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H1B Tech Visa Workers Being Deported From U.S. 746

Posted by Hemos
from the keep-skilled-people dept.
John Murdoch writes "Tens of thousands of programmers, database specialists, and other technical workers come to the United States each year on "H1B" visas--temporary visas for workers with in-demand technical skills. The key word in that sentence is temporary. Congress began the program six years ago, and the H1B visas have a six-year time limit--meaning that thousands of H1B holders are reaching the end of their visas, and they do not have any hope of getting permanent resident status. The Washington Post has an excellent story about the problem (click here for story as posted on MSNBC). These H1B residents have invested six years of their lives here--they have homes, families, and careers here. There is a generally acknowledged (or perhaps, generally alleged) shortage of programmers and other tech workers in the U.S. The federal government is presently working with Congress to approve legislation increasing the number of H1B workers that can come to the U.S.--while simultaneously sending currently-employed workers home. "
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H1B Tech Visa Workers Being Deported From U.S.

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  • by CharlieG (34950) on Tuesday September 19, 2000 @03:15AM (#769778) Homepage
    First a Disclaimer - I've worked both with and for John over the years.

    The H1B visa problem is very real, but there are more than two sides to this issue. Some of the better programmers I've ever worked with were in this country on H1B visas, as were some of the worst.

    Often times, the employers who bring in people on H1B visas treat these people as virtual slaves. The worst case of this was a woman who ended up taking here case to court. It seems he employer was sexually harassing her, and she complained. The company ended up shutting down, and she ended up deported.

    That said, there are a lot of unscrupulous "Visa Brokers" out there. The promise their future employees "Yeah, the visas are always converted. Here, just study for these certification exams, and we'll get you in". In turn, they promise the companies in the us "I can supply you with experienced workers, cheap." Note: Not all of them do this.

    The WORST case of this was AIG with Syntel. AIG decided to fire 4500 of their employees, and "Outsource" all their work to Syntel. Syntel brought in all H1B replacement workers, paying them below prevailing wage (there were fines issued). Further, the 4500 employees were told that they would get no severance pay unless they trained their replacements.

    Luckily, I was in a different office (with 11 other people) and we were NOT let go. I had to work with these replacements. Most of these people were promised by Syntel that they would be able to stay. The few who DID have their visas converted to green cards left Syntel within a few weeks! Most of the replacements were horrid, and were being treated horribly.

    Now, what should we do about this?

    Simple - eliminated the H1B visa, and let a smaller number of these people in on green cards! Unless you are a Native American, you, or one of your ancestors, was an immigrant to this country. It's been one of our strengths. Remember "The Melting Pot"? We have to have it back. The people with these skills would be a terrific addition to our country.

    Let's stop dangling a false carrot. Either let them in, or DON'T
  • It's simplistic to reduce all of this to standard of living. The US standard of living isn't all that great compared to Europe or Canada. Many people come to the US because the work is exciting, because they like the diversity, or for purely personal reasons (friends or family).

    Maybe they exist, but I have also yet to see an exploited H1B employee. Everywhere I have worked, H1B's got paid like everybody else, and human resources would press hard to convert them to green cards as soon as possible.

  • by ronfar (52216) on Tuesday September 19, 2000 @04:31AM (#769789) Journal
    Recently, in responding to an article on the technology worker "shortage," I decried the fact that workers in the technology sector are unwilling to organize for their own benefit. I also pointed out that H1-B visas were bad, the main reason being that they create an exploitable workforce that has no right to vote and which has the fact of potential deportation hanging over their heads.

    I was accused of xenophobia for this point of view, but the truth is I have had more contact with the Immigration and Naturalization Service than many people because my wife is Thai. One of the things I immediately saw about the H1-B visas was the fact that they allow people only long-term temporary residence in the United States. Think about this, if you moved to a state and lived there for six years, would you still consider your old state "home?" I wouldn't, I would certainly have made friends and set down roots after living someplace for six years. I'd want to have a say in elections (which would effect me) and otherwise be part of the community. People on H1-B visas are not given these opportunities. You could say that people on H1-B visas are "second class citizens" but the truth is even worse, they are not citizens at all. I assume, from my own life, that they must deal with the INS breathing down their neck, demanding that form X be filled out on time if they want to work and permit B recieved before they can travel.

    The real truth of this is that it is cynical politicians using the economic fears and, yes, xenophobia of the populace to "divide and conquer." We should all accept the idea of foriegn workers, and once we've accepted the idea, we should realize that granting citizenship to these people (if they want it) is best for all Americans, not just the ones who were born elsewhere.

    I can only compare people's attitudes toward H1-B visas, the ones who are glad that they are harsh and inevitably temporary, to the attitude of people who, upon hearing that a blight is affecting crops all over the country say, "Good, I hate those damn farmers anyway." The same percentage (in fact a greater percentage) of our workforce will be foriegn born whether we offer people H1-B's or citizenship. If a person is a citizen, they have the same stake in this country as the rest of us, the same need to protect our civil liberties, the same desire to see that good people are elected to public office. On the other hand, people who are denied citizenship have every reason to be apathetic. Whether they want to speak out on technological issues or not, their voices have less weight with people in power. They certainly can't help elect people who are savvy on tech issues if they can't vote. I often see people posting, "write congress about DMCA, write congress about UCITA," non-citizens have very little reason to care about such things, and would not be listened to if they did.

    One last point: It may be that given the choice between an American citizen and an H1-B worker, some companies will choose the H1-B worker. It is possible that one of the reasons they choose an H1-B worker is because these people can be more easily exploited. (I'm not saying it is true, I'm just saying the possibility exists.) However, if the same two workers were both citizens, the only thing the employers could take into account would be competance. If you support citizenship for foriegn workers, you are making certain that you are competing for jobs based on competance and not on your prospective employers desire for the worker who is most easily exploited.

  • Your attitude astounds me. Perhaps you think we should be thankful to the government for being "magnanimous enough" to give us freedom of speech and assembly, and stop whining about not being allowed to reverse-engineer code? Or maybe you think we should get down on our knees and laud its magnaminity for seeing fit to take some money away from the Pentagon and sock it away for Social Security?

    In a democracy, the government is run by and for the people. The purpose of the government is to serve our collective needs; that's the reason we created it and invested it with power. Geeks are people, as are business types. (I know this latter may come as a shock to some. ;) ) The government, whose officers we elect and whose taxes we pay, should be a tool for us to solve problems too big for one individual or one corporation to solve. Since the problem here is immigration laws, and an individual can't change the country's laws by fiat, this seems like a very obvious place for a legislative solution. What else is the government for?

    Vovida, OS VoIP
    Beer recipe: free! #Source
    Cold pints: $2 #Product

  • by speek (53416) on Wednesday September 20, 2000 @01:46AM (#769802)
    There's a difference between just plain meanness, which you describe very eloquently, and the frustration of paying a lot of money for school, only to discover that you won't get the kind of instruction and help you expect from your teachers, because they can't communicate with you. Teaching is about communication, and if you aren't able to communicate effectively with the students, then you aren't qualified to be a teacher, and trying to do a job you simply aren't equipped for is bound to be painful on both sides. But, in my opinion, you should never have been in that position.
  • That is not the problem. These are promised that they can get thier greencard if they come here. Alot of the H1B visa holders are trick into coming here by empty promises. Some are pais very well while others are paid about half of their American counter parts. I know this because I have friends on the H1B visa.
  • The problem with the whole H1 Visa program is it brings more people to the USA. If other countrys were recriprocol with it equally then it would be great. For example I have no problem with England. There workers come here, we go there. But then you look at .nl and .au. Both contries make it almost impossible for an American to work there prefering to keep jobs for local citizens. I have to agree that local citizens should have the first pick of jobs, If someone wants to take a H1 visa and come over so be it but they should take the jobs no one else wants, Mcdonalds is always hiring.

    As an employer I wont hire anyone whos not a US citizen. I dont want to mess with the H1 visa crap. I dont want to pay for it. I believe we have enough talented people in the US and that offices are already overcrowded without adding 20 more H1 visa foreigners. The tech pool may not be big enough but guess what.... That leaves the corperates with one choice, Pay better and make better working conditions or have empty reqs for people.

    Having recently worked for a company where h1 visas abounded I watched the company fall apart. Salarys lowered, working conditons became restriced so the person had a 2 1/2 foot deep desk that was 4 feet wide. 17 inch monitors went from the back of the desk to the front. It was disgusting. Yet everytime i turned around they were hiring a new H1 visa. The company degerated to the point that when I left after 6 months I was considered a long timer with the average employee staying 3 months.

    Now look at that from the standpoint of the employer, They could fill tech shoes all day with no cares so why change the working conditions because of the H1 visa program. When someone quit they just hired one or two more people to fill there shoes. If they were forced to hire american workers they would have to clean up the workspace, provide people reasonable workspaces and generally pay better. Being a technical manager means I normally get stock options, lots of them however said company was no longer giving them and told me there reason was because they hired so many H1 visas who were just happy to get the job. The problem is these H1's were using there 3 months there to go elsewhere cause the conditons were so bad.

    If we throw out all the H1's I wouldnt care, Just means money for those of us who live here permanantly. The us is overcrowded already, we dont need anymore people moving in. We melted enough. Someone wants to come over for 6 weeks or even a year thats fine with me provided that we send someone to there country under the same stipulations at the same time. Balance it out, Dont influx our workforce, it just leads to worse conditions for us.

    Presently I work for a company who doesnt hire H1's, Who had a defined policy of 1 person per 10X10 cube and provides all of our needs including food and beer. They want to keep the most talented and technical people, not bring in a few H1 visas for there year or six stint. Im happy to work in this enviroment knowing that tommorow im not going to have 20 indian oracle programers who dont speak english sitting in my cube with me.

  • by 1alpha7 (192745) on Monday September 18, 2000 @05:57PM (#769811) Homepage

    I have worked with people on H1 visas. Thanks to them we were able to get extraordinary talent, which we couldn't otherwise get at any price. They are still crap. There is no reason to withold real green cards from these people. The company held their visas over their heads like some ComBlock country from decades ago. I was ashamed to be an American and face these people.

    1Alpha7

  • An Indian speaker of English is likely to be quite well educated. An American speaker of English is not likely to be educated, except perhaps in the trade-school sense: trained for a particular task. Today, that trade-school education can include quite a bit of technical stuff, thought up by well-educated people.
    Education isn't about learning a trade, or learning to run, (or write) circuit simulators. It's about getting a grasp on history, and nuances, and learning to see new situations and languages in the light of that history and those nuances. Most Americans don't get that sort of education. Neither do most Indians. Imagine that in this country English was taught only to children bound for Ivy-league schools. That's roughly how it is in India.

    Back around the turn of the last century, about 5% of the US population got a University education. Today, close to half of the US population goes to something called a University, and still about 5% gets a University education. The rest get a trade-school education.

    Nels

  • When people say they don't understand these professors or TA's, they usually mean it is not possible to understand them.
    Hear, hear. I once got into a class taught by an oriental TA, and his accent, unfamiliarity with English, and my own lack of previous knowledge of the course material left me totally unable to learn from his lecture.

    I transferred to the equivalent course in another department, taught by an American TA. I did just fine, though I didn't truly understand some of the important concepts until some time after I took the final exam. The important thing was, the essentials got through once I got rid of the communications barriers (in the only way I could).

    Every major university has a foreign-languages department, with language labs. I see no reason why TA's whose English vocabulary or accent aren't up to par shouldn't spend time in intensive education or speech therapy as required to get them functioning well enough to get by with the native speakers. This would help the TA's, too. They're almost universally smart cookies, it wouldn't take them long.
    --
    Build a man a fire, and he's warm for a day.

  • by root (1428) on Tuesday September 19, 2000 @05:46AM (#769823) Homepage
    It is NOT for a lack of skills and it's not because younger people will work for less money.

    The fact is, most tech jobs (sysadmin, programmer, web developper, etc.) are not 40hr/week jobs. They're demanding 60, 70, 80 hour per week jobs. And they're all "salaried" jobs, which means no extra pay for extra hours.

    Now young people fresh out of college, and immigrant H1B visa workers have little else in their life to occupy them. Thus they are able to accept the abusive work hours employers expect them to put out.

    But now something new has happened. The first BIG wave of IT industry workers are just now starting to reach their upper 30s and 40s.

    What happens when a 70 hour/week employee gets married or has a kid?

    Suddenly he or she has to cut back working hours to 50 or 40 hours per week as a responsibiliy to their family.

    The employer sees this as MAJOR SLACKING OFF BY SOME OLD GRAYING BASTARD. So he's either FIRED. Or sees his salary cut 40% and quits because he can't support his family on a pay cut like that and is forced to QUIT.

    The employer then puts an ad out and discovers that lots more older IT workers are applying than years ago when he put that last ad out. These older workers suffer from the same problem... having a life.

    So suddenly the employer screams that there is a "shortage of IT workers" and demands the government allow more H1B visa workers in so he can continue his abusive employment practises.

    Well, IMO, it's time employers are FORCED to play fair and give up their extremely abusive practises. Naturally they won't want to as screwing people over is highly lucrative and profitable.

    Well, it looks like the party may finally be almost over. Can't say I'm not glad to hear it. And I can't say I feel any pity for poor staff strapped IT shops.

  • "America" may be the proper geographical location for the area consisting of the continents of South America and North America, but American is the proper abbreviation for someone from the United States of America. Placing the term "american" on someone from Trinidad, or Costa Rica would definitely not be accurate.

  • by tweek (18111) on Tuesday September 19, 2000 @03:38AM (#769828) Homepage Journal
    I spent a month in India recruiting programmers to come to the states on the H1 program. I didn't really feel it was right to do this but it was a once in a lifetime experience.

    The problem is not that we have a shortage of workers. The problem is that companies can pay people who come from overseas LESS than they can pay a citizen. As opposed to paying a US programmer 80k or so a year (at least in Georgia I would gather) they can bring someone over from another country and pay them 45 or 50k. They won't bitch about salary because if they go unemployed, they have a hsort time period in which they can get rehired or they have to leave the country. Besides that, as one poster said, any other company doesn't want to bother with the visa paperwork.
  • 90% of the HB1 visas in the US are from India. The vast majority of the developers that come over on an HB1 visa have about a 3 or 6 mo. Microsoft certification course and fly over to work for $15-30/hr. They can do that because they don't mind living 10 to a house and sending every penny they save home. (taken from 5 contractors and 1 permanent employee for my company which are all Indian.)

    Why does this piss me off so much? Because tech-staffing firms are charging decent American corporations which are too dumb or too desperate to pay attention $150-200/hr for these guys. The staffing company keeps the change. In addition, American developers who want to be temp or contract workers are not attractive to the agencies because we won't work for $30/hr.

    Basically, staffing companies are raping American business and H1B visa holders.

    Am I opposed to immigration? Absolutely not! I think american immigration restrictions are way too strict. Am I opposed to loosing my cushy lifestyle built on a lifetime of dedication to the magic glowing box? Of course I am! Would I bitch if it were just the H1B visa holders? Nope, I'd tighten my belt and take it as fate. But when it's a lowsy, stinkin' staffing agency I get pissed.

    I say deport THEM!

  • Ball and chain? If the employed decides at any point they don't like the deal, they can violate the terms of the H1B visa and go back to where they came from for free. So obviously they prefer working under these conditions more than living in their home country, and it's not the American corp. that's making the conditions bad in their home country.

    So, the "exploiting" company is giving the worker a better life (in the worker's opinion) than if the worker wasn't "exploited". How EVIL of them!

    Steven E. Ehrbar
  • Man, you sound exactly like me. I think our problem is probably a serious lack of self-promotion skills, and an unwillingness to lie to get a job.

    Of course, that could just be me :)

    "Free your mind and your ass will follow"

  • by hey! (33014)
    When they were recruited overseas, do you think the company said "we're going to wait until you get roots set down in the US, then dangle our ability to get you deported so we can treat you like and indentured servant."
  • Have a look at an issue of the linguist list from 1995 here [linguistlist.org].

    Known as the Muhlenberg vote, it was an attempt by a group of Germans to have all Federal laws printed in German as well as English. From waht I can gather there was a vote on ajournment of the discussion which was carried by one vote, the final result of the discussion was unrecorded (but I can assume it failed!). The story since seems to have acquired urban legend status that the overall referendum on an official language failed by one vote, beleivable since at the time there were a fair number of German speakers in the population and there most wanted to assert their independence from the Brits.

    Good story though!
  • You want to see racism? travel south of the US border, travel through country after country and witness racism as part of the fabric of society. It's routine. They are racist up and down, and every day. You'll hear bigotry directed at anglos, and at indios. Makes perfect sense when you consider the social status of white Hipanics who exercise political and economic domination over dark.

    There is racism all over the world, actually, but you'd be hard pressed to find less than exists in the US. Here, large numbers of people of many races live and work together and minority rights are protected not only by law, but in the hearts of the average citizen. We're not perfect, of course, but it's such a good place that many poor Hispanics, Asians, and blacks are willing to risk their lives to get here. Rich ones content themselves with paying bribes. But come they do, and it makes sense: the places they come from are generally hellholes, where individual rights are not respected.

  • ... that INS needs to sponsor some H1Bs for foreign, skilled paperwork-pushers. :)
    ----------------------------------------------

  • One would address that issue as a strength in their cover letter, wherein they introduce themselves to a prospective employer. Another option would be to denote which skills were developed in each particular position on a resume, not just used.

    Granted, this still won't get past those headhunters who use a simple search criteria to screen potential candidates - but it does bolster your chances if and when someone actually reads your resume and/or cover letter.

  • Yeah, and TN-1s suck. I can't get into the States, even though I'm a) Canadian, and b) literally one of the few people on the planet who can do a certain job. Why? Because I don't have a university degree. Why don't I have a uni degree? Because I wanted a job, not an education. So I went to College to learn computer programmer/analyst, until such time as the job offers started rolling in. Then I dropped out and never looked back. But because I don't have a degree (and I personally think that university degrees are superfluous for what I do; my buddy with a PhD in Computer Science can write an A.I., but he can't admin a database.
  • Bullshit bullshit bullshit. Christ I am so pissed today. It's cheap labor and nothing more. I am so tired of America taking care of the world like this. There are plenty of people here that could do the work but companies are too fucking cheap to pay. It doesn't matter how goddamn skilled someone is. It doesn't matter how goddamn motivated someone is.

    Don't tell me America is supposed to take care of the world and "that's not what the country is supposed to be about". The rest of the world is LAUGHING at us because we cave in to every little thing to preserve our precious place in the world. We try to please everyone and you all know that doesn't work. I'm tired of the US making concessions for everyone in the world but its own citizens. If I go to work in another country I am expected to learn the language. No one makes any concessions for me. I'm tired of having to CHOOSE english as an option at an ATM. I live in the US for chrissakes what fucking language do you THINK I speak? I'm tired of alot of things.

    If the internet access were cheaper overseas I would move there. And I would learn the language first.

    And don't try and pull a race card or a xenophobe card either because it doesn't fly with me. Being nationalistic does not a racist make.
  • I count none. I made an empirical assertion, which you haven't denied.
  • Oh, and the most frightening part is that one of the companies offered to let me telecommute. To America. American gov't needs to learn that lines on maps don't mean quite so much these days.
  • by NightBlueX (233341) on Tuesday September 19, 2000 @06:14AM (#769883)

    An explanation first, by all rights, I "should" be an anti-alien proponent but I am not, actually quite the opposite. And here's why and how I think a lot of this argument is based on people who are afraid of competition, don't understand what this country is actually based on and want everything for free.

    As a Boy Scout I was taught from a very young age to love America, and then doubling up and being in JROTC taught me the same. I was practically raised in a para-military uniform. I even joined the National Guard while I was still in HS, matter of fact I spent my Junior-Senior summer in Basic training(That's Basic as in Hut-Two-Three-Fower, not If-Then-Else). As I hadn't actually experienced any of the world at that point, I was an extreme Xenophobe and believed that America should close it's borders and put guns on top of them. (BTW I already started my love of Computers in the BSA when I earned my Computing merit badge around 1988 or thereabouts :-) and helped fix Sergeants computers in my AIT immediately after HS graduation.)

    After wandering around for a year after HS I went Active Duty. THIS CHANGED EVERYTHING!!! After spending a short tour in Bosnia I realized, #1 America rocks. #2 War sucks.

    America is absolutely the best country in the world, even for all of it's problems. 99.9% of the people never have to worry about getting shot at, being starved, being raped by government order, being forced to work for the government. Can you imagine what it is like to wake up and wonder who is in charge today, and if they like the group you are in enough to let you live through the day? Many of these former Soviet countries are DIRT POOR and the only chance they ever will have to be something other than poor is to come to America! Most of THOSE WHO COME HERE ON THESE VISA'S ARE NOT FREE RIDERS LOOKING TO SCAM THE AMERICAN PUBLIC!!! If you were in their shoes where would you want to be? And if you are from one of these countries, you should realize I am not knocking your country. America IS the land of opportunity, that's why you're here. But, the only way we can truly grow as a nation and as a people is by continuing to welcome those who not only want to be with us, but who want to make our country prosper and share their knowledge with us.

    I know many H1B's who are currently being manipulated by the system. People who came to America, with HIGH level degrees, who have studied for years with the dream of coming to America and becoming one of us and adding to our rich heritage. But they are stuck not knowing where they will be tomorrow, they are not much better off then they were in their home country. If it wasn't for these "foreigners" coming to America, I would still be working for a trucking company. I would never have ever tried to become a Programmer. I always thought it was for people who were super intelligent and gifted. IF these people who came from America were out to rape the American public do you think that they would spend the time sitting down with some Average Joe and teaching him how to program and think logically? NO, they would have been happy to see me toil at something I hated and never would have lifted a finger to intervene. All of this with no promise of ANYTHING in return.

    I witness the suffering of my friends everyday. I know how hard they have worked and how frustrated they are with their hands tied. Why don't we believe and follow our own cherished words? Why don't we continue the tradition of a proud people with open hearts who know that the way to victory is not to become afraid and close-minded, but to welcome the thoughts and ideas of a varied people.

    The point I am trying to make it that if you are afraid of losing your jobs to people who are more qualified, dedicated and harder working than yourselves. Then maybe you should re-evaluate your own dedication? Freedom doesn't mean that everything is handed to you, it only means you have to chance to succeed or fail, Freedom has nothing to do with the outcome except that you get to chose it. And that the whole idea of allowing people to come to America to only work for 6 years, then having to return to their country reeks of indentured servitude and turning people into mercenaries. These people should be given their due citizenship's because they have proven they want and can make America a better place.

    Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe FREE!

    free?http://www.ugeek.com/news/geeknews/jan2000/ge e2000320000988.htm

    Freedom - it's the most expensive idea ever known I apologize for any ramblings I have made, unless they make sense, in that case. I told you so!

  • int CountBitsInByte() { return sizeof(char) * 8; } /* iirc. My C is rusty. I mostly do SQL these days. */
    "The axiom 'An honest man has nothing to fear from the police'
  • historical correction: there was a *proposal* to use german, and it never would have flown. Even *if* it had had an actual chance of getting by Congress, it would have been ignored by the states--which at that point had all the power.

    In short, there was *never* a real issue about language. Many things have been proposed, including Aaron Burr's proposal to paint the white house black. non-starters all . . .

    hawk
  • "" The company held their visas over their heads like some ComBlock country from decades ago. I was ashamed to be an American and face these people ""

    You just hit on the problem with H1B visas, the fact that 50% of American companies abuse the system. By not paying them what they are worth, in turn, affects our wages, causes our engineers to be fired since they are more expensive (since companies can pay them peanuts because of the stupid H1B visa system), etc... Everyone loses, except for company profits.

    Give these people green cards and let them become Americans. They'll demand the same wages and hours as Americans (so our quality doesn't go down). They'll teach their kids to speak English (not that that is a requirement to be an American, but still nice vs. other immigrants from the south who feel it is optional). Improve our overall technical base for generations to come, etc...

    -- Bryan "TheBS" Smith

  • It doesn't take professional training to pick up on the fact that your TA can't communicate with his/her students. I had a Korean calculus TA at Michigan who may have been a nice guy, but was completely incapable when it came to classroom speaking. Them's the facts - I dropped the class rather than waste my hard-earned $$$ on what would basically become a self-study course.

    That ain't racist, it's just reality. University's really should offer/require some form of English-language speech training for TA's who don't speak English as their first language.

  • New Delhi becomes Silicon Valley, 2004. Won't happen. They tried this with Bangalore and the public works system couldn't keep up. In the two weeks I was in the city our hotel (Le Meridien) had no less than 3 power outages a day.
  • I just quit a job where it was 95% H1B visas from India (the guy who started the company is also from India but he has perm status). The CTO was a graduate from IIT which is at least as hardcore as MIT or CalTech if not more.
    However I got disgusted after two years of watching people get screwed over on their salary reviews, promotions, and other benefits because they were tied to their job. They can't quit.

    The greed disgusted me. They were getting people with masters degrees for cents on the dollar from what they would pay anyone else. The entire program has led to economic slavery. I won't be sorry to see the program revoked for the good of the workers.

  • > "American" thus means a resident of the United States.

    Not quite correct.

    If you read the orginal Declaration of Independence [nara.gov]:
    IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

    The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,
    and
    We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions,
    You see it specifically writes " united States of America" with a lowercase "u". Which means, America is the name of the geographic LAND.

    The definition of the United States can be found in the Constitution [nara.gov] :
    Section. 8.

    To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States,

    Which means United States is the name of the LEGAL ENTITY. (Black's Law for "Legal Entity" states: "An entity, other then a natural person.")

    Now the definition of U.S. citizen in the Bill of Rights [nara.gov] you notice it also uses an uppercase "u".
    AMENDMENT XIV

    Section 1.
    All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.


    Notice the and! Which means it is possible to expatriate (give or revoke up your U.S. citizenship) and become an State Citizen or an American.

    And yes, I know Black's Law Dictionary defines American as "pertaining to the United States", but American != United States as I have tried to show above.

    You might want to also read this link, which shows there are actually THREE definitions of United States [vaix.net]

    Please read before replying ;-)

    Cheers
  • You've got to be joking. How on earth is it tough for the companies you list, when the CEOs (or ex-CEOs) of two of them are the two richest men in the world?

    How else do you think they got that way? They didn't by paying too much for their labor :-)


    --
  • by askheaves (207302) on Tuesday September 19, 2000 @07:59AM (#769907)
    Could you imagine if Einstein was sent home after his 6 year H1B was up? WWII would have been a bit trickier to end, eh?
  • by hawk (1151) <hawk@eyry.org> on Tuesday September 19, 2000 @06:31AM (#769913) Journal
    These workers got exactly what they bargained for. Having worked here, their skills will be in greater demand when they return home--leading to higher salaries.

    Yes, there are crummy employers out there. Maybe we should reform the system to make it easier to sweitch employers mid-visa. But I find the suggerstion that the workers have been wronge to be, at the least, odd.

    hawk, economist at large
  • Ten years experience, or at least, that's what it was at the time. (2 years ago). We were thinking about getting me a lawyer, but I started working at a newly acquired Canadian subsidiary, with the intent of waiting a year then getting the L1 (I think) intra-company transfer visa. Then, fortunately, I realized that I didn't WANT to live in the States. :-)
  • In a social and business sense, Americans are very welcoming to immigrants and foreigners, and that makes this country a special place to live and work.

    As a foreign student at an American school, I agree fully. I don't think most Americans realize, however, how badly the INS misrepresents them. It is my strong opinion that the INS is one of the most hateful government-sanctioned groups of people in the Western world.

    Any foreign citizen who resides in the US knows that crossing the border is dangerous. The INS goes out of their way to turn law-abiding, honest people into criminals. They are horrible human beings; the worst America has to offer, outside of the prison system. I won't bore you with stories... Just ask the immigrant in the cubicle next to you.

    I have enjoyed living and learning in America, and have made a lot of good friends. Americans are warm, open, and welcoming. Despite that, as soon as I finish my degree, I'm going away and I don't expect to ever return. Thank you for your hospitality America, but living in fear of the INS is too draconian for my liking.

  • 1) all visas are open to abuse. the H1-B actually has a number of provisions to protect the alien. in order to file for an H, you must obtain a Labor Condition Application. part of the LCA is an attestation that the employer will pay the alien the greater of either a) the actual wage paid to employees having similar experience and qualifications employed in the alien's specific occupational field or; b) the prevailing wage level (set by the state's department of labor) for the occupational classification in the area of intended employment.
    2) US immigration works like this (this is my field), you tell the US why you want to come by applying for a visa type that most closely matches your situation. If your visa is approved, you are bound by the conditions of that visa type. The H1-B is a NONIMMIGRANT visa. By entering with an H1-B you are implicitly agreeing to leave at the end of the visa.
    3) nothing prevents you from applying for permanent residence/citizenship once your here. the unfortunate thing is that most people don't realize just how long that takes in the US (3 - 4 years) to apply for permanent residence. Our dear governments feeling is that the laws are available and it's the alien's responsibility to find out. and plenty of people DO find out. trust me that the INS is adjuticating thousands of H to permanent resident cases as we speak.
  • This whole discussion is quite amusing. I am from India, briefly lived in Bangalore, (which seems to be the Death Star as far as some members of this board are concerned) and am not on an H1B. There, I've got that out of the way. Why this disc. is amusing to me, is because I have had to trim my normal English vocabulary *considerably* to make myself understood in normal situations in this country. I have to keep reminding my wife that most of the English she uses will only elicit a "What?" from most of the people we meet and speak to in daily conversation - and that includes college graduates and "skilled engineers" who have grown up in the American education system. We get asked if we're from England ... how's that for using English? IMHO, the dumbing down of the American education system is continuing rapidly - when there are large numbers of citizens of this country, whose only claim to communication skills is a severely shrunken vocbulary of English, I think it's time to stop saying "Screw the immigrants because they don't speak English". And since I also want to make the point that English=Education is a flawed equation, I'd end with an anecdote about how my wife met an engineer, educated in the US, who had no idea where London was on the map. Unless, of course, you redefine education to encompass nothing outside the United States. That is exactly the kind of the thinking the Asian economies want you to indulge in, while they learn to do your jobs better than you.
  • by TopShelf (92521) on Tuesday September 19, 2000 @05:14AM (#769943) Homepage Journal
    Another problem lies with the hiring abilities of managers & headhunters who work off of a list of keywords that they're looking for, when the real skill that IT shops need is the ability to learn and adapt to a changing environment.

    When I was looking for a job in Indiana, with a few years of HP3000 Cobol & Powerhouse experience, I was very fortunate to find a manager who gave me a chance in an AS/400 shop - my background was with HMO's, but this was a distribution & retail company. This manager realized that I had a history of learning new packages and languages as required, so he knew that after a few shorts weeks I'd be a good fit for his department - and he was right. Too often, however, headhunters & managers base their searches on criteria such as x years of Java, or y years of C++ experience. In doing so, they are blinding themselves to a vast number of programmers out there who want to develop new skills, but aren't getting the opportunity to do so. The other skills they may bring to the job (experience with the development process, etc.) can more than make up for any learning curve they may have to go through on the technical side.

  • I'm an American, and when I was in France I made sure I had some rudimentary French. I knew enough to order and pay for things. Had a great time--the French are wonderful people.

    When I was in Mexico, in a tourist town where everyone spoke English, I made sure I had some rudimentary Spanish. Som of my traveling companions thought it a waste of time, but it is my opinion that everyone appreciates an effort to speak in his language.

    When I was in England I did my best to speak quietly and not play the part of the loud American tourist-buffoon. I'll admit that I learned no Flemish when in Belgium--I did not have time to find any resources before my trip. Fortunately the Flemish are a decent bunch who happen to be polyglots, and everything worked very well.

    It's amazing how quickly one can begin to pick up a language if one wishes to.

    Not all of us are boors, you know.

  • I often wonder if we arn't doing the developing countries of the world a disservice by hiring away their best and brightest people. How will countries like India and Russia (the main sources of H1B workers, IME) get their economies going if everyone with brains or talent leaves?
    "The axiom 'An honest man has nothing to fear from the police'
  • Has anyone considered that high-tech work may not be the entire issue here? That there is also a social effect to the H1B system?

    Consider: High-tech worker (possibly from upper classes of their society, certainly educated) comes to America and is immersed in our culture for six years. What happens when he goes home?

    Does he not yearn for a REAL Coke? Doesn't he know that Nikes are cool? Doesn't he want to drive his car to work instead of riding the train? Doesn't he want his government to work as well as ours? (knock it if you want, but for all the kinks and bullshit the US government has, it is light years ahead of most others.)

    The US government couldn't buy a better missionary. We tried the Peace Corp earlier, and it didn't work for this purpose. One, because it was frequently used as a cover for three letter agency types, and two, because it was a bunch of Americans handing down the "way it shall be". A much better approach is to let folks in other countries come see what is better, and then send them back to want it and do something about it in their own areas. If you want to know, it was this apporach that pretty well started the old Soviet Union off to ruin. A bunch of dudes from the state department make sure that every Soviet countryman that came to the states was able to see a supermarket, a department store, and a family in action. And then sent them home to tell the neighbors...

  • by alienmole (15522) on Tuesday September 19, 2000 @08:37AM (#769975)
    I find it strange how the /. crowd revels in amusement from clever remarks about the Hitchhiker's guide and the babelfish. Very wise and understanding about the tapestry of human culture and thought - all that makes us what we are, and how we live together. But when it comes to the real world, and people traveling and working in different countries and speaking with a different accent, there is so much veiled hostility and underlying scorn towards "them".

    I've always assumed this was two different subpopulations on /. Any time immigration is raised as an issue, you get a lot of mostly AC's posting inarticulate and ignorant cliche-ridden messages effectively expressing the sentiment "me good; dang furriners bad."

    In real life and on /., this sentiment invariably comes from people who are lacking in various assets or abilities, whether it be communication, education, intelligence, socialization, or whatever. It seems fairly obvious why they would feel threatened by people smarter and more ambitious than they are, coming to the U.S. to compete for jobs and other resources.

    But I've always retained the fond hope that the /.ers who read HHGTTG, Neal Stephenson, etc., aren't the same ones who have knee-jerk reactions to anyone a little different from themselves. I would think anyone with the capacity to appreciate that sort of literature would also have the capacity to discuss, in a reasonably rational way, the pros and cons of immigration and the issues which surround it.

    Call me an idealist!

  • What they hate is the government that implied that it would do one thing, and then did another.

    Wait a minute! What did the government imply that they would do? They offered 6 year work visas to those how wanted to work in the US. The 6 years are up, and back go the workers. So where's the problem?

    -Brent
  • and we don't WANT them too (which is the real point). That's the whole reason they were granted this type of temporary visa.
  • ...or whose company didn't press for speedy resolution of the cases
    (most green card applications are fought for by company lawyers, whose
    interests don't necessarily coincide with that of the immigrant), or
    who come from a country with a lot of competeing applicants, and find
    their case being pushed back and back by quota restrictions.

    There is nothing determinate about the length of these processes.
    They needn't terminate within six years.

  • > they are often from corrupt countries where going to the authorities is most often not an option!

    Exploited H-1B: "Hey, INS! I'm bein' repressed!"

    INS: "Really? We'll look into that! (It's a lot more fun than servicing legal immigrants, and we don't get any funding from Congress for anything other than enforcement actions). Hey, wow, you're right! Your employer is violating H-1B regs. Your H-1B is now revoked."

    Exploited H-1B: "What the fuck?"

    INS: "You have 10 days to get on the plan or we'll send guys with guns to bust your door down too, dipshit. But thanks for telling us about your lousy employer. It made our fuckin' day."

    I know some H-1Bs who aren't being exploited by their employers. Both of them describes the INS as the most inefficient, corrupt, and wholly-distasteful organization they've encountered. Comparisons with KGB and Stasi are frequent. INS officials are often abusive - there are no appeals at ports of entry, and the enforcement mentality permeates the organization to the last man.

    If you ever want to see the banality of evil in America, you need look no further than your nearest INS office.

    Millions of dollars on APCs and H&K MP5 submachine guns to get a rugrat from Cuba out of a house. Over a year to process the form that says "OK, given that DOL has approved your labor cert (6-8 months upfront), so once we process this form (I-140), you'll be allowed to apply for the Green Card and wait another four years for that form (I-485) to be processed".

    First Presidential candidate who abolishes INS and replaces it with a Beat-On-The-Illegals arm and a funded Services-To-Legal-Immigrants arm, gets my vote. The present organization appears to be little more than "Beat-On-Everyone".

  • No, the point is that congress intentionally changed the restrictions for the H-1B visas and let a whole bunch of people get H1B visas and essentially told them "it's just temporary, you will get a green card or citizenship before it runs out". Most people know that it's very difficult to get a green card or citizenship if you have an H1B, however congress specifically changed the laws so that the H1B visa applicants no longer had to even claim that they intended to return home, all of these people were promised that they would become citizens. And yet they were not. Congress could certainly pull out all the stops to get these high-tech workers working, but apparently they couldn't be bothered to put in the effort to make sure we held up our end of the bargain.

    Uncle Sam and our big high-tech companies fucked these people in the ass. In fact, we went out of our way to do so. That is just plain wrong, no matter how you slice it.

  • I'm not saying the program has good terms or that it isn't a crummy way to treat people, just that those terms were clear and upfront. Personally, I have no problem at all allowing broad immigration of well-educated people from other countries, and I think we ought to do more of it. A LOT more, especially as the native education levels continue to decline in the absence of any real competition. I just think it ought to be at the front end, instead of from a sudden rules change at the back end. As eager as I am to get the heck out of the US, I'm certainly not a xenophobe or a nativist.

    --
  • What about all of those unfortunate H1B Tech Mastercard workers? Did anyone think about them???
  • "bargain" as in "deal," "contract," etc., not as in "less than otherwise available" :)
  • by The Man (684) on Monday September 18, 2000 @06:31PM (#770012) Homepage
    The shortage is a straw man. The reality is that there exists a glut of "IT" workers in this country, H1B visas or not. The real problems that employers are having are 1) Lack of good workers, and 2) Unreasonable expectations forced upon them by stockholders. Most programmer-type workers are grossly incompetent and many would not even be employed if not for the current hype in this particular industry and the ease of acquiring ostensibly adequate credentials. A bachelor's degree in computer science is a surefire ticket to 60 grand or better in the valley. Employers can't be picky about how that degree was obtained or whether the candidate is actually qualified. The stockholders are either thinking IPO or desperately trying to prop up post-IPO share prices. That hurries the release schedules and forces employers to take anyone they can get; the current state of the economy - qualified employees are difficult to find in any industry - and the shyster nature of programmers in general make picky managers into ex-managers.

    I would find it difficult to believe that these foreign workers are any better at their jobs than American workers. Many if not most are incompetent, and language and cultural problems may make it more difficult for them to work with the rest of the team.

    Whether these problems exist or are relevant, however, is not for the government to decide. It's for the clients of the giant software houses to decide. They can send a strong message that the products are crap by not buying them. Then the management can decide for themselves whether or not hiring more workers - foreign or not - will increase profits, and act accordingly.

    Me, I see a market for about 25% as many tech workers as we have today. Employers could reduce their personnel problems by 1) using less technology; most jobs are better performed without it anyway, and there is strong evidence that computers don't increase productivity for most jobs; 2) using better tools; it's no surprise that supporting microsoft and other inferior products consumes the bulk of any tech worker's time; 3) using more selective hiring processes; 10 good people are infinitely better than 100 lousy ones; 4) in the case of software houses, scrapping obsolete products, streamlining their offerings, and rewriting or discontinuing unmaintainable code bases.

    More workers? I don't think they're needed. Smarter management, yes. Better workers, yes. Higher quality education, yes. But, as Fred Brooks would love to remind us, throwing more workers - many poorly educated and inexperienced - at a problem only makes it worse.

  • by small_dick (127697) on Monday September 18, 2000 @06:31PM (#770018)
    ...let's face it, programming in the USA was rapidly approaching the status of "doctor" or "lawyer". In the late 80's, a hot programmer could freelance for a fortune.

    This made life very tough on Sun, Oracle, Microsoft and IBM. The last thing they needed was having to pay $40-$100 an hour for programmers.

    Thus, immense financial pressure begat H1B. I knew it was a lie from the start, intended to hobble the wealth and status of American Software Engineers, Developers and programmers.

    I would have far preferred we let in a mix of people from a variety of backgrounds, on a permanent basis. Lawyers, Police, Doctors, Nurses, Politicians, Pilots, Teachers, whatever. But the various unions would have stopped it cold. Thus, the congress had to target geeky programmers -- highly paid, but no organizing skills.

    Now we're stuck with the result. H1B Programmers and Technicians only; many of which will not be granted permanent residence and thus have to return home.

    IMHO, this is one of the most egregious actions that the congress of the USA has ever taken, and that's saying a lot since they generally fuck everyone on the globe on a daily basis.

    The downturn in the economy, the global corporatists (GE just opened a $100M engineering facility in Bangladore), stagnation of the platform have all contributed to this situation.

    All I can say is, take a look at the local want ads. There are a fraction of the programming jobs that existed just a few years ago. My brother works for a massive aerospace company which has 100s of job openings on their website. The resumes pour in, but the jobs are never filled, and only rarely is anyone even interviewed.

    Why? because the company uses vacant engineering slots to pressure the government in a lot of ways -- more time to complete projects, more pressure to expand H1B, etc.

    Hate to say it, but for many H1B people, this was your vacation in America. Some global corporation got to pay you a fraction of what he would have paid me. Now, it's time for the next crop. Sooner or later, most programming will be done in China and India, and you will make more than the guy down the street.

    Who really wins? The big shareholders in the Globals. That is, the top 1-5% of the US population. Many will do well in India/China, though. Personally, I think you got a pretty good deal.

    Who can say Linus + family wouldn't have an enjoyable life back in Helsinki? I seriously doubt he'd have trouble finding a job!

  • Moderators: please mod this one up, it gets a damn good point.

    These people were swindled. Congress is screwing over not only the immigrants by the high-tech sector of the US.

    --

  • by mindstrm (20013) on Monday September 18, 2000 @06:33PM (#770026)
    Well.. it is healthier for a country to educate it's CITIZENS into the roles it needs rather than simply importing the help from another country.
    In the long run, much better.

  • by Chalst (57653) on Monday September 18, 2000 @06:36PM (#770034) Homepage Journal
    Linus is on an H1B visa. I recall reading an article about his visa troubles about a year ago.
  • From my personal experience, the talent is passing, but the communications skills suck so bad it's not worth it. Just my 2 bits.

    You must mean your communication skills. You know, these people speak more languages than you do, and far better than you possibly ever could.

    Otherwise, how's your Hindi, Chinese or Korean doing?

  • Well, my experience as a foreign worker in a European country was that the process of getting a work permit was quick, efficient, and painless. Furthermore, foreign workers weren't forced to pay for all the benefits that they wouldn't be able to take advantage of.

    Other countries may hand out work permits and immigration visas less easily, but they probably generally administer the ones they give out more efficiently.

  • by jetson123 (13128) on Monday September 18, 2000 @07:12PM (#770047)
    Long ago, the intent was that high tech workers with special skills would directly apply for green cards. Those would be processed quickly, and the qualified workers could start their jobs in the US after a fairly short time. But applying for a green card from outside the US was risky, because if it got denied, people would face all sorts of problems traveling to the US on business or for pleasure later. Furthermore, green card processing became slower and more cumbersome so that it became less feasible to apply for a greencard when starting a job.

    Most employers and employees therefore had to start taking a different approach: they would apply for H1B visas first and then apply for a green card while the employee was working on the H1B. That approach worked fine for a while. However, over the last few years, INS processing has become so inefficient that it can take three or four years to process a green card. If the H1B visa expires before the green card application has been mostly processed, the employees face deportation. Because the INS processing times skyrocketed so suddenly, many employees were caught by surprise: they thought that two years would be ample time to get their green card application through and were planning for that, and then were left without enough time to complete their application. Because of the baroque nature of US immigration law, there are no exemptions. Once the H1B has run out, people have to leave the country. There is no other status to convert to.

    US immigration law is also rife with other outdated rules and bizarre notions. For example, it talks a lot about "intent": you can't travel on a visitor's visa if you have some "intent" to immigrate. Family reunification (even of more distant relatives) is preferred over any kind of skilled immigration. And dual citizenship is recognized by the US only if a US citizen acquires another citizenship, but the US still expects immigrants to renounce any former citizenship (although in practice, that isn't enforced much anymore). The immigration procedures themselves are a bizarre mix of rules and questions pertaining to 19th century immigration by boat, puritan notions of "good moral character", McCarthy-era concerns about communism, and modern day concerns about terrorism.

    Perhaps the most important problem is that even if the delays are the INS's fault (as they usually are), the applicants are not protected from deportation. If the INS sits on someone's application for two years and their current visa expires, that person is subject to deportation.

    Altogether, I don't consider the US very welcoming to skilled immigrants anymore. In addition to visa issues and processing delays, there are numerous other problems immigrants face in the US. For example, immigrants must pay full taxes but cannot take advantage of the social safety net (such as it is) and entitlements they have paid for. Legal protections for immigrants are also limited in some important ways. And even after becoming citizens, naturalized citizens are always potentially subject to denaturalization, in which the INS can challenge and reverse the naturalization process until the day an immigrant dies. The statute of limitations for denaturalization was abolished about 10 years ago, another instance of what looks like a fairly hostile attitude towards immigrants.

    In a social and business sense, Americans are very welcoming to immigrants and foreigners, and that makes this country a special place to live and work. And the US will probably always remain attractive to immigrants from economically disadvantaged countries. But the US government and the US Congress have become so hostile to immigrants and foreigners that I think anybody coming from another first world country should very carefully weigh the tradeoffs involved. If the US wants to continue to be attractive skilled workers from Europe, Japan, and Australia, US immigration law will need a major overhaul.

  • China is not outright hostile towards you, they simply don't want you telling them what to do.
  • by Malc (1751) on Monday September 18, 2000 @07:16PM (#770054)
    "More like they are prized so highly because the paperwork makes it so hard for them to change jobs - you don't have to give them as many raises and other incentives to stay with the company. "

    The way the job market is (I was on an H1 in Denver), I doubled my salary in 1.5 years. Everytime a review came along, I threatened to quit and forced concessions out of my employer. And please don't tell me that this was only possible because H1's get paid less either (many people assert this incorrectly.) The first step in preparing an H1 is a submission to the state Labor Dept. to ensure that the non-immigrant will be paid the prevailing wage for the area. I had the same starting salary as all the American graduates that I worked with.

    "And for some reason there's always more communications difficulties with them as well. Not all, but some. It doesn't matter how well you know the technical stuff, if you can't understand what you're being asked to do (because of language) you can't get the job done. "

    Most of the non-immigrants that I worked with more than made up for comms difficulties with willingness to please and try to work. I know how frustrating language can be: being English I thought I would be fine... it took a month or two until my American co-workers were finally able to translate what I was saying for our boss (an American formally from Romanian)!
  • by trims (10010) on Monday September 18, 2000 @06:41PM (#770058) Homepage

    The currenty implimentation of the H1B visa is kinda like the Death Penalty: nice idea, the way it's done sucks.

    So what's wrong with the current H1B? Three things:

    1. 6-year term
    2. Non-renewable (after 6 years, you gotta go home)
    3. Non-convertible (ie, you can't become a citizen - becoming a permanent resident is extremely hard from an H1B)

    If the intention was for short-term help for an industry, six years is way to long. Fundamentally, on this one, the AFL/CIO is correct: companies use H1Bs to import cheap labor rather than retrain US citizens (the IT shortage is so bad that they retrain US citizen anyway, but look at other industries (like Civ Eng) that don't do this). "Temporary" is a joke. If people were serious about this, the term would be 3 years, max.

    Remaining in the US after the 6 years is up is nigh-on-impossible, no matter how important you are to a company's wellbeing. When it's up, out you go. Getting a subsequent H1B to come back again is alot harder than getting the first H1B. This is stupid.

    If you are here on an H1B, there are only 2 circumstances that I know of that allow you to remain here (ie, convert your H1B visa to some other sort of visa): (1) you marry a US citizen, in which case you get to apply for permanent residency (Green Card), or (2) apply for asylum/refugee status (which is horribly torturous). Companies can sponsor you for a Green Card if they want, but the rules require you to return to your home country while they consider your application. Which can take 6 months or a year (or alot longer). And there is no way you can stay on your own without a sponsor.

    Fundamentally, H1Bs should be for 2-3 year, "work-and-leave" use, kinda like a contractor. We should create another type of visa which allows us to have people in for a period of time (several years) and then convert it easily to a permanent resident status. That way, we keep the smart ones here.

    This is the worst part of the current H1B - we bring in lots of talented people, train them up in our stuff so we can make use of them, then send them back to their home country, full of knowledge on how we do business. Dumb! The U.S.'s major competative advantage is it's brainpower - if we don't try to keep our brainpower, then where does that leave us? For years, the U.S.'s immigration policy has been such that we skim the cream of intellectuals from other countries (e.g. get them to imigrate to the US) so we keep our brainpower as the top. The H1B actively defeats this idea. Stupid.

    -Erik

  • I think people are missing the point here. Sure they knew it was temporary. But, if you were able to crack the door open to the land of opportunity just a bit, wouldn't you think that was enough and you had it made? I doubt that any of these temporary H1B visa holders actually thought that they would be in exactly the same situation now as they were when they originally got their visas. The real issue I think is why weren't they able (over a period of 6 years) to get a green card, or full citizenship? It seems like there are few of these H1B workers who truly wished to stay here only 6 years and then go back home. Why do we want to shun these highly intelligent and (arguably) highly motivated individuals and make it hard for them to become honest to goodness citizens of the US? Isn't part of what this country is all about is to be an open land of opportunity? Well, if working 6 years in this country for low (perhaps some would even say unfair) wages, keeping their noses clean, being good honest inhabitants (though not citizens) of this country isn't enough to allow them to stay, then exactly what should be enough?

    I think it's appaling the way these workers are being treated, it is certianly not what America is supposed to be about.

  • by drode (29876) on Monday September 18, 2000 @06:42PM (#770063) Homepage

    I keep hearing about this shortage of IT workers. What is really happening is that corporations are watching a health US IT labor market eat up a fraction of thier profits and are lobbying heavily to allow more forign workers into the country to try to bring the salaries down.

    I think that the competitive salaries and frequent job hopping are not only good for most IT workers, but good for IT in general. Knowlwdge is sperad more quickly, more people have access to the knowledge and it is difficult for one company to hold on to a competitive edge for long. They must contiune to innovate (except maybe M$)creating new competitive advantages. The market grows, consumers get better products faster and smart motivated workers are rewarded with a better more flexible and lucritive work place.

    This is not to say that we should shut the door and not allow any forign IT workers in. We should just be sure that the Government and Corporate America are not fixing the numbers to hurt IT workers.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 18, 2000 @06:45PM (#770073)
    > Otherwise, how's your Hindi, Chinese or Korean doing?

    They're doing great, thanks!. I have a new pair of Nikes, a new hat, and a new CD player. Made right in my basement.

    Ian Stuart Donaldson

  • by shishu (32947) on Monday September 18, 2000 @06:46PM (#770077)
    Its shocking and very dissappointing to read all the posting here. Even more dissappointing is the fact that these are views of slashdotters. Honestly expected them to be more "open" etc.

    As someone who recently started work in the US, I wish I had known earlier that deep down even the bright Americans are of such opinions. I came to the US not because I earn a higher salary here... To all the "frogs in the well" here who think that Indians come here to avoid starving... incidentally my purchasing power in India was much higher than out here and before you conclude ... my salary here makes a lot of my american coleagues here envious.
    I came here to work with the best people in the industry.
    A lot of you will yell at me saying "Go back if you don't like this ... blah blah" ... in probably better or worse words.
    All I have to offer such people is "thank you" for letting me know the true feelings of americans towards people like me - they are too ashamed to say such things on my face :-).
    I wish more Indians just leave this country to run itself... Good luck.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 18, 2000 @08:11PM (#770088)
    The problem is not that H1-Bs are temporary and people expected them to suddenly turn permanent by themselves. The problem is that when people came here on H1-B visas, it was with the expectation (and, in many cases, the assurance by the company) that they would adjust to a green card (permanent residency). This used to take about six months to a year at most.

    Now, with INS' bureaucratic bungling, that delay has grown to four years plus, and many people are finding that they are out of luck. It wasn't something they bargained for, and quite frankly it is not very fair for them to have to uproot their lives simply because "the paperwork didn't get done in time". Note that the majority of these people were not denied their green cards. They are being processed and in all likelihood will end up getting their green cards. However, until they come through these people are up the creek.
  • by jetson123 (13128) on Monday September 18, 2000 @07:31PM (#770103)
    Because INS processing takes so long, people can't realistically take jobs in the US on immigrant visas. Therefore, they come on H1B visas and apply for their green cards while here. Everybody understood that, and it used to work fine. In fact, few people would bother coming to the US on an H1B at all if it were strictly a temporary visa rather than as a normal stage in getting a green card.

    Unfortunately, over the last two years, INS processing has slowed down more than tenfold (!). As a result, people who had an expectation of being able to get their green card in time now face deportation because the INS didn't finish processing their green card application before their H1B ran out.

    So, the problem isn't that people knew that their visa was temporary, but that the INS fails to process green card applications in a timely manner. This caught everybody by surprise: visa holders, consulates, and immigration attorneys.

    But I agree to this degree: while in the past, H1B visa holders could expect a fairly painless transition to a green card, that is clearly not the case anymore. People who are considering coming to the US now should expect that the situation with the INS will further deteriorate. I think that makes the US considerably less attractive to skilled immigrants.

  • by ksheff (2406) on Monday September 18, 2000 @07:31PM (#770105) Homepage

    European friends of mine were always quite pissed about that point. They could not believe how any of the Asian grad students could have passed the required verbal & written English tests required to get a student visa (according to them). To prove their point, one of them would periodically ask the lab TA if the lights were on. The TA would usually respond with a different answer (point them to the current chapter in the textbook, 'I do not know..ask Prof X', etc.).

  • by Greyfox (87712) on Monday September 18, 2000 @07:33PM (#770122) Homepage Journal
    That which could be attributed to stupidity. Government jobs typically pay a third or less of what you could make in the private sector. I imagine finding a government worker who's actually good at his job is next to impossible.

    Of course, if I were going for the malace thing, I'd put forth the hypothesis that the guys who've been here 6 years know the ropes and know how to squeeze the employer for a fair shake. Meanwhile the new guys coming in don't yet know the ropes and so employers can get away with paying them 1/2 to 2/3rds what their American counterparts make for a few years until they learn the ropes.

    Of course, I'm hopelessly paranoid, too.

  • by Detritus (11846) on Monday September 18, 2000 @08:28PM (#770127) Homepage
    Get over it.

    The U.S. Government has a long history of importing foreign workers to solve labor shortages, when a labor shortage is defined as uppity American workers who support labor unions or who want to be paid a decent wage. Remember the big nurse shortage? The problem wasn't a shortage of nurses, it was a shortage of nurses who were willing to be underpaid, treated like shit, and say "thank you sir, may I have another?"

  • by gavinhall (33) on Monday September 18, 2000 @07:03PM (#770155)
    Posted by polar_bear:

    We have to import workers because there's a limited percentage of people in this country who are inclined to technical careers. It's not just a matter of going to school to learn to code - you have to have a desire to do that type of work. Money is not a sufficient motivator to induce everyone to pursue a career they're not suited to. Plus, do we really want people who are just in it for the money? For the most part they're likely to be mediocre techies at best.

    I agree that whenever Congress gets involved it usually makes a mess, but that doesn't mean that people who want to live in the US should suffer because of it. It's really disturbing to see so many people espousing a "us" and "them" mentality.
  • by alienmole (15522) on Monday September 18, 2000 @08:32PM (#770157)
    > If they so want to stay here, well, they should have started to naturalize. Period.

    Naturalization is not allowed while on an H1-B visa. Permanent residence status ("green card") must be obtained first. Almost any H1-B visa holder would love to get permanent residence, but it's not that easy. Applications take years to process and have a high chance of refusal.

  • by Uruk (4907) on Monday September 18, 2000 @07:07PM (#770165)
    I can't figure out what's unfair about this.

    I agree that it's unethical for employers to pay people less just because they can. I also agree that it's not very cool of the United States to send these people home. But what's unfair about it?

    These people agreed to the terms of the work permits, or they wouldn't have come in the first place. Nobody forces them to take any job, they agree to take the jobs. When the work permit runs out, they have to go home. Nobody should EVER operate under the assumption that their contract won't be enforced just because it hasn't been in the past, or other people aren't having theirs enforced.

    The US government and companies do a lot of unethical things, but it also takes two to tango. Something feels really wrong about people willfully and knowingly entering into contracts such as employment and visas, and then getting upset when the terms of those contracts that they agreed to suddenly aren't 100% in their favor.

    Again, ethically, some of this isn't all that cool. But where is it unfair?

  • by AllieA (170303) on Monday September 18, 2000 @08:36PM (#770181) Homepage
    My company (a high-tech company in the Silicon Forest) placed one ad (one day!)for one helpdesk analyst position. The result? Nearly 100 applicants, many of them former database administrators, network administrators, and programmers.

    What did they all have in common? For the most part, they were all in their 30's and 40's, had been laid off from local large tech companies, and most were paid much better in their previous jobs.

    My roommate has been searching for a job for 18 months in the midst of this "shortage".

    I find the pattern easy to see. Experienced american high-tech workers are looking to finally get compensated for the hard work they have put in during the tech boom. And how are they rewarded? By being cut back, to be replaced by H1B visa holders and kids fresh out of college, more than willing to be burned out for low pay, to be replaced by the next batch of H1B visa holders and college grads.

    If I hear "shortage of high tech workers" one more time I'll throw up. It's just not the reality of the situation.
  • by jetson123 (13128) on Monday September 18, 2000 @07:44PM (#770188)
    The rational thing would be for a skilled applicant with a job offer to apply directly for an employment based green card through the employer. Unfortunately, the INS doesn't work that way. For practical purposes, almost all skill-based immigrants have to come in on H1B's first.

    H1B visas were therefore used for many years as a temporary visa while the green card application was being processed by the INS. The current problem with H1B visas running out and deportations is that the INS isn't processing the green card applications in a timely manner anymore. What used to take months now takes years. Furthermore, that change came very suddenly and unexpectedly, so that a lot of people whose applications were on schedule were completely taken by surprise.

    Many of the people facing deportation are currently employed with excellent, high-paying jobs and fall into the top skill-based immigration categories. There is no question that most of them would get a green card if the INS got around processing the application.

    The expectation of skilled immigrants that they could come on an H1B visa and convert to a green card was rational. And while the US certainly doesn't have a legal commitment, if this avenue is closed, it will seriously damage the ability of the US to attract skilled immigrants.

  • by Denor (89982) <denor@yahoo.com> on Monday September 18, 2000 @06:01PM (#770189) Homepage

    Okay, the subject's only half joking. But it's a good question - I'm not sure on the details of our (and by 'our', I'm referring to the Kernel developers, of which I am not a member) benevolent dictator's immigration status except that it was excruciatingly difficult to get him into the US. If he's on one of these sort of visas, we here in the states will have to bid him farewell in a few years.

    Something tells me that neither Transmeta, nor Linus himself, will be pleased at this. I can imagine the sudden rash of letters to congressmen this might provoke. And it'd work, too, because the slashdotters have managed to get all sorts of things done by writing to their congresspeople, right?

    Right?

    Okay, plan B: Someone put Linus on Freenet -- and get 2600 to link to him, while we're at it!

  • by defile (1059) on Monday September 18, 2000 @06:01PM (#770192) Homepage Journal
    I'm not going to really have sympathy for people if they knew that their stay here was limited. Also, families? Doesn't marrying a US citizen make you a citizen?

    While I am going to miss some people, they were obviously aware of the terms of their stay. You're in a foreign country under limited conditions, you'd be an idiot not to try to find out more about these conditions.

    Why all the fuss?

    I suppose it's easy for me to rant because I stand no chance of being sent back to a country that very well might be terrible, but I will stand by it. Please inform me otherwise if there's something I'm not understanding.

  • by lophophore (4087) on Monday September 18, 2000 @06:04PM (#770209) Homepage
    Everywhere I have worked, the H1-Bs have been very close to slave labor. They often make less than half the rate/salary of a US citizen or green card holder. Many of them are terribly exploited in this way. Sure, they make more here than they could in their native country (usually India) but their employers are ripping them off with the lousy pay they get.

    The same side of this same coin has rendered some older information workers unemployable: they have sufficient breadth of experience and seniority that makes them too expensive to hire. Or retrain.

    We need to make sure that imported labor does not leave our citizens/green card holders out in the cold by making sure that the H1-Bs are paid a competitive and fair salary.


    there are 3 kinds of people:
    * those who can count

  • by cide1 (126814) on Monday September 18, 2000 @06:04PM (#770215) Homepage
    This is a case of the American government doing what they do best, screw things up. Yes, illegal immigrants living on welfare is bad. No, visa holders who give needed skills, and help to add to the country are not bad. It is very simple, where the problem is, and it is not here. If the people have a good job, are comfortable, let them stay.

    (Had to state the obvious, flame away)
  • by ravi_n (175591) on Monday September 18, 2000 @07:57PM (#770227)
    I'm amazed at the number of people who didn't seem to read the article before commenting on it (but I probably shouldn't be).
    First, the article is very clear that most H1B's expect their stay to be permanent: get an H1B, start working in the US, get a green card...

    The reasons that so many of them have to leave are (which would have been very difficult for them to anticipate in 1994):
    (a) The INS cannot process their green card applications fast enough.
    (b) There are caps on the number of green cards that can be awarded in a given year and there are further caps on what percentage of that number can be awarded to citizens of a particular country, and, as I recall, these caps are frequently treated as a political football.

    I'm also surprised that no one has commented on the detail in the article that I found most startling: The couple in the article has a child, that, as far as I can tell (and, to be fair, the article was not clear here), was born while they were living in the US. Unless there has been a Constitutional amendment after the 14th that I don't know about, that child is automatically an American citizen. I really don't see what business the INS has deporting the parents of an American citizen. I thought one of the principles of immigration law was to keep families together.
  • by droleary (47999) on Monday September 18, 2000 @10:05PM (#770238) Homepage

    ...let's face it, programming in the USA was rapidly approaching the status of "doctor" or "lawyer". In the late 80's, a hot programmer could freelance for a fortune. This made life very tough on Sun, Oracle, Microsoft and IBM. The last thing they needed was having to pay $40-$100 an hour for programmers.

    In case you're not aware of the current situation, hot programmers can still freelance for well over $100/hour. The only people who really have to worry about foreign workers brought in on H1B visas (or any other way, including companies opening divisions in other countries) are the ones who aren't particularly skilled and are still extracting a premium salary. I don't care where they come from or what color their skin is, if someone can do a job better than an American for less money, they should get the job, even if it was my job. I've yet to have that happen to me, so I don't worry much about it. If foreign workers are taking your job away, it's time to stop complaining about them and start doing a better job yourself.

  • by PolyDwarf (156355) on Monday September 18, 2000 @06:10PM (#770263)
    I know that the current atmosphere in America is touchy-feely, but still... These people entered into the H1-B visa program knowing full well it was a temporary thing.

    Now the time is up, and people are whining/complaining that it's unfair, when these people knew what the deal was, and that they couldn't count on being allowed to stay. I refuse to feel sorry for these people, who knew what they were getting into.
    The MSNBC piece is full of implied's, suppose's, and the like. No where in the article does it say anything like "The Congress told these people they could stay".. Instead it says

    "The time limit was left in place, but made to seem irrelevant. Applicants no longer had to prove they intended to return home, and the visa was dubbed "transitional," implying: next stop, green card."

    So, if these people believed something that wasn't in writing, they needed more education into America. As anyone knows, you can't cound on anything, unless it's in writing, and sometimes not even then.
  • by kezgin (108761) on Monday September 18, 2000 @08:06PM (#770267) Homepage
    Here's an idea to solve the problem of deporting people who's lives are now rooted here: allow unrestricted immigration. There's no reason that the government should restrict peoples' ability to make a better life from themselves here. The same opportunity was afforded to the ancestors of almost everyone else in this country.
  • Actually I'd say its cultural bias, not racism. I work in a university where 90% of our student workers are from every damned place on this earth other than the USA. Some of them can communicate quite well. Others can't. The problem isn't that they don't understand english, they can't speak it. The TOEFL test tests WRITTEN english skills, not one'a ability to pronounce it so that native speakers of the language can understand. By now I'm used to having to ask them to repeat themselves, usually more than once. At first it was quite irritating, but I've gotten used to it.

    Being from the south, I know all about racism. I grew up in an environment of intense institutionalized racism. The comments made here bear little resemblance to that.

    Lee
  • by MemRaven (39601) <kirk&kirkwylie,com> on Monday September 18, 2000 @09:08PM (#770333)
    The founders of the US were very careful to not create a national U.S. language (historical tip: if they were going to, it was more likely to be German than English). They thought that doing so would limit the ability to have immigrants assimilate quickly, and enforce subtle discrimination against those who didn't speak the dominant language.

    I highly recommend you come to someplace like San Francisco which has many neighborhoods where English is the minority.

    I've met quite a few people from Bangalore and other parts of India who have better grasp of the English language than most people I meet when visiting rural areas of America. They may speak with an accent, they may have misspeaks sometimes, but their general grasp of the nuances of the English Language and its formative literary history is much better than the average graduate of the average U.S. high school.

  • I doubt whether this posting would be read by anyone at all, since the amount of posts before me are sheer huge, but anyway I decide to make my point since I believe these are the facts. I currently hold an H1-B and work for a EBusiness Solutions firm(previously a Staff augmentation firm - also known as a Body shopper :)).

    I have been given an opportunity to work here and I am thankful for it. And I do my job to the best of my abilities. I have seen and heard and experienced a lot of wrong committed H1-B holders in this country and the saddest part is that these wrongs are mostly committed by people from the same community, most of the times Indians. I am yet to hear an American milking his employees by not giving him a fair salary, but I could be wrong. But what I have seen and experienced is the following. I have seen people brought here by the truckload, not because of their experience or expertise, but just brains to be sold to someone to make 45 dollars per hour for the employer and to be paid measly 45-55k per year.

    I am proud to belong to the indian community, and I must say that 70% of the H1-B holders who come to US are qualified academically or make up for it in terms of their expertise or experience. However, no matter how funny it may sound, I have also heard that people whom havent even touched a keyboard were also brought here in the pretext of being a software engg and made to work on making systems Y2K compliant. I have seen people getting threatened by their employers and being made to work more than 12 hours per day for no over time. Well I have seen cases where in which the employer sweet talks their employees in to doing over time for their own cause without the employees getting benefited.

    I dont believe the people who have the guts to speak up, or to start looking for something on their own have to fear anything. A majority of the people here on H1-B are still consultants and not permanent employees of any firms. They need to wake up and realise that they have been kept under a dark cloud of uncertainty and fear, and decide to stand their ground. I dont think its hard to get a permanent job here for anyone with decent communication skills and relevant expertise. I have around 3 to 3.5 years of experience and I have been offered jobs that range from 110k to 130k per annum and I dont believe thats a bad salary to start with. Its just that these people have been kept so long in the dark that they are not willing or able to start looking something on their own. Most of them tend to follow the others (reason why we see so many Hondas and Toyotas being driven by Indians :) . I dont think its wrong, but it goes to show that we are just not capable to think alound and make a decision on our own. The irony is I own a Honda myself).

    We need to stand up and demand fair rights and better pay rate. And as mentioned in a post prior to this, once they start paying their employees better, all this shortage would go away.
  • by Speare (84249) on Tuesday September 19, 2000 @02:35AM (#770360) Homepage Journal

    For some enlightening reading, check out Debunking the Myth of a Desperate Software Labor Shortage [ucdavis.edu], UCDavis' Dr. Matloff's testimony to the House Judiciary Committee.

    Some salient quotes,

    Question: The industry claims that H-1Bs are paid the fair ``prevailing wage.'' Is this true?

    No, it is not true.

    In October 1999, Susan deFife, CEO of womenConnect.com of McLean, VA, testified to the Senate in support of higher H-1B quotas. She gave the example of a new graduate she had hired in 1998 as a system administrator, a Mexican national who had just graduated from a U.S. school. Ms. deFife emphasized that she found this worker only after months of exhaustive searching. Yet a subsequent inquiry under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by Robert Sanchez showed that deFife was only paying this person $35,000 per year-when the national average for new graduates was $45,000.

    Similarly, John Harrison, CEO of Ecutel in Alexandria, Virginia, testified to the House in March 1999 in support of an H-1B increase. He issued a press release which said,

    Something is wrong when you put an ad in the Washington Post for a software engineer and the only qualified applicants you receive are from non-U.S. Citizens, said John Harrison, CEO and co-founder of Ecutel, one of the nation's most promising high-tech companies.

    Sanchez's FOIA request later revealed that Ecutel had hired several H-1B programmers at a salary of $35,000, again far below average for new graduates (and these workers may not have even been new graduates).

    and...

    Question: Rather than H-1Bs being a source of cheap labor, the industry claims that legal fees make the H-1Bs actually more expensive than American workers. Is that true?

    The legal paperwork needed to sponsor an H-1B costs only about $1,000.

    It does cost more to sponsor a worker for a green card, around $10,000, but often the employers have the foreign employees pay the legal fees for green cards themselves. And even when employers foot the bill, the cost is usually less than they save in salary, accumulated over the five years or more it now takes to get the green card.

    Furthermore, if an H-1B is sponsored for a green card, he/she is in a de facto sense in a state of ``indentured servitude'' for that five-year period, so the employer knows that the worker will be ``loyal,'' not suddenly leaving a project in the lurch by going to another firm. (An organization of H-1Bs from India, the Immigrant Support Network, www.isn.org, has arisen to lobby Congress to remedy the H-1Bs de facto indentured status.) This is of tremendous value to employers.

    Note also that an employer who rents an H-1B from an agency avoids the fee a recruiter would charge in a regular hire, which is considerably more than $10,000.

    The article is long, and just about every screenful is just as enlightening. It's not just about H1B's, but about age discrimination (at age 35!), race targetting, and common HR tactics to weed out the overexperienced.

    Sobering.

  • You know, that really smells like indentured servitude to me, just in a more obscure way. The company bound her as surely as with ball and chain.

    Yes, there are probably a lot of H1B people who are treated fairly, but there are also a lot of them who are maltreated in various ways. On the one hand there's a certain Finnish kernel coder on an H1-B visa who drives a German car and wears an Italian suit (when necessary), on the other hand there's the Chinese woman in McKwant's example, and then there's also the whole spectrum inbetween.

    Point is, a ruthless company could easily take advantage of H1-B people, bog them down in procedures, mire them in paperwork and work them to death for a low pay, while honest companies will treat them the same as any other employee.

    Regardless of whether it's legal, that hardly seems fair...

    Of course, not everyone's from mainland China...
    Well, according to the latest demographics, it's not very far off though :)

    )O(
    Never underestimate the power of stupidity
  • by Apotsy (84148) on Monday September 18, 2000 @06:19PM (#770381)
    There are more than enough programmers in the U.S. to cover all of the available jobs. Companies just don't want to pay them what they are worth. Young Americans fresh out of college may have an easy time getting a job, since companies don't mind paying an entry-level salary, but many programmers over 40 cannot get hired anywhere due to the fact that companies simply refuse to hire someone with experience and actually pay for it.

    When CEOs go around complaining that they are "desparate" to find good programmers, what they mean is they are desparate to find cheap programmers who are willing to work 80 to 90 hours a week for a below-industry-average salary. That's like me going around saying, "I have been looking all over for a brand-new Ferrari for under $25,000 -- I'm desparate to find one!"

    Of course, I'm not saying anything new. People who actually know what's going on in the computer industry have been saying this for years.

  • by Angst Badger (8636) on Monday September 18, 2000 @06:20PM (#770388)
    It seems to me that if you elect to spend time as a guest worker in another country with the up-front understanding that it is for a limited time, you ought to be a good guest and leave gracefully when that time is up, not bitch and moan and try to get the rules changed because you don't want to live up to your end of the bargain.

    Please don't get me wrong and think this is anti-foreigner or even anti-immigration. If there had been a promise of citizenship eligibility at the beginning that would be completely different. It's just a matter of playing by the rules when the rules are pretty fair. If I were a guest worker in, let's say Germany (Please? Anyone need a C/PHP developer anywhere near Munich?), I'd go home when the time was up and be grateful for the hospitality.

    And from another point of view, it would be crummy of the US to continue to drain the best talent out of third world countries that can use all the bright people they can get.

    --

  • by leereyno (32197) on Monday September 18, 2000 @06:20PM (#770390) Homepage Journal
    There is no shortage of tech workers. There simply isn't a surplus. Companies with positions to fill don't want to pay any more than they have to for qualified people. Tech workers are in high demand, meaning wages will be high. But if you can bring someone in from somewhere else who is equally as qualified, and pay him less, well wages just went down. Personally I think we should encourage intelligent educated people to emigrate to the US. We should accept them with open arms. Why? Because they will be the basis of our future, both economic and politcal. In the future human know how will be the most precious resource. If most of the people with above average minds live here in the US, what would that do for our position in world affairs? When our people can literally out-think people from other countries what will that do for our ability to compete with those countries? America is a nation of emigrants and children of emigrants. Right now we are the dominant nation on this earth. But that can change. Once upon a time the British Empire covered 3/4 of the world. Today Britian is simply another country in europe. So the question becomes, what can we do to help maintain and improve our position in a world which is increasingly hostile towards us? I'd say draining our future competitor's most precious resource is one damned good way to do it. Lee
  • by w00ly_mammoth (205173) on Tuesday September 19, 2000 @12:16AM (#770410)
    Before everyone spouts their opinion, here are some background facts which may help you understand this better.

    First, green cards. These are a Kafkaesque nightmare.

    * An employer can sponsor a green card (permanent residency) which takes about 3-6 years. An employee may quit, but this stops his green card processing and he has to start from scratch at the next company. (In case you're wondering, most employers are eager to sponsor. Guess why...)

    * If the H1B expires at the end of 6 years, the green card process can be continued overseas (Consular Processing). OTOH, if the process is at the final stage, the employee may file for an "Adjustment of Status" (AoS) and continue to work in the US (for the same employer) until he/she obtains the green card - generally 3 more years.

    During this time, US law prohibits the person from leaving & re-entering the country unless he obtains INS permission after stating the cause, even for short trips. (Land of liberty!) They are literally treated as prisoners in some sense - the word the INS uses to describe a software engineer allowed to go visit his home country is advanced parole (this is a DOJ site) [usdoj.gov] Violating this is extremely serious.

    Some people forget this rule and visit canada for a holiday, which pretty much fucks up their weekend and much of their life.

    * Green card processing time varies dramatically from state to state, sometimes by years. So a PhD in California might take longer to get it than an agricultural worker in Washington. In short, if you are planning to get one, spend some heavy research poring over tables of figures on avg. timelines.

    H1Bs
    -----

    * H1B is a non-immigrant visa, so those who hold it are "non-immigrants" (if you can imagine that); green card folks are "applicants for immigrant status".

    * An H1B takes about 3 months to obtain. You are not obliged to work for one employer, and can change.

    * An employer can't "send them back". This is a HUGE misconception. Even if the company fires someone, he is legally present with a valid work permit, which normally doesn't expire until a yr or two. So long as the programmer has another company apply for a new work permit, he can continue to stay in the US (but cannot work until he gets the new visa.)

    * You can start > 1 H1B visa applications. For instance, a programmer agrees to join companies X and Y, both of which apply for visas. X gets it first, and the programmers says bye to Y. This happens sometimes (see above scenario) - I know more than one person who's done it, it's a tough world - and companies can't do anything about it (can't have much sympathy for them, really).

    * Big slashdot error - H1B people are NOT being deported. The article does not mention it. Deportation is a legal action taken by the INS against unlawful aliens, which is fought out in the courts. In this case, what they are describing is a case of programmers voluntarily leaving BEFORE their visa expires.

    * H1B law allows an unlimited number of employers, but a max cap of 6 yrs in the US. After 6 years, the person must spend 1 yr outside the US, at which time the counter is ROLLED BACK. He can then come to the US for another 6 yrs.

    * Inspite of the mass hysteria, employers can't pay anything they want [usvisa-law.com] - they have to legally state how much they pay and this has to be approved by the DoL (dept. of labor) BEFORE they grant it.

    * H1B folks can apply for a green card at any time during their employment. From the frying pan into the fire.

    * They can also apply for Canadian permanent residency while in the US. This takes about 6 months and you need not have to be in Canada for even a day. They have enough trouble keeping their own people.

    * H1B law is equally ruthless to all nationalities - it takes several weeks for everyone. Equal opportunity rocks.

    * One consequence of a 3 month processing time for H1B is that companies are unwilling to hire people to start so far into the future, instead of a 15 day period.

    * When H1Bs took 15 days to process (they used to some yrs ago) there was little disparity between conditions for citizens and visa workers, since people had to give a 2 week notice anyway, during which the visa was processed. This whole fuckup began due to overloading of under-budgeted INS offices.

    In short, immigrant programmers face enormous hurdles - inspite of having legal status, they are trapped between the govt., corporations, and a xenophobic population (read some /. posts).

    I've noticed a regrettable trend. Many Americans tend to take out their anger against immigration policy on their H1B co-workers or anyone who looks like one (visa status isn't exactly stamped on people's foreheads), which creates an unpleasant, racially hostile situation in many offices. Oddly enough, they tend to discard this attitude when they themselves have to go thru a bureaucratic nightmare to work in Europe or australia or Asia.

    Party on.

    w/m
  • by dbarclay10 (70443) on Monday September 18, 2000 @06:20PM (#770427)
    Not to be overly cynical here, but sounds like these guys just want to get rid of the current crop of uppity-type skilled employees, in hopes of getting some more possibly naive recruits from countries that may not need them/can't keep them.

    Dave
    'Round the firewall,
    Out the modem,
    Through the router,
    Down the wire,
  • by fence (70444) on Monday September 18, 2000 @06:22PM (#770435) Homepage
    I have several good friends and have known many co-workers (note the spelling) who were over here on H1B visas. They were all 'trapped' by their H1B sponsors and were paid below-average salaries. Many of them were/are extremly talented and could have taken any spot that they desired, except that they were locked in with their H1B sponsors.

    so, what did they do? they played the game, jumped thru the hoops, waited in lines and finally got their green cards. Every last one of them.

    Yes, it was work--and a PITA, I helped several of them and couldn't believe all of the hoops that they had to go thru, but they now work for who they want, and command premium salaries.

    So, I wonder about those who's visas are expiring? When did they start the process of applying for their green card?
    ---
    Interested in the Colorado Lottery?
  • by Karmageddon (186836) on Tuesday September 19, 2000 @02:54AM (#770461)
    The original poster equated "communication skills" with "speaking English with native skill". That is racist, period.

    How do you know the person making the statement was of a different race than the person s/he was speaking about? You didn't know, you just assumed, demonstrating your incredible bigotry.

    I promise you, I have more close friends from more places in the world than you do, even including your relatives. But, in the workplace communicating in the language of the workplace is important. I would expect in other countries that people would find it frustrating working with me: so you think they are racists, too?

    Poor communication skills goes beyond simply poor English: many in the current wave of immigration come from highly hierarchical societies and they totally "yes" you to death, despite the fact that they don't have clue what you are talking about. Ever had this interaction: "yes, your code works, but it is fragile. If there is a bug..." "I don't have bug" "no, I said IF there is" "No bug. this code work" At that point, just give up. There is apparently no known translation of the word "if" into a number of foreign languages.

    However, they are smart people (oooh, isn't that racist) and in the long run they and their children will make a very positive contribution to our economy. If we manage to skim them from their home countries and get them to stay here, we'll continue to nurture our high tech advantage. But they are still frustrating as hell to try to communicate with in the short run.

    period... thank you

    yeah, period. and you're welcome.

  • by Naum (166466) on Monday September 18, 2000 @11:12PM (#770471) Homepage Journal

    >> In case you're not aware of the current situation, hot programmers can still freelance for well over $100/hour. The only people who really have to worry about foreign workers brought in on H1B visas (or any other way, including companies opening divisions in other countries) are the ones who aren't particularly skilled and are still extracting a premium salary. I don't care where they come from or what color their skin is, if someone can do a job better than an American for less money, they should get the job, even if it was my job

    What bullshit ... if foreign workers were granted full rights and citizenship and thus full negotiating power, that would be one issue (which I would not be against ...) ... but to artificially "flood" the market and drum up the FUD alert of "labor shortage" is bogus ... the shortage is for cheap captive labor ... as an older programmer, I have seen many of my friends and colleagues choose other lines of work as they were displaced by H-1B Visa Indians imported ... what a flagrant violation of the law by U.S. companies ... if the public ever realizes the fraud being perpetrauted, there will be real outrage ...

    And then we wonder why our best and brightest opt for medical school or law school ... wake the fuck up ... pay for programmers is a fraction of what it was 20 years ago, measured in real dollars ... programmers in the 60s made 100K+ per year ...

  • by w00ly_mammoth (205173) on Tuesday September 19, 2000 @01:17AM (#770503)
    To prove their point, one of them would periodically ask the lab TA if the lights were on. The TA would usually respond with a different answer

    This doesn't prove anything. Maybe this happened because *their* communication skills were just as bad. :)

    It is largely a matter of accent. Once an American complained to me about the English not being able to speak properly. The irony of this was a bit too much for me. I've also had Asians complain about Americans not being able to spell or master rudimentary English.

    Once I saw an American tourist ask an Australian at an airport to repeat himself because she couldn't understand him. Naturally, you'd think - thick Aussie accent. Imagine if you'd seen her do the same to a Chinese person - would your opinion of his communication skills differ a lot from that of the Australian? Think about it...

    There's no reason why an American or European accent is the "correct" or default way to pronounce English.

    I find it strange how the /. crowd revels in amusement from clever remarks about the Hitchhiker's guide and the babelfish. Very wise and understanding about the tapestry of human culture and thought - all that makes us what we are, and how we live together. But when it comes to the real world, and people traveling and working in different countries and speaking with a different accent, there is so much veiled hostility and underlying scorn towards "them".

    w/m

Nothing is rich but the inexhaustible wealth of nature. She shows us only surfaces, but she is a million fathoms deep. -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

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