I can't believe this is how the country I live in treats people who bring their high-demand skills here. 60 days or get out.
This absolutely effects every engineer. Even the most racist ones: that there is a bedrock of people they are allowed to treat this way puts a hard ceiling on your own compensation.
My grandparents were labor leaders and I'm pretty certain they'd be ashamed I can't or haven't done more to rectify this.
I can't believe this is how interviewing works in this field. Everyone in every other respectable field (and ones that pay as well or better, and have worse consequences for hiring a "bad fit") seems entitled to some baseline level of respect and recognition for their experience and work. Having some smarmy piece of shit ask questions from Jr.-year computer science should be justifiable grounds for a broken nose.
This is a little myopic.
Those other fields you don't mention? They use things like education (did you graduate from an Ivy?), connections (do you know these people in your niche field?), certification (do you have the blessing of a known body / board?) or even insurance (you're covered for malpractice if anything goes wrong) as alternatives.
I value software development not requiring those things, and I understand the trade-offs. Yes, I'll have to do a 5-8 hour single day interview that I may need to prep for once every 3-5 years. For 300k+ a year? I'll find a way to deal with it.
I would too even for half that but unfortunately, in Europe, lots of the fancy tech corps. are adopting the SV style mult-day take home project/on-site interview grind but only paying $65-85k/year.
I'm still thinking whether I can make it in this field till retirement(FIRE is out of the question at this pay) or if I should just change to something else while I still can.
Edit: correct statement
The all day interview thing is not new. When I finally landed an onsite interview with Bell Labs in 1984, it ran from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM with a break for lunch (that they provided). Every position I have interviewed with since then has been an all day affair.
Remember, interviewing is partly for skills, but mostly for attitude and personality. Are you going to fit with the team?
I pulled in a candidate back in 2000 that was clearly qualified for the job as far as skills, but in the interview, his demeanor was abrasive. He was so clearly superior to anyone else on the team, how could we have the temerity to question his abilities? It spiraled out of control and I had to escort him out of the interview after only two hours. It was awful.
If you're in a position in life where you need a stable salary (family, children, etc.), you'll do the same amount of prep for a FANG as for a start-up emulating a FANG. Why in the world would I put in effort prepping and take 1/3rd the total compensation is my perspective (yes, I understand the start-up lottery, and disregard it here).
It is pretty easy to find contract positions for $120 per hour, and higher responsibility/skill positions for $150 per hour. And the LLC and related insurance costs per year are trivial.
On the east coast, skilled software engineers (not programmers, necessarily) with 10+ years can expect at least $140K plus benefits as a full time employee, and it is pretty typical to see $160K.
Unfortunately tech unions are typically the ones railing against H1Bs entirely. The mere presence of H1B workers fundamentally increases worker supply (by definition). In fact it was the "US Tech Workers Union" that championed recent actions against H1B workers. And let's be honest they were not fighting to make our lives easier (by making H1B less draconion), only theirs, by reducing the supply of workers.
And while some of them will sugar coat this by pretending to care about H1B worker's conditions and all that, the truth is that as long as the US continues to be a more desirable place to live compared to many other countries, and as long as you need a job to live here, foreign workers will always tilt the equilibrium a bit towards lower wages compared to a domestic worker supply. The true solution would be if you made the path to permanent residence easy for skilled individuals so that they don't need to take these employment decision under duress.
So, I wouldn’t take the “US Tech Workers” as being representative of tech workers or tech workers unions without further research.
That is funny, I would have never thought that wealthy lobbyists would ever be against easy and mass immigration policies to dilute the labor supply. Much better for corporations to hire people who are willing to work either more cheaply or out of a sense of desperation because job demand is lower than the available/willing worker pool.
Do you have a sound logical reason for why wealthy lobbyists would go out of their way to spend money on opposing immigration?
The more power employers hold over their skilled migrant workers, the more money they can make (from not only their skilled migrant workers but also from the rest of their workforce, who are now competing with the latter.)
It is true that some other unions like the AFL-CIO have historically opposed immigration on these grounds, though.
As long as the "risk of having to leave the country" for speaking up about anything is greater than 0% the obviously-wisest thing to do is keep your mouth shut.
The labor market is something that emerges from the equilibrium of several opposing forces. We as a society decide which causal factors are 'reasonable' and which are 'unfair'.
As a simple example, you could argue that 'the wages for married individuals with kids are depressed due to the massive labor pool of single people in their 20s who can be employed for far less as long as you offer them free food and some cutesy perks like happy hours and pool tables'. Ceteris paribus, and as a pure fact of economics, this is true. Of course if you have a bigger supply of labor and hold other things constant, wages will depress, but as a matter of practical policy, we don't consider it 'unfair' that there exist single people who are competing for jobs that married people are also competing for.
But many people do consider it unfair that there exist Indians who are competing for jobs that Americans are also competing for.
This is a matter of policy and your personal sense of what is fair and what is not, not economics.
Single people tend to be younger and less experienced. They tend to be represented in entry level positions, and get paid as such.
That appears to be the reality we've been living in for a couple/few decades. Airplanes, container ships, and the internet have made the world a much smaller place.
So, immigration is generally speaking something that corporations are incentivized to want because they get more manipulatible and desperate employees?
Can we just demand that companies that hire immigrants cannot fire or lay off those immigrant employees for some minimum number of years unless they declare bankruptcy? It might decrease the number of immigrant employees corporations would hire but it would simultaneoulsy ensure a huge amount of safety for the immigrants that do get hired (and for their families).
My quick bandaid bill would:
1) Any H1b holder can switch to any job as long as it comes with at least ten percent pay increase.
2) Any H1b holder gets an automatic green card after x years or paid y in federal+state taxes, whichever comes first.
3) Hiring company pays 80pct salary for the extent of the Visa, come hell or high water. You _really_ need that visa? Fine, prove it by taking on more of the risk instead of foisting it on the poor visa holder who came to help you.
These pressures are why I can barely bother landing a software role anymore.
I'm competing with people that have real pressure to study these algorithm brainteasers, switch into system architecture mode, and then switch into behavioral mode.
"Oh thats cute you spent 45 minutes a few times a week doing a brainteaser? I just did 600 of those in a month, and rehearsed what my quirky but culturally similar hobby is."
the what now?
This is out of control. Yes, I am competing with H1B's that have 60 days to figure it out, no, that doesn't make "immigrants" the problem, this is a symptom of a system broken in several ways, from public policy to tech private sector norms.
What's the contest here? Who's most desperate, most willing to sacrifice their life and health for pennies on the dollar?
Seriously. I'm a middle aged guy with kids and parents to take care of. I'm not in a position to spend 30 hours / week doing bullshit puzzles & memorizing an algo book for crap that is basically irrelevant to my job.
You know what I'm good at?
- Spotting the bug before it happens, by watching how the team interacts and who is checking their work...
- Parsing client requirements and finding what matters
- Duct tape engineering so we can hit a go-live date when everything else is a smoking pile of delayed dog-shit...
- Talking the client into dropping a feature that we can't deliver and pivoting into something we already have...
Generally of far higher value than some brain teasers...
Yes, that is what's so wrong about it. If the whiteboard leetcode monkeydance was somehow relevant to job performance, it'd be annoying but ok. Given the complete irrelevance, it is just a sign of a profoundly broken industry that doesn't understand what job performance is about.
It bugs me when people say "the bar is high". No, the bar isn't high, the bar is sideways and outside in the parking lot of the stadium.
Personally I have never and will never give a whiteboard algorithm trivial pursuit interview. Doing my small part to bring some sanity here (Silicon Valley). I read the resume and talk about the actual past job experience with the candidate. It works wonderfully well. Never made a bad hire.
The market values my skills, but I have to do this stuff on my own now. You can make more than big tech will pay you by building in the crypto assets sector by yourself. In the recent past it was just side-gig consulting at an hourly rate or trying to do bug bounties.
Now you can just hang out on Telegram or Wechat and learn what people need, get paid completely in Tether from people all around the world. Invest in that ecosystem, or get dollars, whatever you want. No, wait times for anything.
In order you need to learn:
1. Basics of web dev (mostly front, not much backend for Blockchain)
2. Ethereum & Solidity
3. DeFi programming
I run a youtube channel on DeFi and Blockchain development:
I also have courses on how to become a blockchain developer and how to build arbitrage flashloans. I recommend first following my free trainings:
EVM is good to know for an ongoing career, but more practically building wallets, exchanges, algorithms, trade routing systems, data visualizations, ad space on a website that provides utility, ad space on a bot that shows pricing data to a chat room, a better gui that happens to take a cut of transactions when people use it —- these are all options
so many things, so much, so easy
harder to focus as the space moves at light speed
I don't have high hopes for ever receiving a green card: https://medium.com/@happy_sushi_roll/the-endless-wait-for-a-...
I mean, it wouldn't be fair if folks could simply skip the line by going to a third country.
Well, I highly doubt American companies are pushing for this treatment. They benefit the most from getting whoever they want to hire however they want to hire them.
So, you must be implying that this "treatment" is coming from a non-corporate entity?
> that there is a bedrock of people they are allowed to treat this way puts a hard ceiling on your own compensation.
This argument is strange, because you are implying that it is the corporations that are kicking people out. But, I am not sure that aligns with their incentives.
So, if the corporations are not the ones kicking the desirable people out then why would losing that person force them to put a hard ceiling on others potential compensation?
I am not sure I follow the logic.
> I can't believe this is how interviewing works in this field.
I 100% agre. It is broken. But, I also think we are not being honest as to why. If we think logically (and game-theoretically) then it is easy to assume that these corporations have a huge incentive to engage in this behavior. Could it be that they have a sea of choice beyond anything the tech industry has ever had before?
E.g. a citizen can decline an offer in order to negotiate it up, but if the clock is ticking on your h1b, then you wouldn't want to get called on that bluff.
The limitations don't seem to dissuade H1b applicants, so companies like that they have more control over those employees without decreasing total supply.
Does not mean I never used much of this knowledge I have needed at some points. But by that tine I had to refresh the knowledge again...
Ageism is very real in the tech industry and your only options are to either get a green card or move to another country. Recessions and layoffs are a way of life in this country. Sure you survived this one - but may be not the next one or the one after that. Also with each passing decade, it will be harder for you to immigrate somewhere else - partially due to countries like Canada, Australia reducing points past a certain age and partly due to having kids who are used to a specific way of life in the US.
So while your status is safe for you, it is a good time to define the course of your career, because no matter how good of an engineer you are, at the end of the day, you are just a number on a spreadsheet who will be laid off at another recession.
Before that, you technically had to leave the country the day you were laid off. Never mind that you might have a house a family and might have been living here for more than a decade. You would officially be staying illegally if you didn't leave right away and it would jeopardize your chances of getting a visa in the future.
It's only through an historic odd mix of good pay and relatively laxer immigration rules that the US managed to attract a large pool of talent in the 80s, 90s and 00s. Students from my college who are about 5-10 years junior to me no longer consider it a viable place to plan a long-term career in due to the extreme precariousness of visa holders' life situations in the US.
Politically speaking we have little to no power in numbers so neither politically party really cares. Typically it's the Democrats who are pro-immigration, but in reality they don't care much about H1B style immigration and are in fact likely against it due to American tech unions hating H1Bs, while we have unlikely allies in some Republicans because our presence benefits big companies. Common sense solutions standard across the world (such as skill-based / point-based systems) are looked down upon, while we keep getting kicked around on the political playground.
My worst situation dealing with this was a TN status rather than an H1B, where I was told at a border that I could be ineligible for admission to the US because I had no left the day that I was laid off from a previous position.
I had to tell the CBP officer that there was a 60 day grace period, be told that the internet isn't a reliable source of information, and wait while he discovered this information on their own. Sitting and waiting I literally overheard this person, after learning of this grace period, ask a colleague if they had ever heard of it before. This was at a major Canada/US border crossing.
It is apparently not just people on HN who are unaware of this, but also individuals charged with making US admission decisions.
Many CBP works simply do not know the rules as you said. I've been pulled aside for 3+ hours. I've almost missed flights even though it's 110% legal for me to be here and work. I was pulled aside for not having an I-94 paper in my passport even though they had switched to a digital system for Canada and Mexico 5+ years ago (aka NO ONE has the paper). I've had border officers give me off hand remarks like "It's a shame an American wasn't given this job" looking at my TN application. All you can say is yes/no sir/ma'am and hope they're not having a bad day and send you back.
Then other days I'm waiting in the line at LAX getting back into the country, they ask where I had been, give me a stamp in two seconds and wave me through. I never know exactly how they're going to react.
It's gotten to the point where I'm treating getting a green card at this point the same way someone treats buying a lottery ticket. If it happens that's great. But if it doesn't I already have a backup plan of banking up all my USD and moving to Europe (my immediate family all live there and I have a British passport from my parents).
The immigration game is all fine and good for me now (29 years old, single, no mortgage and no kids). But even if I make half the amount of money in Europe at 33-35 when I want to start a family would be worth it to know that I don't have to worry about being kicked out the country. I especially feel for my close Chinese friend who can't even re-enter the USA right now if he goes back to China.
Yes, Non-white people are more likely to suffer from abuse from authority. But if the law doesn't offer strong protections for a non-white person, then no one is safe. And you can be abused by authority no matter how white you are. All it takes is a bad officer having a bad day. I have also spent a few hours in CBP because the officer didn't understand how I changed my visa status. You become an criminal until things are cleared out if you are lucky.
Not sure at all why I was flagged. White, middle aged male, returning to the US after arriving in Canada that morning.
It was a very uncomfortable situation.
If you want to do thing legally and immigrate to the US then you'd better have a decade of your life and tens of thousands of dollars to throw at lawyers to guide you through the process.
I'm now a Canadian and I think the process in total (including the marriage certificate since I came over on a Fiancee visa) might have put me back about 1.5k. The process was reasonable, there were certainly requirements but people were available to guide you through it in English & French and, wonderfully, Canadians are quite nice to new Canadians so I didn't get much flack from my new coworkers.
America just doesn't want people to immigrate.
You can take this marriage to the US government to make an application for a green card for the international spouse, which will be received in less than 18 months typically.
Short answer, find an American (or even just an existing green card holder) that you love, marry them, and now you are able to stay in the country permanently and work in pretty much any tech job you like :)
However American citizenship is of extremely dubious worth, even if you really like to travel like my wife and are limited by travel visa paperwork like with a Chinese passport for example.
Voting is not a particularly useful feature of American citizenship unless you live in a swing state and believe your vote to be important in deciding the fate of our country.
And most jobs that require citizenship like in government pay extremely poorly and have ridiculous arbitrary barriers to entry, namely a security clearance.
E.g. I've heard of CBP officers not knowing that Canadians don't need to get a visa to enter the US. Also heard of CBP officers not knowing what "Massachusetts Institute of Technology" was on a student's F-1, and had to ask around to confirm that it was a legitimate school. And many more.
Did you tell the agent you didn't leave after you were laid off? Or did you just ask for a new TN once you had a new offer?
It seemed to me like being too truthful could hurt your chances more than to just ask for a new visa and let them process the TN as needed.
Some employers wouldn't even report your termination date until some time in the future to give you time to find a new job.
In my situation it felt as if the officer was going to every possible length to find a reason to reject my application.
I was explicitly asked why I was no longer with my former employer, what my last day of work was, and what date I had previously left the US to return to Canada. Being untruthful about any of these easily-verifiable points would have been much worse in the long run (since this officer definitely seemed intent on running down every possibility). Honestly I am lucky that I had a proof of my severance agreement, which showed it was not a voluntary departure.
And these actions are taken outside the US (at the home country airport) so realistically speaking you can't even sue them or anything.
You can later cancel the return ticket and apply the credit (minus a fee) to a later trip.
In that case the airline is required to fly the person back.
This is more common now with various Covid-19 travel restrictions so airlines are also asking for all testing paperwork that is required for the destination countries.
It’s just didn’t make sense so we stayed here.
Wait, what? Tech unions? I've never seen a single union in my entire 20 year career. I was sympathetic up until you complained about that. What unions?
The H1B stuff goes back and forth politically. If you ask me, if the economy is poor then there's no excuse for encouraging immigration, especially of high paid labor. If unemployment is high, that is (and that's the part that fluctuates). Not to mention H1B is used to reduce wages and dump tech workers when they get old or expensive. However, the uncertainty you describe is intolerable, it should be a clear path and if someone is laying down roots and family, they shouldn't be living in fear. It's obviously a very mixed bag.
You literally have 1 side that demonizes a situation, and the other side doing pretty much all the can within the legal powers they have to improve the situation, but “both sides don’t really care”.
Democratic immigration policies always prioritize family based and undocumented immigration. They have clear electoral benefits from this (see AZ and TX). Reforming H1B and the high skilled immigration system is only an afterthought.
Republican policies have at least put forward some kind of points-based system. They however want to reduce family based immigration which is an absolute no-go for Democrats.
DACA kids go to school. They graduate from schools here. They serve in military. They pay taxes when they join the workforce.
The majority of Indians/Asians also vote for Democratic candidates. 80+% of Asians voted for Clinton in 2016.
Except they aren't. There is a clear 'caste' system when it comes to the immigration Democrats care about. Their primary focus is on immigration across the Mexican border (a lot of which is often technically or borderline 'illegal') which they want to make as legitimized as possible as the Hispanic community is a massive votebank for them. So we have all this noise about DACA and the like.
On the other hand, the overwhelming majority of legal H1B pool is largely an afterthought for them because the Indian and Chinese community in America is not that politically assertive, plus the H1B types can't vote anyway, and are mostly concentrated in places like California / Washington so their friends etc would anyway vote Democrat so who cares.
By and large Democrats prioritize the most disadvantaged first, and that's poor immigrants, many of whom happen to be coming across from Mexico.
How about prioritizing the most disadvantaged _US citizens_ first instead of kicking the stool from underneath them by importing cheap labor?
I'm less worried about Mexicans spilling over into California than I am about jobs being off shored to the far east. Clinton lost in 2016 because she and Bill Clinton are poster childs for NAFTA and letting China into the world trade organization.
No, but the mega-corps that hire a lot of them are. Very much. And usually lean more towards supporting Democratic politicians to ensure their labor pipeline is kept in place.
Additionally, the focus on DACA and Hispanic immigration may be because of size: Indian and Chinese immigrants aren’t even 5% of the USA out together, while immigrants just from Mexico are a whopping 11% of the USA.
Silicon Valley itself wouldn't exist had it not been openly attracting talent from all over the world, and the difficulty in getting visas and residency over the last few years is already showing its effects as more and more major software companies are popping up outside the US.
Another problem with the study. "...the
program enables employers to hire foreign workers when they cannot hire U.S. workers"
This is such a lie. My brother has looking for around a year and cannot get his first position. Past few months, looked like I might lose my job do to Covid. I spent a few months looking for a job, but couldn't find one. At the same time 70% of my coworkers are on h1b, often in their early/mid 20s. Absolutely no reason they couldn't hire a domestic worker to do the job. H1B is a scam.
I mean they have desperately tried to get more people into CS, but even that has had little results. Biggest bang for the buck is lobbying and marketing for more H1Bs. What's a couple hundred million here and there
What you're not taking into account is the relative efficiencies of scale. When there's more talent in a particular geography than somewhere else, high value global companies can grow in a way they can't elsewhere. A precondition of that is lots of raw material - people - who can be repurposed by the highest bidder. Limit the raw material, and the industry might not even be located on the West Coast.
If supply was enough to depress wages, the US would have the world's lowest cost developers. In fact, it has the most expensive, because of the valuable companies that are able to grow in SV, which each bid up wages.
Economics teaches us about winner effects. The best attract outsize rewards, far larger than their proportional increment in ability or effort. SV attracts the best of the best because it's the best place for such people to be rewarded. It's a virtuous circle in multiple, compounding dimensions.
People are a fixed cost in the economics of software development. That means scale is king; it's the divisor on those costs. Scale isn't just on the sales side, though; it's on the talent side too.
Reducing skilled immigration is the kind of shortsighted approach that kills the golden goose in the long term.
These "best and brightest" are unencumbered by student loans and voluntarily put themselves in a very bad position at the negotiating table for the salary. If that doesn't depress wages it's hard to say what would.
I can introduce you to someone who sells Eiffel towers and used bridges. You can trust him. He is my cousin.
In spite of their best efforts, most of the software development still occurs in the US. Think Microsoft hasn't tried to offshore as much as possible to India and China, building dev centers there? Or Google and FB?
Even then, just look at what kind of workers end up being imported through this programs. Not always the best and brightest. Many do entry level jobs not even in software development, for outsourcing companies.
I'm not saying outright ban immigration but better control is needed. (And saying this as a non-American living in the US). Something that struck me as particularly interesting and President Trump recently commented, is how about making companies bid for a fixed number of visa slots. Whoever pays the highest salary, gets the visa. This would certainly make companies be able to bring the brightest, while raising wages in general.
Anecdotes are not evidence. Maybe your brother is bad at interviewing. Getting the first position is always the hardest.
"An increase in the share of workers with an H-1B visa within an occupation, on average, reduces the
unemployment rate in that occupation. The results indicate that a 1 percentage point increase in the share
of workers with an H-1B visa in an occupation reduces the unemployment rate by about 0.2 percentage
points. The findings suggest the presence of H-1B visa holders boosts employment among other workers
in an occupation. The results provide no evidence that the H-1B program has an adverse impact on labor
market opportunities for U.S. workers"
There is nothing scientific about this. No experiment was performed. They simply looked at the data, saw there was lower unemployment in occupations with higher percentage of h1b, and then asserted that means there is no evidence that the program has an adverse impact on us workers. They are reversing cause and effect.
Do you have a study that shows the adverse impact of H1-B visas on American workers?
Soft sciences are harder than hard sciences to do.
> No experiment was performed.
> This is not a double blind experiment
Do you really think experiments are a reasonable approach to political questions?
I too dislike wish-washy science, but there really isn’t much other choice for many real world situations.
For example, a few years Disney theme parks laid off all of their IT staff and immediately replaced them with HCL H1B workers for lower cost. Clearly in this case H1Bs were abused to lower salaries of American workers by bringing in low skill (defined by salary) labor.
Immigration isn't inherently bad but the H1B program is deeply flawed (allocations by country, dominance by outsourcing companies, workers being tied to employers)
A grad from a second tier "technical college" in India with a visa refusal rate of ~90% for a job doing manual UI testing and QA for a body shop
my only path forward is H1. They'll both be listed as "computer related occupations" and apply for the same visa in the same quota. Does that makes any sense to anyone?
Exactly why it should be easy, frictionless, and risk-free to tell on your employer for any labor violation as an H1-B. Make it abundantly clear to the visa holder that if their employer wrongs them in any way, they will pay big time and the visa holder will a. not face any punishment b. will be handsomely rewarded for coming forward.
This is what the unions should advocate for...
I don't know what makes something 'officially' a labor union but at least they call themselves that. There was also Washington state Tech Workers Union.
I am truly confused. How did you get the impression they have anything to do with being a union? I don't see the union part, or the members part, or the collective bargaining part; seems to me a union ought to have those components.
This is what happens when the people making the laws for unique experiences have never been even in the proximity of those experiences. (Well, in this case it's more likely just cruelty.) You get lawmakers who lived a standard life of an upper-class person and don't realize that finding a job isn't as easy as it may seem or as easy as it was 60 years ago. All that talk about "just go in, do a firm handshake and talk to the owner" might seem funny when it's loons on Facebook saying it but when it's what people base their perception of the world and their lawmaking on... that gets disturbing.
I know I'll probably be flagged for this question, but still: why do this? Why not help your origin country with your knowledge?
Genuine question, since I had the same decision to make and chose to return, in order to help locally.
That's not guaranteed to be true. Take finance - if you want a career in this field there's only a handful of cities where it makes sense to live and work: London, Singapore, New York, maybe Tokyo.
An exotic derivatives quant won't find much demand for their skills in, say, Almaty.
Similarly, tech workers benefit from being in tech hubs (SV being one example). Oil engineers need to be around oil rigs and so on.
Moreover, standards of living are different in different parts of the world. Levels of corruption, infrastructure development, civic engagement etc are much worse in some places than others. You may have had the foresight of choosing to be born in a well developed country, but many have not.
If a country offers better work conditions, a better salary, less risk of economic turmoil, better health care, etc. then I'll take the opportunity if it presents itself. I've done it twice and would do it again.
It's not any different to taking a better job offer, whatever that means to you.
I moved from Canada to the US in 2007. Things were different then, and the opportunities in the US were unique (I joined Amazon). The longer you stay, the harder it is to return: your network changes, you get used to life in the new place, etc.
I will say that I’ve pondered the question of moving home nearly continuously since moving here and there always seems to be a compromise that we’re not ready to make yet. In the case of Canada, it was often the housing prices in the places where we’d like to live.
Here are a few others:
- being in a persecuted group that is at-risk or discriminated against in their country of origin (due to religion, race, sexuality, gender, etc.)
- being from a country with a high homicide rate, or some other high risk of violence or danger
- wanting to provide a better education and quality of life for their family
- escaping abusive family or relationships
- Wanting to access companies or institutions where the skilled worker feels they can have a much larger impact through their work
This list is just scratching the surface...
Because some people are queer or from other minority communities within their home country (e.g. Dalit in India), and would be subject to discrimination, including and up to murder, in their home countries. Asylum only covers the most extreme cases and not the day-to-day discrimination that minorities face worldwide.
Because freedom of movement is an inalienable right that comes with being a human, and borders are inherently oppressive.
Because most of the world is a harsh, dangerous place, and supporting the decisions individuals have made to stay or get out, given the circumstances they're in, is inherently a moral good.
For many of them it's been too long since they've had normal people problems. For immigrant experiences the gulf is even wider.
On the other hand, the H1B system isn’t supposed to import fungible labor. These visa are supposed to be for highly specialized labor — highly specialized to the point that the openings are rare. It’s hard to fault an abused program for being inconsiderate of a problem it wasn’t supposed to solve.
Once an H1B is offered it should remain in place for some set time period, with procedures in place to address fraud either in the case of the company or employee.
Give us a general work visa that let's us work for N years instead of making us puppets of the company we are currently working for.
H1Bs are just skilled worker visas, let's stop with the charade that they're anything else.
100% agree, which is why I'm saying they shouldn't be tied to a single employer, which just helps employers in general acquire a more compliant, docile work force.
I also favor dutch auction allocation.
That, and ban all of the body shops using them.
BTW, I have worked somewhere where H1b was knowingly abused and used to reduce the average wage.
Do you know there is no general work visa at all in America, whereby a skilled person can come based on their merit and work in the US?
There are a whole lot of (both immigrant and non-immigrant) work-related skill-based visas in the US immigration system. It's true there is no one generic such visa, but that's because the US immigration systems doesn't use a small number of broad visa types but a large number of hyperspecific ones.
Yeah, but it's great for the large companies hiring them.
This is not true. The H1B program is intended to "allow U.S. employers to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations. A specialty occupation requires the application of specialized knowledge and a bachelor's degree or the equivalent of work experience". Ie, it is intended to boost the economy by allowing in skilled college-educated immigrants. There's no requirement that they have to possess unique/extraordinary talent, or work in jobs where "openings are rare".
You're probably mixing up the H1B program with the EB1 program, which is indeed intended for immigrants possessing "extraordinary ability". The intent and requirements for H1B are far simpler
In order to renew an H1b visa , immigrants have to go to a US consulate, which do not exist within the borders of the United States so leaving the country is required. For the vast majority, this is a day trip to Canada or Mexico or a small vacation to visit family in their home country so it's not really an issue. However, sometimes, the consulate will pull shit like a "State Department Security Check" because the subjects worked in an institute that happens to have a research nuclear reactor - nevermind that it's one of the largest scientific institutes in the world or that their fields of expertise have nothing to do with nuclear.
The immigrants, if they chose to go to Canada or Mexico (as most do due to cost), are likely at this point stuck for months as undocumented immigrants in their new host country - unable to work with existing mortgages/apartments/cars/obligations to pay for in their old life, hotels and living expenses to pay for in their new life, and barely a month worth of sick time and vacation. Bonus: most of the things they could do to mitigate the disaster could jeopardize their permanent residency application. As far as I know, these standoffs usually end when the employers sue over the renewal or dump the employee completely in which case their entire lives have to be packed up and moved but they can't enter the United States to do so. Bonus #2: if both parents are working, they likely have separate H1b visas that won't clear together - family separation time!
As you can imagine, going through this series of events is devastating, especially for children who have zero insight or control into the process. Cruel is an understatement.
Edit:  See comment below, this applies to applications going through consular processing, which is a crucial detail
I think you may be confusing 2 things. H1 Validity and H1 Visa. You can extend your H1 from within US and most people do. No one is forced to go out and come back.
However, to extend H1 Visa, what you say is true. The difference is that visa allows you to go out of US, and then come back in, and for you to come back in, you need a visa that is valid at the time of entry.
However, if you wanted to stay in US without going out and keep on extending H1 (to the extent allowed by law), you can.
H1b applications processed by consulates don't receive an I-94 which means that the application is "approved pending a visa stamping". The new work authorization isn't active regardless of whether they are already in the United States legally or not, until the person leaves the US and goes to a visa stamping at a consulate.
You are describing the happy path for tech workers, but in my experience (90s Soviet block exodus) most families had to go through consular processing because it places a smaller burden of proof on the applicant vis a vis things like legal status in the United States and their home country. Lots of families from the Soviet block had a hard time assembling the required documentation in the chaos of the 90s and anyone who overstayed a H1b or student visa even a day because they wouldn't or couldn't uproot their families has to go through this process.
What I am describing about H1 is standard (majority) operating procedure. Yes extending H1 visa outside of the country is a pain, but extending H1 while being in US is not such a big pain, and most of my colleagues do that. Of course there does come a need for people to visit to their origin country once in a while, and yes that's when it becomes a lottery.
Working as a grad student is really a quite poor economic trade off unless you have the unspoken side benefit of qualifying for a visa.
It's basically a form of academic wage suppression.
H1b, for example, is well studied to result in wage suppression.
However... The system is arbitrary and can punish people short term. It seems strange to buy a house in a country that can kick you out on no notice through no fault of your own.
OK, it's strange to buy a house. What about marrying and having a kid? Many H1B workers here have lived there for decades (with no realistic hope of a green card in sight). Must we stay childless because we can be kicked out on no notice?
I know your statement is well-intentioned but it comes off as one of those things that's easy to say in 'abstract' but it demonstrates a lack of understanding of actual life situations of people.
If you marry a citizen, that accelerated the Green Card. If you marry a non-citizen, your situation is precarious, so why not rent rather than buy?
I’m not arguing that the rules are right. (They are clearly wrong) Just that if you’re ina precarious situation, avoid doing things that make it worse. When I lived abroad, the expats were all aware of being on borrowed time.
I think the world would be a better place in terms of peace and prosperity if people could circulate as easily as money. Unfortunately that’s not our world.
If my posts are wrong or offend I’m happy to delete them.
Renting vs buying is fine. We can choose to rent all our lives and frankly in the Bay Area buying isn't even that slam dunk of a decision anyway.
My point was a bit more general. It's very common for people to argue 'technically' about how others should live their lives while missing their ground reality. For instance, it's easy to say "Well technically H1B is not an immigration visa, it's a temporary workers visa so why are you making long-term life decisions while on it". But the ground reality for most Indians and Chinese on H1Bs in the US is that they will never get a green card (permanent residence), and they will spend their whole lives here under H1B, so while the question is well-meaning and genuine, it translates to "don't buy a house, don't get too many possessions, don't marry, don't have kids".
 Unless you marry a citizen, in which case you are sometimes accused of entering into a 'green-card marriage' and seen with suspicion.
He's since married and has a kid, used to live in an apartment but now has a house, although he might be renting, I'm not sure.
I started dating and eventually married my wife, got two dogs, and bought a house in just the five years I've been working at the company myself, so a lot of life events can happen in that time.
Here's the current queue size: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/legal/visa-law0/v.... For immigrants born in mainland China, E2's current queue is 4.5 years, for immigrants born in India E2's current queue is 11 years.
Have you ever tried to break a lease on accommodation in the US?
A house is an asset you can continue to own if you leave the country, by renting it. There is no requirement to be US resident or even eligible to visit the US to own property in the US.
Breaking a lease can cost tens of thousands of dollars which is just waste - and if you ever intend on coming back to the country at some point, simply abandoning the lease is not advisable since the impact on credit reporting can be substantial.
So I'd suggest that it's actually cheaper to own a house, and simply _not_ unwind it.
When I was in real estate, the banks would only credit your income at a 75% occupancy rate. It’s hard to break even on an income basis with rental real estate.
When your property is vacant, you’re still on the hook for the mortgage. More than likely, your income is going to be lower when you’re forced to leave the country.
This straight path you speak of they have been filing paperwork for and fighting for, for 3 years now. I believe he is just in the path to permanently moving to China and revoking his US citizenship status.
Everything about this process sucks. :(
So let's rein in those companies by giving them a talent pool of people who can't rock the boat too hard without fear of having to leave the country?
That’s a new one. What are these American tech unions you are speaking of? Googling only brings up a few obscure organizations that I’m sure don’t have much influence with the Democrats.
If someone thinks that some country is composed only from good will and good people, it will be disappointing. There is price to pay for moving, it is not always obvious. I moved to another country and I earn more money than if I would not move, but opportunities that I left back in my country are somewhat biting me back after all those years.
Actually its business tycoons who want cheap, abundant labor. Getting the media to frame it as a social issue was genius.
Interestingly enough, there's a very similar system in place in the United Kingdom (Tier 2 General). Not only you have to leave within 60 days after being laid off, but there's also a "cooling-off period" of 1 year, which means that you can't get a new visa during this period and effectively it resets your time until permanent residence, so you have no option but to start over.
Their PR system is also time based, which means you don't have to live in uncertainty forever, unlike the H1B which is lifelong temporary immigrant for certain nationalities.
How would you buy a house on a H1B? No banks would issue a mortgage to a non-immigrant visa holder.
Two things can be true at the same time. Starting a "resident life" while on a temporary, non-immigrant visa doesn't sound like a great plan; and yes, this visa is horrendous and should be deeply reformed.
I lived in the US on a temporary, non-immigrant visa similar to the H-1B for six years.
Buying a house and starting a family while on such a visa always struck me as deeply irresponsible. I was reticent to even get a pet. The US immigration process sucks, but it's sucked for a long time, and the extent to which it's going to suck for you in particular is knowable ahead of time. Simply reading the language on the forms you fill out while applying for such a visa makes it clear how the US government regards you. To ignore that and live your life as though you have permanent residency already is to carelessly put yourself (and your family, if you have one) in a risky situation.
I have sympathy for people who find themselves in this position. Leaving the US as a single person with no significant assets was tough enough for me, I can't imagine what it's like for someone who's really put down roots there. That said, if you were living like a "temporary worker in a speciality occupation" you wouldn't have put down roots.
 I know a lot of people listen to their employers pie-in-the-sky promises of Green Cards and how layoffs "never happen" and so forth. You're an adult, though. Understand your legal situation for yourself.
What the heck is a “tech union”? Who are in one?
There isn't really such a thing as a "tech union" in the USA. I don't think very many tech H1B holders are working in areas with any unions. (And if they were wouldn't many union members be H1B holders themselves?)
Actually, I suspect Democrats get more money from tech companies that benefit from H1B hires than Republicans do. Tech companies in the past tend to donate to Dem more than Republican. Of course, the biggest companies, in nearly every industry, donate to both parties hoping to influence whoever is in office.
Perhaps that's what led to the bare improvement to a 60 day period under Obama, who was of course the last Democratic president. The Dems definitely haven't done any more for lower wage or less skilled immigrants, if you think they are somehow helping them but not H1B-type immigration, you are unfortunately mistaken.
And don't get me started on lack of job-related questions, false negatives and having to guess what interviewers want to hear
I live in Scandinavia, and I have yet to encounter the levels of rigor I see in the US (tech) interviewing process - which is kind of weird, as we have much, much more stringent workers rights/laws, making it more difficult to get rid of a bad hire.
Sure, US companies, especially in tech hubs, operate on a completely different scale than companies over here - at least in terms of funding/capital, size, and impact; So one might suspect your companies and startups to be more selective. But yet, it seems like a completely different world.
Over here, there seems to be much more emphasis (and trust) on your resume, and the hiring process is more focused on fit. If you have the basics down, most can be thought - but it's pretty difficult to teach culture.
I hate stupid leetcode based interviews. It's like "gotcha journalism " just to have a justification for a subjective rejection
It's like when as couple of weeks ago some random recruiter was interviewing me and asked "what's your weak point as a manager" ... I was sincere and if course the reason I was rejected is because they are looking for someone who doesn't have THAT exact weakness. GOTCHA!!
Rejecting candidates based on their response to those types of questions is completely counter-productive. You'll just end up with a bunch of employees who are either liars, or very good at delegating blame. You want employees who take ownership of their work and assigned tasks.
As for programming tasks/questions in interviews. I think that it's important to test applicants' practical knowledge of sorting and other enumerable operations as it's a common task that's often done wrong, often with significant performance impacts. However, requiring a candidate to re-implement a common sorting algorithm for an array of numbers does nothing but stroke the interviewer's ego. The last time I actually had to write a sorting algorithm from scratch was in a 200-level computer science paper.
An actually sane interview question/task would be to ask the candidate to sort an array by an unconventional comparison, using a language's standard sorting functionality.
For example: sorting an array of coordinates by their absolute distance from (0, 0), or sorting an array of RGB colours by intensity. They're problems that a programmer would realistically encounter in a real-life application, and test that the candidate actually understands how to manipulate non-trivial enumerable/comparable data.
Asking candidates to implement quicksort selects for applicants who have a case of Not-Invented-Here Syndrome. You don't want to hire programmers who implement their own sorting algorithms from scratch, there's a >90% chances they'll implement it worse than the language's standard implementation, while wasting a bunch of time that could be spent solving actual business problems, and creating technical debt to boot.
I'd bet H1Bs are going to be much more motivated to jump through that hoop. Benefits them and the company doing the hiring that conveniently just can't find enough qualified American engineers to do the job.
I think coding interviews are actually working fairly well. They divide people into at least two groups: a first group is people that can pass them without too much trouble, and they mostly seem to get hired, but of course there are mistakes. A second group is people that need to spend 500 hours cramming to appear qualified, and basically are trying to game the system. These people mostly don't get hired, and I suspect also are completely driving the conversation on HN and elsewhere about how coding interviews are a terrible failure.
No, you don't. Simply hire the first one that's a fit. If all 50 are well-qualified, that means hire the very first one you interview.
Do you really? If they're all well qualified, wouldn't any of them do?
That's probably because OP makes triple to quadruple your total compensation at minimum as an L5 ML Engineer at Google.
And for the price of a small 2-bedroom apartment in the SF-area, you can pretty much buy a mansion where I live.
Then you have things like healthcare, school costs, daycare / cost of raising a child, etc. etc.
edit: Two engineers together can make $700k+ which is $450+k after taxes per year. After one year and reasonable spending that's enough for a down payment on a house in the Bay Area. Every single year you get enough to pay for 1.5 kid's worth of college education at a top private school. Very few costs actually matter in comparison at that point.
I don't see why not. It's not like the Bay Area is particularly great culturally, culinarily or in most other ways. It's a giant suburb sandwiched between a medium sized city and a place that is only technically dense enough to be a city. There's plenty of mid-sized cities and suburbs in the US with reasonable costs of living.
In terms of diverse activities I've personally found east coast cities better and most have broader suburbs than the bay area (due to not being restricted by mountains) so it's easier to trade commute against price.
Cost of living sucks, it’s why I just moved to a better COL area but damn do I miss the restaurant scene.
edit: This is as someone who has experienced household lifestyles going from <$40k/year to >$250k/year.
I've gone from 0K to 200K in my life and more money is always better, it's more freedom and it's more happiness and there has never been any downside.
Making more money has always made me happier and it's given me the ability to take care of the people I care about.
I want more and if a job comes up tomorrow that will pay me more, I'm there.
Tere's diminishing returns on wealth accumulation. You need to give up something to make that extra more. Different people have different thresholds for "giving up" certain aspects of their life.
However, the housing stock is mostly old & run down even at two million dollar prices. Not to mention, a kid with two full time Googler parents? They are attending an academically rigorous private school with 3-4 hours of cram classes after, not sipping virgin daiquiris by the pool.
The life you can't imagine are all the lucky Engineers to be paid bay area salaries at reasonable cost of living locations like Seattle. You may laugh at me calling Seattle "reasonable" but compared to the bay it is.
It’s not hard to save a million or more on those salaries before you turn 30. That’s a lot of freedom.
I'm in Seattle but I have engineer friends in Florida making your salary and they definitely have nice houses.
Huh? OP wasn't a rando who just 'studied' for a few weeks and passed. He has been working in Tech for 7+ years .
If anything the moral of this story is it doesn't matter that you have a 7 year experience, you still have to do fucking Leetcode for 2 months if you want to get a new job.
Exactly my point -- two weeks of leetcode do not significantly affect the candidate's ability to perform the job, but it has immense influence on how well s/he'll do in the interview
1. If you're not a good programmer even with leetcode practice you can't get good
2. If you're a good programmer with leetcode practice you eliminate anxiety and are able to perform optimally according to your programming skills
Thus, it is definitely semi annoying that you need to "prep" for interviews with leetcode, its not the absolute worst thing in the world. Software engineers in the US tend to routinely forget how good they have basically everything compared to every other profession / nation out there.
This is also coming from and Indian dude currently back in India after a decade of being in the States. I think a 60 day window is perfectly acceptable (not great but not terrible either) for immigrant workers. I'm still glad for the opportunity this gives people. You're supposed to be a smart cookie anyways right? Didn't you know these terms when you started? Perhaps you should have made sure you had an exit plan. It's definitely on you if you come on a h1b and instantly proceed to buy a mansion that you can't sell off and leave nation if needed. Also, people blame their kids for not wanting to move them back to their original countries - I feel like the kids will be alright. It's probably the adults who will despise going back to a "lesser" lifestyle or something.
Leetcode is solving small problems, often with tricks, in a very short period of time. Being a software engineer is solving large problems over large periods of time.
In the past 2 years I've done about 40ish+ interviews at all the big tech co's + smaller-midsize startups and aside from 3 or 4 take home assignments I was given, _every_ interview was leetcode style, to the point where I would just start noting which exact leetcode questions I was asked when friends asked about my experience. The only exception would be 1 or 2 "system design" rounds out of the 5/6 on-site interviews if the company was calibrating me for senior level.
At least you can actually hunker down and do these silly tests. There's a huge amount of advice on the technical stuff.
And yes it means people who have a job already are disadvantaged, but that also means people who have no income have a way in.
In a lot of other industries, there's no real way to boost your game. Often it's purely reputation of your school and previous employers, and your feedback on a failed application is just platitudes. People circle around for ages and never find anything but crappy advice that doesn't work.
It's also a process that makes bias a little bit harder to introduce. If your pal from the country club can't fizzbuzz, it will be hard to convince people to accept him. Not saying this is bullet proof, but in most jobs it's a lot more vague whether someone is terrible.
Now we're at the scale where if you haven't done a minimum of 200 problems before any interview round - you're not likely getting an offer from FAANG/etc.
What they are trying to do is not just practically impossible, it is literally impossible.
Lol then what do you think about the hefty exams people have to go through in Spain to become a public employee? People spent several years just studying after finishing college just to get a job - for life, that is.