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Trump administration announces overhaul of H1B visa program requiring higher pay (wsj.com)
1256 points by grej 15 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 1363 comments

All: don't miss that there are multiple pages of comments in this thread. That's what the More link at the bottom points to. Or click here:




Credit where credit is due, this is a good move. The H1B program has been abused for a long time. It sounds like these changes should help make it too expensive for the fraudulent abuse to continue.

The higher pay seems like an overall positive change to reduce the prevalence of "body shops" and so that H1-Bs aren't an easy way for companies to lower overall pay rate. I'm not sure that narrowing degree qualifications is a win; high-skill immigration is a significant boon to America's economy, and I think ability to do the work, and American company willingness to pay above-rate salaries (legally mandated now to 95th percentile for the highest-skill work) ought to be enough signal, and having a particular degree is not as useful a measure at that point. I know plenty of people who are incredibly qualified in terms of industry experience who don't have advanced degrees.

I've been pretty impressed with Taiwan's Gold Card work visa program, where you either need certain educational achievement qualifications, or need to be a highly-paid employee in specific fields — but not both. And it's not tied to a specific employer, which I think helps negotiation (and thus also helps domestic workers, by raising labor prices). I wish America's immigration program worked more like that — specific quibbles about what exactly the rate should be aside; Taiwan's is certainly too low to use for the US — since I think encouraging high-skill immigration would help much more than it would hurt: high-skill immigrants tend to generate more jobs, and also tend to pay more in taxes than the services they receive, meaning it's a win-win where immigrants can get the jobs they want in the country they want to be in and Americans end up with more jobs available and more government services per (American) tax dollar spent.

"…to lower overall pay rate." What's with this nationalism and view human value? Just because a person was or wasn't born in a certain place, something they had no ability to affect, they have more or less right to a certain job with a certain salary in a certain place?

Looking at it from the other perspective of the individual who can get a job, they are probably not lowering their salaries, but rather significantly increasing it.

And looking at this from an historical context for the USA makes it even more absurd. Most people with these high paying jobs in the US are direct descendants of people who immigrated to the US with the sole purpose of getting a higher salary – because of poverty and lack of economic opportunities in their home countries.

The duty and role of a government is to act in the best interest of their citizens which that government represents.

The interests of outsiders are simply not relevant to that - they have their own government to represent their interests, which can and should enact policies that benefit them, and negotiate in international agreements policies that will help their citizens. If it's a win-win situation (which is the expected situation for skilled immigration visas) then sure, we should look at how the incentives are aligned; but when it's a tradeoff between the interests of your citizens and foreigners, then the government is elected to ensure that the interests of their citizens are facilitated - if need be, at the expense of others, to whom the government has no inherent duty whatsoever except the voluntarily undertaken commitments to certain international treaties. And if the government is implementing some policies that hurt their citizens to benefit others (which it may well do for all kinds of reasons - e.g. governments do humanitarian aid, which costs your citizens and benefits others, but presumably with support from the voters/taxpayers), then that has to happen due to the choice and consent of these citizens, otherwise they have all right to replace the government with something that will act as the citizens desire.

> The duty and role of a government is to act in the best interest of their citizens which that government represents.

According to who? I understand that this is a kind of framing used here often, but the federal government has been concerned primarily with itself for a long time now at least to my eyes.

According to ground realities. In a well functioning representative democracy, voters will kick out politicians/administrations that don’t represent their interests well.

So if you want to be the one politician that values non-citizens’ rights over citizens’ rights, good luck getting re-elected.

Or you could set up an autocracy and try to manage this anyway. For further reading, I recommend the book The Dictator’s Handbook or CGP Greg’s 20 minute summary of it.

ground realities are that, for example, flint michigan barely has clean water after seven years.

if you are claiming the usa is not a well functioning representative democracy, i agree.

Obviously the Flint water crisis is a tragedy and an embarrassment, and I can understand how the issue might cause you to question the competence of the local leadership, but in what way is it an indictment of the functionality of America's representative democracy?

>in what way is it an indictment of the functionality of America's representative democracy?

To a certain extent, I can see it as a case study against the functionality of representative democracy.

One one hand, elected leaders were fiscally irresponsible enough to enact policies that bankrupted the administration leading to a change to the water supply to save money. If I were playing devil's advocate, this could be seen as representative democracy incentivizing short-term political thinking leading to this outcome. E.g., it's easier to get elected on promises that benefit voters while ignoring harsh realities of how those promises will be paid for.

On the other hand, the decisions that led directly to the water crises were made by emergency managers appointed by the governor. This means non-elected officials overruled elected officials. Playing devil's advocate here can lead one to believe the displacement of elected officials is an indictment of the functionality of the system to truly be able to select those who govern the constituency.

it's just one example of many of huge swaths of people in this country not being treated in the way they they would be treated if they were in a well functioning representative democracy.

see if:

> In a well functioning representative democracy, voters will kick out politicians/administrations that don’t represent their interests well.

and "half of this country is a very small bill from crisis for their entire lives, people do things like describing the insurance agent as the most traumatizing part of the bear attack they survived" are both true, in what way can it be considered well functioning?

>don’t represent their interests

Can you put a finer point on what you mean by "their interests"? Is this relegated to just economic interests?

If it extends beyond economics, I see no reason why those two statements can't coexist. For example, I can vote against my own economic interest if I vote for higher taxes that I don't directly benefit from on the grounds that I want to support a more equitable society. Or I can vote against government run healthcare that I may also benefit from if I don't think that is the role of government. Both can be examples of voting against my economic interests to reflect my moral interests.

food, water, shelter, and healthcare are universal human interests. it's fine for you to believe the government shouldn't have a hand in them, but then in my view you are simply not in favor of what has been defined in this thread as a "healthy representative democracy"

you could argue that it's not your fault if lots of people don't vote so they get what they get, but you would be oversimplifying things for a HUGE section of the populace who don't vote because they have no one to represent their interests, where their interests are not starving or getting thrown on the street or being in debt for years and years because they slipped on the ice. these people not only do not have a meaningful way to vote, they also often do not have the time or energy to engage in local politics or trying to massage the system. they are currently risking their lives at metaphorical gunpoint every day to deliver "essential" services. minus the pandemic, it's been this way for a long time.


> The duty and role of a government is to act in the best interest of their citizens which that government represents.

and this

> In a well functioning representative democracy, voters will kick out politicians/administrations that don’t represent their interests well.

do not describe this country, even if you assert that only those who vote are represented. There's zero accountability to the people, the gaps are too large for people who do represent our interests to get through the door (and when they come close the rules tend to change suddenly) Something being against the rules has never stopped someone from doing it if they really wanted to when they are the enforcers or writers of the rules.

if i lie to you a bunch and you vote me in, i'm not representing you. i have no intention on acting in your interests. politics is a crooked game, and ours is a particularly easy one to fix.

and what of the rest of the citizens who didn't vote because they risk losing their job or because of a million other reasons? are they not still citizens? most of them didn't choose to be, and regardless of whether that gives them some sort of moral obligation to participate to their best in the politics of their situation it does not remove their need for food, water, shelter, and healthcare which has been an increasingly difficult need to meet with essentially zero assistance from the system that is supposed to represent them.

to me it seems a lot like the conclusion is either that they are simply lesser for whatever reason and too bad for them or that the institution is just insisting on itself the way that institutions tend to do when they've been around long enough, and maybe a lot of people are actually very out of touch with what it is like to live in america for about half of our populace.

There's a lot here, so I'll try to summarize your point and you can tell me if I'm off.

>food, water, shelter, and healthcare are universal human interests.

I'm assuming you mean this is in the governments purview as part of promoting the general welfare clause. While I would agree, I can also understand those who do not because they take a more Jeffersonian view that the point of the government is to protect individual rights. At times, I can see where promoting general welfare and protecting individual rights can be at odds. I didn't see that specific definition of "healthy representative democracy" so it's may be too broad a reach (or I may have just missed it within the thread).

>if i lie to you a bunch and you vote me in, i'm not representing you.

This feels like a contradiction to the previous point that "voters will kick out politicians/administrations that don’t represent their interests well.". Maybe a lying politician gets to do this once, but after that it's the populace's job to hold them accountable. The people have a responsibility in a democracy as well. I agree it's not easy and opportunists will try to rig the system. Being difficult doesn't absolve us of the responsibility. I get the impression we fundamentally disagree that there's "zero accountability to the people". I think there is, but people may just not have the fortitude to do it for a variety of reasons. In many ways, I think the adage of "People get the government they deserve" is true. If you want to tolerate rigged systems or lying politicians, or don't want to get actively engaged, what kind of system do you think you deserve?

you're off by a little bit.

> The duty and role of a government is to act in the best interest of their citizens which that government represents.

> In a well functioning representative democracy, voters will kick out politicians/administrations that don’t represent their interests well.

part of what i'm saying is that if these statements are true, then we are not in a functioning representative democracy.

>if i lie to you a bunch and you vote me in, i'm not representing you.

>This feels like a contradiction to the previous point that

correct. it is an argument against it.

> Maybe a lying politician gets to do this once, but after that it's the populace's job to hold them accountable. The people have a responsibility in a democracy as well. I agree it's not easy and opportunists will try to rig the system. Being difficult doesn't absolve us of the responsibility.

regardless of whether or not i agree that in "the way its supposed to work" this is the case, it's been a lot more than once and for a lot longer than a little bit of time. longer than i've been alive.

with what time, resources, or authority are you suggesting the populace hold them accountable with? don't answer that just yet.

> I get the impression we fundamentally disagree that there's "zero accountability to the people". I think there is, but people may just not have the fortitude to do it for a variety of reasons.

We don't disagree in the sense you are talking about, technically. Zero accountability that the accountable will accept as valid though.

If i am born into a life with zero political agency and a constant threat of not having food or shelter in a populace that is largely entirely alienated not only from their peers but from also what they produce and consume how is that me getting what i deserve? In what way do you expect the hypothetical me to be organized or able to organize? How successful do you think someone like that could be at doing what you are suggesting when they don't have more than a $400 buffer and no supply chain?

> In many ways, I think the adage of "People get the government they deserve" is true.

I don't think the adage you're referring to is true at all; on the contrary I think that the responses you are speaking of simply take a long time to bubble up into enough of the populace to make them inevitable. Once that threshold is crossed you may as well swap the adage around. The structures and superstructures of societal organization are things that exist prior to you, it's natural for them to be baked into assumptions of "just how things are".

> If you want to tolerate rigged systems or lying politicians, or don't want to get actively engaged, what kind of system do you think you deserve?

I don't think that inaction in face of miserable conditions that have been part of your experience of reality since day one makes someone "deserve" those conditions. It just makes them someone living in the reality they've been presented with. Engagement however, of all sorts, has been rising

>If i am born into a life with zero political agency

Genuinely curious, what would you cite as evidence of "zero political agency"? If it's the de facto sense of it being prohibitively hard for one person/group than another as you allude to in your previous posts, this is a very different thing than zero agency. Again, I think it's dangerous to conflate hard with impossible.

The $400 buffer hurdle is a loaded topic that would be difficult to get into without being drawn into more walls of text, but I think this is often an artifact of poorly aligned priorities and choices. I actually tend think the counter is true; lower economic strata tend to have more free time than higher strata, etc. But I'm afraid this would turn into a long digression to get into.

I can agree that a government deserves it's constituency. However, I think can be true without negating the previous statement about a populace deserving it's government as well. It's hard to be both an advocate for empowerment while also absolving oneself of responsibility.

I do appreciate you taking the time to elaborate, but a common thread seems to be an almost infantilizing of a constituency. While I can empathize with the marginalized, I don't think it does any pragmatic good if it just stops at hand-wringing. If we resign ourselves to a lack of agency, ironically it's a good way to guarantee not to get it. It's a personal viewpoint, but I think those who will take ownership of these problems are in a much better position to affect change than those who constantly say it's out of their control.

I spent a decade homeless in appalachia and the general midwest for a decade, and another largely below the poverty line. I'm fine with citing my life and the lives of everyone I knew for the amount of political agency that was present in our lives.

I would not describe that period of my life as having more "free time" but I can understand how that may look the case.

I agree with you in spirit in some ways here and I do not believe in absolution of responsibility. Material conditions, however, often skew the will in ways rather extreme, possibility is not probability and it's a fool that eats shit after watching 20 people take a bite of a cake and realize it's shit.

>I would not describe that period of my life as having more "free time" but I can understand how that may look the case.

It’s more than just perception. It’s been awhile since I’ve read it, but The Meritocracy Trap gives the actual stats. Obviously, the higher strata have an abundance of other resources (chiefly money, by definition) but not free time because of the competitive nature of maintaining within that economic level.

I do think that the middle class is attainable for most as long as they do a few essentially things, like graduating high school, avoiding massive debt, avoiding addictions, and avoiding becoming a parent before financially secure. I also believe we should, as a society, help those who are disadvantaged by things outside their control. However, there will always be consequences for life choices and some of those can’t be completed mitigated.

I didn’t grow up with money but I also eventually learned comparison is the thief of joy

uh because presumably if you ask people if they want safe water, they say yes, and yet ...

if Flint isn't an indictment of US democracy, what would be?

Sanctioned government violence against its citizens by the police comes to mind. Weak environmental policies that are leading to things like wildfires on the west coast. The president* making his Dex fueled escape from Walter Reed and immediately taking off his mask telling people to not worry about COVID. The same president* profiteering off the presidency and 40% of the country unquestioningly supporting it. The same 40% refusing to wear masks in public because somehow being a spoiled brat is patriotic.

This is what I imagine the Roman Empire felt like right before it collapsed on itself. The US has grown too big and too spoiled and is ripping at the seams.

Can you give me an example of the kind of “weak environmental policy” you are talking about? One which would lead to more wildfires on the west coast? Because the only policy I know of that leads to more wildfires, is the 20th century mistake of putting them out, which led to runaway undergrowth leading to hotter fires, such that trees were destroyed that would normally survive. The policy that best protects the environment long term is to let the fires burn. So again, what is the strong environmental policy you are envisioning that would prevent wildfires?

Several. Pulling out of the Paris climate accords is one such policy. Prohibition on further nuclear power plant building. Policy of subsidies for coal power plants. Current policies regarding vehicle efficiency requirements that amongst other things let you classify your 8 mpg SUV or pickup that you drive all by yourself as a light truck instead of a commuter vehicle that it actually is which lets it legally be on the road with its dismal emissions rating. Keystone pipeline. Rolling back environmental regulations. Removing the words “climate change” and “science” from the EPA website because this administration finds science inconvenient. Prohibition on studying climate change by NASA as well as putting gag orders on any other agency from NASA to EPA to CDC on talking about it. Public policy of denying climate change (see last night’s debate as a prime example). Want me to keep going?

Fires are burning not because we have too much forest (though of course finding better forest management instead of Wall Street would be a much better investment). They are burning because global warming (climate change was a conservative TV talking about because they used the fact that global warming could include local cooling to confuse the matter) means longer dry seasons, draughts, lots of dry underbrush. Wildfires have always been a thing. Wildfires that span such areas and can’t be put out like this have not existed on this scale in recorded human history. Those who pretend that this isn’t happening should put a plastic bag with a large zip tie over their heads and tell us how they can breathe just fine in there. It will be just as effective at not suffocating as continuing down this path for another 10-20 years.

40% is a high estimate. Because voter turnout in 2016 was about 60%, only 27% of eligible voters voted for Trump. And probably a significant portion of those are not unquestioning supporters.

His approval has been well tracked by polls that target both likely voters and registered voters with the same 40% +/- 4% result.

>if you are claiming the usa is not a well functioning representative democracy, i agree.

A claim on the intent of a government can be made without making a claim whether that intent is being fulfilled

right, that's why i put "if" there :P

Imagine that you are a politician in that area and you have a crisis with the water supply, you aren't going to win votes by promising to first fix the water supply problems somewhere else that's not in your electorate. Even if things are broken there's always pressure to campaign on addressing local needs first in order to get (re)elected, hence the phrase "all politics is local".

The duty and role of a government is to act in the best interest of their citizens even if a particular government fails at this duty. When a government does not properly fulfil their role, that is the direction towards which we push them, to better represent the interest, desires and choices of their citizens - not to act for the benefit of everyone else in the world.

That's a pretty basic tenant of democracy. The government is by the people and for the people.

Perhaps just a typo, but since I've seen this mistake before: it's "tenet" rather than "tenant".

if i write "bees" on a box, does the box contain bees?


> The duty and role of a government is to act in the best interest of their citizens which that government represents.

Truism. The point of contention is around what constitutes "best interest."

> The interests of outsiders are simply not relevant to that

If this is so simple, why did it require an additional 500ish words to qualify it?

Your point seems to boil down to this:

In cases where there is a conflict between the perceived "best interest" of citizens and those of non-citizens, if the citizens haven't specifically directed the government to do otherwise, the government should act in the perceived "best interest" of its own citizens.

But it's reductive and short-sighted to say that humanitarian aid "hurts" one side and "helps" the other. For instance, the marginal impact of a U.S. dollar on a U.S. citizen's productivity is effectively nil. But that same dollar spent in a third-world country would have much higher marginal impact. The productivity of that other citizen allows them to specialize and trade, and then everyone benefits in the long term.

The hyper-nationalism perspective that your country should take whatever it can at the expense of other countries is exactly what led to both of the world wars.

Lol so you're saying EEO is out the window

The duty and role of government is to act in the interests of those with power and influence. If a vote has more power and influence than money or connections due to how the government is structured or elected then the government can represent the interests of the people.

However, even voters are not equal in the US with those in Wyoming holding almost 3x the voting power for president compared to California due to the electoral college. Senate votes are an entirely different ballgame where small population states are equal to large states in theory but the vote count behind the senator may be millions vs tens of thousands. Also, the less populated but more numerous red states have led to a tyranny of the minority in the US Senate since 2010. If you are curious about that look at the number of justices Trump has appointed vs Obama, and Obama had 2 full terms: https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2020/07/15/how-trump-c...

The US is not really a functional democracy or represenatative republic at this point. Money and power run most policy: https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/04/how-cor... (from 2015).

Lobbying dollars hugely outweigh voter preference in policy: https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/economy/reports/2014...

And if you are a company looking to make a profit lobbying may be the best investment to make over capital or other useful growth moves: https://medium.com/numbers-that-matter/return-on-investment-...

That's right, ROI on lobbying is about 200,000% though 10 years it ago it was closer to 20,000%: https://sunlightfoundation.com/2009/04/09/return-on-lobbying...

There's been an admin change in that time plus the Citizens United decision. Remember there are many questions around where PPP loans went, including millions to the newly appointed USPS leadership plus Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senate Majority leader, and his wife, Elaine Chao, Secretary of transportation: https://www.marketwatch.com/story/lawmakers-and-transportati...

Trump himself won with a 2.8 million popular vote deficit, similar to Bush in 2000. There are 3 other examples in the mid 1800's. In 2016 the GOP won a minority of votes in the US house yet held a 10% seat majority alongside a lopsided Senate. These are not symbols of a functional republic or election process, or at lest one that reflects the will of the people. From the 2016 election results alone your first statement on the duty and role of government is failed by the US. We are at risk of becoming a failed democracy for similar reasons.

Lobbying and campaign finance operations are destroying the value of voter preference and need to be reigned in through massive overhaul of the campaign and election processes. I'm all for setting a window for campaigning like the UK, assigning a budget from public money that ALL donations go into to remove lobbying issues, as well as an overhaul of the actual voting mechanisms reverting to paper ballots handled entirely by mail and air gapped technology using a ranked choice or first alternative process to determine the popular vote like Maine implemented this year. Connect that to the bill going around for states to pass their electors to the popular vote winner directly and you have the start of a government serving at the will of the people, not lobbyists, a minority, the powerful.

The duty of the government is to justify the existence of the government.

>The duty and role of a government is to act in the best interest of their citizens which that government represents.

This is the same argument that is used to justify slavery. You don't want to go there.

What a ridiculous statement. If anything, reforming the h1-b program is a good thing for the incoming workers. There were tons of H1-B workers who did not get visas because some 'IT sweatshop' flooded the program with cheap, relatively low skill applicants. Now? Better applicants have a higher chance to be approved!

The only reason why H1B is a problem is that there's a limit and requirement for being employed. That disrupts the free market approach with sunk cost fallacies and fear of being "sent home".

I saw a study somewhere that if USA opened its borders, roughly 1 billion people would move in there in a short order. Obviously, no country can handle that, hence the need to have limits.

GP is suggesting removing the 85k H-1Bs annual cap but keeping all other requirements in place (with or without new wage standards). EDIT: GP is also suggesting removal of the immediate deportation proceedings should someone lose their job in H-1B status. The status should follow the employee, not the employee/employer pair.

This wouldn't necessarily lead to a lot more immigration. It would lead to fewer people leaving who are already working for US companies on F-1 student visas in OPT status (they attended US institutions)

You've seen a study? Have you seen the experiment that proves the opposite?

Romanians(with GDP of 8k per person) didn't just get up and move to UK once they were completely free to do so in 2012.

US also had mostly free migration between Mexico and US, till some xenophobe decided to put up a legal wall.

Which xenophobe put up a wall, and why is it that the US is the only country not allowed to have borders all of a sudden?

Many Mexicans worked seasonally in the US and then returned to Mexico "back in the day". I'm not sure at what point that became a problem though. Although still to this day many people are here in the US undocumented. The extent of that being a problem I'm sure we could debate. It's certainly not fair for those who attempt to play by the rules though.

Is Canada xenophobic? They won't allow just anybody in. I'm not allowed to move to New Zealand without some legal work visa thing they made up. What about France? Can I move to Japan? Why do I have to sign papers to move to any of these countries?

I'm fine if you want to advocate for open boarders (and I think it actually would be great, but we need far fewer people on the planet to make it work) but I think you really should be consistent about it.

This is not an apples to apples comparison.

Romania is a first world country with a PPP per capita GDP of $33K, compared to $48K in the UK. Their murder rate is 1.28/million, effectively the same rate as in the UK is 1.2/m.

Romanians didn't move en mass because the difference isn't all that great. They would gain 1.45X more income and no change in personal safety.

The average South American country has a PPP GDP of 16K and a regional murder rate of 16/m.

South Americans who migrate to the USA gain 4X more income (8X the economic gains of an emigrating Romanian) and enjoy a murder rate 1/4 of the South American average.

The incentives to flee Romania for the UK are trivial compared to the incentives for South Americans to move to the US.

PPP GDP: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_(PPP)...

Murder Rates: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_intention...

It's not. Broad studies and broad claims don't work like that.

There is a lot of correlation between immigrant populations across the board, though.

As for income difference... 1.45 times? How about 4-6 times? Unless you seem to think that they would be going to the mythical average UK income area. And let's not forget that there's plenty of EU countries with high income levels. You can get an apartment in Berlin for roughly 2x the rent of an apartment in Bucharest... and get 4x the income. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_European_countries_by_...

Here are some things that can be straight up disproven: * Violent criminals don't migrate en masse with completely open borders * Economic migration doesn't happen, without severe hardships(drought, famine, etc) * Asylum seekers aren't invading armies, that seek to expand war to other countries

> economic migration doesn't happen, without severe hardships(drought, famine, etc)

I'm suspecting that that billion in large part included people at severe hardships. Although to be fair a lot of them would have super hard time affording a one way plane ticket to the US, as they live on roughly dollar a day.

Nothing about my statement was related to H1B type programs. Go read it again.

Go read your own comment again. Saying that a nation acting in the best interests of its citizens is ethically wrong is laughable. Saying it's as ethically wrong as slavery is absurd. On net, this is a good thing for highly skilled H1B applicants (which is whom we were attempting to bring over in the first place, right?)

Slaves (from a different country) are in the best interest of the people of that country. Thus acting in the best interests of your people can in fact be ethically wrong.

Are they? They're useful to individual slaveowners with enough capital they can have the slaves work. But what about for the working class? People in the U.S. today remark that immigrants willing to work for lower wages than locals drives down wages. A population forced to work at zero wage (or rather, at the cost to the slaveowner of keeping them alive and captive) would surely do the same.

It doesn't seem clear to me at all that, if I were the spirit of democracy/the hypothetical purely benevolent (to specifically the people I consider of my country/nation/tribe, to the possible detriment of all others) emperor of wherever, that on balance introducing slavery and slaves into my country would be a net boon on average.

Even ignoring the material aspects, it seems like americans had to contort their worldviews quite a bit to justify slavery to themselves, given their otherwise stated moral beliefs (that were useful to maintaining society). Something would have to give a pretty decisive advantage to justify that required cognitive dissonance, and I don't think 'enriching some already-rich landowners a bit more' is useful enough.

I mean, look at america. Are the descendants of the ethnic groups in the us at the time of slavery on average better off for slavery having existed? Now?

Plus it's wrong to inflict such horror on your fellow man etc etc, and there's a pretty huge difference between not letting people in and abducting them into your country and whipping them.

> What's with this nationalism and view human value?

Honestly it is probably just run-of-the-mill xenophobia, but looking at US Federal Tax revenue [0] I would like to point out that prior to ~1930 everyone was basically on their own and after that the government started really becoming a big chunk of the economic pie. In 1920, I expect it was a lot more practical to target an open-border policy. Economically, the failure of a migrant means nothing to a local. In 2020, if a migrant does not succeed then there is a risk that the locals will be paying for it. I argue that that would reasonably change someone's opinions.

The idea that a person's location should have no impact is great, but sits in conflict with the US welfare system.

[0] https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/00/Governme...

Are there any way a nonimmigrant in the US can get any of the welfare?

If the answer is no, how does this apply?

'Welfare' on a federal level now means a combination of Social Security disability and redeemable income tax credits- basically they have no income, but Child Tax Credit, Earned Income Credit, means they get money back on their taxes anyway. And of course if they have children there are a number of federal and local programs that ostensibly help feed the child, but are easily worked around to turn into money- in the old days you'd spend all day buying individual kool aid packets (pay with a dollar voucher, get 75 cents real money in exchange), now you're more like to buy high end food items and sell them on, or else some sort of item return fraud.



The horrible Switzerland, that literally voted for open borders a few weeks ago.

But thank's for being that stereotype I was referring to.

Oddly the same could be said for Argentina, Mexico or Venezuela, but people aren’t knocking to get into their economies. Why does the US owe the world any more than other countries?

At some point people have to be responsible for their own self determination —as leftists used to clamor for a couple of decades ago. Now they want a shortcut instead of doing the hard work to build viable economies. It took us a few hundred years to get where we are. It didn’t happen overnight. People still have no problem vilifying pioneers, but they’re the first to want the fruits of that hard labor centuries ago. Get to fixing your economies it takes time, but fortunately with the technology today and with the foundations today, we know it’s possible to turn things around in a few decades (China, S Korea, Panama, etc). Even Japan was extremely feudal up until the end of WWII.

This is a very odd argument in the USA context. People showed self determination by emigrating from poverty and lack of economic opportunity in Europe – they didn't stay "…doing the hard work to build viable economies."

Now the US people are denying other people the same opportunities their not-to-distant grandparents had. I guess it's an insiders market.

I find your concept of US "owing" anyone anything strange. Depending on your political opinions you might think that humans "owe" each other equal opportunity.

The leftist motto was “Self determination of Nations”. The US was supposedly corrupt and capitalistic and the people’s of the world should avoid our model.

We’ve let more people in than any other country (including other countries that started out as colonies, like Argentina, Brazil, Mexico) We have a right to regulate who we think will contribute and be a good citizen.

We now want to exercise our self determination as a nation like everyone else does.

You managed to toss out more strawmen while not addressing the content of what you're replying to.

Can you answer why it's OK for earlier generations of (now) Americans to leave their origins in search of a better life, but modern immigrants should stay and fix these issues instead?

Your views are fascinating.

It seems you’re arguing for “consistency”. That doesn’t make sense. In that view if only colonialists had been allowed the US policy would be consistent because it never let immigrants in (noting that as a colonizer you’d be a subject of the crown which in name ruled whatever lands they had dominion over).

They said, a nation with self determination can decide what it wants according to its laws. It’s that simple.

Open borders isn't a leftist idea. It's literally the opposite of control over private interactions.

US gets huge financial benefits from being the world hegemon. Then there's the Northern Triangle that US messed up and Americans pretend that they have nothing to do with it.

I really don’t care who is for it. Migration has to be regulated, else we will return to the mean. Every other state exercises that right but when the US does it then it’s «bad» and «selfish», etc.

We could do it the Canadian or Australian way. Remember all those Americans who thought they could simply slip across the Canadian border and be good? Even they don’t just let anyone in.

I’ll believe the rhetoric when countries where it makes sense to federate federate (Caribbean, South America, Caucasus, etc).

Regulations on migration are bad, all bad. So maybe you don't put words in my mouth.

So if you want to regulate who I have in my home, then maybe I should regulate who your barber is.... and I would choose Sweeney Todd.

Argentina is not really a good example for your argument as it is probably the most "open borders" country in the world.

What's with that simplistic view of nationalism and reality?

(caveat: I am an immigrant that came to Canada)

Nationalism is more about culture than birth, albeit there is an expectation of both. Pride in your culture and love for your community which you call nation. As things are, you get more exposed to a culture by physical proximity to the source. Therefore being born within a culture makes you knowledgeable of that culture. More likely to be proud of it. (Note, as an immigrant, I do not partake in nationalism in either my current country or origin country. Albeit, I like their cultures.)

Your idealism albeit commendable is far from reality. The world is unfair get over it.

Everyone wants better for themselves. And like the latest hacktoberfest showed, not everyone has the same culture (1). Therefore not everyone should live in close proximity. It would lead to a disruption of social harmony. Take for example those from a honor/shame culture. They will literally beat you up for joking about their mother. Violence in the name of honor. In the West, that kind of violence is seen as outrageous. "Be stoic about it". People from both cultures do not mix well unless they are willing to adapt.

I define human value as infinite. Also I am not responsible for the right treatment of those outside my sphere of control/influence. I refuse to take responsibility for everyone. It is not up to me to give a better wage to an ungrateful immigrant. Life is unfair, get over it.

I agree. It is unfair that descendants of immigrants refuse to receive immigrants. As an immigrant that came to Canada, I am grateful for this opportunity. Also, I am grateful that those that would have not adapted to the Canadian mosaic of cultures were not allowed to come. I think another term is culture fit. If you do not fit the culture, you should not be allowed in.

(1) https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24643894

>The world is unfair get over it.

This kind of line of thought is the issue. Why should it be unfair? Or at least, why can't we make it fairer?

>People from both cultures do not mix well unless they are willing to adapt.

Those willing to adapt are usually those that are immigrating. Your argument does not make sense in this context, as we are talking about people that are, by definition, willing to move and be part of another country. Will there be a clash of cultures in some instances? Of course, but that will last at most for one generation.

> I refuse to take responsibility for everyone. It is not up to me to give a better wage to an ungrateful immigrant. Life is unfair, get over it.

No one is asking you to take responsibility for anyone. But why should you support policies that exclude those that are willing to come on their own volition and contribute to society? What makes you think that they are 'ungrateful'? Again, why should we not strive to make things fairer for everyone?

>Also, I am grateful that those that would have not adapted to the Canadian mosaic of cultures were not allowed to come. I think another term is culture fit. If you do not fit the culture, you should not be allowed in.

Culture is such a meaningless thing. Immigrants assimilate to the culture, willing or not, after a generation. Sure, some of the people that actually immigrate might not be want to change their ways, but their children will. Studies have shown that this is a moot point, used by those that are just scared of different things, when in reality those that immigrate do assimilate the culture of the place they are living.

This mentality makes absolute no sense, specially coming from a child of immigrants. And I see you come from Canada. As someone who is about to immigrate there, it saddens me to see such display of hatred for those who are different. I spent a year studying in Canada a few years ago, and from my experience people there are very welcoming to immigrants. I had the pleasure to meet Chinese, Muslims, Indians and people from lots of different places and cultures while in Toronto, and guess what? Everyone got along very well. I don't understand where this fear and hatred comes from, but most people are good people, willing to work hard to earn their own if given the chance.

And if this is naive idealism, well, then I am a naive idealist.

First please into take consideration that my comment was a response to the previous comment. My points were to defend nationalism as a valid stance to hold and to justify the different treatments of humans.


> ... I am naive idealist.

The problem with naive idealism is that it is ineffective.

First, what is justice, fairness? Okay, let's say you arrive to a satisfying (to us) definition. Is it true to everyone all the time? Or simply true to everyone? I think you agree that it is not.

Why? Why does that guy over there think differently? Nurture and nature. Let us say that his inherited traits set him as neutral on the issue, why does he think differently still? Because, of nurture. What is nurture? Culture in its diverse forms. Family culture. Community culture. Etc. Do you still think culture is meaningless?

I am not against immigration. I believe in voting with your feet (going to where you think is best). I am a first generation immigrant by the way. Not a child of immigrants.

I have no hate for people of different backgrounds. You misunderstood me. I am currently taking online classes on the Chinese language and on Chinese culture. One of my best friends is Muslim. Another close friend of mine is Indian.

As citizen of a DEMOcratic country (demo comes from the greek for "the people"), I play a part in the government. Albeit in a minor way, I am part of the government. I am partly responsible for what it does. In counterpart, the government exists for me, the citizen. I take the personality and privilege to be citizen of a democratic country more and more seriously.

I did not aim to say that all immigrants are ungrateful, only that with a porous border, I end up allowing ungrateful immigrants.

> Why should it be unfair? I did not make the world. I came to this conclusion regretfully. You do need not to sell to me the beauty of a fair world. Everyone is born to different circumstances, therefore everyone is unequal. Not only birth but culture. Last century, China once tried to eliminate the advantage of the upper class. They took their possession and gave them a status "to receive lesser treatment". It was an inherited status. After roughly 40 years, they removed that status. Then later there was a study on the descendants of the persecuted class. They were in average in a better position than the descendants of those who had receive a "to receive a better treatment" status. I leave it up to you to make your own conclusion.

There is a nation's culture, a family's culture, a religion's culture, etc. As many as there are groups you can identify with.

>Or at least, why can't we make it fairer? You can. I intend to do it, to the extent that it is not deleterious to me.

Future citizens don't vote today. Current citizens do. It's simple.

I emigrated to Hong Kong from France and I love the system here. It mandated a "high" salary of 2000USD that is low enough to allow noobs like me to join and try while high enough not to bring people who would just try to survive no better than at home.

They also mandate a master degree and low effort from the company, which can be negociated if really strong guy (bachelor with some effory, expert reputation with high effort).

Then they give a permanent residency after 7 years of taxes but no path to nationality so the only way to persist is to make children locally, another interesting point: you ll never be Chinese but your kids can, which makes also the immigration problem drama free.

I quite wish France tried that because we feel (might not be rational) we have so many issues with our immigration.

I don't know why you're being downvoted for wanting a more sane immigration system for France.

Whenever limits to US H1Bs a are mentioned that gets full support on HN because it waters down local salaries but when similar systems are proposed for Europe it gets downvoted.

Seems pretty double standard.

Same with India. Indians want the whole world to roll the red carpets for them. At the same time India just recently passed anti-immigration acts.

Its the classic 'Do as I say, not as I do'.

India has become seemingly fascist overnight under Mr Modi. Just like Trump, he favours immigration and citizenship policies designed to demonise minority groups

Yep, you got it. Ask them why their zeal for opening borders doesn't extend to their eastern neighbor and you will get a lot of heat very quickly.

How do you know that the same Indians advocating for more open immigration in the US are the same ones advocating for anti-immigration acts in India?

India isn't one person that holds all these opinions.

Are you referring to CAA? Then you mistaking my friend. CAA is targeted to prevent illeagle immigration. It also, eases citizenship for people of minority religion. Moreover that law is targeted only towards neighboring countries, specifically towards Pak., Ban., and Afgh.

And 'No' We do not expect red carpets anywhere on the world. Its totally a individual's choice to move abroad or stay. Due to huge population, the figures look high too.

Thousands of people have made it down the path to nationality in Honk Kong. Acquiring Chinese nationality -- whether mainland or not -- is possible. It's just that the standards are very, very, very exclusive.

Can you offer any links? As far as I know, becoming a citizen is next to impossible. Also, one would have to renounce any other citizenship.

In mainland China, the only examples I've heard of were leading academics. The standard is "outstanding contributions" to China. That's what I mean by "very high bar." Next to impossible is not a bad way to describe it, but next to impossible isn't the same as impossible. Thousands have done it. That's not a lot. I don't think it's even tens of thousands.

On paper, there is also path by which you can marry into Chinese citizenship, but it's exceptionally rare in practice.

"Renounce other citizenships" is complex. Many nations don't provide a citizens with a means to stop being citizen. Which is to say, if you take a Chinese (or any other) citizenship, and renounce your old citizenship, you may still end up with both citizenships.

I don't know specifics about Honk Kong, but I do know the standards are laxer than mainland China.

What makes the immigration process in the US truly horrific is the extraordinary time it takes to approve or reject a greencard petition. In many cases it takes years - or even over a decade or more. That's insane. People bring their spouses here, they have kids who are born and go to school here, and all along the way their immigration status is uncertain. And meanwhile they are tied to whatever job they're in. It's insane.

Make that process faster. Give people a thumbs-up or thumbs-down like 10x faster. Months not years.

It’s insane because it’s a kludge. The US doesn’t really have a general purpose skilled immigration visa. The H1B visa is a temporary worker visa. There is this whole legal fiction where, when you get one, you have to announce non-immigrant intent with a wink, then once you’re here you say “I just now changed my mind and I want to stay here, can I get a green card.” It was never designed to be a payday to permanent residency, because the grand bargain of the law in the 1960s was that it wouldn’t increase immigration.

They should just repeal the law and design a real point-based permanent immigration system from scratch.

There should be both. I am German, work for an American company. It shouldn't be difficult for me to move to an US office for some time and return back home. Of course, there is some likelyhood, that if I stayed at a place for more than a coumple of months, that I want to stay at that place long term, and this should be possible without too high bareers.

Here in Germany, you basically need a job offer which matches certain criteria, to be get a temporary residency. This can be prolonged as long as you stay employed in Germany. Similar rules exist for students. I have an Indian colleague who studied in Germany and now is working here. If you stay in the country for 5 years, it is pretty much just a formality to apply for unlimited residency and it is also reasonably straight-forward to even get German nationality, though this is less common.

H1-B is dual intent - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dual_intent so there is no winking required. H1-B can last for 6 years (can be extended beyond that too but let's not get into that) and I think 6 years should be enough for one to get the GC.

But otherwise I agree with rest of your points.

> H1-B is dual intent - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dual_intent so there is no winking required.

There is. It doesn't matter in practice, because it's a legal fiction anyway, but here's the legal logic:

For all visa applicants, including H1B, there is a presumption that the person is an immigrant, and they cannot obtain non-immigrant visas until they convince the admission officer of their non-immigrant intent, see section 214(b) of INA. Crucially, you need to argue that you have no intention to abandon your foreign residence. Dual intent have nothing to do with it, this is true for all kinds of visas.

The immigration law says that, as a rule, applying for permanent residency in the US (a green card) constitutes evidence of your intent to abandon foreign residence. Where dual intent policy enters the picture is that the above does not apply to holders of dual intent visas. For them, applying for green card "does not constitute evidence" of their intent to abandon foreign residence: this is the exact language used in section 205b of Immigration Act of 1990, which is the legal basis for "dual intent" policy. Note that they do not say that the rule of abandoning foreign does not apply to dual-intent visa holders, only that applying for green card no longer constitutes evidence of their intent to abandon foreign residence.

Of course, none of it matters in practice, since it's all legal fiction, and in practice things works exactly as you believe they are. The point here is that the practice is based on the legal fiction, on the wink which requires immigration officials to pretend you do not intend to abandon your foreign residence, when everyone knows that this is exactly your goal.

>For all visa applicants, including H1B, there is a presumption that the person is an immigrant, and they cannot obtain non-immigrant visas until they convince the admission officer of their non-immigrant intent, see section 214(b) of INA. Crucially, you need to argue that you have no intention to abandon your foreign residence. Dual intent have nothing to do with it, this is true for all kinds of visas.

I don't think this is right. Section 214(b) indeed says that there is a presumption of immigrant intent, but for dual intent visas, such as the H1-B, it's not necessary to demonstrate that you don't have immigrant intent.

It also seems wrong that applying for a green card could ever not constitute evidence of immigrant intent. Do you have a citation for that?

> but for dual intent visas, such as the H1-B, it's not necessary to demonstrate that you don't have immigrant intent.

In practice, no, but that's not what "dual intent" legally means.

> It also seems wrong that applying for a green card could ever not constitute evidence of immigrant intent. Do you have a citation for that?

I did not say anything about "could not ever". I guess you could maybe interpret it this way, but if you actually followed the citation I gave, it would have been clear to you. What I meant was that the section 205b of Immigration Act of 1990, which is the legal basis of "dual intent" policy, explicitly amends section 214b of INA, to remove permanent residency application as acceptable evidence for the purpose of establishing immigration intent in context of section 214b.

I'm surprised how different this is from all the secondary information out there, but ok, you're right. Thanks for the info. (I said "could ever not", not "could not ever", but that's a moot point now.)

> I'm surprised how different this is from all the secondary information out there, but ok, you're right.

The secondary information is more useful in practice, because it represents the actual practice, not legal theory.

> I said "could ever not", not "could not ever", but that's a moot point now.

Ah, sorry, I misread, it's my bad.

> I think 6 years should be enough

I’m guessing you don’t know very many Indians?

I am one. I was talking more about the intentions behind it.

> The H1B visa is a temporary worker visa. There is this whole legal fiction where, when you get one, you have to announce non-immigrant intent with a wink, then once you’re here you say “I just now changed my mind and I want to stay here, can I get a green card.”

This is not true. Your description is accurate for the F1 student visa and TN work visa for Canadians - applicants for those visas are not allowed to have immigration intent. There is no such requirement for the H1B visa.

The poster you replied to is spot-on about the ridiculous wait times for green cards, and this delay has nothing to do with the H1B program itself. The government really needs to speed this up, so that immigrants and their families aren't living in fear of the next arbitrary Trump executive order.

H1-B is dual intent: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dual_intent

(Not sure why doingmyting's comment saying the same thing is flagged. Virtually all of this user's comments seem to be flagged for some reason.)

They’re shadowbanned. Basically, every post is instantly killed and must be vouched for

For Engineers and Doctors from India, its takes more than 20 years to get Green card now. Its because of the arcane country quota system which assigns the same numerical quota for each country regardless of population, so India and Monaco get the same number of Green cards.

This is the remnant of the pre-1965 racist immigration country quota system which allowed only European whites into US.

It has nothing to do with Racism. It's a quota.

If there were more people from New Zealand than India trying to apply, it would be harder for New Zealanders.

I've lived aboard and had residency in two other nations. The overall amount of people applying is outrageous. That's the real problem. 22,000,000 apply for 50,000 green cards.


Btw this thing is based on country of birth and not country of citizenship. So basically even a person who is a European citizen and born in India cant get a green card before 20 years. Does that change your view?

IIRC it's based on the number of immigrants from each country, not their race? As an example, a black person from Jamaica will have a much easier time than someone from India or China simply because there are fewer applicants from their small country.

there is no racist element to this; all countries have the same quotas.

India, China, Mexico, Philippines etc have backlogs because more people try to get in from these.

FIFO is a fairer strategy.

Applicants from Oceania have 5% to 10% chance of winning the green card lottery in a given year. India is like 0.01 percent or something silly like that.

The time to process applications is indeed on the order of months.


I believe the I-140 is for employment-based green cards.

The long wait times are due to annual quotas by country, not slow handling of paperwork.

it is not only due to quotas. there is BS request for evidence as well as random changes. for example, they added some disease to the process (I believe gonorrhea or syphilis) and then the exam I took entering the process wasn't sufficient at the time they actually looked at the exam. then it took them a long time to send that notice, then I got the new exam and the clock started again adding around 6 months from the "we need you to test for a disease that can be easily treated if you had it" to the approval. this is with highly paid lawyer support.

EB immigrant visas take ages and then there's the archaic process of some poor schmuck sitting in an USCIS office asking the questions and checking boxes on a form that you submitted a second time...

From the p.o.v. of the person actually doing this, it takes years from the moment you apply to the moment you get the decision. This is what needs to change.

What makes the immigration process in the US truly horrific is that it is racist. When the law was passed, the grand compromise was that it would not change the racial makeup of the country. So there are country specific (which is really just race specific with a wink and a nod) quotas for different countries. This means if you are from Sweden or Ireland, it's actually pretty easy to get a green card. There is even a green card lottery where you can apply in Ireland and get a green card and get one just because you entered because there aren't enough immigrants from there to balance things out. But if you are from India, it's going to take a decade or more.

Need citation for this.

when the basis is country-specific, and all countries are treated equally, it is purely supply/demand.

No one applies from Afghanistan, so it is easier to get a GC -- so is US biased towards Afghanistan?

> when the basis is country-specific,

Not adjusting for population when the brunt of this policy is not borne by a country but a person, suggests malicious intent. All countries are treated equal, but all immigrants are not.

In theory, your argument sounds fair..

But in practice, is the US supposed to track down census numbers for the countries around the globe? So many countries, dont even have much of a process

and the main point is : the govt exists for the well-bein of its current citizens, not potential ones.

The intent of the law wasn't racist, it was to prevent e.g. Indian (or some other large demographic) candidates from taking all of the available quota.


Please don't take HN threads into nationalistic flamewar.


why would your comment be downvoted? do downvoters think you are lying, or do they think its a good thing that green cards take so long?

what you say is correct.

as a green card holder myself i can attest to both my initial approval period (3.5 years) and also the renewal period (2 years) being onerously long, and at times, having a particularly deleterious effect on my life.

look, i can understand the initial approval taking a long time. they have a lot of stuff to check.

but i applied for the renewal a full 18 months before my GC's expiration date (because i knew they took a looong time) and i received the card a full 2 years after my renewal + bio was accepted in the system, i.e. six months after my GC expired.

>why would your comment be downvoted? do downvoters think you are lying, or do they think its a good thing that green cards take so long?

The tall nail gets the hammer.

The inconvenient facts get the gray text.

> why would your comment be downvoted? do downvoters think you are lying, or do they think its a good thing that green cards take so long?

Or they don’t want other people to see what a comment is saying.

I assume your talking about the visa dates? The actual process is pretty quick, a friend went from start to finish with a green card in 1.5 years.

The backlog is due to: 1) the limited number of immigrant visa defined in the law and 2) country based diversity quotas.

That's not "pretty quick". That's 18 months.

Pretty quick would be a month.

I’d love to see if any country does it that quickly. It’s a pretty involved process in the US with appointments, medical exams, etc.

You mean... Like Singapore(7days), Lithuania(15days), Ireland(4 weeks), Netherlands and most other European countries - 90 day mandate.

My first work authorization in US was the simplest L1b internal company transfer. That took from mid October 2016 to issue of the visa on 21 Feb 2017. That's considerably longer for the simple document.

My blanket work authorization took 2.5 years... and 4 years for the LPR.

Are you talking visa or permanent residency? Those are very different.

7 days for PR in Singapore? That's not the experience I've hear from friends. In fact, you're at the mercy of the gov't as it's entirely discretional for PR. You often have to apply multiple times if you don't have the "right" profile.

Just a work permit.

An equivalent of what you get in Singapore in 7 days is H1. H1B takes at absolute best - 6 months at 33% success rate.(If you miraculously get to file on March 31st and get to start October 1st.)

Permanent residency in US takes years. Even Diversity Lottery takes at least 18 months.

Oh, my original reply was to the parent comment about permanent residency.

>> I'm not sure that narrowing degree qualifications is a win

Yep this is a problem, some (many) H1B people do not have a relevant degree in CS, not sure how this will work out for them.

Really? What degrees have you seen from software engineer H1B candidates?

> What degrees have you seen from software engineer H1B candidates?

I am not the person you are replying to, but a bachelor degree in one of the engineering disciplines is very common.

Mechanical engineering, electrical engineering are common ones.

The pay level still isn’t high enough. Minimum pay of about 170k in San Jose for a software engineer? That’s not a specialist, that’s average for a small startup.

As a New Zealander, this level of pay just baffles me. Is the US the only place where SWE's get paid well compared to other professions?

It's not just software engineers...

Product managers are making 80-100% of what a software engineer makes. So 150-200k even at startups, and upwards from there at FANG.

Graphic designers are making 70-100%.

Even roles like "Human Resources Manager" are making 150k, because they're automatically "management", even though it's just a Bachelor's degree in Business and not a highly competitive role.

"Business analysts" (Excel and specialty tool power users) are making 100k+. No hard STEM degree or brutal interviews required.

However, it really is just in a handful of major US tech hubs that the pay is this high in tech. Outside the major tech hubs the high paying professions are the traditional ones... doctor, dentist, lawyer, etc.

The 'hard STEM degrees' and 'brutal interviews' are irrelevant if the industry is functioning: are the people in these roles are able to perform them and are the companies profitable whilst able to pay high salaries.

If they are, there's nothing wrong with this situation.

Unless you own the company, then the extra pay is coming out of your profits.

Most businesses like lawyers, finance etc that are largely human based not capital based pay out almost everything to the workers. Often they were structured as partnerships. Even Goldman Sachs was a partnership for a long time until capital requirements increased.

This isn't a zero-sum situation, paying the workers more can increase overall profits for a company.

It's not the US as a whole, it's specifically Silicon Valley and San Francisco where you have this ridiculous concentration of huge software companies (all of FAANG except Amazon have their headquarter there) and venture capital firms (and thus startups), generating an extreme demand for developers.

But of course, that demand drives up salaries across the entire USA to some degree.

It isn't specifically Silicon Valley anymore.

Boston, Seattle, and New York would instantly qualify.

Some might say Denver and LA as well as many others would have plenty of well paid developers.

And the previous what 6 decades of other tech companies traitorous 8 and the Fairchildren.

Agreed, I'm in the UK, living in one of the more expensive regions outside London and I'd be considered to be doing pretty well if I hit £50K.

As a SE? That seem's off - market rate for most of the UK for 5+ years tenure engineer is around 50-60K.

Graduate salaries are starting to push high 30's!

Agreed. I'm far south and therefore nowhere near London and this is what I'm seeing. If you are in specific fields, some companies are paying £70-80k+, but you need to have proven skills in the fields they are looking for.

The other thing to take in to account with the US figures - taxation. I believe the US tax system taxes the individual directly, where as in the UK we are generally PAYE and taxed at the point we are paid our salary. Maybe someone in the US can confirm that?

>I believe the US tax system taxes the individual directly, where as in the UK we are generally PAYE and taxed at the point we are paid our salary. Maybe someone in the US can confirm that?

I've lived in the US. Your taxes are withheld from your pay. Unlike in the UK, everyone has to fill in a tax return - even if all of their income comes from a regular job. You might be due a small refund or owe a small amount at the end of each tax year, but fundamentally you're taxed as you go throughout the year.

And the salaries quoted are gross or net?

Almost always gross. When you hear "I make $150,000" in 99.9% of cases that will be the number that are hired at. For that exact number I would expect the actual annual cash in hand to be close to $80,000.

Note that is VERY individual circumstances specific. The largest chunk of that missing $70,000 went to taxes at the local, state, and federal level. Easily $45,000 of it is gone in taxes. There is also a common game of moving pre tax dollars around that benefit you, but not exactly the same way a dollar in hand would.

The two most common are 401ks (typically 4-8% of gross depending on employee matching) which is money that goes into a retirement account for you and you can't touch it until you are old (55 or 65 or something, not up to date on the numbers there) without incurring both a significant penalty of 10% but also having to pay tax on it the year you withdrawal it. There are a few hardship exclusions like medical, first time home buying etc, where you can dip into this untaxed pool of money but for the most part can't touch it until retirement.

The other common pre tax exclusion is an HSA where you get to put pre taxed dollars into an account that can only be used to pay for medical expenses. Essentially every high dollar professional in America takes full advantage of this offering as we all expect to have out of pocket medical expenses and it makes no sense to pay them with taxed dollars instead of pre taxed dollars.

> Essentially every high dollar professional in America takes full advantage of this offering as we all expect to have out of pocket medical expenses and it makes no sense to pay them with taxed dollars instead of pre taxed dollars.

Not really. HSAs are common for sure, but people with high incomes often can afford lower deductible policies. You can't open an HSA unless you have a high-deductible health insurance policy.

I've done it both ways, and I personally prefer paying more for a better insurance policy and not having to bother with HSA paperwork.

Gross. In general you couldn't really quote net salaries in the US as your taxes partly depend on which state you live in. So for example, if you work in DC, you could plausibly be living in either DC, Maryland or Virginia, and your taxes would differ accordingly. You'll also most likely have a choice of different health and pension plans at different costs.

And then there’s also city income tax withholdings for those of us who live in those areas....

In the UK it's normal for people to quote salaries "before tax".

It's the same in the US, so salary figures are directly comparable (after currency conversion).

Taxes are lower in the US, but healthcare costs are much higher and it roughly balances out.

It's not "US", it's particular regions. San Francisco Bay Area pays a lot, while Cleaveland(OH) pays a third of that.

Globally it's the hotspots that pay a lot - London, Dublin, Moscow, Amsterdam, etc.

But then the reason why the salaries have skyrocketed - is just lack of supply.

I'm planning on leaving the field at 36 already. Moving to doing gardening work and running an olive grove... and there's no one that can replace me in NYC at a snap of their fingers. I bet there are people globally, but getting to work in US is a PITA.

Basically. Check levels.fyi and see for yourself. It's only silicon valley "FAANG" companies that pay $400k total compensation for senior engineers, but principal / staff engineers at the big firms make up to a million.

AWS is spinning up a dev team in Auckland though teaming up with Vector on some IOT stuff in the energy space apparently though. I would hope the comp for those positions would be at least $140k NZD, but still that's nowhere near what the fellas over at Google HQ are making for writing protobufs all day.

this is partially offset by the cost of living. for example you would pay roughly double for things such as rent and childcare in San Jose compared to Auckland (which is already much more expensive than the rest of NZ)

I did the math though and I would likely be clearing 100k in the bank even with the high cost of living there.

Auckland is pretty expensive, and senior engineers here make a lot more than regular 9-5 jobs but I'm not remotely close to clearing that much money in a given year.

Relatively speaking you'd be having the same free cash flow proportionally. It's just that 10% of NZ$100k and US$400 is 4x the difference in absolute terms.

You could go to Uber's Pittsburgh office and have a lot of money.... but you'd be in Pittsburgh...

If you don't care about quality of life - there are great options world wide to make a lot of money. I would suggest getting into corruption, as an easy way of making millions fast.

>Relatively speaking you'd be having the same free cash flow proportionally. It's just that 10% of NZ$100k and US$400 is 4x the difference in absolute terms

I just don't think that's true. For two reasons:

1) I earn the equivalent of just under the median household income on my own, and 100% of my income is eaten by our expenses. It's really my wife's income that's left over after all that has been paid for, so none of mine is spare.

2) There must be hundreds of thousands of people who live in the bay area that don't work at FAANG and don't make anywhere near that, but still manage to live on the city somehow. It's not like if you make $360k you're barely scaping by, right!? Else basically everyone else would be homeless there.

I ran the numbers and I'd be able to save a lot more.

If you think that "crunching the numbers" is an appropriate way of comparing the cost of living in two completely different environments - you must be insane.

If you have the fiscal responsibility and live a completely ascetic lifestyle - you can easily save most of your free cash flow. But that is an extraordinary person.

If you are a reasonable person and are going to actually live in SF - you have to adjust your expenses accordingly. Your rent/mortgage, your shopping trips, your recreational activities, etc... and you realise that your social outing costs you $200, instead of $30... and you don't have the ability to host it at home, because all of your friends live 2-4 hours away or you have a $5000 p/m home in a convenient location.

The reason why I say this - I lived in Helsinki, Dublin, London, NYC, San Francisco, Palo Alto and back to NYC. Me and my husband are both SWE, well paid. I literally went through the change of attitudes towards "living a life".

>If you think that "crunching the numbers" is an appropriate way of comparing the cost of living in two completely different environments - you must be insane

I'm under no impression the lifestyle would be the same. Just that it ought to be possible from what I can tell. Where I live in my home country I'm optimizing for a reasonable level of comfort / quality of life. If I'm dragging myself halfway across the world for the top salaries in the industry, I'm not optimizing for comfort or quality of life, I'm optimizing for as much savings as possible over a short duration.

Unfortunately the value of going to Bay Area is long term, not "short duration". It's not just - I'm going to SF for a project and a payout. If you're moving there - it's going to be for a few years.

Also - if you're "dragging myself halfway across the world", it limits your ability to optimise efficiently. You don't have an easy fallback. (I'm from Lithuania and live in NYC. Optimising my living arrangements was not a possibility for a long time, because there's no family or LPR status)

2 ~ 3 years would be my duration. That's what I consider short term. I expect it'd be a little bit brutal, and that's ok.

Right, while I don't live in that area, I do live in an area with a similar cost of living (Key West), rent on a decent home running near or above 3K and an apartment / townhome in the Key West Oldtown area can run up to 4K. Average dine out meal runs around $30 a plate and fine dining in the area of $50 a plate and up. Don't get me wrong at SV salaries they are not living hand to mouth but when you see those rates from a different cost of living area it can seem like ridiculous numbers but the reality is $150-$170K in that high of a COL area gives you enough to get a decent apartment in a reasonable commute distance, some pocket money for entertainment, healthcare, the ability to put away for a rainy day and it you live modest enough to pack away some retirement. The reality is that should be the base standard for a job. People should earn enough to provide for themselves, and secure their future. To me the fact that, that is no longer the norm in the US is what is shocking. An honest days labor, should command and honest wage, and to me those are the minimum things that should be secured in an honest wage. I see people down here in the FL keys working 2 jobs as the norm to make rent and to pay for the here and now, they cannot even fathom healthcare, rainy-day fund and retirement is not even on their radar. These are not people working restaurant or construction jobs, I see many "professional" jobs moonlight as bartenders, etc.

Cost of living is radically different in some places. That and software engineers are significantly underpaid in NZ (and Australia) relative to their economic output.

It's not a popular answer, but US is by far the most recognized place where SWE's get paid well.

What country would be number two? I bet there would be a spirited argument.

Probably Zurich, SW which matches Silicon Valley salaries

It should be location based. 170k is an expert in many areas of the country.

Maybe something like upper 2% of salaries in the county.

A fixed number will never be appropriate for all the areas in the US, and a fixed number will always need to be adapted.

According to this[1], with 140k you're in the top 5% Americans, so you're not far off... but regulating immigrant's salaries on a regional basis seems unfeasible, as they're free to move anywhere in the country AFAIK, just like any other US resident.

[1] https://wallethacks.com/average-median-income-in-america/

Why is it unfeasible? Companies give cost of living raises - and pay cuts - depending on where someone lives in the US. If companies can figure this stuff out, why can't the government? Don't companies get their cost of living data from government agencies anyway?

As someone who lives in a different state I object to someone who is otherwise equal in ability to me earning more for the same work (I have personal reasons to not want to move to CA). I understand why companies do it (only those who have a reason they need to stay in CA - why google doesn't move doesn't make sense), but I will object to my government encouraging the situation even more. My representative needs to be sensitive to that.

This isn't something special to the US, though, and i'm pretty certain if it was changed so that folks in Indiana made the same money as California, folks in California would make worse wages.

The truth is, though, that folks getting paid well in Indiana can generally live better on the lower wage simply because things are that much cheaper. Perhaps you wish to subsidize living in the more expensive areas and increase the safety net?

Maybe you should place some pressure on companies to move headquarters into more affordable places. Lots of places have international airports, after all, so that shouldn't hinder folks much.

Do you think your representatives gives two farts about what folks in a different part of the country are paid so long as folks in his or her district are living well enough? Or should folks in the area living well be enough of a concern?

Do you have solutions for these things that are fair to the folks needing to live in the expensive areas (poor folks have little to no choice in the matter)?

I don't understand why that would make it infeasible. Whichever place they choose, they have to get a job that's actually highly paid for that area.

The high-paying locations are the ones where the experts congregate.

It's crazy how average pay differs from even expensive, technology and knowledge heavy parts of Europe. Where I live, Stockholm Sweden, this would be a very well paid person. Even more so for families, considering it's one income and not two for the household.

In 99% of the US by area, $170k would be a very good salary for a software engineer too.

Silicon Valley is a statistical outlier compared to the US as a whole for salaries and for cost-of-living.

Most of the software engineers in the US don’t work in a place with $170k salaries and $1m+ homes. For most of the US, salaries are 1/2 of that and homes are 1/4 of that.

That's a large reason of why I've stayed in the Phoenix area, though I think about leaving every single summer. The engineering pay is about 2/3 of SF area, give or take, but cost of houses are around 1/4 or so. It's rough thinking of a lateral move in salary, or not enough of a boost to overcome cost of living differences.

Of course housing costs have gone up significantly relative to pay in the past decade, so who knows.

I remember slightly earlier on in my career as an intermediate level engineer earning $70k living in an area (not in US) where the median house price is $1m+

An extra $100k would have been really nice.

Point is it's not a sweatshop rate by any measure.

By international standards it is a very high salary.

Billions are in poverty or near-poverty internationally, so that's not the standard I want to set US wages to.

True, but probably not billions in near-poverty as software engineers. The world standard for software engineers is probably an ok life.

Point is, by international standards, USD $170k is a very high salary for software engineers too, even for a specialist.

I know a guy who outsourced some stuff to a dev in Nepal. The guy was making 3x the average for his area.

SWE is highly paid throughout the world, but I have noticed there are some geographic areas where it actually doesn't seem to command a higher salary than average.

Salaries are driven by a lot of supply side dynamics, it's less about the overall economic output of the employee and more about the cost of replacing them.

but your average small startup still needs to hire people somehow, right? Is there still free workforce on the Market?

So if they cant afford the going rate then the start-up should not have been funded or started.

I believe a startup of 50K coders also can create something of value for humanity and be commercially successful. It will just happen in another part of the world. It's up to the US where they want to draw a line.

Not sure where the rest of the world comes in this case.

So your assuming that being a good little Ragged-Trousered Philanthropist" is a good idea, and we should touch our caps to the software mill owner.

I'm not talking super-cheap places and software mills here. 50K is about the entry salary to get a EU blue card.

It is in the context of US salaries and rember a lot of folks on hn rightly complain how badly the EU/UK pays software professionals

I guess they should offer more than 0.0001%?

This is why I don’t work for a startup. However, I suspect the average candidate doesn’t understand the equity well enough to properly value it. Therefore it would be a waste to give away a bigger chunk of the cap table to those employees if it doesn’t save the company much cash on salaries or attract a lot more talent. Only for the subset of roles where you’re trying to hire people who understand how a company runs do you have to give a serious equity stake, because those are the people who know how to value it.

It's more like, employees have lost their negotiating power, so they don't bother to negotiate it anymore, so there's no reason for them to understand how it works.

If the labor pool shrinks a bit, their negotiating power will rise and this will solve itself.

I don’t think this fully explains the dynamics of the situation. Even if you can perform well enough in the interview process to get paid extremely well by big tech, you probably can’t get a comparable amount of equity from a startup. It’s not that the labor market doesn’t value your skills - startups just don’t pay market price.

I would like to challenge the notion of "market price."

I feel that it is safe to say that in different companies, a developer produces different value for the company. For someone working at a Big Tech company, a single developer - even a low level one - can produce substantial value for the company. On the other hand, working at a small company, the entire company may not have as much revenue as the low level developer produced at the Big Tech company.

Should a developer at a small company that is... say... optimizing routes for auto parts delivery for a handful of clients be compensated at the same "market price" as someone who is working on optimizing AWS?

My point is that not every company - even in the Bay Area - can afford to pay "market rate" for everyone.

Its not that the labor market doesn't value the skills, it's that the labor produced isn't worth the same. I believe that it is foolish for a software developer who to expect the wages of someone who is working in Big Tech at all other companies (and it would be foolish for the company to pay an employee more than the value that they're creating for the company).

Because for similar reasons to those discussed in a recently posted article, https://defmacro.substack.com/p/parallel-tracks, management tries to suppress engineer wages.

If you're incredibly good, you might be able to negotiate 20-40% higher offer than the initial offer, but beyond that they'll just reject you and go with another candidate who might literally be worth millions of dollars less and be a ridiculously worse deal.

Engineering management is simply not operating according to standard economics textbook definitions of rationality. It feels more like cartel economics.

I understand why these credit systems are in place.

But I do find myself feeling sorry for the fact that they basically discriminate against those whom are not rich and/or are lesser educated.

In many cases they're the people that would benefit the most from being allowed to walk away from a system thats failed them.

I don't really have a solution, just a thought.

I remember the first time I walked into the "residence" for a major contractor's H1B visas. They were packing a dozen people in a 3 bedroom apartment in a bad area of town. You then see how they are treated by their companies at work, and it disgusts me.

This is why you can't have second-class citizens like this. They are terrified to go for help if they even know how. It's even worse for undocumented workers. At least they can quit though. H1B workers are tied to their sponsors, which has to stop.

As a person who used to live like that in the US when I worked there. Its just how it is. US work opportunity is very expensive/valuable for us third world people(in my case India). Its like 70 rupees for a single dollar!!!. Time and opportunities are 70 times more expensive. Every minute, and every purchase matters. You have to make a dent every time you hit.

Its like the most important period of your life. There is little time for non-serious stuff.

You likely won't get a chance again. Even if you do office politics and get visas, you still need to beat the lottery and visa interview. Given how precious the opportunity and what you get out of it. You have to do all that.

Yeah, but take it from American point of view: you're purposely accepting life (and probably work) conditions that few Americans would accept willingly. So you're lowering their living standards and probably their average pay, because your negotiating power is really weak.

More than that, if you consider that the third world probably has 4-5 billion people, many of which would want to live in the US (~350 million people), this creates a scaling issue.

I'm not even American, but I can understand why they consider this a problem.

The issues is that their solution ios backwards.

Immigrants don't take jobs for less, when no government is breathing down their necks. If you have a competitive market - there's no need for government to create artificial monopolies.

It's complete bullshit that billions want to live in US. Billions want a safe and prosperous life... and would stay home, if that's possible to achieve. US isn't some land of honey rivers or gold mountains.

If you want a case study on how unrestricted migration occurs - look at EU.

On one side we have Ireland and on the other side we have Romania. There's complete freedom of migration for Romanians to Ireland. Just buy a one way ticket for 50Eur, basically.

EU is proof that you don't need quotas or restrictions to control migration at all. And immigrants have only a small impact on incomes.

This is a nice use case to study how human behavior works when there's no quotas/limits.

I often say that unlimited calls means people talk less, not more. On the similar lines offering unlimited learning and self improvement budgets to your employees means people will likely spend them less, but more relevant training and development would happen.

A very similar argument can be made about unlimited sick leaves too.

When something is free people don't feel the need to rush and fill the quotas/limits. They use/spend per relevant needs and scenarios now that they know they always have an option to use the thing when they need it.

Numbers control us better than any regulation.

They say that you have unlimited - then you don't rush to use up. (But unlimited, needs to be actually unlimited)

And for example of migration - if your cost of moving to a new place and working there is reasonable, you're less likely to stay there if it becomes a bad place. Many cases demonstrate this, last being, massive wave of repatriation of people from Eastern Europe during the financial crisis.(And numerous internal migration waves in large countries)

- by reasonable cost I mean that you don't need to spend X thousands of dollars and wait 6-36 months for a permit

I'm Romanian. There are 20 million Romanians and ~300 million people in the rich Western countries. And I don't know if you noticed, but the EU is very restrictive about adding new members. It took Romania 10 years to become a EU member.

Plus Romania is average by world standards (GDP per capita per country), which means that half the world's countries (and probably 80% of the world's population) are poorer or much poorer.

So what's your point?

That Romanians should be kicked out of EU because they are stealing "R jerbs"?

Well, if you ask many people in Western Europe, they shouldn't have even been accepted. The average salary, even in PPP terms, was about 30% of the Western European ones back in 2007. In absolute terms, salaries were even worse (probably 10% in 2007, something like 25% now), and absolute terms matter because many things are imported.

After huge growth, the average salary in PPP terms is now about 50% of the Western ones. Romanian workers in the West have definitely depressed the average salaries in several fields.

And that's with somewhat controlled migration.

My point is: controlled migration is there for a reason. Building a working state is extremely difficult and takes a lot of time. It's a very fragile and delicate thing. Once you've managed to build it... you really don't want to upset the balance.

"Should not have been accepted" - is typical xenophobia. It's not an argument at all.

What sectors have seen a depression of salaries as a direct result of Romanians entering the market? And you have the huge hurdle of proving that those salaries are depressed specifically because of the Romanian labor, and not because Asian products or other global trends.

Also - restricted migration fails to attract the right labor, driving up the cost of labor unnecessarily. Sometimes it gets ridiculously stupid... to the point that local consumers(also local labor) cannot afford to consume products, because local labor(also local consumers) refuses to work for less. It gets to a point where local businesses cannot pay their local labor and invest into productivity gains(required to keep the pay high enough).

It's a complex clusterfuck... and blaming Romanians or Mexicans is just an easy "solution".

Did you miss the part about me being Romanian? :-)

I understand. Apart from sharing a apartment with 9 - 12 other people.

But you have to understand, this doesn't necessarily mean we don't have fun. When I was in Bay Area, I knew a dozen ways to save up money while having fun. I didn't own a car, because the company gave me a VTA pass. I knew how to cheaply explore places around Sunnyvale, CA. I knew how to reach SFO, and explore places there for cheap. Where you could eat cheap. This also means, investing in quality and frugal stuff. A good $14 for jeans pants at costco(bought from a friend's costco card of course), buy a pair, and buy a pair of t-shirts. Then may be timberland shoes. Invest in a good jacket. Now your clothing is covered for years. A bag of basmati rice costs $15, and lasts at least 2 - 3 months, invest in a good rice cooker and making curry with veggies easy by buying produce at local farmers market. Meat is kind of cheap in US too. Sometimes you just skip meals(think of intermittent fasting as a side effect). Also you can buy a room heater for around the same price at Target. There are lots Chinese/Mexican barber shops around Sunnyvale/Santa Clara that give $8-$10 haircuts. I knew to scavenge through mail boxes, to pick up coupons. Then of course one kid gave me a whole coupon bunch for lyft, and uber eats and eat for free for long. etc etc.

I took good care of my health, so only once did I have to go to the doctor, and I didn't even pay a single dollar, they just asked me to continue taking TUMS.

Is it hard, yes. I mean I was once caught in a thunderstorm and it was too cold to tolerate, and I once missed the last bus back home. Could have taken Uber but decided to save $3 and walked 4 miles in dark and cold, missed because I had to pick up free food at office so the my back pack was heavy. I even at a point could hear my own footsteps which freaked me out real bad, it felt numb walking in the cold. Then of course you have to wake up at 5 in the morning, because you want to take the 7:15 bus as the breakfast is free at office. Its cold that early in the morning, I had tons of janitorial staff as friends because I would travel with them in the VTA and again meet them at office. I remember it almost feels like the cold seeping into your very bones. One day I relocated to a new place and I was sleeping in the hall, the room heater broke down- It felt like my toes would fall off. It was really really cold.

Then there's tons of time and self reflection you get in that much minimalism, loneliness and it kind of touches your soul to its core.

Then you also save a lot of money you can send back home, that in the hopes when you run out of visa time and eventually return, you will have some money to invest and make something out of it. Did it take a toll yes. I'd be barking mad to try all this again. But I don't regret it for a minute. I got a chance which only one in millions get, and I made most out of it. I learned tons from smart people, worked and pushed my self to the extremes I gave everything I had in me. I would always make it a point to visit universities and companies to get a idea of the scale and ambition of the US civilization. I have immense admiration and respect for the American people, and I am always thankful for the opportunity.

I'm a European, white male but a lot of what you write resonates with me because of my background:

I specifically remember walking well over 10kms in biting cold on a particular new years day early morning to get back to the farm to take care of my responsibilities, having pasta and corn (with grated cheese sometimes) for as a typical dinner etc, stretching pizzas out to last 2-3 days etc. To the annoyance of my family some of these habits stick hard even today :-)

Oh, and pretend it didn't matter when someone lost my my "new" (at that time) 3310 cell phone that I had got second hand from a another friend (who again had assembled it from broken ones that he had gitten hold of :-)

>>To the annoyance of my family some of these habits stick hard even today :-)

At the risk of sounding like a Meninist. I have to say one of the big reasons why Indian men leave behind families at home back in India, is because some of these struggles just can't be expected to be shared by their families. It just gets too much after a while, and after that you just have to keep up with it on sheer will power.

It takes a toll both on your body and mind.

I realize that in order to undergo some struggle analogous to this the American citizens have to undergo Navy Seals training or something. Or they run Ultramarathons just to create the human yearning for struggle and story :) And the attrition rate there is quite high.

Thanks for sharing your story. It reminds me of my father who experienced similar things in the 1960's: arriving to America with basically nothing, a network of friends, some skills and the ability and willpower to do demanding work. He immigrated, but there's a lot of similarity to what you experienced.

If I may ask, what has been your career path since your H1B days?

I was on L1-B. I had to return to India due to a combination of several problems including the Visa issues. Some people just get filtered out of the race. As an Indian it takes more than just a Visa to settle in the US. You have to be in the good books of your bosses if you want to move up in the GC category chain, which involves making it into inner power circles of office politics where the plum budgets get allocated. Its a complex equation of age+politics+luck+health+family situations etc. The equation becomes less favorable to you as you enter the 30s.

People like me, just do our time and return to India. The company was happy to let me continue working from Bangalore office.

Working in the Bay Area was a net positive for me. You learn so much from working with the smartest in the world. Everything changes, your motivation, drive, ambition, your imagination gets re-modelled as to what's possible and how far you can go. I have learned tons due to access to a awesome peer group. I used to visit Stanford and just walk there so many times just to be in the company and see the specialness of the place. My imagination itself has evolved. I learn to take failure less fatally, and take more chances these days.

For this reason alone, I advice young people at work and friends circle to try and work in Bay Area, even if its a short stint. Its a net positive to one's career.

In terms of concrete steps, I've been promoted at work. I learned to swim(Thanks to the hiking I did around Bay Area, all those people who were so focussed on fitness had a good effect on me).I had good savings for a head start in my peer/age group. I also made decent real estate investments in India. I had a start up in Bangalore before moving to Bay Area, now I want to start up sometime again. I have read dozens of books, and have developed appetite for taking on hard projects at work. My eventual plan is to be financially independent, so that I can have mental space to take time off and do things and projects I like. So I'm working on it.

Who knows what's next for all for us due to COVID and what else is to follow. But my experience in the past failing and getting up so many times tells me, as long as one is interested in doing work, learning and have immunity to handle tough times, general direction is always a upwards trajectory.

But I'd like to come back and again work in the Bay Area. This time around not that much for money but just for working with smart people.

Sometimes I really wonder. What stops people in US in other states to buy a ticket and relocate to Bay Area.

In the end how much did you really save?

Well part of the reasons for all this is my salary was low, and I set myself fairly ambitious savings goals. But in Bay Area, rents are brutal and eat into most of your savings. In some cases even with sharing accommodation with people you end up paying like 15% - 25% of your paycheck(added utilities, general toiletries, home utilities, starting furniture, utensils and other expenses). Then of course internet expenses, phone bills, and coins for the washing machine. Add food and transit. I lived fairly minimal, like I didn't even have a mattress/comforter(sleeping on home carpet, with a pillow), given I was changing residence every 8 months. Only real things I owned was phone, laptop, clothes and a harmonica.

Its not constant, because during yearly bonus time you make a little extra. And when you visit home, you carry some gifts for people back there. I also made sure family back home was taken care off really really well.

But I was able to save a lot. Like able to go close and sometimes above 60% of the net paycheck most months. Keep in my I arrived to us with $200, a job and a suitcase with clothes.

I understand that this was an amazing opportunity for you, but your every response in this sub-thread has just cemented the argument that someone like yourself going to the States reinforced the idea that "accepting life (and probably work) conditions that few Americans would accept willingly. So you're lowering their living standards and probably their average pay".

This not meant as a personal dig at you, I'm glad that it worked out well for you.

>>reinforced the idea that "accepting life (and probably work) conditions that few Americans would accept willingly.

You are either incredible naive or just blind to the plight of your own country men. Do you know how many homeless people there are in the Bay Area? Have you ever seen black people working at Target or Walmart? Have you bothered talking to janitors at your office. Try talking to these people and see how life is going on for them. Sure its not comparable to what I did, but they have their own struggles and life is quite hard for them. Try talking to them and see what they think about those 'rich guys'(programmers).

The living standards you talk about are really for white people hailing from upper middle to rich class white families. Not every one has a $1.5 million home in San Ramon, Cupertino or Morgan Hill. Not everyone has a Tesla and a minivan for kids.

I'm not lowering the standards for anybody, If Im living that way, then there are already people for whom the VTA pass, coupons and timberland shoes were made. I'm just fitting in. You also can't fault me for not spending money like the way others do. If things in your society came at minimal standard of living acceptable to everyone, then everyone would be already living at those standards.

So tomorrow if people waiting tables at Starbucks or janitors took up programming jobs and lived like me, what would you do? Ban programming jobs for them, and reserve only for people who live the way you like?

Also what will you do about things like 'ramen profitability', or people like Elon Musk who at many times have stared at personal bankruptcy and have slept on their office floor.

The existence of a system that allows for companies to pay foreign labor well below market puts a downward pressure on compensation for everyone in industries that take advantage of it.

You mention that there are Americans who also struggle but I fail to see how that’s an argument in favor of systematic underpaying of foreign workers who are bound to a single employer (modern day indentured servitude). It’s the job of the government to improve the lives of its citizens and to protect their jobs, not to help foreign nationals improve their lives or to help businesses boost their profits at the expense of American salaries.

I’m all for immigration and fair pay. I’ve done it myself. But I don’t want to have to live as you described if at all possible. And I prefer that if you are talented enough to make it to the USA then you should be able to profit equally like Americans.

If forcing companies to pay equal salaries for foreign nationals stops the inflow of H1Bs, then this means that there are Americans capable of filling the job market. It there’s still unmet need for talent, then foreign nationals will be brought in at fair salaries

Well of course. As American citizens, its up to you to decide whom you wish have in your country. Its entirely acceptable even if you say one no should be allowed. I definitely won't make point on the lines of 'immigrants built America', its your decision. Nor am I saying that its the job of the US government to improve the lives of people over the globe. Though I believe even without others asking for it, or their consent, Americans are more than happy 'spreading democracy all over the world'.

But you can't stop any one living the way they want. There will always be people who will run/swim the extra miles, lift the extra weights, study the extra hours, eat ramen, do more than one job, walk/sleep in the cold, do the side gigs, moonlight their companies in garages. This is not slavery or anything. Slavery is stripping away people's rights without their consent, under the threat of violence. This just people wanting an edge over other humans. And regardless how you wish to live your life, there will always be people looking for that edge.

Lastly, I don't thing anyone living their life any way effects your standard of living. Your wages and compensation are decided based on how much effort your willing to put to get into a FANG. People who are willing to do that already make lots of money in a place like Bay Area.

The best thing about America, is the society goes lots of distance and makes it easy for people to do anything they want. So that at the end of the you are left with your own choice to make whatever life you want to. No immigrant is coming in your way of 'pursuit of happiness'

If you want to earn more money and want to know what's preventing you from getting it, you only have to look at the mirror.

The point the others are making isn’t about your standard of living, but your compensation.

If you hadn’t been tied to a single employer, maybe you would have gotten a job with an employer who paid more. You would have been able to reach your savings goal without living so frugally. Your employer at the time was comfortable paying you a relatively small amount because you couldn’t go anywhere else.

They’re not asking immigrants to live more lavishly. They’re asking for immigrants to be paid more so there’s less downward pressure on wages.

I am an H1B at a FAANG with top paying TC but I just fail to understand why Americans have to live this lifestyle. I get surprised when my fellow colleagues tell me than even with their high TC they don't get to save and live paycheck to paycheck. It's not a better lifestyle but just lack of financial education. American Capitalism and peer pressure is what it is.

I agree that h1b abusing employers have to be stopped and we need to raise the bar for h1b's but lets not make this a discussion about forcing a unhealthy lifestyle on immigrants.

>they don't get to save and live paycheck to paycheck. It's not a better lifestyle but just lack of financial education.

Expense will expand to cover whatever income you have. It doesn't matter how rich you are, if you are not careful you can spend your entire income and have nothing left. There are some very poor people in the world saving surprising amounts of money (for their income - when you make a dollar a week saving a few pennies is amazing)

> It doesn't matter how rich you are, if you are not careful you can spend your entire income and have nothing left.

Really? I mean, I hear people (especially SV people) say this all the time but I make a fraction of what they claim to and I rarely even have to think about money.

You are a minority from what I can tell. Most people spend whatever cash they get. Which is why automatic savings plans are commonly recommended - if the money is never seen you don't spend it.

I'm not sure the above is entirely bad - when you die the money is gone. (this is a religious question - not all agree) You need some savings for unexpected, retirement, planted larger expenses, and other situations. Beyond that, if you have money left over that you didn't spend you wasted your time at work: get a life.

Born here in the US. Grew up in California. I would have loved to have it as good as our visa friend above (while in the US). Growing up poor can be rough. I can spin a sob story that literally has had folks from across the world reach out and say that they teared up.

When I finally broke into programming as a career at nearly 30, my life changed. A couple years into it, I found out I was making 80% of a new hire QA dev on visa where their salary had to be posted in the break room or something. As a back end engineer who was part of a team of 4 writing code that was earning our company over $50M a year, I was surprised that she was making substantially more than me. Turned out minimum salary visa stuff protected her from my salary.

I’m now doing better than most, but I’d expect that there are many like me who would just were/are unaware they could make it comfortably as a software developer.

Not sure where I was going. Something about more poor Americans would accept those jobs and live crappy conditions if they new how to get them. Those conditions are just “life” for many of us.

>>Something about more poor Americans would accept those jobs and live crappy conditions if they new how to get them.

I feel you.

Inertia can be hard to overcome, and if you are coming from a context and are used to your current social conditioning, breaking out of a self defeating loop can be hard. And you deserve credit for making it despite all the problems.

But poverty is subject to social conditions where you live, and poverty in the US != poverty in India. In fact the definitions of poverty are not even remotely same.

I would wager that an employer would just shift their office overseas, rather than be forced to increase wages. See what happened to manufacturing around the world.

By and large, I think its a quid-pro-quo between the US wanting foreign markets to sell into, and other countries wanting to sell their products, as well as human-resource-services into the US market. But, the US is a saturated market, and so the only growth is in emerging markets. Which also translates indirectly to 401(k) growth...

Almost all of those people you saw there are now living in pretty enviable situations for most Americans.

Calling these 'guest houses' as people living in second class of the society is as incorrect as calling the residents of Pied Piper house in 'Silicon Valley' as 'living like second class citizens'.

Silicon Valley is satire, and meant to make fun of the idea, and even on that standard, they aren't as cramped as the parent comment is referring to.

Not from there nor do I know the place by any means, but didn't Bill Gates call Silicon Valley (the series) pretty close to the truth?

I'm just genuinely curious

It's about 90% accurate with 10% creative license.

Similar conditions do exist in actual startup Incubators.

I saw this too for a company in Minnesota.

They were sending their money home to India as well.

It would be simpler to award the limited pool of H1-Bs in order of descending wages, and cross-check with the IRS afterwards to verify those salaries are actually paid. That would kill all the bottom-feeding body shops.

Or auction the H1Bs to employers.

If skilled foreigners accept lower wages because the right to come to the US is worth something to them, then the price of the visa would settle at around the difference in wages. So overseas workers wouldn't undercut US residents. And the perceived monetary value of living in the US would accrue to the government, not to body shops.

certain industries might be favored over others in the case of auctions, as they might have more margins, and so, larger purchasing power.

I mean, that is how money works in general. People or organizations with more of it can outbid those with less of it.

One issue with this is that it would favor H1B workers working for companies located in high wage areas (the coasts) over low wage areas (mid-west).

I don't really see a problem here.

If you are in a low wage area and feel that your workers are as productive as workers in high wage areas then you can pay them a high enough wage that they get a visa.

If you don't feel that way then obviously the visa should go to a more productive worker and it doesn't matter that they happen to be in a high wage area.

> I don't really see a problem here.

If you believe immigrants are good for the economy and make everyone richer, strengthening existing companies with their unique talent and expertise and founding many successful new companies, why let rich costal cities get all the benefit when poor cities have a much greater need for an economic boost?

That's just like your belief, the actual economics do not support this. The only thing that might change is the distribution of economic surplus (as in capital gets a larger share of the economic surplus versus labor). You might argue there will be more surplus, but that's likely not the case, and not for the body shops being discussed.

The critical word here is believe.

Most people don't believe this statement is true (or, at least as true as you do) because if they did, we probably wouldn't be talking about any of this on HN.

develop that talent locally, create opportunities.

So go for highest percentile wage in the region of the hire

Do you think American citizens should be allowed to choose to work in the Bay Area and New York if they want to?

That has the added benefit of removing the unpredictability of the current system. Companies would very quickly figure out roughly where the line is and could pay a premium to guarantee their employee gets one of the spots.

And you need to make sure the salary is not just paid back to the company / its owners. This is a common form of abuse in other countries with a minimum wage requirement for foreigners.

To make paying back the company viable you would also have to commit tax fraud.

Doing something like that at scale seems like an easy way to get caught and go to jail.

So... Let me get this straight...

Do you believe that H1B is not inherently abusive?

Do you believe that if US agrees that someone is useful, they shouldn't get residency immediately?

Do you think that indentured servitude is a reasonable tool?

If we had a functional immigration system, green cards would be granted in a reasonable time frame (6 to 12 months). H1-Bs are an imperfect substitute, that can be and are abused. Any of the proposed measures would help curb "body shops" that are indeed stealing jobs from Americans, and keep those legit H1-Bs that are plugging holes in the native labor supply.

H1-Bs are transferrable, so calling it "indentured servitude" is incorrect, the real reason why H1-Bs usually stick with an employer is the green card sponsorship by the employer, which is not transferrable.

Will an executive order (which I assume this is) actually make any difference?

Doesn't it take an act of congress to make any serious headway here?

Personally, I was an H1B a 4.5 years before Trump convinced it was time to leave. I was in the bay area and handsomely overpaid. I have no personal experience of it being abused, but I'm obviously privileged, having worked at reputable tech companies and coming from reasonable wealthy european country. (I was never as scared of loosing job or healthcare as my American co-workers, because I would just move home, and have access to healthcare if I lost my job)

But I will say, that the lottery aspect of the H1B adds a lot of uncertainty that might discourage me from living in SF again. So lifting the caps and/or stemming abuse might be a good idea.

This is a rule in the Federal Register. So it's basically like law. It's essentially how the executive is interpreting the laws that congress has passed.

There is a rule that says a new President can automatically overturn all rules made in the last 90 days of the previous administration, but we're before that deadline, so this is pretty much a done deal.

If the next admin wanted to change this, they have to go through the long and arduous rule making process again.

While such action can make a difference, such as whether to put kids in cages or not, it can't really do much. You can't use it to change quotas, set a minimum wage, or allow H1B holders to change job.

So calling it an "overhaul" is perhaps a bit much. It's more like a tweak that mitigates some of the abuse and issues with the system.

>If the next admin wanted to change this, they have to go through the long and arduous rule making process again.

Does that also apply to rules that didn't go through that process but were rushed through with the interim final rules process? Doesn't sound logical to me.

This certainly took a long time in planning.

Or change the law. Not particularly likely with power shared between two parties of course.

Can you cite a source for this (or what it's called so I can google it?)

Why is this on the top of the hacker news? The article talks about nothing that will stop the abuse. There are indeed a lot of RFEs that are being given out if you don't have a CS degree and apply for a Software Developer position already.

The Pay structure that the article mentions is NOT true anymore. Take a look at the links[1], it's withdrawn and the rule is not valid.

How is hiring folks with a CS degree for an SWE position a solution to H1b abuse?

The rule published here specifically talks about three things(Yes, I read it line by line just so that I can do my due diligence before I comment here)[2]:

1/ Change the meaning of "Speciality Occupation" and tie this to the College degree that the person has.

2/ If you are part of these "body shops" and you are working as a contractor, your visa will only be extended for 1 year.

3/ Some general statements about Site Visits.

4/ No comment on increasing the wage.

The first child comment that we see below is an anecdotal evidence about seeing a house with dozen(?) folks in a 3 BHK flat? What does it do with H1B visa abuse? How is sending money home AFTER taxes H1B abuse?

Still debating how we went from thoroughly researched and thought provoking comments to these.

I don't debate that there is H1B abuse.

- Programmers are paid very less when compared to prevailing wage.

- Programmers cannot leave their employers so employers hold them by their balls and get work done overtime.

- Programmers stay away from their family, contribute to taxes AND to social security. KNOWING that they may never see a day to collect Social security.

All of this is H1B Abuse. There is no evidence that folks on H1B visa compete with a US Citizen's job. (I'm taking about H1B, not offshoring).

Literally NONE of the changes that this administration is doing is addressing ANY of these concerns for both the US Economy and the H1B individual. Comments like these are dangerous since they give an illusion that the administration is doing something to improve the economy, but they are just party tricks.



You’re talking about H1B abuse that primarily affects non-US citizens. I can sympathize (and I’m not a US citizen), but you can hardly expect the US press or hacker news to have that perspective or use that terminology... right?

I would expect people working alongside these visa recipients, and even the public at large, to have some idea of the system and the problems they face. (Although, for the general public, farm labor should probably figure larger).

And, yes, I do usually expect people to have the capacity to sympathise with others. I would even assert that everyone will instinctively want to help when they see others suffering. It's called empathy and is among the basic human emotions.

There is an ideological stream in the US that has seen the success of the market mechanisms based on competition and selfishness and is now misinterpreting it to mean than any form of altruism is bad.

Closely related is the glorification of competition to a degree where people are entire oblivious to the fact that a market economy is first and foremost a mechanism of cooperation. This has gone so far as to make even the notionally educated and self-styled rational tech community grasp around for speculative theories trying to frame this issue in terms of zero-sum competition. They somehow prefer to believe this against all evidence, i. e. the number of high-profile startups founded by first- or second-gen immigrants. And thereby give themselves license to do what it is they either actually want all by itself, or what they consider a proxy for good things happening to them: hurting others.

Additional competition on the job market might be great for companies and maybe even a country in general, but it's bad for job seekers by definition - they have to compete with more people for jobs.

This has nothing to do with the US, it applies just as well to e.g. Europe.

It's kinda fascinating and scary how easy it sometimes is in this country to grab a certain liberal group by the...whatever and even make them preachers of your political agenda.

Especially when there are just two sides.

Having an ability to feel superior - is a drug.

Ability to control other people's lives - is a drug.

And as usual the decades of "Americans jobs" crap. There are no American Jobs, as much as there are no NYC jobs or LA jobs. The employer doesn't own the job, only the power to be an intermediary.

Jobs are a function of market demand for products and services.

If tomorrow all of US territory became miraculously healthy and had no need for drugs - pharmacists' jobs would just disappear. No market - no jobs.

More importantly, the US administration is not trying to solve H1B abuse from the perspective of non-US citizens.

Correct. It should prevent abuse both ways (for both US citizens and non US citizens). By making the system fairer, both US citizens and the world ends up benefiting, in addition to likely further helping the US economy.

Well... It still could, if “fair and honest dealings” is a political ideal you want to promote in the world. But sure, it’s not an administrations top priority, for understandable reasons.

Goal of my comment wasn't sympathy; but to get the facts out there that the current changes do nothing but to worsen the situation.(...not solving the H1B crisis)

Well raising the salary requirement should (long term) have a positive effect on all kinds of abuse, don’t you think?

can you state how the new changes would make it worse, and for whom?

Surely it put downward pressure on everyone's wages.

>The Pay structure that the article mentions is NOT true anymore. Take a look at the links[1], it's withdrawn and the rule is not valid.

Is there any other independent confirmation that it was withdrawn? I can't find any. The PDF is still up.


I posted the link to rule: https://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/eoDetails?rrid=131148

You can correlate the RIN between the Rule and the PDF: RIN 1205-AC00

From what I understand withdrawing it was a procedural trick, see here: https://twitter.com/wstock215/status/1311824945752801281?ref... via https://redbus2us.com/h1b-perm-wage-levels-rule/

Also the rule does mention the new wage levels (eg. pages 147 and 148).

There were companies hiring people under H1B then finding them contract work. Something they are specifically limiting now because they were abusing the system by under paying them as well as hiring them after they get the visa instead of before.

No. It just means that the contractor should establish themselves with employer-employee relationship before finding work, from the rule PDF:

> First, striking “contractor” will avoid potential confusion as the term “contractor” in the definition is misleading. The inclusion of “contractors” in the regulatory language could be read to suggest that contractors should generally qualify under the definition of a “United States employer.” While a contractor is certainly not excluded from qualifying as a “United States employer” for purposes of an H-1B petition, the contractor, like any petitioner, must establish the requisite “employer-employee relationship” with the H-1B beneficiary.

> There is no evidence that folks on H1B visa compete with a US Citizen's job.

If an IT department puts out a req and fills it with an H1-B worker, a US worker is out of a job. It's really that simple. People like to respond to this and cite sources funded by H1-B consultancies about how H1-B create more economic opportunities which translates into more jobs for all but this doesn't make sense because companies will A) pocket the savings and B) continue to hire H1-Bs to keep on saving per headcount. The reality is that jobs are a zero-sum game. I welcome your response if you have a counter-point.

However the best solution would be the replace h1b with just citizenship - if you have rare skills why shouldn't we offer immediate citizenship to the talented?

That's what countries like Canada has, while they do have a work visa program, getting permanent residency is actually easier for talented folks.

Not really; If you have an in-demand skill set you get extra 'points' on the PR scoring chart, but you need to demonstrate many other things to reach the threshold required to get status. I went through that process and was denied because my work experience was through contracting (which for whatever reason didn't count). This was 10 years ago though, so things may have changed (also after three applications I finally got PR and then citizenship as of last year).

Not really. It has gotten worse.

It used to be if you are a graduate or have experience working in a Canadian company you would score points. Which was much less prone to abuse.

Now they still have point based system, but the above don't get any extra point, and if you have those said qualifications anywhere, as long as you can prove (through documentations) you get the same points.

Result is rampant abuse with overseas companies that "vet" candidates' degrees and experience providing certificates and such things. And it takes longer for graduates from Canadian universities or someone with experience working at a company here since they compete in the same lottery pool. It is still far better than US, but it could take you a while before your points start closer to the draw.

I went through the thing in Australia just 3 years ago. We have the same problem with people from certain country having a lot of experience and inflate the point system. The exp points in Australia acummulate twice as fast as exp overseas so those who worked in Australia like myself still have the advantage. However I am now not a fan of the point system as it's just another standard test to be hijacked by multiple attack vectors. I'd much prefer the european way where work visa is given out easily with fair wage and better mobility, (in Australia you have 4 - 6 weeks to find a new employer, not impossible for software but a bit tight). From what I've heard there is no real incentive to acquire citizenship/PR in many european countries b/c temporary residents enjoy the same stability.

It's not totally true that you don't need PR in European countries. For example you would get very different treatments and interest rates for loans when you want to buy real estate or apply for credit cards (many banks flatout turn down your application). You're probably not that much of a "second class citizen" compared to somebody working in the US, but some subtle restrictions still do exist. Though of course I can easily imagine the situation being much worse in the US.

No, Canada doesn't have this. I don't know any country that gives immediate citizenship to talented individuals.

Canada discriminates against those with disabilities that they deem would impose an 'excess burden', regardless of whether you have a good paying job or not. They are not perfect.

Getting Canadian permanent status is fairly tough. The points based system is merit based.

No, it really isn't. If you have your masters you can immediately be granted PR. This is the case for all Indian nationals - however it is still lottery based. The point system you're talking about is for unskilled labour, and that still has the 5 year in the country+ language requirements.

This is completely wrong. There's no lottery for Canadian PR.

There's no fast track for masters. It's entirely points based.

Source: I work at Google Canada and submitted my PR application last year.

AFAIK, even a master's degree has points which add to your total in the comprehensive ranking system.


And those points matter towards getting a Permanent Residence Status.

Because this would make citizenship worthless. Being a citizen means that one is loyal to and has a strong connection to their country.

That's what folks pretend it means. IF you give citizenship to folks born there - or even born there to citizens, etc - then it isn't at all about loyalty.

Same with granting asylum seekers citizenship and so on. Same with allowing dual citizenship - are you loyal to two countries? Citizenship is never about loyalty.

Citizenship has a lot more to do with the ways you contribute to the country. Folks born in a country are likely to live there for life and contribute by speaking the local language, participating in local customs, being educated in and working in the country, and most importantly, paying taxes. This is why some categories are seen as "less important": Because folks think that some categories won't integrate enough (and it is impossible for an immigrant to ever do this, regardless of background), some won't learn enough language, or won't contribute as much. The truth of this is thrown out the window, of course, and there is no real objective test to test these sorts of things. Time in country might be one of the better tests, though it isn't perfect.

Citizenship has been diluted in recent decades, but it's not just pretense. And while the US has a rather puzzling loophole around birth and citizenship, that doesn't apply AFAIK in the EU: a child born to foreign parents will have to apply for citizenship just like anyone else. Asylum seekers likewise.

Dual citizenship's typically only allowed in the EU when the other country is also an EU country. Some countries do not even allow that. There's even a citizenship test which is administrated.

Loyalty is not a requirement for a citizen in any free country.

It is in the US: "Throughout our nation's history, foreign-born men and women have come to the United States, taken the Oath of Allegiance to become naturalized citizens, and contributed greatly to their new communities and country. The Oath of Allegiance has led to American citizenship for more than 220 years."


Now I haven't looked into many other countries, but at least in the EU I know that there's many proxies for loyalty when applying for citizenship. And many countries do not accept dual citizenship, which should make things clear for you hopefully.

I have heard stories (that don't seem too uncommon) of unscrupulous companies doing a variety of things - including charging the hopeful visa recipient payments to secure a job, paying the required salary only for the months leading up to the H1B interview and then lowering the salary immediately after, etc.

Not sure what fraud these new rules will prevent, if they are implemented.

Did the administration actually make a change, or are they just talking about it like they've been for the last three years?

> The H1B program has been abused for a long time

What's the abuse?

"Body shops" like Infosys and Tata Consulting that import thousands of H1Bs under borderline fraudulent applications, and then underpay these employees.

Just a random link, but the contours of the problem:


Sure, there are low paid H1B workers, but why is that necessarily a problem? Your link shows no evidence that they depress the wages or employment of native-born workers.

In fact, there are many proper economic analyses that show that native-born workers benefit from immigration:


As a data point, a consultancy I used to work for competed directly with Infosys, Tata, and other H1B shops for tech contracts (mostly BA and PM work). I can personally guarantee you that hourly rates were artificially reduced as a result at multiple companies, which negatively impacted salaries and bonuses of American workers.

Keep in mind that most economic analyses of this topic ignore the direct competition aspect of the contract labor market impacted by H1Bs and instead focus on salaried FTEs at the businesses that contractors provide services to.

H1B here myself but someone who moved here during one of the years that had surprisingly lax demand for H1B visas. I moved here for a startup as the first engineer with a pay much lower than what I could have gotten in the market. It was purely because there was no demand for H1B that year that I got in. Every year since then has been the top 3 Indian companies stuffing the applications. However, the current rule change would shift the balance from consultancies to big tech companies. Startups do need talent too and there are people like me who are willing to take a pay cut in exchange for a reasonable equity. The winners of this rule change would be big tech companies - not necessarily the US in general.

What the US needs is a point based system with automatic green card in x number of years. This would allow the government to prioritize "desirable qualities" (education, age, salary and whatever you want to optimize for) and balance them out (e.g, I could get points for my education instead of my salary and still qualify). The automatic green card option would then open up the employees to work anywhere they want instead of the company that sponsored them thereby preventing wage suppression.

I'm fully supportive of massively more immigration - I believe it's a net economic positive and a moral imperative.

At the same time, if a program is designed to bring in 'exceptional talent' but is really just importing mediocre drones from a single country, that's not really serving the purpose of the program.

Let's fix H1Bs and then work on more equitable ways to allow other forms of beneficial immigration.

> At the same time, if a program

There's no "if" here.

So, draining talent from less successful countries with a desperate need of this talent is a ‘moral imperative’ to you?

Aside from all of the evidence that both countries benefit in these arrangements as people skill up and often move home later on, letting free citizens choose where to maximize their livelihoods is a moral imperative, yes.

>Aside from all of the evidence that both countries benefit in these arrangements as people skill up and often move home later on

Can you please provide this evidence? I want to be educated on that. I thought that returning home is really rare for these people, and it does not compensate negative effects of the "brain drain" at all.

>letting free citizens choose where to maximize their livelihoods is a moral imperative, yes

People should be free to pursue whatever they want, no questioning that. However, elites of the US create such conditions that the best career path for the people from less fortunate countries is to move out, break cultural bonds and, probably, make the countries that they moved from, even less fortunate in the end - is it really moral?

I think that the most moral option would be increasing investment and creating child companies in countries where these people move from, creating nice jobs outside of the US, so nobody would have to move anywhere.

Yeah if I could work in silicon valley for a few years then come home I think that'd be a net win all around.

H1B and immigration shouldn't be used interchangeably. I think immigration should be easier, but I highly doubt that when the company I work for uses hires junior web developers with H1B visas for low pay based on the area, that they couldn't find a single native to fill the position, especially since it's always been a fully remote position.

One issue is that the scattershot visa applications from body shops crowd out applications from employers who want one specific, highly skilled person.

> there are many proper economic analyses that show that native-born workers benefit from immigration

I actually read through two of the "proper economic analyses" in that reddit link since I am interested in this.

One of them wasn't an economic analysis but a summary article: https://www.migrationpolicy.org/research/contributions-high-.... Almost all of this article is talking about all of the problems with trying to identify the net effects of immigration and how difficult it is.

It has quotes that directly refute what you are saying such as:

"Immigration has complex, sometimes ambiguous impacts on natives. The benefits to the US economy from high-skilled immigration can be accompanied by negative effects for certain groups of natives and positive effects for other groups." Which is the opening summary of the section on effect on natives. Also,

"Borjas found that a 10 percent increase of immigrants with PhDs in a certain field lowered the wages of native born graduating with doctorates in those same fields around the same time by 3 percent"

"Researchers have also examined the degree to which high inflows of foreign-born students affect the educational opportunities of native students. Borjas finds some evidence that an inflow of foreign-born students displaces native, white male students in elite institutions"

The other main article https://www.ppic.org/content/pubs/cacounts/CC_207GPCC.pdf is more positive but there is no way you can call it a rosey picture.

Clearly, the biggest effect of immigration is on previous immigrants (currently 30% of California): "Foreign-born workers already here sustain the largest losses in real wages, losing between 17 and 20 percent of their real wage over 14 years."

It just so happens that natives (specifically who are college educated) tend to have complimentary skill sets in the years mentioned.

"Except for workers with some college education, whose real wage gain is around 6 to 7 percent, no other group experiences real wage gains or losses larger than 4 percent. This implies that even with the moderate costs of moving, in the range of 5 to 10 percent of their yearly income, native workers would not move (out of or into California) in response to immigration."

That is the support you have that "native-born workers benefit from immigration". It helped college educated natives and the rest of the population wasn't negatively affected enough to leave California. And that's based on migration data ending in 2004 and Californians have been leaving in record droves since then.

Of course, it doesn't mention any thing about the rest of the effect on natives such as cost of living increases due to crowding, strain on institutions (do you want to send your kids to an average California school?), unwanted changes in culture and politics, decrease in social cohesion, decreases (or lack of improvement) in working conditions, increases in inequality or any of the other consequences.

The average US male wage has barely moved since the 1970s during a time of unprecedented levels of immigration. If immigration is such a net benefit to native-born worker, where did those improvements go?

50k-60k is pretty normal in many places in US. Were they bringing staff in SF or NYC?

H1B visas are in theory intended to be awarded only when there is a shortage of some specialized labor and it is not possible to find enough qualified candidates within the country. If a person hired under that premise ends up making a “pretty normal” wage it’s a pretty clear sign that the process is being abused.

I work for a company that's about 30th in terms of H1B's. All around me, I see degreed engineers -- many with their Masters -- doing clerical work that a sharp high-school graduate could do. I'm not talking about a few. I'm talking about dozens. There's nothing about what they're doing that requires specific engineering knowledge. They only have to be conversant about what the actual engineers are doing. So the effect is 2-fold: the fact that his arrangement exists puts downward pressure on wages for the skilled jobs, but it also takes great opportunities away from people who would have gotten those jobs a few decades ago.

A majority of H1B visas are currently issued to relatively low paying consulting firms, who are then hired by big enterprises in place of their more expensive technical employees. This isn't supposed to be legal - you're not allowed to hire H1B employees if an equally qualified American could have filled their role - but due to the specifics of how the program is administered you can often pull it off with that kind of arms-length deal.

Check this out: https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/document/data/Appr...

Contrast that with the previous year: https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/document/data/Appr...

You can see that the outsourcing firms have fewer and fewer approvals. Of course with this latest change it will decline more.

This happens to US workers too.

"Bottom" performing FTE's are let go as part of annual stack ranking, only to be hired by staffing agencies, and contracted back to large tech companies.

It's a way for tech companies to retain people who are necessary to perform the work, but at reduced wages.

You're bound to the employer that sponsors your visa. Lose your job? You're effectively deported.

Your employer has... well, a power imbalance over you, to put it nicely.

I'm not sure how the proposed changes will play out for American workers. Theoretically, treating H1B workers better could benefit American workers: there is less incentive to callously replace them with underpaid H1B workers. On the other hand, American workers will face increased competition, it seems to me.

> Your employer has... well, a power imbalance over you, to put it nicely.

I can't help but think of this any time I see an HN comment about some questionable surveillance-ad-tech, usually saying that engineers should just refuse to build that stuff.

If you can find another employer to take over the sponsorship, you can transfer (without having to deal with the visa quota gantlet).

Do you think the possibility of finding a new job makes H1B workers feel any more capable of standing up for their beliefs at work and maybe saying "No" when asked to build something evil?

It may not eliminate it, but I'm sure it improves the situation compared to not being able to change jobs at all. I originally came to the US on an H-1B, and had no trouble transferring the visa to a new employer.

and for that you had to

find a job

get/consult a lawyer to make sure everything was good

do the whole change

and end up in the exact same situation

Situation: You are tied to ONE employer and if something goes wrong they can just end your job and kick you out

I've done the change so let's not pretend it is some super easy, doesn't matter thing

Also, if you have to leave US where do you have to go?

If you have to go back to UK or Canada that is no big loss

If, on the other hand you have to go back to China or India or AFrica then your entire family is #$@$#$%

    If you have to go back to UK or Canada that is no big loss

    If, on the other hand you have to go back to China or India
    or AFrica then your entire family is #$@$#$%
Canada and the UK are nice places, but it's still a huge blow to have to pick up your family and move back to another country.

Source: I'm American, so I don't know this pain personally, but I was very close with a Canadian co-worker who was here on a work visa. He uprooted his wife and kids from Canada to come and work here. When our workplace soured, he had to do it all over again. Uproot his wife and children again, tell his children to say goodbye to their friends again, buy a house again, etc. Not easy!

There's lots of articles if you google for "h1b visa abuse", but this will get you started: https://www.infoworld.com/article/3004501/proof-that-h-1b-vi...

There are lots of articles on how vaccines cause autism also.

Correlation is not causation, but maybe you should read them.

The abuse is that the H1B program is supposed to be for truly distinctive skills. But the "body shops" bring people with very low skill.

Nope. There's a self sponsored immigrant visa.

H1B is just your regular temp.

It's inherently abusive.

You're tied to a pool of employers and have to get government permission to transfer employment. Your employer has an enormous power over you, with little recourse on your side.... as if employers didn't have enormous power over their employees as is.

> What's the abuse?

That's probably about the handful of consulting companies doing shady stuff. Not the overall program as a whole.

Some of the changes I can see a logic behind it. But making electrical engineers not qualify for H1B for a SWE job is just silly and doesn't match reality. Just ask the SWEs in any 1000+ software company how many of them are electrical engineers.

True for the most part. But there are unexpected consequences for this. Startups will be ill afforded to hire foreign talent now. All the immigrants will look for jobs at BigCo. because they are the ones who can pay those high salaries.

I tentatively agree but feel employers will somehow turn this into hurting both domestic and H1B workers even more.

Agreed... been saying for a long time, there should be a pay floor of 8-10x minimum wage for H1B workers. These are supposed to be for positions we cannot fill locally, there's no reason they shouldn't be 6-figure jobs at a minimum.

I really don't like his personality, but really do appreciate a lot of the things Trump does in practice.

Genuine question, what type of fraudulent abuse are you referring to? I see this vaguely mentioned a lot without much to back it up, but I'm open to the idea that it happens.

From my own anecdotal experience, I'll admit I have found the rules to be a little ridiculous. Company needs to post a sign in the office advertising the role to any Americans, wait a certain amount of time, and only then can offer it to an H1-B candidate. Of course nobody was following the spirit of those rules, but I wouldn't call that fraudulent abuse. These were companies that needed hires and had a genuinely hard time finding people that would pass our interviews and then accept our offers. We really didn't discriminate at all in the hiring panels between American and H1-B candidates (I think we were probably supposed to discriminate more than we did, and supposed to explicitly prefer Americans?), and it had nothing to do with saving money on salaries.

I recognize that the Bay Area tech boom is very unusual in how competitive it is (was?), but H1-Bs are technical visas and it's often tech companies that get the blame for abusing the system.

Another semi-fraudulent practice I've seen too often: find an H1B worker for a position you want to fill at a sub-US labor rate, then write a very specific job posting that perfectly fits that one H1B worker and no one else, and post the job only on the company website where no one will find it. Congratulations, you've just "proven" that you can't find an American worker to do this job, so you bring the H1B worker over as basically an indentured servant. In reality, there were plenty of American workers who could have and would have taken the role if it was represented properly and actually paid a competitive market salary.

This is happening so much in Canada right now

It's horrible. Govt is not even remotely interested in fixing this

Why would you like for the government to break it?

It's literally telling someone that wants to hire a particular person to not hire that person, because you think that that person is wrong.

Would you like me to advocate for the government telling who you hire as your barber? Advocating employment restrictions - is just that.

If there's someone who is willing to take a job at a particular rate without coercion - that's a competitive salary.

Adding "benevolent coercion" to the mix, doesn't negate the coercion.

The abuse I've seen most often is that companies hire H1B workers and then contract them out to other companies, and the H1B worker can't change employers, and gets to watch most of what their time is billed for go to the original contracting company which often misleads the people about what they'll find when they arrive.

The worker ends up with very few choices, and the companies at which the workers are working are likely overpaying for what they're getting. The only one truly happy is the "placement" company that holds the workers' contracts.

....or outright getting replaced by those workers:


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