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Complaints Filed Over Firms Seeking H1-B Holders 523

Posted by timothy
from the thorny-is-not-just-a-police-officer dept.
Vicissidude writes "Since May, the Programmers Guild has filed 100 complaints with the U.S. Department of Justice, accusing several companies of advertising that they specifically want H-1B workers, a violation of U.S. law. The U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act requires that U.S. jobs must be available to U.S. workers. The complaints stem from ads containing wording such as "We require candidates for H1B from India," and "We sponsor GC [green card] and we do prefer H1B holders," the Programmers Guild said. The Programmers Guild, looking for ads on major online job boards, has so far targeted only ads seeking computer programmers, the guild said. It plans to file 280 more complaints over the next six months."
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Complaints Filed Over Firms Seeking H1-B Holders

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  • Some more info (Score:3, Insightful)

    by PCM2 (4486) on Friday June 23, 2006 @07:57PM (#15593516) Homepage
    InfoWorld has been running articles on this H-1B situation for a while. There's a special report on H-1B visas [infoworld.com] set up on the site.

    Personally, one point that makes me skeptical is that I hear about this from the Programmer's Guild again and again. I'm not sure what the Programmer's Guild does, other than make a big stink about H-1B visas. Not that this is, in and of itself, necessarily a bad thing -- but if the H-1B situation was really as cut and dried, criminal and downright treasonous as the Programmer's Guild says, wouldn't there be some other parties chiming in on the issue?
    • I'm a member- or rather was, I need to be again once I get my first permanent paycheck in 5 years. They also put out interesting technical articles in their newsletter- the idea is to create better programmers so that we can out-compete India on skills if not price. But it's hard when Free Traitors keep bringing in people to compete with the people already here.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 23, 2006 @08:17PM (#15593630)
      The IEEE [ieeeusa.org] , Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO [blogspot.com] and researhers such as Norm Matloff [ucdavis.edu] speak up against the H-1B abuse.

      Lots of folks speak up against it.

      The hired gun lobbyist Harris Miller loses to Jim Webb [computerworld.com]. Miller ran an unaplogetic pro H-1B and pro-outsourcing campaign. Seems the voters in Virginia don't like Harris Miller's record.

      Heck, even Milton Friedman calls it a subsidy [computerworld.com].
      • Yes Milton Friedman calls it a subsidy and rightly so. It is not normal that the businesses depend on the state to grant H1-B to some and not to others. Does this mean that he is for protectionnist mesures in the labor market? NOT AT ALL, it may simply mean that in his opinion every businness should be able to hire foreign workers with no regulation. Granting H1-B to some and not to others, that is the subsidy. It does n
    • Huh? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Dekortage (697532) on Friday June 23, 2006 @08:37PM (#15593715) Homepage

      I agree with you, but you said... "InfoWorld has been running articles on this H-1B situation for a while. [snip] if the H-1B situation was really as cut and dried, criminal and downright treasonous as the Programmer's Guild says, wouldn't there be some other parties chiming in on the issue?"

      Other parties like, say, InfoWorld?

      • Re:Huh? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by PCM2 (4486)

        Other parties like, say, InfoWorld?

        But you'll notice that all the articles on InfoWorld reference the Programmers' Guild.

        I'm really not trolling like the other guy suggests. Any time I see a single organization chiming in on an issue every. Single. Time. It's. Brought. Up ... I get suspicious. I don't doubt that outsourcing, H-1B and related issues are a problem for American workers. I just wonder what the Programmers Guild's deal is. Are you a member? Is anyone you know?

        Oh and BTW -- full disclosur

    • Re:Some more info (Score:5, Insightful)

      by pla (258480) on Friday June 23, 2006 @08:39PM (#15593725) Journal
      I'm not sure what the Programmer's Guild does, other than make a big stink about H-1B visas.

      Might I suggest going to, say, their web site [programmersguild.org] and reading the plain-English ByLaws [programmersguild.org] page? In particular, "ARTICLE 3 - PURPOSE", which contains a bulleted list of, well, what they do.


      but if the H-1B situation was really as cut and dried, criminal and downright treasonous as the Programmer's Guild says, wouldn't there be some other parties chiming in on the issue?

      Follow the money... Who benefits by driving down the cost of competant IT work? Hint - not "everybody but IT workers", because when we have money, we spend it as though the apocalypse will happen tomorrow.


      As for whether or not companies really engage in such reprehensible hiring practices, you need look no further than the employment section of your local paper. See the tiny, unappealing buzzword-laden ads for experienced coders, paying a third the going rate in your area? Those companies will not get responses from anyone but interns. They can then claim they couldn't find anyone to take the job despite "honestly" trying, and can then hire H1Bs.

      Regardless of your opinion of outsourced labor, I don't think anyone would consider such transparent tactics as anything but a legal farce.



      wouldn't there be some other parties chiming in on the issue?

      While IT people may have extremely well-organized personal lives (social and desktop notwithstanding), we don't tend to organize into larger bodies. The "I" in "INTP/INTJ" doesn't stand for "I likes large crowds".
    • Re:Some more info (Score:5, Informative)

      by Tablizer (95088) on Friday June 23, 2006 @10:09PM (#15594142) Homepage Journal
      but if the H-1B situation was really as cut and dried...

      Often it is not. There are many wiggly loopholes. Examples from my old blog:

      # Resume Templating - Add every skill that a given H-1B candidate has on his/her resume into the "needed skills" line of the application form. That way the "needs" profile will never match a citizen above the probability of winning the Instant Millionaire lottery. Government inspectors are usually too overworked and/or not knowledgeable enough to check and follow-up on actual skills used on the job, especially if there are more than a few. (This approach was also covered in another message.)

      # Undocumented Experience - Claim a highly experienced H-1B applicant is really only a beginner, and thus a company gets experience at beginner rates. Inspectors cannot realistically check somebody's skill background as obtained inside a foreign country. If they do find out, claim you didn't know. Just make sure the experience is not on your "official" copy of the visa worker's resume. It is an easy lie to get away with.

      # Take Advantage of Situation - Work the H-1B overtime or weekends without extra pay. Complaining risks getting the H-1B sent home, so they usually keep quiet. Plus, they may not understand how our legal system works or be intimidated by a process foreign to them. (US money is worth more to them due to exchange rates when they eventually go back home, and thus they often just live with labor abuses without complaint in order reduce risk while obtaining their financial nest-egg.)

      # Tinker with Titles - Information technology (IT) titles are often vague, inconsistent, and overlapping. It is hard to penalize a company for using the wrong IT title on an application form because there practically is no such thing as an objectively "wrong title" in IT. Plus, most IT work involves a mixture of a lot of different skills, such as programming, analysis, debugging, customer support, documentation, etc. There are no consensus metrics for categorizing these based on ratios or percentage of usage.

      # Outsource the Buck - A big company can contract the H-1B from a small, fly-by-night company that keeps a portion of an H-1B's pay, delays paychecks, does not pay overtime, etc. The big company that contracts out is then not exposed to the risk of dubious activity. They can claim that they did not know the contractor was abusing the visa workers (and may not know). Such small contracting companies are often staffed by people from the H-1B's originating country such that if they are caught or risk being caught, the company folds up and goes back to their home country where they can do other business. The risk of real penalties is very small. (Cross-country white-collar crime investigation tends to be poorly coordinated between countries involved.)

      # Shred Citizen Resumes - Companies applying for visas are required to place an ad in a typical job listings source and review received resumes or applications for qualified citizens. Government inspectors may ask to see such resumes. However, if somebody takes citizens resume and shreds them, nobody besides the shredder will ever know they existed.

      # Lopsided Interviews - Government inspectors don't sit through most live interviews. Thus, a company trying to weed out citizens can simply ask tough questions when interviewing the citizen, but be easy on the visa candidate.
      • Re:Some more info (Score:5, Informative)

        by NormalVisual (565491) on Friday June 23, 2006 @11:31PM (#15594512)
        And then there's the method preferred by a previous employer of mine - have a Sri Lankan CEO that has good buddies in the Sri Lankan IT services industry, and mysteriously have people shipped in without even having posted the openings. When I started there, our department had four Americans, one Pakistani, and one Bulgarian. The Pakistani and Bulgarian both were U.S. citizens. Five years later when I left, we had four Americans (3 good people, 1 basket case), two Pakistanis (one H1-B) who were a little above average, one Indian who was largely useless (H1-B), and IIRC, 7 Sri Lankans (all H1-B, all pretty decent). I personally handed in no less than five resumes of qualified locals that I knew for two of positions that *were* advertised, and not a single one was contacted. "Qualified" meaning they had the required skills (and I could personally vouch for their competence), most of the "good to have" skills, were available, and were willing to work for industry standard wages. The "industry standard wages" part was the kicker - I found out later at least two of the Sri Lankans were working for a little more than half of what I was, when their experience and abilities warranted pay on par with mine. They had also told me that they were bound to the company by restrictive contracts that would end up costing them thousands of dollars if they left, but felt that they had to do it if they wanted to eventually get a green card.

        The H1-B program is a joke. It's often not fair to the Americans that get displaced, and it's often not fair to the visa holders, who in my experience can end up in situations resembling indentured servitude. The only parties that consistently benefit from it are those unscrupulous companies who aren't willing to follow the law, since the government does next to nothing to enforce the requirements placed on employers.
  • Loving it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by teutonic_leech (596265) on Friday June 23, 2006 @07:59PM (#15593536)
    Yes, this has completely gone out of hand. Call it 'domestic outsourcing' if you will - the end result is the same: hardworking and highly skilled American engineers have a tougher time finding a job. The H2B visa was never meant as a carde blanche for companies to replace native qualified workers with cheaper immigrant workers. It's time to nip this in the butt once and for all - surely the companies greatly enjoy this situation and it won't change or even get worse if we let 'the free market decide'.
    • Sorry, I meant H-1B visas :-}
    • by Tablizer (95088) on Friday June 23, 2006 @09:41PM (#15594014) Homepage Journal
      I have seen companies hire a mix of citizens and H1B's (I think the law requires this above a certain quantity), and then fire the citizens they didn't like much when the project ramped down a bit. It was not that the citizens sucked, it is just that they were not top performers. In theory the H1B program is not meant to replace C citizens with A visa workers, but satisfy "skill shortages".

      Another time they paid the H1B's only once every six months (the full amount though). The workers couldn't do anything about it because reporting it would have their sponsor put out of business, sending them back home.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 23, 2006 @08:07PM (#15593578)
    In the dot-com rush of the late 1990s, yes, we needed H1-B workers because there plain simply was not enough workers. Not today. Today, any job posting made public gets hundreds of resumes. Jobs are getting filled quickly; people who have jobs in the tech field are working long hours for a fraction of what they would have made in the hight of the dot-com bubble. More and more companies are laying off workers; Sun just recently laid off 5000 workers. The US job market is weak and the H1-B workers just make it harder.
    • by ClosedSource (238333) * on Friday June 23, 2006 @08:12PM (#15593603)
      "In the dot-com rush of the late 1990s, yes, we needed H1-B workers because there plain simply was not enough workers. "

      That was never true. H1-B workers were needed simply because salarys were beginning to rise and industry didn't want that trend to continue.
      • by YesIAmAScript (886271) on Saturday June 24, 2006 @12:33AM (#15594752)
        I've worked in the industry for quite some time now. Since 1991.

        And it is very common to have many positions open you simply cannot fill. In the late 1990s it was even more true.

        I remember at that time, see that one department, which was triple the size of most others fit onto a half-floor just like all the other departments. I asked the pertinent people and found that they could fit in that space because 2/3rds of their positions were unfilled.

        I was not a hiring manager at the time, but I can say now that it very likely goes like this. You open a position. You get a lot of candidates. You interview the candidates and find none are suitable. You don't even talk money seriously with a candidate until after they pass the interview anyway. And then, the hiring manager doesn't care much anyway becuase it's not like he's paying out of his own pocket.

        So, you never rejected anyone due to salary, and yet you still can't find anyone. It's natural then to say "if only we had a larger pool of candidates to draw from". And being able to draw from foreigners can help with this.

        It's tough being picky about your candidates, but not being picky creates more problems in the long run.
    • The US job market is weak and the H1-B workers just make it harder.

      This is NOT the case at all, the job market right now is awesome. I currently have a job but I decided to put my resume on monster.com just to see what was available. I got such a response that I had to take it off of there, my e-mail inbox was full and my phone was ringing off the hook. I also want to mention that yes, about 25% of the responses I got were from head hunters but the rest were straight from the companies themselves and wha
    • If there are hundreds of *qualified* people out there, I'd like to see them. We're trying to hire, and so far not much luck. I certainly don't see hundreds of resumes.

      I'm not saying that's true for all areas of the market - but that's why the H1B issue is so complicated. Some areas really need foreign workers, because there's not enough domestic talents. Others experience a glut of workers, and the H1Bs there kill the job market - in that specific area.

      There is no simple answer to this.

      (Disclosure: I'm an e
    • The company I work for has being trying to hire junior to mid-level programmer in major metropolitan area for six months already. We are not looking for extensive experience or specialized skills, just fairly common problem-solving and communication ability. Sure, we went throught more than a hundred resumes and about a dozen in-person interviewes but so far found just one good candidate who's employed and was just testing what's going on with job market.
      Even though one case does not prove anything I'd sa
  • by rsborg (111459) on Friday June 23, 2006 @08:08PM (#15593585) Homepage
    As someone who knows quite a few non-Americans on H1B, this might simply be a case of people creating jobs, so they can justify an H1B for specific people. ie, someone is already here in the US, would like a job, and the hiring manager at some company (or a friend running some body-shop consultancy) lazily writes up a job description "requiring H1B Visa"... therefore targetting the job at the friend/acquaintance that they want to hire.

    I know that this "job-tailoring" is done frequently in the industry as a way of getting the exact person you know. Just that if it fits this shoe, it's quite certainly illegal... kind of like saying you want someone who is/not specific race/disabled/etc.

    I, for one, hope that the hiring managers who put up such job descriptions get fired, as it's part and parcel of the corruption. Just wish we could fire them for other similar "job-tailoring" activities.

    • I know that this "job-tailoring" is done frequently in the industry as a way of getting the exact person you know.

      Actually, that's the only reason anyone still writes job ads. If you nor your employees know poeple good for the job, you're already out of business.

      That's just how it is.
    • Hiring a specific person for a job is in no way illigal, the problem is that government agencies and even some companies policies require advertising even if you already have someone for the job. Its kinda silly really, but a simple fact.
  • Big AG business doesnt want Americans.
  • by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Friday June 23, 2006 @08:09PM (#15593592)
    The Programmer's Guild actually expects to force Congress and the Courts to obey the laws they've enacted? In what Perfect World is this?
  • by posterlogo (943853) on Friday June 23, 2006 @08:10PM (#15593594)
    Not sure why these companies feel they have to actively seek out foreign visa workers like that, so blatantly discriminating. There are far more legal ways to achieve the goal of a free-market style cheap labor economy. For example, the obvious, an American worker is not intrinsically "worth" more than a foreign worker, so why not just offer the same starting salary to any entry-level candidate? Chances are the foreign visa worker will still see that as a decent offering and take the job, whereas the American worker may not. It really seems like the goal was to get qualified workers without having to offer the inflated salaries that domestic workers expect. Couldn't this sort of be established de facto by offering every candidate a salary comparable to what a visa worker would get, rather then de jure by hiring only visa workers?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 23, 2006 @08:16PM (#15593624)
      They don't just want to pay less, they want a carte blanche to treat their employees like crap. An H1-B visa worker will put up with a lot more abuse from an employer since they depend on the employer to keep them in the country. This is the evolution of the idea of preferring people with families to single workers. The theory is, if they have a family, they also have a mortgage, car payments, college tuition, etc... to provide for their family, making it much less likely they will up and quit if the employer treats them unfairly.
    • Actually, that is the law--and has been as long as I can remember. For every H1-B application, the employer has to file a LCA (Labor Condition Application) with USCIS. One of the parts of this is that the Department of Labor--not the employer--has to certify that the person they sponsor is paid the prevailing wage in the area.

      Which at real cheapskate companies leads to H1-B employees making more than US workers, because nobody requires companies to pay US citizens the prevailing wave.

      The reason why H1-B wor
  • Who cares? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Danga (307709)
    Let them take the low paying and boring jobs. If you are an excellent programmer you WILL be in demand and you most likely wouldn't want the positions that advertise they want H1B's and GC holders. The people I do see this hurting is entry level candidates but even so if you can prove you are worth your salt you will find a nice job.
    • Re:Who cares? (Score:3, Interesting)

      You're not allowed to "prove your salt", at least not easily. I was laid off with 8 years of industry experience in 2001. I was utterly ignored in the "spam out the resume" world. So I hitched on to my migraines as a disability, got my foot in the door contracting with the state, and after 2.5 years of proving myself as a contractor, I'll be getting my first real paycheck with benefits next month.

      It took me 5 years to "prove my salt" all over again, despite having 8 years in the industry. I'm only now
    • Re:Who cares? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Aadain2001 (684036) on Friday June 23, 2006 @08:33PM (#15593700) Journal
      "The people I do see this hurting is entry level candidates but even so if you can prove you are worth your salt you will find a nice job."

      Ah-ha! There is the real damage being done to not only our economy, but our society as a whole! The idea that it's ok to fill entry level positions with cheap foreign labor/workers it a cancer on our society. Those entry level positions may not be that important, but you learn a lot in those jobs, especially right out of college. If you can't get real world experience, how will you ever get that "nice job"? Get a friend to tailor a job for you in a position you have zero experience with? Fake it on your resume and hope they don't find out? If you do not have entry level positions for those graduating from college, they will never mature into experience programmers/engineers and we'll have to pull from the H-1B visa holders again for the experienced positions. After all, they were the ones in the entry level positions, they got the experience, so they should get the jobs at the next level too. Soon even the most experienced positions will be available for foreign replacement. And where will you be then? In the unemployment line or busing tables like the rest of us educated types who never got our careers off the ground because there were no entry level positions for us.

    • So wait. I'm an entry level dude who is somehow supposed to prove he can do the job, by doing what?????

      Read Catch-22.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 23, 2006 @08:11PM (#15593599)
    If they are going to go after the H-1B program, maybe next they should set their sights on improving the GC process from what took, in some jurisdictions, up to 7 years, to something a lot more reasonable like 7 months, or why not 7 weeks? After all, the ridiculously lengthy GC process is just another point of abuse for foreign and hence American workers. To be fair, the process has already been "streamlined", where it now takes on average something around 3-4 years total. But, that's still far too long, and leaves people vulnerable. Perhaps the programmers guild would like to see this shortened so they they decrease the abuses and increases their membership?

    It never ceases to amaze me how, globally, we have virtually free movement of capital, a moderately free movement of goods, but a heavily restricted movement of people. The three major components of the economy have dramatically different levels of restrictions depending on how the given component cuts between the wealthy and the working "classes".

    Who wants a lightening fast immigration system? Not the employers...that's for sure. And yet, overall, that would arguably be best for the overall economy.

    "It turns out the so-called free market isn't quite so free, if you're a worker bee".
    • I want the wait time to be 7 seconds. You should be able to sign up on a website from anywhere in the world, and after a credit & criminal background check in your home country and a simple boolean check on the availability of the visa, get a completely binding "Yes" or "No" that can't be appealed right there and then. You then proceed to apply under a different visa, or apply again for a green card, or whatever. There is no need for a human to intervene in this process- it should be totally automati
  • by smclean (521851) on Friday June 23, 2006 @08:12PM (#15593605) Homepage
    They took err jeeerbs!! But seriously, the perception about H1-B holders being needed to supplement the supposed lack of American training is, to me, rather insulting. Maybe I have too high an estimation of myself and my peers, but it seems to me that the US is pretty rich with technical talent. Trying to dilute the marketplace with indentured servants certainly is not going to help us get paid our due, or motivate us to earn it.
  • by Baldrson (78598) * on Friday June 23, 2006 @08:29PM (#15593682) Homepage Journal
    The war on drugs didn't get serious until it starte confiscating the assets of drug lords.

    Confiscate the assets of the businesses illegally lowering wages via violation of the law.

  • An old scheme (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CaroKann (795685) on Friday June 23, 2006 @08:49PM (#15593770)
    About a decade ago, when I was fresh out of college and trying to find a programming job, one of the resources I used was the local employment office. While I was going over a list of jobs with the employment office guy, I noticed some jobs I thought I should try for and asked about them. The guy told me that I was wasting my time, that it was a dishonest company, and that I had no chance of getting hired. He explained to me how that particular company only wanted to hire an HB1 visa employee, and that they only listed the job with the employment office because the law requires that they must make an effort to hire an American first. Every American that applies for the job will be found wanting, and, their legal obligations satisified, the company will then proceed to hire an HB1 employee. I was willing to work anywhere at that time, so I tried anyway, and of course i did not get the job.

    That's only one of the schemes I've encountered while looking for work. The job market can be a scummy place.
  • Changes Nothing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by omegashenron (942375) on Friday June 23, 2006 @08:52PM (#15593789)

    Even though future employers may get a slap on the wrist for the way in which they advertise positi0ons, it will not (and can not) change their hiring policies. All this is going to do is be a waste of time for companies (ie interviewing/processing applications from unwanted candidates) and for the individual applying for the job (writing letters, e-mails, phone calls etc to a company that has no intent of hiring you).

    Yes it does suck and is discriminatory, however in the land of free enterprise what can you do? Mandate they hire Americans? Easy solution for the company, off shore the jobs.

  • by ax_1225 (955097) on Friday June 23, 2006 @09:03PM (#15593851)
    The vast majority of the companies will not hire H1-B workers. Why? Because it's a PITA especially for small and medium companies. All the legal trouble and fees and restrictions are just too much hassle for most companies.

    Also it is good to know there are minimum salary levels for the H1-B workers. A company can't hire a senior programmer from outside of US and pay 20k per year. This doesn't mean that some companies might not abuse the system and try different tricks to get cheaper work force but I really belive that the majority of H1-B workers came in US because companies couldn't find qualified people.

    The truth is that there aren't many good programmers out there and there is still a lot of demand for them. I see many programmers coming for interviews at the company I work for and when someone good arrives (not very often) it is very difficult to get them as they already have several offers from other companies.

    BTW I am also a H1-B worker and I'm payed a competitive salary and the company also pays a lot of legal fees for my H1-B and green card. Besides that I pay income taxes and spend all my money here in the US. America has a lot to win from the H1-B program.

    • Training Damage (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Tablizer (95088)
      The truth is that there aren't many good programmers out there and there is still a lot of demand for them.

      You seem to be suggesting that companies be allowed to replace/substitute average citizen programmers with top-notch foreign guest workers. Regardless of whether this is "right" or not, it is not the premise that the H-1B program is supposed to be based on. Besides, how are average programmers going to get good with practice if all the jobs are given away to foreign workers? C-level citizens will be
  • by Dj-Zer0 (576280) * on Friday June 23, 2006 @09:39PM (#15594004) Homepage
    For me H1-B worker is same as your (Great x N) grand dad, (unless your a native american or non us-citizen, )

    They are also here to fulfil their american dream. Many of them are with Much talent but rather than talent they also have a good attitude towards their employees, unlike some us-citizen counterparts who always in demand of high salary.

    Working as a programmer is not just about salary you also need to have a passion for it, if your just being a programmer just for the money i would never want to hire you.
  • by Tablizer (95088) on Friday June 23, 2006 @09:47PM (#15594038) Homepage Journal
    http://www.informationweek.com/industries/showArti cle.jhtml?articleID=189500671 [informationweek.com]

    "Immigrant[1] engineers with H-1B visas may be earning up to 23 percent less on average than American engineers with similar jobs, according to documents filed with the U.S. Department of Labor. Salary data from Labor Condition Applications (LCAs) lends credence to arguments that lower compensation paid to H-1B workers suppresses the wages of other electronics professionals...."

    [1] H-1B's are not immigrants. This may be a mis-wording.
         
  • by labcfo (888658) on Friday June 23, 2006 @10:02PM (#15594100)
    The government created a mechanism called "prevailing wage". If they actually made the prevailing wage something like 2x what a company could pay a citizen, the only time a company would hire a H1B is when the really couldn't find a citizen to work in that role. In my business - environmental chemistry - the "prevailing wage" is something around 2x what we can afford to pay a chemist. So we don't hire any H1B's. It is just too damn expensive. So if your average techie makes 80k a year, the government could make the prevailing wage $200k. Then the companies would have to choose between; a.) paying the person 2.5x what a citizen would make, b.) breaking federal laws which sends the VP's to jail for a good long time, or c.) not hiring H1B's. If there is a real talent shortage, a company would be willing (and able to pass along the cost) of an H1B. If there isn't a shortage, the government can make the economics so bad that it doesn't make sense to hire a non-citizen.

    just my 2c.
  • by Arthur B. (806360) on Friday June 23, 2006 @10:14PM (#15594171)
    Protectionism is bad idea, be it for good or jobs.
    So you don't want Indian to come and take jobs in the US? Well think of the consequences:
      - The company will outsource to India, and Indian worked cost far less when he Lives in India than in the US.
      - If a worker offer a lower labor cost it's a gift to the american economy. The goods will be cheaper, the consumer will save money, invest in other sectors etc..
      - If someone wishes a workvisa it means he intends to work, not live on welfare. The intent to work should be a plus for immigrants not a minus...

    Protectionism is the most dangerous economic fallacy ever. Come on you're the US, you are liberals, don't fall for that old interventionnist trick.
  • by smilindog2000 (907665) <bill@billrocks.org> on Friday June 23, 2006 @10:25PM (#15594235) Homepage
    In 1986, I got a job after graduating from Berkeley with a BS in EECS for $29,500/year. The last hire I made that I'd consider comparable was an Indian student from a state university with a masters. We hired him for $60K/year. I checked out this site for inflation rates:

    http://eh.net/hmit/compare/ [eh.net]

    In short, a smart engineer with a college degree makes the same today as he did 20 years ago. Even back then, half engineers I graduated with were Indian or Chinese. It's no different today.

    Sure, we engineers have to compete globally, which makes us poorer on average than doctors and lawyers. I's still rather be an engineer.

    The first month after taking that first job, I was approached by communist picketers outside my workplace. They were pushing for unions, and higher wages. These Programmers Guild people are no different. It was a bad idea then, just as it is now.
  • by secolactico (519805) on Friday June 23, 2006 @10:43PM (#15594324) Journal
    I'm not american and have never lived in America. I'm not indian (looks like they are the primary H1B workers) and I'm not a programmer.

    Wether H1B are "moral" or not, the issue should be that these companies might be simply violating the letter (and spirit) of the law that implements H1B visas.

    They are stating in a public way that they prefer H1B workers? No problem there since everyone is entitled to their opinions. But if they are actively refusing to hire locals in favor of H1B, they are not even exploiting a loophole. They are simply breaking a law that states that H1B are only to be hired when local talent is not available.

    Inmigration (as well as labor?) authorities should have a record of H1B sponsors. Number too high? Audit them and make them justify their H1B.

    Of course, politicos are usually in the pockets of corporations, so I'm guessing there's not much chance of that.

    In fact, given all the brouhaha that I'm seeing on CNN about illegal aliens in the US, I'm suprised that this issue hasn't come up (I know they are H1B are legal, but mobs usually don't care).
  • Auction them off (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cfulmer (3166) on Saturday June 24, 2006 @12:43AM (#15594781) Homepage Journal
    So, industry claims that H1-B visas are needed because there are some skills which are just not available in the U.S. job market. The other side is that (1) yes, those skills are; and (2) even if they weren't, companies could hire Americans and train them.

    The visas are obviously in high demand -- they disappear in an astonishingly short time after they become available every year.

    IMO, the best way to approach this is to auction the H1-B visas off: If you have a position that you need filled, bid for an H1-B visa. If somebody else needs it more, they'll bid more and they'll win. Otherwise, if you need it more, you'll bid more and win.

    The interesting thing is the feedback mechanism -- if the visas are going for $200,000 each, that's a pretty good indication that the job isn't availble in the US and it's really hard to train Americans to do it. But, on the other hand, if companies are just trying to save a few bucks, then the visas will go for a lot less, maybe $20,000. That would indicate that there are too many H1-B visas, and companies are just using them to get cheap labor. If the price is too high, that would indicate the need to raise the cap. Otherwise, it would indicate a need to lower it.+
  • by yahyamf (751776) on Saturday June 24, 2006 @02:33AM (#15595067)
    Why not restrict H1Bs to students graduating from US universities. There are thousands of them, and they're already familiar with the culture and have similar training as Americans. They're also unlikely to work for significantly lower pay. Currently many international students head back to their home countries right after graduation, so the US gets no benefit of their education.
  • by billcopc (196330) <vrillco@yahoo.com> on Saturday June 24, 2006 @06:42AM (#15595512) Homepage
    I just happen to live in a very broadly multicultural area that also just happens to be fairly dense in high-tech and medium-tech businesses. I had a fellow from India explain some of this stuff to me. Up here people typically just obtain their citizenship and apply for work like everyone else, on equal terms. In the states where he had previously worked as well as many of his college mates, the attitude is to fly people over on a work visa, then the employers use that non-resident status as a cattle prod. He told me he was often afraid of being fired and exiled back to India for no valid reason, other than the company trying to pressure him into working longer hours. The work visa then becomes the slave driver's whip.

    So the guy moved up north to the land of beavers, poutine and warm busty women. Sure, it took a little work to get the papers done but now he's a permanent citizen just like me, and he works the same job, gets the same pay, enjoys the same benefits and pays the same ridiculously high taxes as everyone else. We don't throw around many work visas because frankly, if you're going to work in Canada, you might as well live here too and keep the money recirculating (and re-taxing) in our system.

  • Some Myths About H1B (Score:4, Informative)

    by Naum (166466) on Saturday June 24, 2006 @10:17AM (#15596105) Homepage Journal
    1. H1B candidates are needed because there are a shortage of American high tech professionals. No, incorrect, H1B has been used to displace American workers and it has undercut median wage for programmers and engineers. I've witnessed firsthand at multiple companies the saga of staff replacement with a mix of offshore programmers/improted NIV programmers. I've seen company programs that recruited and promoted internal talent scrapped so that $said_company could join the race to the bottom.

    2. H1B candidates are paid prevailing wage. True for some, but most are shuffled about and treated like chattel, in worse fashion that the traditional American bodyshops treated their personnel. And a H1B candidate is much more restricted in job mobility than an American would be. Yes, there has been a recent uptick in contract/job advertisements but the pay rates, outside of specialty realms, is still total suckage. Rates/salaries lower than I made 12+ years ago. If there is such a strong demand being unfulfilled, why are not salaries/contract rates increasing significantly?

    3. H1B candidates are "highly skilled" professionals, and are greatly desired and valued. In some cases, yes, but for the most part, these spots in no way can be construed as "highly skilled" -- again, in my experience, candidates sent to the U.S. might have had resumes boasting of requisite skills and experience, but when I met the candidate after his/her plane flight to the states, it would become readily apparent that their "skills and experience" consisted solely of a training curricullum overseas and a perusal of manuals on the plane ride over. Yet, as stated, we're doing a disservice to our own youth -- I realize many programmers opt for sexier type application devlopment like creating and deploying web applications, but even at the pay alotted to the offshore "bodyshop" vendors, these would be excellent jobs and career opportunities for young Americans. I have no problem with H1B or even citizen status for field luminaries like Linus Torvalds or others of genius level. But I believe it's a better national strategy to fill entry level positions with Americans, not foreigners.

    4. Companies are legally prevented from replacing Americans with NIV workers.. Totally untrue, as if one takes time to research will discover. There are other legal provisions regarding how the H1B program operates, but enforcement is nil. Campaign contributions from "American" firms sway legislators into swallowing that corporate motives are benevolent. Employees are outright lied to. Again, I've experienced this firsthand.

    But there is a dynamic at work here, namely that since "American" firms have invested so much (money, resources, strategy, time, etc....) in offshore vendors and importing NIV programmers they have created a defacto dependency on the paradigm. As they've chased Americans out of the field, in preference of a cheaper foreign factory approach, they now are much more reliant upon foreign engineers and programmers. Most of my colleagues have moved on to other career fields or they simply are hanging on as SMEs, marking the days to retirement. It's no wonder that computer and engineering student enrollments are declining -- there'll always be young Americans who answer to a calling despite potential career conditions and ramifications (i.e., see teaching), but statistics are now bearing out that the majority will pursue a more fruitful career path, both in terms of short term financial reward and long term job stability.

    Ironically, or comically, or tragically (depending on your particular perspective!), from what I understand from conversing with friends who are directing such offshore/NIV programmer teams, the offshore vendors don't seem to acknowledge the great gift bestowed upon them. Instead, they've fouled it up, focused entirely on short term profits, managing their operations like multi-level marketing schemes. Shuffling workers to maintain a subserviant force, yet failing and leaving core systems of our largest companies in a sordid state of disrepair.

  • by Animats (122034) on Saturday June 24, 2006 @12:44PM (#15596622) Homepage

    The trend now is towards L1B visas. These were something the US originally lobbied for, to allow Americans working for US multinationals to work abroad. But it works both ways. If a multinational company has operations in the US, they can move employees to their US locations under an L1B visa as an intracompany transfer.

    L1B visas offer many advantages for the employer:

    • There's no "cap"; any number can be issued.
    • There's no need to advertise the job in the US.
    • There's no "prevailing wage" requirement.
    • The employee is totally controlled by the employer; they can't change jobs on an L1B visa, and if they quit, they must leave the US immediately.
    • Big companies (1000 US employees or more) can apply for a "blanket L1 visa", and then move employees into the US freely.

    There's a requirement that the employee had to be employed by the company for a year before coming to the US, and they're supposed to have "specialized knowledge", but that's about it.

    So this has become a favorite tool of body shops; hire in India, make them work in a call center for a year, then send them to the US to work cheap.

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