 approved, you can extend your H1B for 3 years unlimited number of times.


Begin Greencard processing and get I-140, after which, you can keep extending your H1b beyond 6 year limit.


Once you've got a green card application in, you can renew your H1B yearly ad infinitum.


The problem is that until you get a green card, you're on a fairly short leash.

The solution is to make it easier to get a green card.


I know there have been some reforms since 2015, though I haven't kept up with all the details.

Isn't there a simple fix for this? Set per-company max percentages for H-1B visa holders. So if it's 15%, and you have 100 employees, only 15 of them can be H-1Bs. I imagine there are probably ways to game this as well, but I'd think it'd be easier to figure out when that gaming is occurring, and shut it down.

Or is there just no political will to fix it?


You could also tax the companies per H-1B [25% -50% of salary?] and dedicate that money to develop native talent [Get kids into STEM starting from K, and train or offer education to candidates wanting to transition into new fields].

If a company really needs these workers, they’ll gladly pay the premium and the local pool of workers or future workers get support to get into that field and reduce the need to import labor. Allow H-1Bs a free transition to alternate co. to ensure commensurate wages.


An interesting idea, but in the end probably not something politicians would like. (What does "money to develop native talent" go to, anyway?) Regardless, large companies are experts at shuffling profits around to avoid paying taxes, so I doubt this would curb the abuses.

The application process (fees to the government plus paying lawyers) already costs a decent amount, so perhaps just raising those fees would help? The outsourcing companies have pretty deep pockets, though, so in the end that would just hurt smaller shops that actually have a need for H-1B workers.

I think per-company caps are the way to go. They don't hurt the companies, and they should actually solve the problem.

An alternative might be to just outlaw these sorts of outsourcing firms. Stipulate that H-1B visa holders must be employed by the company where they actually work (no contracting arrangements), and the sponsor of the H-1B can't be a third-party company.


There is already such a fee included in H1B application fees that has raised billions for developing native talent.


Yes, there is a trivial fix for this: Remove H-1B visas entirely.

H-1B visas lower employee power in the hiring arrangement, forcing potential candidates to accept lower wages by allowing companies to retain existing H-1B workers indefinitely without wage adjustments. Lowering the ability for a class of workers to advocate for themselves lowers the ability for all workers in that field to advocate for themselves by removing a subset of those workers' bargaining power.

In all honesty, H-1B visas mostly seem to fit into society as a way to outsource without looking like you're doing so - I'd rather companies outsource as they desire (and feel the penalties of doing so) or be forced to hire from a pool of candidates who were able to legally immigrate into the US. If the pool of candidates available in the US is too low then we should relax quota laws and let more people immigrate.

Done.

And there is no political will because a lot of companies make tons of money off of exploiting workers who have two options (1) continue working for the company and accrue no or very few benefits over time (2) quit and be deported. Giving your employees a choice like that makes all the worst people in management salivate... thus no one lobbies to remove H-1B visas, many people lobby to maintain or expand this "source of skilled labour" and politicians see no reason to take a stand on an issue that gets very little time in the spotlight and would cost them big in terms of donations.


H1 does not lower employee power. I came on H1, got laid off within one year and then had to change companies again in 6 months. I could do it just fine.


You may be confused about the point of the parent; this is not a comparison between H1-B or nothing, it's a comparison between H1-B and permanent residency / citizenship.

Specifically, the structure of H1 visas limit the prospects of highly-skilled employees to a subset of all possible domestic employers, since not all employers in the US have the financial means and/or legal expertise to sponsor visas.

If, rather than forcing recently-graduated PhD students (to take one example) to consider only companies that sponsor visas, we could allow them to apply and receive their I-140s with a high probability and at a low cost. Under this system:

- they can take more time to search for jobs and prepare for interviews

- they can afford to negotiate more aggressively with offers, since they won't be expelled from the country if they reject the first offer that comes their way

- they can switch companies, or start their own companies, with no external restrictions beyond the obvious financial ones

In general, their prospects as employees would be greatly expanded, and their base of negotiation with employers on the whole would improve.

Hope this makes sense.

Edit: The above reasoning may not apply to employees from countries with reciprocity agreements with the US who do not wish to give up their permanent residency in their home countries (if those countries' reciprocity agreements would require that). I'm not aware of any that are like this, however.


None of this changes your point, but to add to it:

- they can leave change professions and apply to law, medical, dental, or nursing school.

- they can save up, quit their job, and travel around the country, try to write a novel, paint, play music, or become a surf bum.

- they can leave the tech industry and open their own flower, hot dog, crepe stand, film production company, or record label.

- I've heard there are other things free people also do (that Silicon Valley employers consider less valuable than writing code in a giant open office at a wage the employers have decided is "fair"), but I forget them all right now.

In short, they can do any of those things that people who are allowed to participate in free labor markets are allowed to do.

Silicon Valley asked the labor market what it would take to get highly competent and intelligent people with freedom to become developers in the valley rather than doing any of those things you or I mentioned above, and the market answered.

Silicon Valley didn't like the answer, so they had the government ask again for them. The government responded by creating a shadow immigration system under which high tech employers control the circumstances under which would-be immigrants are allowed to come to the US and the conditions under which they would be allowed to remain.

That they would defend this as "skilled immigration", or think there is any pro-immigrant or libertarian argument for it, is bewildering to me.

It's hardly the most egregious installment in the US's grim history of allowing employers to control a workers right to be in the US, but it's still a shame we haven't learned that workers (who we might want to refer to as "people") should have the freedom to chose who they will marry, where they will work, and what they will do, in response to their own interests and market signals.


H1 Absolutely DOES lower power of an employee. You are basically a "slave" to a company until you get your green card and are free to quit.

Especially in today's socio-political environment.


You're not a slave. You're brought in on a non-immigrant visa to fill a skills gap that a company has. You are free to leave the USA any time you want and certainly don't need an exit visa nor permission of your employer to leave.


Wat.

Do you feel like it wouldn't be a violation of your rights if someone seized your house, handed you a pile of cash and told you to get out of the country?

That's more extreme then what's being talked about but not by much. When it comes to freedoms "technically not slavery" is not one that I value as particularly free.

A person is moving their life to this country, they are becoming a resident and joining a community. If they behave well I think the process for them to become a full PR should be easy, and the threat of losing their job shouldn't be bundled with losing everything that currently makes their life stable.


What are you talking about? Go read about what an H1B visa is for. It’s not a draconian attempt to own anybody as those coming into it should know the precise limitations of this non-immigrant visa.


I have a feeling that you and the parent poster (and I) have different views on immigration in general, which is fine, but it's going to color how we view certain restrictions on certain visas.

The objection is essentially that the US is imposing fairly-arbitrary restrictions on H-1B holders that make it difficult and stressful to live and work in the US... for no good reason.

You can say stuff like "they should have known the limitations of the visa and what they were getting into", and that's correct. But my position is one of empathy. Sure, the US government is certainly within its rights to create a visa program like this. My position, fundamentally, is that it shouldn't. It should treat people like people, not interchangeable worker cogs that should feel blessed just to be allowed to spend time in the US. It's incredibly arrogant and heartless, and I object to the entire thing on moral and ethical grounds. The US is one of the few developed nations that has such a strict, heartless immigration system, and frankly it makes me ashamed as a natural-born US citizen to see how we treat citizens of other nations who enrich our economy and lives.


No. You can easily transfer H1. I did that twice. It’s L1s that are not transferable.


Just to clarify, if you're transferring an H-1B visa you're moving from one offered H-1B visa advertised job to another H-1B visa advertised job - you are not able to transfer the H-1B visa to a regularly posted job... so your options are restricted to finding another H-1B visa that fits your precise skill set - again likely written up by their companies HR to specifically target you as an employee... And you need to do all that without pissing off your current employer enough that he finds fault with your work and tries to get you kicked out before you can transfer?

Seems easy.


There's a simpler fix. Companies have gotten away for decades by posting ridiculous job qualifications and then turning around and claiming that since there is no American they can find who is qualified to do the job, that they need to hire cheap foreign talent. I ran into that over and over again as a technical recruiter who would find teams of American citizens and green card holders suddenly displaced by H1s at half their rates.

In these instances, companies should pay 150% of the going market compensation to the H1 employee for the position and an additional 50% to a fund which provides training to local job candidates to create future competition for the position.


If the goal is to keep US employers competitive by letting them hire the best and brightest workers from around the world, doubling employee compensation costs is probably not going to achieve that - the companies will just open foreign offices. Which is already happening due to uncertainty of the entire program, my company shifted from opening a USA branch office to opening an european office to make it easier to hire european workers.

And it's not like we're using H1-B's as cheap labor, all of our H1-B's are PhD's (well, maybe a few Master's degrees in the mix that have significant experience), and are well compensated. We have a strong USA college recruitment program too.


Staffing companies should not be able to bring people. Only direct hires. This will fix H1 and will not require increasing cap and such.


To combat the case presented in the article, I think you'd also need to cap applications at a relatively low percentage of workforce to prevent the flood effect rather than just capping the number of H-1B holders.


At minimum, they should outlaw global outsourcing companies. They take an inordinate cut from the employee's paycheck for the entire employment period and provide little benefit to either the company trying to hire or the worker being hired.

They're glorified recruiters with a foothold in a buyers market, and the H1B system gives them anti-competitive leverage.

This whole system of tiered second-class employment creates a slew of perverse incentives. The whole thing should be abolished in favor of clear citizenship pathways and strict visa-blind labor rights across the board.


Add IBM global services, Deloitte and Accentures of the world to this list. These companies are hiding while TCSs of the world receive the flak.


A large number of these staffing companies are run by American "entrepreneurs".


This. They make it easy to replace local workers as it is them who need to justify bringing the workers and the client.

Pretty sure, it would be hard for Disney to justify bringing H1s while firing locals. It is much easier for stuffing firms to justify that and then supply to Disney.


I once worked for a consulting / recruiting firm that ultimately stopped using H1 shops for talent entirely. This came after an incident involving a large cosmetics corporation on a time sensitive project where an H1 employee was ill, and so the project manager decided to go to her hotel to check on her. She found 10 people from the same H1 consultancy living in a 2 bedroom extended stay apartment. Our recruiter had no idea since we only dealt with the contract from the H1 shop. The PM fired everybody from the H1 shop and our company was blacklisted from doing business with them.


In the end, the employee receives 50% of what that cosmetics co paid to the primary vendor.


Some Indian consulting companies or (managers at these places) require their Indian H1B employees to kickback some of their official salary. Typically the kickbacks paid by the employee are in the form of donations to selected "charities" back in India. Thus, the w-2 salary of the H1B employee looks reasonable on paper.

src: employee-rights lawyer buddies who have sued companies over this.


When I was working at AT&T, there was a different kind of kickback scheme at play.

AT&T --> Primary Vendor (B) --> Another Vendor (C) --> H1B/others who work as contractors for C.

Hiring managers and C have some sort of arrangement, wherein managers get paid in cash by C. Primary Vendor (B) takes a cut for $3 per hour per candidate. Even (B) knows what is going on, but does not care as long as it is easy money.

Anyway, one such scheme got busted when I left that place. AT&T fired three employees over this--two of these employees are brothers. The gist of it was that (C) was controlled by wives of two of these employees. And that (C) was placing 90% of candidates in AT&T NJ. This had raised suspicions--and other primary vendors complained about this. So, AT&T found the conflict of interest--that (C) was controlled by wives. And one of the wives was working as a contractor for one of the brothers. Because of this, they terminated all three.

Another company I am aware of, is doing this in the bay area. Here, the primary vendor is itself controlled by a dad of one of the managers at company D. This son at D pays in cash to the prospective managers, when their candidate is picked up.

One company I worked at, had a different kind of play: primary vendor's hot recruiter was involved with one of the hiring managers. Eventually, this led to the termination of that said manager.

Lots of things go on behind the scenes.


so what's the problem of 10 people stuffing in two small room, the ill guy could recover in time, why they all get fired?


Oh, the other part of the story... so this is back in the mid to late 90s. They're ERP consultants. These guys at the time were getting billed out at ~$400 a piece to the client even if they were raw. The cut of the firm they were working for was probably in the $270 range.

Turns out the technical consultants were making $15 an hour with no per diem or benefits and their functional people were getting about $22. The company I worked for got blamed for the living conditions of the employees... but we weren't in charge of their living conditions in the first place... that was all handled by their direct employer.


It's a really pity we can't have more calm, clear conversions like the nyt article and this thread.

Regrettably, for the most part, conversations on the issue deteriorate into one camp denying any problem exists, that several FANG companies were founded by H1-B folk etc and the other camp espousing a generalized xenophobia.

And it really is something that needs to be looked at and fixed or the angry people are just going to become more numerous and more extreme with demagogues whipping the flames leading to who knows what outcome.


Without H-1B the tech industry would not be a major industry in the US. Think about it: Yahoo would be a Taiwanese company, Google would be a Russian company, Tesla would be a South African Company, eBay would be a French company, Sun Microsystems would be an Indian company and so on. And that list is just founders. Then there are rank and file employees and inventors in tech companies that came from various parts of the world, that made these founders' dreams into real products. Then there are CEOs and executives that ran these companies.

Immigration restrictionists assume a zero-sum math for workers: A job gain for a foreigner is a job loss for an American. By that logic every college graduate who enters the job market would be cause for mourning. But that's backward, given that skilled individuals create, not take away, jobs.

This doesn't mean abuse isn't happening. But the abuse doesn't detract from the fact that the tech industry wouldn't be so big in this country without H-1B.


The H-1B visa is not designed to encourage people to start new companies. It’s for people coming to America who want to work for existing ventures.

If you are from India or China you will likely spend a decade or more on this visa before you can get a green card and be able to start your own company. Europeans have it a little better as visa quotas are based on geographic regions.

I know all this because I was on a H1B for 6 years. I really wanted to start my own company but I couldn’t do so until I got my green card.

I think it’s wrong to conflate arguments in favor of immigrant founders with H1B workers. H1B visa holders are easier to exploit than US citizens as they have no real job security. This is the main point of contention with the visa and as a former H1B holder I feel inclined to agree with this critique.

I wish the companies and individuals who call for more H1B visas would instead call for comprehensive visa reforms which would enable qualified immigrants to start companies immediately.


Neither Jerry Yang nor Sergey Brin were H1-B holders at any point in their lives.


I don’t disagree with your point about immigration being an immigrant myself. However you can’t create a company and work for it under H1-B visa. You need E2, L1-A, or an investor green card.


Immigrants have indeed contributed to the tech industry, no doubt. We want more of these, but H-1Bs don’t found companies.

Also, is the implication of SoftBank being Japanese or Alibaba being Chinese, or AirBus being European, Spotify Scandinavian a bad thing? Should we seek to syphon all innovation to ourselves? Should those be American companies?


To go further, I suspect that many of those companies would not have been founded at all, reducing the innovation of the world as a whole. Even all countries, put together, are not a zero-sum game: freer movement of people can increase total opportunities for human achievement.


You cannot generally start companies on an H-1B. Yours is a good argument in favor of making it easier to get a green card, though.


H-1B has nothing to do with Yahoo, Google or Tesla. Stop it. Blatantly lying doesn't add anything to the debate.

Jerry Yang and Sergei Brin immigrated to the US when they were children and they became citizens before they co-founded yahoo or google. Also, you leave out the fact that two of the founders of Google and Yahoo ( david filo and larry page ) were native born americans.

As for Elon Musk, his grandfather was american and he became an american citizen in 2002 before he founded tesla.

In other words, Yahoo, Google and Tesla were founded by american citizens.

You are intentionally conflating immigration with h-1b visas and lying about the founding of yahoo, google and tesla to push an agenda. That's disappointing.


What visas did Lily Yang or Mikhail and Yevgenia Brin enter on? I think there's a fairly sound argument that we should be encouraging those, at least.

Elon Musk had Canadian citizenship and moved to Canada in order to enter the US on a student visa, with the goal of getting an H-1B. By the time he founded Tesla he had citizenship but he was certainly not a citizen when founding his first companies. There's no public documentation of what his status was, but it was likely either H-1B or TN. (He may also have overstayed his visa at some point.)


>What visas did Lily Yang or Mikhail and Yevgenia Brin enter on?

Not H1-Bs for sure, H1-B was introduced in 1990. As for Musk founding Tesla on H1-B : he founded it by investing his PayPal money in some startup so it's highly unlikely he had been on H1-B at the time (or ever). AFAIK you cannot get H1-B sponsored by a company you own and you have to work for the sponsor to remain in status. So who would have sponsored his hypothetical H1-B in 2003?


The exact visa doesn't matter. The point is, without immigration silicon valley wouldn't be silicon valley.


Then why bring the H1-B, a nonimmigrant visa for temporary workers, up when arguing about benefits of immigration ?


Because people who come in on H-1B are eligible to apply for green cards.


People who don't come in on H-1Bs are eligible to apply for green cards too. Being on H-1B does not make you eligible in any special way.


Well Elon undercut a home grown All American CEO by about $1B and suppressed CEO wages across the board so I don't know why you are so happy about it... \s


You are splitting hairs. They were all immigrants. Without immigration these companies would not exist. It doesn't matter if the visa they came in on was called H-1B or B1-H or whatever.

More than half of the most valuable U.S. tech companies were founded by first- or second-generation immigrants. See: https://www.recode.net/2018/5/30/17385226/kleiner-perkins-ma...

Immigrant Tech Entrepreneurs Creating Thousands Of Jobs In U.S., see: https://www.forbes.com/sites/stuartanderson/2018/11/13/immig...


I'm not splitting hairs. I'm stating facts. There is a difference between immigration and h-1b visa. One is a process where people are moving to america to become american citizens. The other is a temporary work visa.

Also, I'm not against immigration. I'm for immigration. I'm against h-1b visas.

And misleading statements like "first or second-generation immigrants" is not helping your argument. By first or second generation immigrants, you really mean american citizens right? American citizens created those tech companies.

And it's great that US tech companies are founded by americans who immigrated to the US. Sadly, h-1b visas prohibit you from creating companies in the US. So your entire argument is contradictory.


H-1B is temporary work visa. It is the visa that is temporary, not the individual, because folks who come in on H-1B are LEGALLY allowed to apply for a green card, and once they get it they are permanent and can start their own companies.

H-1B visa is the reason silicon valley exists. Ask Mark Zuckerberg why he moved Facebook HQ to silicon valley. It is because that's where the engineers are. If H-1B didn't exist Zuckerberg would have moved considerable number of jobs to places like Beijing, Bangalore and St. Petersburg, because that's where he would have found software engineers.


People without H-1B visas are LEGALLY allowed to apply for green card. H-1B has nothing to do green cards. Green cards have existed for decades before H-1B visas were introduced in the 90s. I don't know why you keep lying about this when it is factually incorrect. People have been immigrating to the US before H-1B visas existed. Jerry Yang and Sergei Brin immigrated to the US before H-1B visas existed. They had green cards before H-1B visas existed.

Also, H-1B visas have nothing to do with silicon valley. They were created in 1990. Silicon Valley had existed for decades before 1990.

Zuckerburg already has offices and employees in beijing, bangalore, st petersburg with H-1B in place.

Everything you stated is an outright lie. Why are you doing that? There are plenty of ways to defend H-1B visas without resorting to lying.


He might be defending the value of immigration (and immigrants), not much the h1b. So I wouldn't accuse him or pushing an agenda because of that comment.


While Tesla might not exist without Musk, though he may be its soul, he also wasn’t a founder since those were Eberhard and Tarpenning.


the move towards preference for masters degree is a decent start. there is no way someone with a masters degree would want to work for one of the consulting firms.


F-1 students graduating from Masters programs at lower tier schools mostly go work at staffing companies. These companies are worser abusers of H-1B than global outsourcers.


i agree with that. but, the proportion to how many h1bs get allocated to these staffing companies vs outsourcing is maybe 1:20 even if taken as an aggregate. even though it wont entirely eliminate the problem, it is still a good start. The second thing is to create rules to directly discourage indirect employment when on H1B (the abused vendor model).


If you compare two specific companies, your math is right. But if you compare the aggregate number of H-1Bs allocated to all global consulting vendors to those allocated to all American staffing companies, the numbers are much more closer to each other.

Agree that stopping third-party employment is a great step. This administration has been doing so by asking for higher levels of documentation.


H1-B's are not an issue.

The issue is the "consulting" IT companies abusing the H1-B system.

Make it illegal for these labor arbitrage companies to exist and at least this problem will be solved.


It should be like the visa lottery.

Limit any individual country (India or China for example) to a maximum of 10% of the total visa allocation each.

Right now India gets 76% of all H1B visas, so Indians know the system inside and out, and hire other Indians. Tech companies are calling out for female workers, and most of these Indian migrants are also male.

Take it to 10% from any country max, and heck even require that 51% of the visas must be given out to women, and you will see tech companies scour the globe for talent, rather than all the visas just going to Indian body shops. Under such a change you could even increase the total number of visas issued, since the whole scheme would be less rorted and more socially accepted.


> Limit any individual country (India or China for example) to a maximum of 10% of the total visa allocation each.

Why country? Why not limit any individual continent to a maximum of 1/7th of the total visa allocation? /s

If it isn't clear, I am pointing out that your suggestion is an arbitrary restriction on skilled immigration.


Is Trump gonna introduce the points based system at all, which specifically favors those foreigners who have degrees from US universities?




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