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Denial of H1-B visas to India’s largest IT services exporters at all-time high (indiatimes.com)
233 points by howard941 73 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 343 comments



All: please follow the site guidelines when posting here. They include: "Comments should get more thoughtful and substantive, not less, as a topic gets more divisive."

We ban commenters who break them and have had to do so several times in this thread.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


Note that this data was just from 4 of the giant Indian IT outsourcers (e.g. Infosys, Tata Consulting, Wipro), who were basically the worst abusers of the H-1B system. I'm interested to know what the rate is for smaller companies and US-based companies.


Yeah, this is important context. Even as a previous H1B holder myself I see any increase in refusals to companies like Infosys to be a good thing, they're renowned for their abuse of the system. The other feedback we see in this thread that smaller companies are struggling to hire, however... not good.


But lots of that feedback rounds up to "we pay way less than the tech majors and for unfathomable reasons, aren't competitive." I'm a startup founder, and we can't compete head-on for talent. We have to hire people who don't want a FAANG, or whom the FAANGs don't want. Fortunately, there's actually broad classes of both. But they often didn't go to Stanford...


That’s why startups compete with equity for FAANG-types.

If you have offered sizeable equity packages (and have a nice office (or cushy remote benefits) and decent modern tech stack) then even the most boring startups can attract the best - so what is your company doing?


Yes, equity vs. cash was the "normal" startup calculus, but FAANG type companies have been paying SO much over the past decade (largely because their stocks have done so well over the past decade that "reasonable" equity awards ended up being 3, 4, 500k or more annually for mid/senior level devs) that it largely threw that calculus out of whack. These days, even if a startup "hits" (still a remote prospect) you're only doing slightly better than if you had a FAANG as one of your options, and if the startup doesn't hit, you're easily way, way down.

These days, while compensation and equity are of course important, there are other things (e.g. get to work on a wide array of stuff, no "big company" crap, etc.) that are likely going to be the real drivers in being able to attract talent.


Well, I still see offers of less than 0.1% stock to the first 20 or even first 10 engineering hires, so I think we shouldn't pretend that startups are doing all they can to compete with offers from FAANG. If the stock compensation was more like 1-2% for the first couple engineering hires, 0.5-1% for the next couple, 0.3-0.5% until 10-15 hires, then the stock compensation would probably start to compete with FAANG even after factoring in the possibility of the startups going bust. So about 10% of stock would go to the first 20 engineers, but that seems pretty reasonable to me. Unfortunately it seems founders want to keep that to more like 2-3% total, and that's why they can't attract talent in my opinion.

Also, TERMS of the stock grants also matter. For example, if the options can be held for 10 years after departure from the company, that would make them more valuable. For the first 1-5 hires it may not make a difference because they'd probably do an 83b and buy all their stock right away, but for the next 5-15 hires the Series A price may still mean they'd need to put several or tens of thousands into their options, which not everyone can do.

Startups could also attract talent by offering atypical work hours (not arriving during rush hour traffic would be nice) or many other things, but they typically aren't willing to do that... for whatever reason. I've personally offered to work at startups in the evening for about 50% of my hourly-equivalent rate for 20 hours per week (so 1/4 of a salary for 1/2 of an employee), and they've not been interested. Until companies are willing to be unconventional to attract talent, I say the cries of "talent shortage" are not genuine. If there was a shortage, they'd be willing to be more flexible than most of them are.


> I've personally offered to work at startups in the evening for about 50% of my hourly-equivalent rate for 20 hours per week (so 1/4 of a salary for 1/2 of an employee), and they've not been interested.

I don't know what your role is, but I can understand why they aren't interested. If you're only willing to work at off hours, remotely, then it's highly likely they could get someone as good or better, more cheaply, by getting remote offshore talent (I worked with some great offshore devs in Brazil and Eastern Europe, for example).

In other words, if you've eliminated any advantage you would bring to the company as a local or US-based developer (assuming you're in the US), then your salary comps are now global developer salaries, not California salaries or wherever else you may live.


I'm a very senior engineer, and I was actually offering to work off hours but on site.


Well so this kind of seems like a copout to me. I work for a big company that pays really well (on all fronts) and I have worked in startups that tried following the E vs C calculus. I am also part of the HC at said big companies so I see a lot of factors in hiring and I regularly "hobby" interview at a lot of companies to see what is out there.

Problem is the "big company" stuff you are mentioning is no longer limited to big companies. I see the unicorns of the world trying to act like big companies from mimicking org structures to leetcode puzzles in interviews to downlevelling (our Level N is Level N + k at BigCo X). All this while asking candidates to slog it out for 10+ years before their quantum money is worth something tangible. Equally BigCos for what they are worth are extremely alluring by ensuring one does not live perpetually on ramen and BigCos also do a lot of things so you can move around reasonably (sure not as fluidly). Additionally given BigCos (at least the one I am in) value diversity and collaboration a lot the "bigco"ness is getting more and more of a strawman argument!

What would be ideal for me is startups of say 5-10 folks with roughly similar skill levels (and hence equity) with a really decent shot at a successful exit in a 2-4 year time frame. Where do you find these that are happy with such an exit instead of trying to become a unicorn and not stop until they take over the world by any means necessary?


> That’s why startups compete with equity for FAANG-types.

Aka, paper money, that you have less than 1% of getting. Even if startup doesn't go bust, things like liquidation preferences will screw people unless they're VC or founders.

Startup stock grants are exciting mostly to people new to the SV. If you've been here for a while, you know how badly cards are rigged against engineers.


Yeah before founders started screwing employees by doing exactly what you said it was an option. Equal risk for high reward. Now it's higher risk for the employee for almost no guarantee of reward and a bait and switch at the last moment. My last two startups one paid out a whopping $0 for stock and the other went under.


Personally, I all but ignore equity in a startup job offer. Experience has taught me it'll either be worth absolutely nothing or be worth the equivalent of a yearly bonus at an established company. It simply isn't a big draw.


That is not my experience, nor the experience of most startups in sfbay.

For instance: only a fool would think that a $500k equity package, based on eg a 409a evaluation, is anything like a $500k equity grant at a FAANG. Because the latter is cash and the former is lottery tickets.


A dollar valuation is bollocks, yes - but a percentage stake of a company valued at 5-10m of (I.e. small-fry) when it gets sold-out to Cisco / Apple / Facebook is not.


Percentage stake is also a bollock. Liquidation preference makes selling out good business for VCs. Sometimes founders if they're smart. And engineers are lucky to get anything at all.

I highly recommend anyone working in startup world to learn more about how it works in details, and understand how their companies deal with it.

You can own 1% of company that's sold for $100M and get $0. And it's all perfectly legal.


Sure, don't offer a poor equity package - but a startup cannot guarantee that their options will ever be worth much, while those FANG RSUs are basically cash. Unless you’re a founder, equity is a scarce resource which needs to be used to make good hires over a large number of years - it’s a zero-sum game. Offer too much equity to early hires and you’ll have a hard time attracting late hires - which may ultimately harm the engineering capability of your company when growth starts happening.


> Fortunately, there's actually broad classes of both. But they often didn't go to Stanford...

What do you mean by the Stanford part?


Many companies insist on eg a CS degree from a top 10 or top 20 institution.


"insist"? I've not seen that.

There are obvious significant advantages to prestige, etc but most companies don't insist on it.


> I'm a startup founder, and we can't compete head-on for talent. We have to hire people who don't want a FAANG

Then you don't deserve to get those people. If you are paying below market rates, well honestly it sucks to be you, and I don't particularly care if you lose employees.

Instead, the only thing that I care about is getting higher salaries for engineers.


I am trying to find a table of the number of H1B visas awarded. The best thing I can find is [1]. It doesn't show enough years of the Trump presidency to be useful, and the 2017 number is incomplete because the report was published before year end in 2017. Other than the fact that visa awards significantly increased from 2015 to 2016, the chart doesn't show what we're looking for.

If anyone can volunteer a better source that would be much appreciated.

[1] https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/USCIS/Resources/Re...


https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/USCIS/Resources/Re... is pretty good data for 2018.

You can see that non-consultancy firms like Amazon, Microsoft, Apple, Google and Facebook all have approval rates close to 99%.


There's a large difference between IBM Corporation (approval rate 92%) and IBM India Private Limited (approval rate 82%). The difference is even greater if you look only at initial approvals vs. denials (IBM India 62 vs. 60, IBM 268 vs. 3). I wonder what the cause is.


Those numbers are skewed because they count visa extensions and transfers to a different company instead of just new H1Bs arriving. They also don't count people leaving, except in the sense that they won't apply for an extension or transfer in 3 years.

The country numbers are also skewed because someone from countries other than India/China, say France, shows only once or twice in your data before they get their green card and don't have to renew their work visa.

This is because of the hard cap of 7% per country for work green cards regardless of the size of the country. i.e countries with a billion plus people have the same 7% limit as tiny countries.


There is a cap that is always reached. More denied applications just means more people are applying.


Yup. H1-B has been over-scribed for close to a decade I think.

When a friend applied post-9/11, they didn’t even use up the quota each year.


My H1B at a ~200 person org was returned RFE and then denied. I'm a Canadian who worked at a bonafide SV startup. Been hearing a lot of the same.


I've heard of multiple people who were making $200k+ at medium-to-small size companies having their H1B transfers or extensions denied in the past year and half. As far as I'm aware, in all cases, USCIS said that their job didn't qualify as a "specialty occupation" (i.e. one that requires a bachelor's degree), and denied. This, despite a bunch of them having graduated from highly-ranked U.S. universities with majors in Computer Science, and working as SWEs. The companies often submit reams of documentation showing that the position needs a degree, but to no avail. It's become nearly impossible to convince USCIS that a job requires a degree, these days.

Salary is quite irrelevant. It seems like a large cohort of USCIS officers are trying to eliminate everyone on the H1B, and this is being encouraged by the Trump administration. The sad thing is that denials are completely arbitrary and random, and depends on who looks at the case. I know one person who got approved (for a job as a SWE), soon after graduating from college (transitioning from OPT), despite a low (~100k) salary. So some people get lucky, and slip through the cracks, so to speak.

But in general, USCIS isn't judging cases by their merit, they're not treating jobs with high salaries favorably; the general attitude of this administration seems to be that: if you're from another country, we don't want you here, no matter how well-qualified or well-paid you are.


"despite a low (~100k) salary."

Reading things like this on HN reminds me to put the screen away and go outside and breathe some fresh air.


Don't forget to normalize for welfare and cost of life. For a very general outlook, see for example:

https://www.expatistan.com/cost-of-living/comparison/san-fra...


Why aren't you using a TN visa?


Not OP, but I’d imagine because there’s no path for greencard on TN


Common misconception but not true at all. It's just slightly riskier.


You can apply for a Green Card on a TN visa you just can't renew your TN if you do.


That’s not correct. TN visa is a non-immigrant intent visa. The path from TN to green card (which I’ve done) is TN -> H1B (dual intent) -> green card.


Nope. You can apply for a Green Card when on a TN visa. One of my coworkers is doing so right now.

https://legalservicesincorporated.com/can-i-apply-for-a-gree...


That is interesting, though it seems pretty tenuous. When I started down the path to a GC, TNs we’re indeed 1 year and H1Bs were under quota, so different conditions.


I would guess the route you outlined is the typical route for Canadians, but one can go from TN -> GC.


You have to show up at the border day of to get a TN visa and there's no guarantee you'll get it. H1B is a much more reliable and safer path which is why it's prefered.


It’s much easier to get a TN because there is no quota. Because the H1B is subject to lottery because more people apply than the quota, you have to apply in April to start a job in October. That’s generally not welcome by most employers.


You can apply and get a TN-1 without doing so crossing a border [1]. If you have a straightforward application though there's no reason to which is why so many people just apply on their way though.

[1] https://help.cbp.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/978/~/how-to-ob...

Mikeb85 72 days ago [flagged]

Who cares? For most Canadians, the goal would be to make some money then go back. The US is a downgrade from Canada in most metrics.


Please do not cross into nationalistic flamewar in HN threads.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


My bad. At the time I thought the statement was somewhat more innocuous than how it apparently came across.


> The US is a downgrade from Canada in most metrics.

As a Canadian who worked in the US for 4.5 years I'd say it's exactly the opposite. The only disadvantage I found working in the US compared to Canada was the absurd process for getting a green card whilst on an H1-B, which is why I now live in Australia.

Otherwise the US was better in every way to Canada: - weather (SoCal) - salary - job opportunities - cost of living - health care (granted provided as part of the package by my employers)

There's a reason most of the top CS graduates in Canada end up in the US.


> Otherwise the US was better... health care (granted provided as part of the package by my employers)

I'd be fascinated to hear more if you're open. It's a very common (populist) framing in the US that we have Literally The Worst Healthcare System Ever and every other developed country has a better one- I'd love to hear your perspective as a dual


The US healthcare system is probably the best in the world if you're rich.

I had the usual PPO plan when I worked as a SW engineer in the US. It was fine given that my wife and I were young and healthy. We still paid a couple of thousand dollars out of pocket when our son was born after a perfectly normal delivery which was a bit annoying, but again I could afford it so no big deal.

However, our next door neighbour, who was an American citizen and worked as a courier, did not have health insurance provided through his employer which was almost certainly a contributing factor to him dropping dead of a heart attack in his mid 40s leaving behind a wife and young son. I think it's safe to assume that his life expectancy would have been higher if he'd lived in a country like Canada or Australia where there is universal healthcare, especially for potentially life threatening conditions.

I think it's unfortunate that Canada is used as the most common comparison in the universal healthcare debate in the US since (even as a Canadian) I think the Canadian healthcare system is worse than pretty much any other developed country except the US!

I'm currently living in Australia where I think the healthcare system is excellent since it combines a base universal healthcare system with a parallel private system with relatively affordable private insurance (which I pay for myself, it's totally separate from your employer). This model is similar in most other West countries (e.g., UK, Germany, France, Sweden (!)), the notable exception being Canada where there is no meaningful private healthcare option, unless you can afford to pay cash in the US, which e.g. a former boss of Vancouver did. So it makes it more difficult for Americans to claim the Canadian system is better when the fact is that many (albeit relatively wealthy) Canadians jump the public queue in Canada by going to the US.


Too late to edit: "former boss of Vancouver" should be "former boss of mine in Vancouver".


Won't argue this point but will only say that the experience of living anywhere is better when you have a high paying job.


Good point.


Spouses can't work when their partner is on a TN. A Green Card allows the spouse to work.


Typically the spouse or partner will have their own TN.


I'd say this is more atypical than typical. Your spouse would also need to qualify for their own TN which may or may not be the case depending on their profession.


It also depends on their nationality. Only Canadians can obtain a TN.


All H-1B requests within the past year to 1.5 years now result in a RFE. My experience as a hiring manager, both at a startup and at another enterprise level company, was that this doubled the cost of hiring H-1B candidates. This was unfortunate, because if you’re in a market where FANG companies and other tech companies are competing for candidates, it’s tough to find anybody qualified.


True!

What boggles my mind is that a seemingly large number of companies, who are priced entirely out of the market in SV, still try and compete there, rather than opening an office in Salt Lake City, Atlanta, etc.

Plenty of local talent, and the low end of the SF payscale is fiercely competitive in any of the above, largely because the cost of living is half-or-less of anything in the Bay.


what's your experience in hiring in these smaller cities? I've consistently heard that it's pretty hard to find quality talent at market prices.


I hope to not come across as too snarky, but the issue for many employers may be in not fully comprehending either "quality talent" and "market prices".

You won't have to pay Google-in-Mountain-View competitive wages, sure, but you do need to be competitive against the general tech market, inclusive of SV remote companies.

Assume a reasonably skilled, experienced software engineer. According to Indeed's Salary Search[1], in San Francisco, they could reasonably expect to hit an annual salary of USD 170k at Companies That Are Not Google, whereas in Salt Lake City, that number drops to USD 90k.

USD 90k is well below the bottom of the market in the Bay, and is near-as-makes-no-difference half of what our hypothetical engineer would make in SF.

In terms of raw-cost-of-living, sure, those numbers work out. However, people do like to also build up their savings account, and that's where things fall apart.

Post-tax, the SF salary will net you USD 110k. Your annual cost of living will run you somewhere around USD 77k. In Utah, you'll net USD 64k post-tax, and your annual living expenses will run you somewhere around USD 48k.

Rent is 70% higher in SF, and cost-of-goods is 20% higher, but you also don't need to own a car or pay for car insurance, both of which you will need in Salt Lake.

In SF, our hypothetical engineer will be able to bank USD 33k annually, more if they contribute to a 401(k) or other tax-deferred savings vehicle. In Salt Lake, that number drops down to USD 16k per annum.

That's a massive gap, which is often similarly reflected in long-term compensation -- e.g., the engineer in SF might see USD 100k+ in annual stock options, whereas the one in Salt Lake will probably see half that.

To be competitive on salary, that Salt Lake company would need to lay USD 120k on the table. That's 30% less than in SF -- plus all the other operational savings -- but not "half", which is what "market" seems to be at present.

[1] https://www.indeed.com/salaries


This is a very sensible reply. I live in flyover land and I don't want to move for a FAANG job. But I'm not going to take something for $90k: the amount I can contribute to my 401k is the same in SF or flyover land and the amount I have to pay for my kid to go to fancy college someday is the same whether I earned my money here or there.

It is apparently tough to find "quality talent" say some here; I did get a job offer with a nice compensation package in just two weeks when I recently started applying places and the word I heard was that it was competitive on employer's side.


Ah yes, good 'ol SLC. Great quality of life if you like skiing and hiking. Your salary numbers are about right, top of the scale tends to be around $80-100k with the median in the high $70s. They call it 'Silicon Mountain' and despite the NSA putting their super datacenter there, a large number of small and medium sized software companies and a smattering of enterprise shops, the salary numbers don't change much there. What has changed is the price of real estate (nearly doubled over the last 15 years) and property taxes have increased in concert. Still more affordable than SV, but doesn't seem to be growing beyond it's roots.


Have you tried increasing your wages?


So if they cannot afford half a million in wages they should either close or move offshore?

Offshoring is what is happening and will accelerate. Search the article for 'Toronto'.


You ask a great question: If a business isn't able to employ American workers at competitive pay, what purpose does it serve for the country? Why should it be here or exist?

I have sympathy for cash poor startup founders, but offering substantial equity works wonders. Like a real amount, not something that rounds to 0. It's hard to feel bad for someone who wants to keep all the upside and not pay a good salary. Someone making 500k elsewhere should be a key hire, so spend or dilute yourself accordingly.


If most American startups aren't able to hire American workers at competitive pay and start moving little by little to (say) Canada, aren't there a risk that the whole VC/startup ecosystem will slowly move there? If the Apple/Google/Amazon of tomorrow are Canadian, how does that serve USA or American workers?

It's a short term vs long term balance. As an American you should want US to remain dominant in the startup ecosystem. Restricting startup access to skilled workers is counter-productive in the long run, even if it serves your short-term interests.


Businesses do not exist merely to serve their host countries. They serve the needs of many people, including shareholders, customers, employees and the communities (not just countries) they are based in.


> You ask a great question: If a business isn't able to employ American workers at competitive pay, what purpose does it serve for the country? Why should it be here or exist?

One would assume that the business still pays taxes, bills, rent etc.

It's still a net gain to the economy, especially when the alternative is for the work to go overseas.


Instead of fighting over the same people for a decade, they could try hiring some junior people and letting them take on increasing responsibility. The guy who made Stardew Valley lived in Seattle, had a CS degree, and couldn't get a job! It worked out for him in the end, but not for the companies constantly whining that they can't find workers.


Yes, our co-op programs were successful in providing a junior pipeline.


> So if they cannot afford half a million in wages they should either close or move offshore?

Unironically yes. Thats is what they should do. If you pay below market wages, well sucks to be you, I don't care if you complain.

But to give an actual good face alternative, they could hire lower skilled employees from non-traditional backgrounds, and train them up.


I think you know the answer to that question.


Are you concerned for foreigners wages? Because restrictions on the visa are what pushes them down, not up.


We are still a small company of 40+ people and have quite unprecedented issues with H-1Bs, from transfer though extension. Literally every single H-1B extension or transfer got slapped by RFE. The amount of documents we had to produce to prove that an employee, who works for us for 3 years, is still valuable, is just mind-blowing.

BTW we got RFE equally for people that are from Europe and India.

PS: because it was brought up by someone in this thread, we don’t employ immigrants to save money. Check any of my “who is hiring” posts [0] and you can see, that we pay equally across the US to all employees based on their skill level. We bring immigrants because we’re having hard times finding skilled workers locally. The competition for talent is quite brutal and we just can’t pay the same as FAANG.

[0] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20587535


I live nearby in LA and (when I was looking) submitted my resume with twenty years experience. Didn’t even get to a phone screen.

My guess is you’re making the same mistake so many companies do. Hyper focused on tech X rather than Y or Z. Refusal to train for a month, but would rather wait a year and chase HB1s to nowhere. i.e. Looking for a unicorn instead of developing them.

I’m happily employed on the east coast working remotely now. Had to pick up a new skill or two. Never used Solr before, now I have. Took a few weeks to get proficient in between other responsibilities.


We are far from perfect and make plenty of mistakes. Hiring is no different.

I’m glad you found a better opportunity than us.

Just maybe a note. If you read my original post, all are our existing employees or transfers.


Right, no one is perfect. Would be great if the issue wasn’t so endemic.


Amen. Startups are like the import car scene. They all go out with a shopping list, get the same bootstrap launch page, hire the same social networking team, get wooded by a hire company with l33tcode screening, and then wonder why they develop long-term relationships with recruiters --- instead developers.

The reality is, any good programmer can screen another programmer within 15 minutes. A conversation about there last implementation, the challanges and how they responded to them is a good start.

Coding professionally is an expression of ones self. A missing semi-column is tell, not a linting issue.


you mean semi-colon? check your linter!


> we don’t employ immigrants to save money.

> The competition for talent is quite brutal and we just can’t pay the same as FAANG.

You don't have to pay immigrants less in order to be saving money by employing immigrants. The whole point is that by expanding the labor pool, you're reducing salaries and negotiating power for everyone.

That's not what the H1-B system was designed for. It was designed to facilitate hiring folks with specialized skills you can't get locally. E.g. you want to hire an Indian person who did his PhD on something relevant to a project you're working on.


> you're reducing salaries and negotiating power for everyone.

Rather, you're leveling it by expanding the labor pool to include the rest of the world, aka via globalization. Not inherently bad imo, but I could understand why someone patriotic would find this problematic.


Well, H1B visas do not expand the labor pool. H1B visas allow members of an already expanded labor pool to join and contribute to the US economy.

The alternative to fewer H1B visas is not just hiring Americans. In fact, hiring Americans is far less likely than simply hiring Indians and letting them work in India. Or, as is happening increasingly, having Chinese and Indian employees who were educated in the US, move to Canada.


> Well, H1B visas do not expand the labor pool. H1B visas allow members of an already expanded labor pool to join and contribute to the US economy.

Semantics. In economic terms, it's expanding the labour pool.


Can those of us born in the US and educated there be moved to Canada by FAANGs? If that's already happening by all means reply and let me know how to get in on it before all the stuff really hits the fan in the US.


Sure. Definitely already a thing! I know plenty of people from the US who joined a company in the US with international offices and then transferred (temporarily or permanently) to an office somewhere else. Singapore comes to mind, but I am sure the case for Canada is even easier (given NAFTA and similar).

You could also just directly apply to a position that happens to be in Canada, e.g. https://careers.google.com/locations/toronto/?hl=en

By the way, you actually might not need any FAANG (or other Canadian employer) help: https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/se...


I'm not making a value judgment on it, I'm just pointing out the economic effect.


And I can't. Expanding labor pool means that companies can afford to open lines of businesses that were previously deemed unsustainable, and eventually hire locals for e.g. administrative support.

Most businesses are at equilibrium. There is no choice of "hire locally and pay them well or hire globally and pocket the difference". The choice is "hire globally and expand" (and eventually hire more locals), or "hire locally and stay small, or even get out of business".


Also someone who was part of the expanding labor pool, including immigrants who have already got in.


At this point, doing that will just fuel more offshoring to Canada to India. It happened to manufacturing where it was harder to move or build factories. Note that the article mentions Toronto as already benefiting. As companies get comfortable with fully remote workers they won't even bother with renting offices offshore.


And doing that may put downward pressure on wages for ordinary Canadians. Their citizens vote, too.

I don't think offshoring to India is a real worry. They lack the rule of law and stable business environment of countries like the US and Canada. Nobody with sensitive IP would outsource their core business there. If offshoring worked well, even with H-1Bs being allowed, companies would already prefer keeping Indian employees there with lower salary and COL, but they don't.

I also have a hard time believing fully remote work will ever be more than a niche thing. Shared context and serendipitous discussion of ideas are so important.


How does moving high paying jobs from Canada to Canada while being done by the same people reduce wages in Canada?

If anything it will greatly help the local economy, and increases tax revenue for local, province and federal govts.

>If offshoring worked well, even with H-1Bs being allowed, companies would already prefer keeping Indian employees there with lower salary and COL, but they don't

What makes you think they don't?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_India

Headcount is 6500.

It can just be expanded to include more jobs if it keeps getting harder and more expensive to hire in the US.

Brain drain from India to US currently hinders it, but if the rules keep getting tougher, retaining talent in India or attracting them to Canada becomes easier.

Remember when lots of people thought high quality cars couldn't be made in Japan or South Korea?

Regarding Canada becoming a hub for offshore workers, back in 2007:

https://www.infoworld.com/article/2663608/microsoft-vancouve...

A couple of years ago:

https://www.seattletimes.com/business/microsoft/trumps-immig...

2018: https://www.cnbc.com/2018/07/12/microsoft-might-be-forced-to...

>I also have a hard time believing fully remote work will ever be more than a niche thing. Shared context and serendipitous discussion of ideas are so important.

Isn't GitLab 100% remote?

I think Github has like 60% of people remote as well.

Also, the Linux kernel has been developed with people being fully remote for the most part.


This trope gets brought up a lot but the definition of specialized skills is broader than PHD level expertise. That is your interpretation of it and not that of the law or of the Federal Government.


Citation? My understanding is that the situation you're describing is covered by the O-1, not the H-1B.


The O-1 is hard to get for mere PhDs. We are a dime a dozen in many fields.


I do understand your point. I would however venture out and say, that a person that can scale services to tens of thousands of servers, has quite specialized skillset.


To add to the chorus, I'm seeing that too. Work with a professional masters' program in a highly technical (non-software) field and all our non-US grads are getting hit with RFEs. It's making a lot of work for some of the folks in our program administration, as writing letters of support outlining the specific and substantial technical skills of these people is not trivial -- and these letters are under increased scrutiny from the feds.

These folks are getting market-rate positions -- since I'm in flyover country, there are no FAANG competitors here.


All the other commenters are saying you should hire Americans, but why don't you instead hire remote?


Remote is the new open-office. It’s quite hard to make it work and you have to be set up that way from the start.


>>"It's quite hard to make it work"

Agreed, but that won't stop companies from trying anyway. From my experience, a lot of large companies can't really tell that their remote setups aren't really working.

[Edit] Added to word 'Agreed'.


Agreed. For a company of our size, we would not last long.


I work for a 35 person startup with hq in the valley. We are 10ppl here in Mexico (gdl) and the rest are up there.

There are numerous start ups that have setup shop here (humanapi, scalable press, grainchain, brightcove, wizeline among many others).

Given the time zone closeness and culture similarities, it is normally a win-win situation.

My company even moved someone from India who lost his H1B to work here. Apparently it's easier.


Your company very well might be doing remote-work "the right way" and getting a lot of productive work done, in which cause I would applaud your company. I'm not arguing that it can't be done successfully. However, I still stand by my statement that remote work is hard to do well, but despite this companies will try anyway. I should also clarify -- I was mostly speaking from the position of a large enterprise (40,000+ people).


Please don't take this the wrong way, but your post is unintentionally hilariously oblivious.

> we don’t employ immigrants to save money... the competition for talent is quite brutal and we just can’t pay the same as FAANG.

No, no, we're not doing it to save money...we just can't pay the local market rate so we import cheaper workers. But it's not to save money.


Would you please review the site guidelines and stop breaking them? They include: "Please respond to the strongest plausible interpretation of what someone says, not a weaker one that's easier to criticize." Also: "Don't be snarky."

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


Save money implies that we make the money in the first place and then take it for ourselves instead of paying it to our employees.

Almost nobody can compete with the comp provided by FAANG. Do you want 5 companies running everything in your life? Isn’t far enough already?


Offer perks that they can't or won't: A four-day work week, no-questions-asked remote, the chance to do something other than soulless ad-tech.

Finance pays better than anyone else, and yet people apply for jobs with non-finance firms.


That’s what we (and others) do. There is just not enough skilled people available.


...at the rate you're willing/able to pay.

There are plenty of skilled people out there -- they're just getting top dollar for their skills.


Really. So why do need FAANG bring any immigrants if there is so much talent and it’s just a question of money, which they have plenty of.


If doh offers more and poaches an engineer from a FAANG company, that company will now be down one engineer. The shortage of skilled engineers will still exist.

The fact that salaries are so high for skilled engineers is an indication of the labor shortage.


Salaries are so high only in Silicon Valley and a couple of other major tech hubs. In the rest of the country, junior engineers make somewhere between 35-65k and a senior engineer can expect to cap out at the end of their career between 100-120k.

This suggests there is no nationwide labor shortage, just a shortage of people willing to move to major tech hubs.

By allowing tech companies to evade the underlying problem by hiring immigrant labor, we are making the knock on effects (eg SF housing prices, salaries outside of SV) even worse.


Are these junior engineers who are making 35K as skilled as the FAANG junior engineers entering at >100K? How many of these low-paid junior engineers are there? Enough to replace the >50% of SV engineers who are foreign-born?


> Are these junior engineers who are making 35K as skilled as the FAANG junior engineers entering at >100K?

Yes. FAANG engineers are good but not extraordinary.

> How many of these low-paid junior engineers are there? Enough to replace the >50% of SV engineers who are foreign-born?

Probably, if we somehow reorganized the way hiring is done, such that we were able to pick up talent anywhere in the country. There are well more than a million software developers in the US according to the BLS.


> There are well more than a million software developers in the US according to the BLS.

That's not available idle capacity, that's a count of people currently employed in the field including all the foreign-born developers your nativist fantasy involves replacing. And the expected 10-year grown is 24% in that number, much faster than average for all employment areas.


What you're effectively arguing is that the US does not require nearly as large a number of software engineers as it currently has. It could exclude more than half the software engineers in its largest tech hub, and still fill all the open positions. I find that a bit implausible, especially given how intensely software companies already compete with one another to attract workers. They're not only doing that out of the goodness of their hearts.


Are you running at the size and complexity of a FAANG? Do you need them? There are plenty of developers that would gladly take less than half of the salary of a FAANG to not have to move to the west coast.


You should’ve just checked my profile. Yes, we run at the complexity of Google [0]. We do almost exactly the same thing with a bit different use case.

There are not many people that could work for us at the scale we run. [1]

[0] https://softwareengineeringdaily.com/2018/06/22/video-search...

[1] https://cloud.google.com/customers/pex/


[flagged]


> I believe the ethical thing to do would be to close

That is over the top and provocative to the point of trolling. Please don't be this sort of internet warrior on HN. People have a right to discuss their work here without being harangued.

First you told this user that their business is unethical and should be closed, and then downthread you told them "scale is really not that hard", i.e. in addition to having superior morals you know the mechanics of their work better than they do. That is quite a patronizing double-whammy. It doesn't help to repeat "I don't mean to demean you" in comments that are in fact demeaning.

Comments like these disincentivize anyone from sharing details of what they do on HN, because who wants to be treated like that? If people stop sharing, that will make HN quite a bit worse. Therefore please don't post like this to HN.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


> I believe the ethical thing to do would be to close.

I don't think I have words. Ethical thing would be to close? Not hire immigrants, but close. Fantastic.

> There are literally millions of skilled programmers in the US, and most of them have no interest in moving to California or Colorado.

Are they? You make bombastic statements but the reality is, that there are not that many people anywhere. There is reason why EVERYONE is having hard time hiring.

> a team of the top 50% of comp-sci graduates who can actually program couldn't solve

Programing != building for scale. This is only something experience can teach, but was majority of developers never touched any meaningful scale.

Amezarak 72 days ago [flagged]

> Are they? You make bombastic statements but the reality is, that there are not that many people anywhere.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics tracks this. I did not make those numbers up. We can certainly agree that not everyone with a degree or experience is a good hire, but good talent is not one in a hundred.

"Everyone" is not having a hard time hiring. There is a relatively decent labor market, but employers are having trouble for a variety of reasons that mostly has nothing to do with a lack of sufficient talent. Some factors: they have unreasonable requirements , such as years of experience in specific technologies; they can't or won't pay a competitive salary; they locate in high CoL cities where paying a competitive salary is even harder; they filter out people with bad hiring and interviewing processes; they demand excessive dedication (50+ hour weeks, for example); they don't post jobs where enough people are looking.

[EDIT: Another good one that came up mind: the hiring process takes too long. One of the companies I work with now takes an average of six weeks simply to respond to a candidate!! I have had several people I know through my network put in and they all got jobs elsewhere before they were even contacted! This same company cannot understand why they have such trouble finding people - they also pay well below market rates.]

I have been on the interviewer side of the table and made hiring decisions. I can tell you where I live, we don't really have problems. At my previous company, we didn't even pay well and got tons of great talent! (This did mean we had some high turnover, but there were always more.)

> Programing != building for scale. This is only something experience can teach, but was majority of developers never touched any meaningful scale.

I don't mean to demean what you do and again, you obviously know more about your product than I do, but no, scale is really not that hard, can be taught pretty readily, and the hardest problems of scaling are already solved by your cloud platform, which is half if not more of their value proposition in the first place. There are a lot of people operating at massive scales even without cloud services. It isn't that unusual.

I sincerely think you should take a very close look about what your jobs really require and what most software engineers are actually capable of doing. I've no doubt it requires skill and experience. I just don't think it requires as much as you think it does.


> We can certainly agree that not everyone with a degree or experience is a good hire, but good talent is not one in a hundred.

It also not 1 of 2. And that's quite the gist of it. We get plenty of interest, but people fall off quickly through the hiring process. We don't care what their prior experiences are. We don't demand 50+ hour work week (in fact, we actively discourage people to work past that including commute). Still takes time to find people that can learn to build for scale.

> I don't mean to demean what you do and again, you obviously know more about your product than I do, but no, scale is really not that hard, can be taught pretty readily, and the hardest problems of scaling are already solved by your cloud platform, which is half if not more of their value proposition in the first place. There are a lot of people operating at massive scales even without cloud services. It isn't that unusual.

They do take a huge load off the plate. That doesn't mean you can easily build for scale. There are plenty of companies that can put a few millions of rows in table and serve hundreds of concurrent users. Very few can do that in orders of magnitude higher. That's where we operate.

> I sincerely think you should take a very close look about what your jobs really require and what most software engineers are actually capable of doing. I've no doubt it requires skill and experience. I just don't think it requires as much as you think it does

This is hard to argue. I'm doing this for 5.5 years now, so would guess that I know what we need at this point.

Amezarak 72 days ago [flagged]

> There are plenty of companies that can put a few millions of rows in table and serve hundreds of concurrent users. Very few can do that in orders of magnitude higher. That's where we operate.

This is actually not at all unusual, and even when it's not already the case, most well-architected applications serving hundreds of concurrent users can already scale to 1ks or 10ks without changing anything.

I think this is where your disconnect is. In 2019, 10ks of concurrent users is not special. It's ordinary. Even 100ks or 1Ms are not that unusual.

I am not a fan of cloud services or most of the new hotnesses in vogue today, but this is something that they've enabled even most new grads with an iota of training to do.

Looking from the outside in, the problem (and arms race) involved in determining whether one video is actually a 'like'/edited version of another infringing video seems much more interesting.


> I think this is where your disconnect is. In 2019, 10ks of concurrent users is not special. It's ordinary. Even 100ks or 1Ms are not that unusual.

Really? So which services have 1M concurrent users, outside of the top 10?

At 100M daily users a service would get 1.1k users per sec (on average). And those have quite large deployment and plenty of engineers.


A lot of services peak in the millions. I don't know what you consider the top ten, but a lot of chat apps - Discord, Skype, Whatsapp (even prior to Facebook acquisition, and which famously had what, 50 employees?), a lot of games, mobile and desktop, top apps in the app store, top couple hundred websites or so.

If we just think about TPS, bajillions of applications you've never heard of are dealing with large loads (10-100k TPS) in every economic sector you can think of.


WhatsApp stored no data and ran everything as through service, that's why they did it with so few engineers.

Almost no games ever reach scale close to what you just wrote. The few that do are known with large technical teams.

Same goes to everything else. The reason why you can name them almost all is because it's so rare.

You are grossly overblowing the numbers. Only a very few services ever get to these numbers and once they do, they talk about the challenges of scale constantly [0] [1] [2]

[0] https://blog.discordapp.com/using-rust-to-scale-elixir-for-1...

[1] https://blog.roblox.com/2012/04/supporting-millions-of-playe...

[2] http://highscalability.com/blog/2014/2/26/the-whatsapp-archi...


So yes, your business would not exist in a country with sane immigration visa laws and I believe the ethical thing to do would be to close.

Who does it benefit if his company does not exist? How does it benefit the US economy if he either hires a remote developer from another country - where all the money stays overseas - or if, hypothetically, he moved his entire company to Canada?


If this were true, why do FAANGs all support raising the H1B cap?


Because they compete against all of us and each other. Google has tens of thousands of engineers and wants more.


>Almost nobody can compete with the comp provided by FAANG. Do you want 5 companies running everything in your life? Isn’t far enough already?

But your argument was that H-1B favors small companies and hurts large ones. So if Google agreed with your argument they would oppose H-1Bs.

edit: quoted doh's comment


Where did I make that argument?


[dead]


Why do you assume that they are saving money that way? Quite a lot of companies pays people with h1b exactly the same _and_ they go through the effort of getting the visa itself which is not free. They wouldn't if they could hire someone locally


If they could hire someone locally at their desired level of pay, they wouldn't. But while a legitimate talent shortage (at any price) may exist for super elite, specialist roles, there are plenty of citizens who can do typical engineering or IT work. Companies that don't pay enough will have a hard time with hiring though, thus perceiving a shortage.

Employers know it's harder for them to switch jobs so they have leverage. They can't complain or do much if management requires they be on-call in the evening or work late. This makes the H-1B worker more attractive to management at the same salary level, since they'll do more work and won't rock the boat. I've also seen H-1Bs receive the same base salary offer, but over time their variable compensation/RSUs (large portion of TC at many tech jobs) and salary progression are much worse.

I don't think it's unreasonable to limit H-1Bs to exceptional talent, or at least review their total compensation more thoroughly to ensure they aren't putting excessive downward pressure on the wages of ordinary middle-class citizens.


Each company treats their employees differently but we don’t. Our compensation is equal and based on position (so two people that do the same job are paid the same). We do differentiate options but only based on the current state of 409a (so person joining earlier gets more).

We pay the best we can. It’s completely open and transparent to all our employees. But there is no way to compete with $400k salaries paid to selected workers by few companies.

So what should we do? Close?


That's great that you don't do that.

Sorry if this is blunt:

Paying low 100s + de minimis equity for distributed systems and DSP engineers in a super high COL city like LA is going to be a hard sell for most. People with real experience in those fields will be older, can't reasonably support a family there on that salary, and have a lot of options. The type of inexperienced employee who could pick these things up quickly is already being courted by FANGs on campus, for more money.

To get someone to work for that salary, the equity needs to be meaningful, or the startup needs to be the next Facebook or Google, not a niche product. If I'm thinking of working for you, at the max equity you list, the rosiest picture I could paint myself is an exit 4 years from now for $500mm, after which I'd get $500k assuming no dilution = $125k a year. And that's assuming all the stars align to make that happen.

I don't think you should close, since you have a cool product, but maybe consider moving to a lower COL area? I'm sure you could find plenty of people in a place like Huntsville, AL. Lots of defense contractors have engineers with the skills you need and I bet working for a fun startup would be more exciting than what they're doing now.


Or he can set up a sister office in Vancouver, and hire people from all over the world(including Huntsville, Alabama).

In person conferences can happen in LA or Vancouver with tourist visas.

And have the same time zone.

More and more companies are doing this, that's why the article mentions Toronto.


This is why over the long-term, restrictive immigration laws will cause tech jobs to move abroad. There is no fundamental reason why the global tech industry has to be so concentrated in Silicon Valley. The workforce - which is heavily international - is there at the moment, but if American immigration policies restrict the workforce, the companies will eventually move operations to wherever their workers are.


Bingo. And once talent does move offshore, it’s going to be really really hard to get it back. Because let’s face it: SV is a horrible place to live in. Housing is too expensive, poor public transportation, endemic homelessness and the chance that an earthquake will wipe out the whole region.

If another city say Bangalore or Vancouver does get the critical talent required to kickstart the Tech boom and be a viable competitor, tech companies will migrate wholesale and never look back.


(1) While we are at it, let’s stop externalizing costs to some other territories. And to really make things equal, we are going to price all other things equally at a global level with certain cost adjustments to account for shipping and geography and similar factors. Oh let’s not forget that all labor needs to be allowed multinational freedom of movement and migration to anywhere, similar to how much freedom multinational corporations enjoy. And probably going to need to unify all 195 nations into 1 global state too.

Then this little immigration and globalization issue will finally disappear, which would be fantastic for everyone.

(2) Or we can continue opening up the globalization box piece by piece because each change is really great for some groups and really bad for other groups, which only serves to heighten social conflict and wars like the trade war that has been happening. There will never be enough assistance provided for groups that are negatively impacted by globalization; governments are much too slow acting reactively and proactively.

You realize that most of the changes that you and others want to make are just as unrealistic solutions as the above, and only one is a permanent solution? Right? And as a result of the fragmentation of the world we find ourselves in, incremental changes will not solve anything really. You can move the tech hub or dominant economy somewhere else and it will end up getting restricted again because there will never be enough relief from crowding unless the tech hub becomes more decentralized like most other industries. Further, even being decentralized there will be incumbents created in Canada that will eventually find the changes to be undesirable just like the USA.

Canadians will eventually say China is ok but Indians are externalizing too many degree education costs. And there might be another trade war, and someone thinks they have the answer by moving the dominant economy somewhere else and the same issues will surface again.. and round and round we go in circles until people have finally had enough of kicking the can down the road, throwing the garbage over the wall, and the globalization wars and option 1 happens.


If human civilization survives long enough, option 1 (one world government) will definitely happen, because it makes a lot of sense in a highly interconnected world. But it's very hard to say how far off it is.


[flagged]


The problem with flyover countries and other places inside the US is the same fickle immigration rules apply. And how many people around the US want to migrate to Alabama or Mississippi?

>At the same time, if the companies export their labor to exploitative countries, their goods and services can be tariffed.

This isn't manufacturing. I really doubt local techies in Canada or India are being exploited.


> The problem with flyover countries and other places inside the US is the same fickle immigration rules apply. And how many people around the US want to migrate to Alabama or Mississippi?

There are many universities in Alabama and Mississippi that produce ample high-quality graduates. I can tell you that, comparing with the courses published on OCW, my curriculum and its rigor did not differ much from that of MIT.

This is where the tech companies located throughout the region get most of their employees. There are, right now, tech jobs in places like New Orleans, Mobile, Huntsville, Birmingham, Hattiesburg, Jackson, and at least a half-dozen other cities in those two states - and not just one or two employers in each, but enough to jump around a little during your career.

So, a company opening there could expect to draw from the same pool of talent everyone else is, and successfully attract a lot of candidates for salaries great for the area and substantially less offered by FAANG. Not a lot do it (just one guy in my class, for example), but as the number of jobs and their pay increased, less people would leave to work in CA. Eventually, yes, you'd drawn in people who want to move here from other places. About a quarter of my current workplace (~150 employees) relocated from elsewhere in the country.

If you get to the point where you can't find anyone else for any sane amount of money, then...open up another office somewhere else in the country. Why is your first jump that fickle immigration rules are going to be the problem rather than hiring the people already here?


For many companies, cost is not as much a factor as being able to attract top talent, and not fragmenting their offices too much by spreading teams across them.

Many people in smaller metro areas that you mentioned are able to relocate to the West Coast, and many people actually do. The are no visa or immigration issues for them.

If the choice for a new location is between Vancouver and Mississippi, literally anyone in the world can work in Vancouver easily, expanding their potential hiring talent pool. Whereas a Mississippi office only attracts people that are unwilling to relocate to the bigger metro areas within the US. Any new location in the US has to deal with these new immigration issues if they don't find an exact match or if they have to hire a foreign born grad from one of the schools you mentioned. Vancouver does not have these issues.


It's almost like there's no metropole for those states. Say, at the mouth of the Mississippi?


Good analysis. The reality however is, that there are hardly any people with experience in other areas. We can only follow the current distribution and don't have a decade to build out our own talent from scratch. We invest heavily in education and growth, but it still has some time limits.

We already have sister offices in CO, MN and Czech Republic for this reason. It ads crazy complexity to the operations, but at least we have access to more talent than we had before.


I'd suggest that your premise ('hardly any people with experience') is wrong. Half the skills you list are relatively common. For a company of your size, finding a few dozen people with most of those skills in any major metro area in the U.S. is pretty trivial. Granted, the price you'll have to pay for them might not make you happy[1]... but they do exist.

[1] it's not FAANG level, but it's also not 105k. (if your top end compensation is significantly higher, you should probably be indicating that. Or perhaps breaking out minimum salary by position if they differ significantly.)


> Half the skills you list are relatively common

Which skills?

> it's not FAANG level, but it's also not 105k.

105k is minimum wage for an engineer. That's why it says minimum in the post.


> Which skills?

C/C++, DBA/Architect, Java, DevOps, QA

> 105k is minimum wage for an engineer. That's why it says minimum in the post.

Perhaps it's just me, but when I see a salary listing without I high-end, I assume that's because it's pretty low.


> C/C++, DBA/Architect, Java, DevOps, QA

Those are not skills, those are positions. We don't list skills, as they are quite arbitrary and really don't say much about their potential.

> Perhaps it's just me, but when I see a salary listing without I high-end, I assume that's because it's pretty low.

We found that writing the upper bound, many candidate assume that the upper bound is the general compensation and get quite upset if we don't value them as high.

We found this to be working better.


Can I ask what the oldest age is that you have hired for a non-management position?


In their 50s. The average age in the company is now in mid 30s


L.A. is a particularly expensive area to locate while disallowing remote work.


Many companies don't pay people the same, but force them into shit deals (a few H1-B holders speak about that here too).

But even when "paying the same", there are other benefits of having an employee that fears they can get not just fired but kicked out of the country...


[flagged]


We've banned this account for breaking the site guidelines.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


[flagged]


We've banned this account for breaking the site guidelines.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


How much does it cost to train a new hire who isn't technically proficient but is willing to work for half price?

If you are worried about retention, a non-compete agreement is an option considering you are deliberately investing resources into hiring them for a position they are currently unqualified for.

I signed such an agreement and have been enjoying a nice career ever since.


Lets start with the fact that non-competes are illegal in California [0]. Even if they were not, that's not a great way to retain an employee and we would not like to go down that path.

Problem with training is not just cost, but mostly time. If you need to grow the business but your employees are not ready to for the scale, there is not much you can do about it. A few companies died because of this, notably Digg and Friendster.

[0] https://www.sanjosebusinesslawyersblog.com/are-non-compete-a...


>A few companies died because of this, notably Digg and Friendster

Interesting, never heard about that. Any place where I can read more about it?


Digg https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digg#Digg_v4

Friendster http://highscalability.com/blog/2007/11/13/friendster-lost-l...

There are, of course, others. Twitter wasn't far from meeting the same fate. That's (partially) why Dorsey was fired.


My best friend is full blown concert pianist, who graduated from Yale, finishing her PhD in one of the most prestigious conservatories in US. She performs internationally with orchestras : Japan, Europe, Asia. Has CD recordings, won number of international competitions. Recently, she played Rachmaninoff piano concerto with orchestra in VA/DC area. Guess what ? She is struggling to get any documents to stay here permanently. And here, I'm sitting in Fortune x0 company, filled with unqualified HB-1 software engineers, who produce trashy code and don't care about quality of their work, because in x-Months, they will be out or replaced.

HB-1 was made for people like my friend - a highly qualified PhD and not cheap contractors shipped in packs from overseas. I'm kind of glad that this racket is being closed for good.


H1-B visa is not intended for performing arts category or for extraordinary artists. It is intended for specialty occupation such as software engineers and data scientists etc. I understand your frustration but the way to reform the system is to give the visas to the "right" candidates within the speciality occupation rather than giving it to an entirely different category in which your friend belongs to.


[flagged]


>It is not for people who can't submit a code to a code repository, without breaking multi-million project.

If that is really the case, and not just meaningless bluster from your end, they would get fired and have to leave the country.

Only companies can apply for H1Bs, not immigrants.


I'm not sure why you think these things are mutually exclusive.


Your last paragraph implies that if there were fewer H1B visas given out to Indian software engineers then your brilliant musician friend would have a chance. Though this kind of zero-sum fallacy is commonplace, that's not how immigration politics works. For the most part, if a particular USA federal administration is anti-immigrant, then they will hurt all or most immigration applicants, and vice versa, meaning that fewer software H1Bs do not result in better outcomes for your friend, quite the opposite.


Wrong. Read carefully. What I'm saying is that people who should not be on HB-1 are getting visas and people who truly deserve HB-1, aren't getting it.


That does not make much sense. H1B visas (you keep saying HB-1 but there is no visa called HB-1 so I am not entirely sure which visa you're talking about) needs to be sponsored by a company, they are not just given to people. If a company is willing to to hire her, maybe she can try applying to any US company. If not, there is no way to say she "deserves" it when it's only in your eyes, i.e apparently she or you are not able to convince a company to hire her.

There are also EB-1 green cards that might qualify her since she has a PHD, but they're usually for the STEM field. I have no idea why this is relevant to H1B visas which serve a different purpose.


I guess, H1-B visa is an example of artificial scarcity; the government could just give your deserving friend a visa without taking one away from a software job shop. There's not really a finite supply of them, other than what the government chooses.

If an administration is cracking down on software shops, that doesn't necessarily mean it's because they want to make those visas easier to get for anyone else.


The market seems to disagree. There isn't a lot of work available for concert pianists.


Isn’t an O-1 visa designed for situations like your friend?


According to immigration lawyers, it is very hard to get docs through O-1. You literally have to be international star. She is not, but still, she is level above what many musicians achieve in their lifetime.


I've heard of people getting O-1 while being far less than an "international star". Canadian founders getting minor acquihire buyouts have gotten them. You just need to get some letters from influential people. ie, business leaders in the local industry or a politician. Like most things it's as much about who you know and how well you check the right checkboxes as it is about merit. This another perk of VCs and selling to big companies.


My understanding the same as that of my two sibling comments. You just need to demonstrate excellence in your field in order to get an O-1. For example in Computer Science, that might be X citations in published work, Y reviews you've written as reviewer (counts as service), and letters of support from experts in the subfield of Computer Science. If your pianist friend has won international competitions, CD recordings and performed with orchestras around the world, that surely counts as excellence in her field. She should consult an immigration attorney ASAP. Even if initial consultation costs money (and it often doesn't), it sounds like a worthwhile path forward if she wants to stay. O-1 is not as prestigious or rare as you make it seem.


It really depends on the immigration lawyer, I know many people who study public health & even computer science use O-1 as alternative. non of them are even close to have international influence


Your friend seems to have had access to many opportunities which none of the unqualified HB-1 software engineers you mention may ever have, and it seems like she made the best out of it. Congratulations for her.

Despite all her merits, though, life as a musician is financially much harder than that of a software engineer. For visa purposes, unfortunately, you want to make sure people can get by on their own. I hope things work out for her.


I agree with you. If the H1-B program were being used properly it'd be fantastic, but I've had too many friends (three being the "too many" in my case) spend their last six weeks on the job training their half-competent H1-B replacements. It may very well not be the case most of the time, but in my experience H1-B has been used as a prybar when companies have highly-versatile, highly-paid personnel they want to replace with someone who's trained to only do one job and do that job for less money. If I had the option to keep the program exactly as it is now or restrict it to only persons with doctorates, I would choose the latter.


Sounds like a different visa category.


Oh no, it is the correct category. It is what HB-1 was created in the first place.


Stop hating! If you are sitting with incompetent people you're incompetent too! Why doesn't she apply for O1 visa? You know nothing about nothing.

Disclaimer: I'm on H1B too, graduated from Rice CS.


I've always thought that the current salary requirement (min 60k) was a poor way to go about implementing H1B. Companies want H1B visas, workers want to make sure that their jobs are not displaced.

As such, they should make the salary requiement something like twice the rate of whichever is greater: market rate for the role, the highest salary paid to any non-H1B employee at that company in the same role.

At that point, you can relax (not remove) the H1B cap, because it makes it cheaper to hire locals, so companies will only seek out H1Bs when there really are talent shortages.


> market rate for the role, the highest salary paid to any non-H1B employee at that company in the same role.

Easy, just give all your H1B software developers the official role of "janitor".

The real way to solve this is with a higher salary floor, or even better, a salary auction.


Do you really think the labor certification process which all H1Bs go through will allow janitors?


Already most H1B jobs are entry-level jobs with senior-level requirements. Maybe that's part of the reason for the recent purge.


It's not Labor certification. They file a labor condition application. All it requires is that the wage be above the prevailing wage for that occupation in that metro area.


The most noticeable impact that will have is shift many many jobs to immigrant friendly countries in the same time zone like Canada, or just straight to India. That'd be a lot of taxes and local consumption happening outside the US.

Take places like Japan, negligible work immigration but wages haven't really been growing along with productivity.


Sounds like an opportunity for a tech maquiladora in Mexico or points farther South. Mexico has the benefit of low cost of living and easy access to the US. I placed people in Buenos Aires and it has a standard of living similar to any large city in the US.


It is already happening here in GDL, Mexico. Several start ups have opened dev shops down here. They have a competitive advantage and plenty of comparatively cheap talent to get from big companies like Oracle, hp, IBM, Intel, Tata,Cognizant, among others that already have bored developers.


Argentina has little in common with Mexico besides the Spanish language.


> Take places like Japan, negligible work immigration

Japan has work immigration, they dont call it work immigration, they call it technical internship.


> immigrant friendly countries in the same time zone like Canada

Canada has a stricter immigration requirements than US. Its just that there is a huge demand for visas so it gets backlogged.


In the context of skilled workers, Canadian immigration is exponentially easier than US immigration.


Haha yeah ive had work visas in both ca and the us. Ca is much more straightforward. It’s not easy, but it’s not riddled with hostile confusing BS like the US process is


Huh, till a few years ago you become a Permanent Resident in some provinces, just for being a tech worker in the US. No need to have even visited or ever worked in Canada on their work visa.


That would be a huge drain on small businesses like startups, though. Only companies like Google would be able to afford it.

> the current salary requirement (min 60k)

That's not actually what it is. You have to submit the job for a "labor market opinion" (if I recall the name correctly) that tells you the prevailing wage for that job in your area.


Here's an idea. Make the caps salary dependent. No caps for positions paying > 100k (example), or keep the lottery if needed but every 10k increase on the salary from the minimum gets the application a new ticket on the draw.


The $60k salary minimum hasn't changed since 1989, so it originally wasn't really unreasonable to think that only high skilled/hard to find labor would be brought in thru the visa.


Companies want the visas primarily to undercut American workers.


This does not just impact consulting companies and body shops.

Big companies like Apple, JP Morgan, Blackrock, Coca Cola, Visa, Verizon and dozens of others are also very negatively impacted.

https://money.cnn.com/2018/08/23/news/companies/business-rou...

Full text of their Business Roundtable letter to DHS about work visas and the list of signatories:

https://s3.amazonaws.com/brt.org/archive/letters/Immigration...



For the sake of all the great skilled people from India who have been on H1B for decades, Congress really need to fix the green card attribution problem: there’s no reason why a person born in India has to wait 10 years to get a green card when a French person can have one in 18-36 months.


Sure there is a reason - diversity. The “no country can get more than 5% of immigrant visa in any given year”, was done so that large countries don’t dominate the immigrant mix.

Same reason you can’t get a green card through the lottery if your from Canada - it’s only open to under-represented countries.


Is there any reason why you would want diversity? On its face Indians wouldn't be less valuable per capita than inhabitants of some small Pacific island just because there are more Indians alive. In fact if you believe in normal distributions then the best Indians would be better than almost any other country because there are more Indians to draw from.


Yes,

If you only receive immigration from only one country, it is easier for these newcomers to associate and become a political force that can change your status quo. Whereas if immigration is diverse, this situation is more complicated.


I don't think this comment deserves to be dismissed so readily. Although I shudder to think about the xenophobia that could potentially motivate thinking along these lines, it is very much a fact that plenty of people have such concerns, and as such it is an important reason to enact barriers and one that I hadn't thought of before.


Are there any historical examples of large numbers of immigrants politically changing the country they immigrated to?


Every country in the Western hemisphere? India/Pakistan until the mid-20th century and under earlier Muslim rule? The entire Mediterranean under Rome? China after Khan?


This reminds me of an episode during my senior year of high school Model UN where a hapless delegate for Germany in the security council stood up and started on with a straight face "Germany has never invaded another country..." before being drowned out by peals of laughter and sitting down red-faced.


Umvi wasn't claiming that there were no examples, they were asking for examples.


Hawaii. Texas.


Texas Revolution?


Israël?


The USA?


All of South America?


>Hawaii

>Texas

>USA

>All of South America?

All of the Americas?

That sort of thing could honestly be in the minds of the Powers that Be.

The positive spin for diversity in where your immigrants come from is that it is better for the culture if the participants have diverse backgrounds.


Even if you're right, I don't think people want a system that benefits a group of people just because they have a bigger population than others. It's the same reason why diversity quotas are pushed for, because we can't have companies only hiring or promoting into leadership positions people who happen to look like them. It is in line with those principles that we would not want to have a system where Indians are being severely advantaged compared to other minorities just because they have a huge population.


>Even if you're right, I don't think people want a system that benefits a group of people just because they have a bigger population than others.

This does not make much sense. People get green cards, not countries. Imagine if you were at the DMV and each region of your city had its own queue. People coming from the smaller parts leave in 5 minutes, and people hailing from the larger parts have to wait 8 hours for their turn. It's their fault for living in a more populous place?

What did the people in the smaller areas do to deserve their faster queue compared to others, except being born at a certain place?

Work visas should be about the person who passes the interview, is selected and is able to hold said job.


That sounds nice and all but the DMV analogy does not hold up. Think about if there were no limits by country population, India has more people and therefore the most applicants, so we would be mainly giving limited numbers of work visas to Indians while others would have no chance.

Imagine if there was a company with a white CEO who was only hiring/putting other whites into high level positions because they happen to be in a majority white area. If that makes you cringe, you should have the same reaction regarding this.

Diversity = various countries/peoples around the world getting a fair chance

Not diversity = Only Indians get work visas


>a white CEO who was only hiring/putting other whites into high level positions because they happen to be in a majority white area

If 90% of a town is white and 10% is black, 9:1 is a fair ratio for executive boards on average. Anything else would mean that the probability of a person holding a board position given their race would be different for different races. Imagine if every company in Mombasa was required to have an even split between white and black: being born white would guarantee you any job you wanted because you would be competing with less than 1% of the population, while in contrast every other ethnicity would be crowded in to half the number of jobs. In fact if racial quotas were instituted in Kenya and every race was given the same percent quota, 98% of Kenyans would be forced to be unemployed.


By all means you're right and I would agree. It's just that, if we are going to go with the diversity thing, we should uphold it equally and fairly. There is no avoiding natural majorities where we can't help it. But in the realm of green cards and work visas where they are limited and we CAN help it, I think avoiding incentivizing or allowing for majorities to form that will become problematic(and then too big to be helped later on) is a good thing.


> Is there any reason why you would want diversity?

Diversity is generally considered a positive thing for companies and countries. Also there have been complaints that US is poaching the best people from other countries so diversity helps moderate that.


>Also there have been complaints that US is poaching the best people from other countries so diversity helps moderate that.

The US sets US law to serve US interests, so I don't see how that would be a motivation.


Diversity in the green card pool is not the same as diversity of who lives in the country or works at a company.


This underlies an assumption that the people from one country are generally homogeneous.

India is easily the most internally diverse country in the world. There is also the fact, that literally 15% of the world's population resides here.

The current "diversity" heuristic is too naive to promote any real diversity.


Maybe, maybe not, but thats a different battle altogether, and right now a huge portion of American politics revolve around this definition of diversity, and if it didn't, it's likely immigration would get stricter, not looser.


I'm Indian and I find that claim hard to believe. Countries like the United States and Canada are far more heterogenous, unless you want to say everyone who speaks a different language is different in any way other than the language (mostly not;).


It is not just language. It is skin color (some are fair skinned like Europeans, some are dark skinned like Africans), food (North and South Indian food are very different), clothes, religion (which is very important in India), income levels (extreme poverty as well as extreme wealth), education (most of the country is illiterate, but there also world-class institutions such as IITs, culture (India has higher female participation in the workforce, in IT at least, that the US, yet, in certain villages there is "honor killings" and so on.) Yes, India is absolutely the most diverse country in the world, and it is many times more diverse than the US.


Double bell curves != diversity


Country caps are based on country of birth (with some exceptions that don't apply to most people). From that standpoint, US-born people are actually very heterogenous relative to other large countries, and the same applies to Canada-born people.


Why do you think India is called a subcontinent?

>Countries like the United States and Canada are far more heterogenous

That's only in the media and big cities.


> The “no country can get more than 5% of immigrant visa in any given year”, was done so that large countries don’t dominate the immigrant mix.

It was done so that countries with large numbers of eligible immigrants don't dominate the immigrant mix in any category (it's per category, not global), which is a really stupid idea (it systematically prevents legal supply and demand from aligning, even as far as they could within the aggregate limit, by artificial restriction, which as anyone whose studied price controls know, creates illegality.)


Supply and demand? I don’t think are many people that think who should immigrate to the US should happen the same way people buy cars or other consumer goods.


It was a more subtle way of restricting immigration from "undesirable" countries.

https://scholars.org/brief/how-legacies-racism-persist-us-im...

US immigration law has always been racist.


Compare number of applicants per year from India (250K H1 + some amount L1) to the green card caps (140K). And their population growth is still positive (>1% year).

Even if Congress kicks out all the rest of nationalities and gives 100% cap to Indians, the wait times will drop only once but then keep growing indefinitely. (And this does not yet account to how many more will be inspired by that, as right now long wait times presumably deter a lot from even trying.)

There is no fix for this that does not involve a huge lot of Indians failing at their immigration attempt. The core problem is that they are just trying too hard: India applies 8.5x more people per %population than France, 14x more than Germany etc. No Congress can fix that.

Sure, 7% cap for a country that makes 17% of the world seems a bit unfair. But increasing it to the fair 17% or even to unfair 100% will still be peanuts in the long run. The reality is that a person born in India is being screwed not as much by bias in immigration policies but only by other persons born in India.


>Compare number of applicants per year from India (250K H1 + some amount L1) to the green card caps (140K). And their population growth is still positive (>1% year).

This is not correct. The 250k includes people who got their first H1B in 2006 till date but have to renew every 3 years. Those are work visa renewals while they wait. The yearly demand is much lower. There is a 85K cap on all new H1Bs. Only 70% go to tech sector. However some governments and nonprofits are excluded from the cap, but the nowhere as high as 250k. Which is why the rest of your comment is wrong.

>Even if Congress kicks out all the rest of nationalities and gives 100% cap to Indians, the wait times will drop only once but then keep growing indefinitely. (And this does not yet account to how many more will be inspired by that, as right now long wait times presumably deter a lot from even trying.)

>There is no fix for this that does not involve a huge lot of Indians failing at their immigration attempt. The core problem is that they are just trying too hard: India applies 8.5x more people per %population than France, 14x more than Germany etc. No Congress can fix that.

Not true again. After 8 to 10 years it will fix itself because the system is first come first served. i.e If a French or German person apply on January 1 2029, they will get their GC before everyone from India that applied after Jan 1 2029.

Actually that would be true even today if the law passes. The French citizen who applies on Jan 1 2020 will get his gc before the Indian citizen who applies on Jan 2, 2020. It's just that if the law passes, they won't get to cut ahead to directly in front of the line, before people waiting since 2009.

It's like going to a DMV. Regardless of how bad the crowd is or where you drove from, you get a token number and no one that came after you gets a GC before you can. The initial wait for some will be high initially because there are people waiting for a long time.


> After 8 to 10 years it will fix itself

100% of the total cap is used every year. The cap is not changing, the number of applicants is not changing (grows, actually), so the backlog will keep growing with no change at all. How exactly the cap is allocated to nationalities is irrelevant.

You can write a simple simulation of a DMV office that gets more new people every day than it can serve per day, and prove that the line grows indefinitely regardless if it's FIFO or capped or whatever.

The only true fix to the indefinite growth of wait time is to change the spammable lottery/FIFO system to something like merit-based (like Canada) or salary auction, which grants all the cap to highest scored people and rejects everyone else.


> How exactly the cap is allocated to nationalities is irrelevant.

It's very relevant actually. It drives hiring decisions - plenty of reasons to hire people born in India (and to some extent China) because they won't get full employment rights for a long time. And this has a feedback loop (the longer the wait time for some people, the greater the incentive to seek and hire those people). This is actually bad for people born anywhere else and want to find a job here, including US-born.

There can be no "true fix" because the legislative process involves compromise. There was plenty of criticism of the 2013 Senate bill (S. 744) for example. Perhaps there will be another such attempt a decade from now, but it's stupid to wait for speculative future compromises instead of fixing one issue at a time.

In any case, fixing the country cap issue is not incompatible with any of the points based proposals - AFAIK Canada does not make people wait longer based on where they were born.


This has been fixed. French people won't get any new green cards.

https://www.sanjoseinside.com/2019/08/07/house-passes-zoe-lo...


This is such a terrible "fix".

“For the next 10 years, more than 90 percent of the employment-based green card will go to citizens of one country”

This is so unfair to citizens of other countries.

Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against Indian immigrants. What they've been through is not tenable in the slightest. I think lifting the cap all together will be a better solution for everyone?


What? This fix literally makes everyone equal.

Why should a person get priority just because they are from a certain country?

Instead, everyone should be treated exactly the same.

There is a saying about how treating people equally, looks like oppression to the people who were at the top before.


You made too many assumptions about me. I'm not at the top. I'm not even from the US.


>This is so unfair to citizens of other countries.

Not sure how it's unfair. The bill has a clause that anyone currently waiting will not be impacted.

>I think lifting the cap all together will be a better solution for everyone?

Not sure if you're serious. Even adding a few new green cards is politically impossible in the current climate. Just imagine the attack ads on TV for the next election.


Yes. I'm at least half serious.

    1. The system is unfair in the first place -- Indian's quota is not in proportion to their population.

    2. The bill tries to flush the queue, that leads to:

        2.1 The perpetuation of this unfair system.

        2.2 Other people who will still use this system get unfairly treated.
So I don't think this is a proper solution to this issue. If US really wants all the best and brightest, the cap should be lifted.


I wish is not passed. But seems to have a lot of support:

https://www.lanereport.com/115492/2019/07/the-bottom-line-bu...

Really wonder who thought this was a great idea.


In a zero-sum situation, it is important to have an equitable distribution of pain.

Of course the cap should be abolished altogether, but while it exists the system is deeply unjust.


It's nowhere close to actually becoming law.

The El Paso shooter mentioned that proposed law in his manifesto as letting in many more new foreign workers after listening to fake news from Fox News and Breitbart, when it does nothing of that sort. Also that the Senate passed it.

The last thing we want is more bad information.


Erm the House passed the bill but it's unlikely to pass the Senate and even if it did I'd expect Trump to veto it.


A lot of folks are -- often justly -- saying that we should be training more Americans for some of these jobs.

I worked for some time in a professional masters program that mostly has non-US enrollment, despite being in flyover land. To complete it costs a fair bit, though it's lower-priced than similar such programs on the coasts, and when you get out especially if you're an American student you're often looking at $90k+ for starting salary (depends on a few factors). It's a very remunerative field.

But we just can't get many US students in! We've been trying to figure it out. US students mainly come in when they've reached a point at their company where they have a manager who says, You need these additional skills -- go to school to get them, and we'll pay. I'm not talking "learn JavaScript library blah", I'm talking stochastic calculus. The school part really is helpful because there's a ton of theory that you don't learn by doing the practical applications.

US citizen grads are placed so fast. There's no such thing as a sure bet, but this grad program is a high-expected-value bet. And yet we just... can't... get... Americans.

I think it's the math. So many Americans are just scared of math. Some of our Chinese students "know" they're "just bad at math" but they don't see that as a particular obstacle; just need to study harder. Americans tend to see it as an inborn anatomical characteristic or something. But also it's the cost of a master's after taking on the crushing load of undergrad debt. Some of our students got their bachelors degrees for free in their home countries & then just had to float the cost of this masters, which is less tuition-wise than 3 years of state college.

There are more structural problems than just "companies, you should grow your own talent". I agree companies should do more: but if we really wanted a US society that fostered technical excellence, we could make sure our schools did that. We've made sure our schools foster football excellence, for instance.

And to get back to the direct topic: we're seeing a ton of RFEs for our grads, and there is no other masters' program that does this stuff within a state and a half of us. You've got to drive 8 hours to get to the next one.


You have brought up something that most Americans don't want to hear i.e. "The Truth"! I have worked for well over a decade in the US (but i did not study there) and had always wondered about the dearth of "Americans" in the Tech. Industry. Here is my blunt assessment;

1) Your entire culture/society has turned away from STEM fields. Everybody is only interested in making money via Media/Management/Finance and any other way to "get rich quick". The pursuit of knowledge is gone. This is quite sad given that your previous generations did much to develop and spread scientific temper throughout the world.

2) Americans also suffer from major self-entitlement. In a global world, the fact that your previous generations were scientific top-dogs does not guarantee you the same status without working for it. You have to compete and prove yourselves worthy. So when the industry brings them face-to-face with reality they lose heart and start blaming everybody else for their predicament.

3) Americans are averse to hard-work. Here the Chinese/Indians wipe the floor with them. It is a standard joke in the Tech. Industry that while the Chinese/Indians do the actual work, the Americans are only good for bullshitting in Management/Marketing/Sales roles. Whatever happened to the "American Work Ethic"?

4) It is now a truism that much of the Tech Industry work has been "commoditized" and the barrier to entry has gotten lower. Most workers are mere "Craftsmen" rather than "Engineers/Scientists". For example, i have worked alongside PhDs in Physics/Mathematics/Biology etc. and their output was comparable to mine (no PhD) simply because the domain did not need their specialization. Most of the Software Industry is like this.

I just wish that the current/future generation of Americans would take a good hard look at themselves and make the necessary changes to their society to build themselves up again instead of blaming "immigrants" and everybody else.


Unfortunately, you have just described the stereotypical American engineer and the main reason why managers here from other countries, such as India and China, will rarely hire an American for a domestic position. I can tell you, first hand, this stereotype is not durable nor applicable. I agree, most American-born students tend to go towards the 'soft' skills, such as marketing or sales. But many people I'll also give you, Americans aren't the best at rote learning, ie., memorizing texts. I'm not going conclude by saying American-born engineers are getting maligned, only those critical points you allege as being endemic to US engineers are applicable to engineers everywhere.


My intent was to shine a spotlight on a specific mindset (whether real or imagined, the external effect is the same) which affects Engineers/Management in the Tech. Industry. One has to face realities on the ground whether one likes it or not.

Note that what i described above exists in the "middle strata" i.e. the vast majority of work/jobs which have been commoditized and thus has a lower barrier to entry. As an example, i may consider myself as an experienced super-duper "Systems Programmer"(limited jobs) but given that the number of jobs in "Web Development" are at-least a few orders of magnitude greater than in "Systems Development", i would need to learn Web Technologies and compete with kids half my age if i want to earn a salary and keep a roof over my head. Generalize this to competing with developers throughout the world and i have a major problem. Therefore in order to make myself more attractive to clients i need to bring lots more to the table like Experience, Hardwork, Humble mentality, Willingness to learn and Getting things done. The necessary change has to come from within. No amount of blaming H1Bs or others is going to help me.

Incidentally, the above viewpoints were explained to me by a Microsoft HR person himself! It came as a shock initially but over time i have come to accept it and learned to change my expectations.


>> RFE

I didn't know what RFE is, posting it for other readers as well.

USCIS makes an inquiry called a request for evidence, or RFE, when they require additional evidence to make a decision on a H1B case. ... An RFE can be for information about either the beneficiary or the petitioner, or both. After receiving an RFE, you have up to 90 days to submit documents proving your case.


What program is this?


At a guess: Financial Math MSc at UChicago - finance is the only field both requiring stochastic calculus and being able to pay well for it. Or possibly the same programme in Minnesota or Urbana-Champaign.


Cool TY!


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