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The US's Reverse Brain Drain 757

We may have to rethink the assumption that Silicon Valley is the hotbed of innovation in which all the world's best and brightest want to work and live. TechCrunch has a piece by an invited expert on the reverse brain drain already evident and growing in the US as Indian, Chinese, and European students and workers in the US plan to return home, or already have. From an extensive interview with Chinese and Indian workers who had already left: "We learned that these workers returned in their prime: the average age of the Indian returnees was 30 and the Chinese was 33. They were really well educated: 51% of the Chinese held masters degrees and 41% had PhDs. Among Indians, 66% held a masters and 12% had PhDs. These degrees were mostly in management, technology, and science. ... What propelled them to return home? Some 84% of the Chinese and 69% of the Indians cited professional opportunities. And while they make less money in absolute terms at home, most said their salaries brought a 'better quality of life' than what they had in the US. ... A return ticket home also put their career on steroids. About 10% of the Indians polled had held senior management jobs in the US. That number rose to 44% after they returned home. Among the Chinese, the number rose from 9% in the US to 36% in China."
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The US's Reverse Brain Drain

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  • Sounds good to me (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Jeff321 ( 695543 ) * on Sunday October 18, 2009 @01:30AM (#29782083)

    More jobs for the rest of us.

    • by Lemmy Caution ( 8378 ) on Sunday October 18, 2009 @01:43AM (#29782129) Homepage

      More jobs for the rest of us.

      Most of the people I have met who have expressed that sentiment lacked the qualifications to fill a job vacancy left by someone with a PhD in a science or engineering field.

      • Re:Sounds good to me (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Bruha ( 412869 ) on Sunday October 18, 2009 @02:11AM (#29782231) Homepage Journal

        It's also in some cases after we paid for their educations through government grants, many of which place no requirements on them remaining in the US.

        Case in point, my ex attends college here free, working on her PHD. In fact she said that there's so much free money he plans on getting a second masters as well.

        It'd be nice when the US Government would invest in it's own citizens.

        • by dokebi ( 624663 ) on Sunday October 18, 2009 @03:39AM (#29782563)
          Oh come on, there is no reason to turn this into some diatribe about the government handing out money to foreigners. Why is it that your ex is working on a PhD and you are not? Why do you think half of US PhD's are awarded to foreign born? Is it because the evil government favors foreigners? Or is that Americans just don't give a shit about science and engineering any more?

          Go to any science graduate course in any of the top 10 universities, and more than half are foreign born. The US high tech and biotech industries are full of foreigners. We basically built our technological superiority by attracting bright foreigners away from their home countries. Remember Google? This process is called the "brain drain", and it is a Good Thing(Tm) to hand out money to smart foreigners to come to the states. It strengthens our economy

          In my observation, scientists and engineers are much better regarded in other countries than in the US. Why is that? Don't people know that science is the foundation of all of our economic growth?

          Instead of blaming the government, we should blame the policy makers, the fiscal conservatives who cut subsidies so that higher education becomes a luxury for the rich, the religious zealots wants to stop teaching science to children, the ignorant that wants to stop funding "volcano research" and fund home schooling, etc, etc. IMHO, subsidized higher education is the best investment we can make for ourselves, and anyone who's against it is basically arguing to shoot ourselves in the foot. That means you.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by AHuxley ( 892839 )
            During the cold war Moscow and Washington sucked up the 3rd world, hoping to shape future leaders grooming them for top positions in their respective private and public sectors.
            They would go home and buy IBM, Boeing ect.
            Was also great for the CIA, KGB ect.
            So the cash for "awarded to foreign born" was policy and continues.
            US police depts and the US mil do the same, teaching others from around the world on your tax $.
            Your just another cubicle filler to the US gov, a foreigner might have his or her hands
            • by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Sunday October 18, 2009 @05:36AM (#29782905) Journal

              You keep referring to those "foreigners". What does it matter if they become U.S. citizens in the end? They still end up working for your country, and your economy.

              When they do not - yeah, that's the problem, which is precisely what TFA is about. Broadly speaking, it means that either U.S. quality of life goes down, or that of the Other Countries goes up.

          • Re:Sounds good to me (Score:5, Informative)

            by kklein ( 900361 ) on Sunday October 18, 2009 @04:57AM (#29782775)

            Marry me!

            Of course, I'm a college prof, so I may be biased.

            That being said, I'm a college prof outside of the US, because here they'll actually pay me a decent middle-class salary for my time and degrees, whereas in the US, I literally had a hard time paying rent. As in, my food and utilities budget was what was left after I paid rent; I had no discretionary income, and didn't even have a mobile phone.

            HOWEVER, I'm not in the hard sciences, but I still agree that science and technology are the basis of all developed countries' growth. There's no room for linguists and psychometricians in anyone's budgets without physicists and chemists and biologists and engineers making things that make money.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by bzipitidoo ( 647217 )

            In my observation, scientists and engineers are much better regarded in other countries than in the US.

            That's my impression also. A situation I recall is the choice of person to head a laboratory in the US. The person these American leaders picked didn't have a PhD. Why? There were several PhDs available. Why did the business leaders pick someone without a PhD? I managed to speak with their candidate, and when I said that I thought a requirement for the position was a PhD, he instantly responded with "or equivalent experience", and then went off on a 10 minute speech about how 10 years experience in an

        • Re:Sounds good to me (Score:4, Interesting)

          by interkin3tic ( 1469267 ) on Sunday October 18, 2009 @04:18AM (#29782679)

          Case in point, my ex attends college here free, working on her PHD. In fact she said that there's so much free money he plans on getting a second masters as well.

          It'd be nice when the US Government would invest in it's own citizens.

          What field is your ex in? Biomedical research? Chemistry? As long as it isn't something like "theater" or "english," I'd argue the US government IS investing in it's own citizens, just not -specifically- it's own citizens. Grad students are pretty cheap compared to other researchers, if he's helping to advance the sciences, like say working on cancer, then that IS going to benefit US citizens. It's also potentially going to be cheaper than paying someone with their doctorate already in hand.

    • by coaxial ( 28297 ) on Sunday October 18, 2009 @01:48AM (#29782143) Homepage

      More jobs for the rest of us.

      Yeah, because attracting the best and the brightest from around the world, and having them build the future from here has been such losing proposition from the very beginning of this country.

      This is disturbing phenomena. It's not just the the economy marking what would previously be immigrants return home. It's that it is incredibly fucking difficult to get a job if you're not an American. The visa process is notoriously burdensome, and then ties the immigrant to a specific company, essentially indenturing them. Then that doesn't even start the green card and citizenship processes. Canada is super easy. So easy to the point that when you talk to immigrants about immigration, they'll tell you that their friends told them "Why are you going to America? Just go to Canada, it's so much easier, and it's the same!"

      Why should we be aid our competition in the international economy, by training and giving all our best ideas to foreign countries, when we used to "steal" their best and have them work for us? The fact that we're no longer a magnet, illustrates just how screwed we are.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by DaveV1.0 ( 203135 )

        Attracting them at expense of other Americans, improving their lives, having them become citizens, then run back where they came from at the first sign of economic trouble is a losing proposition.

        Apparently, you have no clue how actually the actual immigration process works, because you are describing the process where an H1-B visa, which is a non-immigration visa, holder comes to the US and then works to be come an immigrant.

        H1-B visas are supposed to fill holes in the skill sets of the American workforce

    • by jonbryce ( 703250 ) on Sunday October 18, 2009 @07:58AM (#29783325) Homepage

      Do doesn't. It means less jobs for the rest of you. They are taking their jobs with them when they leave, very probably serving the same customers as they did before, at lower cost to them, and the money they were previously spending in California, supporting other Californian jobs is now being spent in India and China supporting other Indian and Chinese jobs.

  • Surprised? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Tubal-Cain ( 1289912 ) on Sunday October 18, 2009 @01:31AM (#29782087) Journal
    Why is this a surprise? Isn't that exactly why they came here in the first place?
    • Re:Surprised? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by coaxial ( 28297 ) on Sunday October 18, 2009 @01:37AM (#29782109) Homepage

      Why is this a surprise? Isn't that exactly why they came here in the first place?

      In the past most of them stayed. "America is the land of opportunity," you know? Only now it increasingly isn't. The fact that Chinese are returning home for "a better quality of life" really sticks a fork in that claptrap about how financial freedom brings political freedom doesn't it?

      • Re:Surprised? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Sunday October 18, 2009 @01:53AM (#29782167) Journal

        really sticks a fork in that claptrap about how financial freedom brings political freedom doesn't it?

        Not really. The number of Chinese living in poverty is still greater than the entire population of the United States. Even the few Chinese who do manage to graduate from college still have trouble finding a good job. Getting a degree at a US university merely puts them at the front of that line. And of course, there are a few in China who are filthy rich. That is everywhere.

        And of course, 'better quality of life' is relative.....most parts of China, even in the cities, don't have drinkable water coming into the house. That would be unacceptable to many westerners, but if you don't mind, then it's not a problem.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by micheas ( 231635 )

          ...most parts of China, even in the cities, don't have drinkable water coming into the house.


          While no more than a third of US households have unsafe drinking water.

          • Re:Surprised? (Score:5, Interesting)

            by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Sunday October 18, 2009 @02:44AM (#29782361) Journal
            OK, you linked to a report by the Sierra Club, a group that has a definite agenda. You need to be careful when doing that.

            In this case, they are trying to be sensationalistic by redefining the word 'unsafe' to mean 'potentially unsafe.' They aren't saying that the water is unsafe to drink, they are saying that the water could become unsafe to drink, if there were an oil spill or a chemical spill in the source of the drinking water. Whether true or not, this is not at all the same as the drinking water in China, where you should boil the water before drinking it to avoid sickness.

            Try to make sure a study is reliable before citing it.
        • Re:Surprised? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by PietjeJantje ( 917584 ) on Sunday October 18, 2009 @03:12AM (#29782447)
          The number of Americans living in poverty is also still greater than the entire population of Scandinavia. If I continue to mirror your point it gets funny.
        • Re:Surprised? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by cenc ( 1310167 ) on Sunday October 18, 2009 @11:25AM (#29784469) Homepage

          You need to get to know China a bit better, and what they are doing.

          They lifted a population equal to or greater than the U.S. population out of extrema poverty in less than a generation. Most of my friends in China have stories about relatives and friends that starved to death. I am not talking 50 years ago either. I mean like 10 years ago.

          It would be impossible with a population that large to simply flip on the democracy light. Millions really would die in civil war and unrest. I am not advocating repression, but it is simply a practical fact of having population of more than billion people. The "communist" in communist party is mostly just symbolic now. Yes, it is corrupt. In fact, I believe China on some level is only functioning because the corruption keeps things moving. There is very little in common with western ideas of "communism" and "socialism". Perhaps an oligarchy is s better description of what they have. It in many ways today is much more free than many of the "allies" of the United States (e.g. all of the middle east), not to mention how well Russia is doing on that front.

          An Nobel winning economist (can not remember his name right off hand), in an interview once pointed out that the big difference between the transition of Russia to open markets and democracy and the transition of China, is that the Chinese even under extreme repressive communism always had a tradition of commerce and trade. Local markets functioned, trade of goods and services went on. Russia never had that. Russia had even under the royal families a tradition of tightly controlled centralized resources.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ls671 ( 1122017 ) *

        Yes I know...

        Unfortunately, that perception is fading, especially in the minds of people outside US. I do not think the former US president helped much in fixing this problem.

        A considerable portion of US economy is now owned by foreign countries and some countries should start to deal oil, gold and other goods in euros soon when American dollars were previously the reference used world wide.

        As wikipedia states ( [] ) the American Dream seems to be a fading concept:


      • Re:Surprised? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Idiomatick ( 976696 ) on Sunday October 18, 2009 @02:45AM (#29782363)
        You are confusing quality of life with inequality. In china and india there is truly a land of inequality. With their fancy degrees education and experience when you stick them in a place that has people starving in the streets they are veritable gods.

        Economy is such that people are able to survive but big shot CEOs while in the US might be able to afford a nicer car and a bigger house. In China they can afford a nicer garage filled with cars and a mansion with butlers and maids. While this sounds like quite the opportunity... When you look at the average it truly isn't.

        I'd think again before I got jealous of a country where most of the populace doesn't have running water. Even if you knew you would be among the privileged would you really wish that on your people?
    • Re:Surprised? (Score:5, Informative)

      by sukotto ( 122876 ) on Sunday October 18, 2009 @09:48AM (#29783851)

      My wife and I came to this country because it is the land of opportunity. The place where the very best in the world go to build the best business. We're thinking of leaving because that don't seem to actually be true... at least, not anymore. Instead you:

      • treat us like criminals whenever we want to cross the border or enter a government building
      • limit H1 terms to force us to leave
      • have a surprisingly poor primary and elementary education system (on a side note... your President wants kids to stay in school longer?!? You already have them in school for more hours than other countries whose kids score better on tests... it's not the quantity you need to improve, it's the quality)
      • allow your religious nutjobs a frightening amount of political power. This is less evident under Obama than it was under Bush II but still scares the hell out of me
      • disappear people to Guantanamo under Bush II and Bagram under Obama

      I wanted to make this permanent, get my green card and eventually citizenship. But it seeme to me that you guys are trending hard towards compleat paranoid xenophobia. We have kids now and I'm thinking more and more about what living here is going to do to them. I don't want my kids to grow up in what, to me, seems like a poisonous atmosphere of stranger hate, militant and religious zealotry, misplaced sense of entitlement, and a "we're the greatest because we're the greatest" view of the world.

      At this point, it's just a matter of time for us. We're making pretty good money and want to pull together a large enough nest egg to allow us to move home, buy a house, and start a business. After that, we'll likely only ever return here to take the kids to Disneyworld

      • Re:Surprised? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by misexistentialist ( 1537887 ) on Sunday October 18, 2009 @11:07AM (#29784373)
        You don't say where "home" is, but xenophobia, nationalism, and religious zealotry in the US are quite amateur when compared to other countries. You're used to it at home, but in America is seems strange. Sorry if you thought living here would be like an animated children's adventure.
        • Re:Surprised? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Sunday October 18, 2009 @11:52AM (#29784625)

          You don't say where "home" is, but xenophobia, nationalism, and religious zealotry in the US are quite amateur when compared to other countries.

          The problem is we are backsliding in all those areas, not getting better. Assume he came here 10 years ago - his complaints probably aren't compared to some imaginary version of the US, but rather to how it was when he got here. The more time passes, the more it becomes clear that we really shot ourselves in the foot in a major way with our unhinged militaristic response to 911.

      • If you live in bumbleskunk, yeah you might find that. You live in a city on one of the coasts, then not so much. It all depends.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Thakandar2 ( 260848 )

        All Western European schools keep people in school longer than America does. Britain has 190 days. Canada has 190. Japan keeps kids in schools much longer than Americans do. South Koreans, Australians, and other outliers do as well. We are actually behind by only going to school 180 days or so. South Africa is 200. Philippines is 200. Hong Kong goes September to July. []

  • by HangingChad ( 677530 ) on Sunday October 18, 2009 @01:39AM (#29782113) Homepage

    the reverse brain drain already evident and growing in the US as Indian, Chinese, and European students and workers in the US plan to return home, or already have.

    Between Homeland Security and treating H1-B's like slave labor, who can blame them? They can go home and enjoy a better lifestyle than they have here and not get treated like a potential terrorist.

    Funny is how many of the teabirthers walking around thinking this is the best place in the world to live and everyone wants to come here.

    Not anymore.

    • by wizardforce ( 1005805 ) on Sunday October 18, 2009 @02:21AM (#29782267) Journal

      Funny how many people forget just how much the government has to do with the hostile treatment that immigrants face upon entering the US. Considering how much red tape and utter nonsense is baked into the system it isn't any surprise that a lot of educated people want the hell out of here.

    • by DaveV1.0 ( 203135 ) on Sunday October 18, 2009 @09:02AM (#29783593) Journal

      treating H1-B's like slave labor

      Which is why we need to do away with H1-B visa. There is no need for H1-B visas in this economic climate.

      Remember H1-B visas are supposed to fill positions for which there are no American suitable candidates, but with so many workers, including IT people, out of work, it should not be a problem to fill those positions with Americans.

  • No wonder... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 18, 2009 @01:40AM (#29782115)

    Have you ever tried applying for a green card in America? You get stuck in a queue and have to wait years before you might finally get permission to stay here. It's no way to plan a secure future for yourself. It's also worse for migrants from certain countries. I have Indian friends who have basically been told that the process may take so long that they'd be better finding other means to change their status (e.g. marriage).

    The US makes it quite difficult for talented people who follows the law to stay in the country. It does not surprise me in the least that Indians are returning home.

  • by Starker_Kull ( 896770 ) on Sunday October 18, 2009 @01:40AM (#29782117)
    ...the U.S. had the greatest rise in its living standards. Scientists, engineers, and other professionals from all over the world migrated here in seach of a better life, the opportunity to live pretty much in peace and quiet, or simply to survive. It was seen as the most desireable place to live in the world, and that seemed to become a self-fulfilling prophecy as 'the best and the brightest' came here to do their best.

    I wonder, are more folks returning to their home countries' simply because of money and career advancement? Or do they feel less welcome in the culture? Or perhaps their own home cultures are changing to where they feel they can shape them for the better?

    This seems more like an anecdote than a study; but there is something wrong when science and engineering and other technical fields are seen as undesirable by most Americans, and the immigrants who come here to learn them decide that they'll have better opportunites back home to use them.
  • Moral of the story (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 18, 2009 @01:42AM (#29782125)

    Here in Quebec, Canada, universities charge a certain rate for Quebec residents, a higher one for students from other provinces and an even higher one for students from outside of Canada (France is an exception). The price ratio is about 1:2 for Quebec:out-of-province and about 1:5 for Quebec:non-Canadian. As a result, we have more "local" graduates who aren't tempted to return to their country after receiving a good education. This doesn't mean that the graduating population is predominantly white, male and heterosexual - it just means that we lose less graduates to their countries of origin.

    The moral of the story: education is still too cheap for foreigners in the United States. If you want more US citizens to obtain degrees in these fields, charge much more to people from other countries - this will decrease demand from foreigners and open spots to US citizens.

  • by ShooterNeo ( 555040 ) on Sunday October 18, 2009 @01:46AM (#29782139)

    The reasons for this exodus are straight out of an economics textbook. This is SUPPOSED to happen in a free world with free trade. Overall, this move is ADVANCING human civilization and making things just a bit better for the rest of humanity. Right now, the high tech industry in California is one of the most amazing industries the world has ever known. Among other things, those highly educated people who are returning to China and India are bringing knowledge and skills that will allow them to replicate some of the wonders of California in India and China. How is that a bad thing?

    Sure, those Chinese and Indian companies will compete with the U.S. firms...but competition is a good thing for humanity as a whole.

    • by cetialphav ( 246516 ) on Sunday October 18, 2009 @03:06AM (#29782423)

      those highly educated people who are returning to China and India are bringing knowledge and skills that will allow them to replicate some of the wonders of California in India and China. How is that a bad thing?

      Whether it is good or bad depends on which side of the ocean you are on. As an American, I think it is terrible that we are losing brilliant people. It is these types of people that advance the state of the art and create new companies and industries. Because I am selfish, I want that to happen in my own country so that I can benefit from this.

      For those in China and India, this is obviously a great thing. It means that they are starting to be able to compete with the US for the best and brightest. Instead of watching their brightest stars go to the US and get rich creating jobs for Americans, they get to have this right in their backyard.

      I agree with you that this is a natural part of free trade, but that does not mean we have to just accept it. This should be a wake up call to us that we have to compete harder than ever before to keep the smartest people here. In the past, we could win this competition without even trying, but now we will have to start working at it.

  • by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Sunday October 18, 2009 @01:52AM (#29782159) Journal

    Two comments. First, "age of prime" is 30-33? Is IT really that anti-fogey? Second, degrees above bachelor are generally held in higher regard outside of the US. US companies value what they see as "actual productivity" and will usually trade a more productive BS for a lack-luster MS[1]. In most countries, especially Asia, advanced degrees are simply given more esteem compared to the US. More money AND more chicks.

    [1] Those with advanced degrees claim their extra knowledge helps in areas that are less visible to management but still very important. But, that's another story.

  • Reverse? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by il dus ( 244149 ) <jon AT rockgeeks DOT net> on Sunday October 18, 2009 @01:53AM (#29782165) Homepage Journal

    Maybe my brain has been drained, too, but, if all the educated people are leaving the US, wouldn't that be a good old regular brain drain and not a reverse brain drain?

  • Not about Visas (Score:3, Interesting)

    by lyinhart ( 1352173 ) on Sunday October 18, 2009 @02:07AM (#29782215)
    From the article: "Some 27% of the Indians and 34% of the Chinese had permanent resident status or were U.S. citizens. That’s right—it’s not just about green cards." It does seem to have everything to do with the economy: "Only 7% of Chinese students, 9% of European students, and 25% of Indian students believe that the best days of the U.S. economy lie ahead. Conversely, 74% of Chinese students and 86% of Indian students believe that the best days for their home country’s economy lie ahead."

    Given that the United States has taken the lion's share of blame for the "global economic crisis", this attitude is not surprising. Plus, we're long removed from the heyday of the Silicon Valley, an era in which innovation and idea poaching ruled instead of racing to patent anything remotely obvious. Twenty, even ten years ago, there was little talk of India or China becoming the next economic superpower. So the idea of being both financially secure and being close to your family is really appealing to these folks.

    It's not all doom and gloom though - it still speaks volumes that these workers come to the United States to cut their teeth and gain the technical/management experience that they bring back home.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 18, 2009 @02:35AM (#29782327)

    I am in this position right now. I am an H1-B holder. I have a Masters in Computer Science. While most of my coworkers worked 40-45 hours a week I was doing 80 and quickly gained higher positions and expertise (hard work pays off in the land of opportunity). I love the US. Its a great place to live and I've lived here since I came to do my Bachelors (Computer Science also). I paid out of state tuition for all 7 years, out of my own pocket (which totaled > 60K).

    I recently applied for an extension on my H1-B after my 3 years of working at a company and it was rejected by the government. The initial reason given was that we couldn't prove that my job required a degree so they came back and asked us for more info (called an RFI - request for information). (I am involved in long term projects from architecture, design, development and process analysis). The day I found out that my visa was rejected, my company, a small business of about 30 people also found out that a dept of the state had chosen me to work for them on a project for which they interviewed 30 people from around the US. My company lost that deal because the US rejected my visa and lost out on > 500,000 dollars of revenue over the contract. The company also lost 3 other contracts with clients I was currently with which would have probably panned out to 50k-100k each per year.

    The revenue from that contract would have keep me and 2 other co-workers employed for at least 3 years and now my former company is going to probably fire 2 US citizens. This was the height of irony! The government royally screwed my company.

    The immigration dept has really cracked down on H1-B visa holders and is rejecting them by asking them to prove stupid claims. Here are a few questions from my RFI.

    1. Why does a Senior Software Engineer position require a Computer Science degree!
    2. Provide all earning statements for the last 3 years and for all states you had income from.
    3. Provide all client contracts that you had in the last 3 years for the full company.
    4. Provide a detailed job description along with future contracts (for all 3 years) along with locations, contacts of client companies and images of work areas.

    My visa was finally rejected because they feared that I would work in California (where my company doesn't have any clients or a branch). The process is really ridiculous right now and I have started looking at canada, singapore and india. I would prefer to stay and finish my 3 years and get a path to citizenship but if I have to leave, so be it.

    The icing on the cake is that since they reject my appeal, I have 10 days to leave the country. So pack your bags, sell your car and belongings (or throw them away) and get the fuck out in 10 days.

    Thanks for all the fish O Land of Opportunity!

    I will say this to all you US citizen and green card holders. DO NOT SQUANDER YOUR OPPORTUNITIES! The US is the greatest place on earth and if you work hard, you can really live a great life. Peace.

    • by DaveV1.0 ( 203135 ) on Sunday October 18, 2009 @08:33AM (#29783457) Journal

      With so many out of work software engineers who are American citizens, why should your H1-B visa, which is supposed to be used to fill critical positions, requiring a specialized skill set, for which an American citizen can not be found. Sounds to me like while you worked hard and worked long hours, you did nothing that any one of the thousands of out of work American software engineers could not do.

      You should never have been granted the H1-B visa in the first place.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by BadDreamer ( 196188 )

        He did what none of the thousands of out of work American software engineers *did* do, or they wouldn't have been out of work. An H1B is not granted on potential alone, but on actual ability to accomplish.

    • 80 hours a week?!? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by NoYob ( 1630681 )

      The US is the greatest place on earth and if you work hard, you can really live a great life.

      What life?! When I worked that much, I worked, barely got any exercise, gained 50 lbs, slept, got depressed, blood pressure went up, triglycerides too, and burned out. I had NO social life and I was incredibly lonely. While others were getting married and having kids - I was working.

      Great life, indeed!

    • by Civil_Disobedient ( 261825 ) on Sunday October 18, 2009 @11:43AM (#29784583)

      The immigration dept has really cracked down on H1-B visa holders and is rejecting them by asking them to prove stupid claims.

      Well, be reasonable about this.

      1. Why does a Senior Software Engineer position require a Computer Science degree!

      That's a good question. I know plenty of successful, talented Sr. software engineers that went to school for philosophy, art history, history... many of them never even finished school. The only real reason a Sr. software engineer would require a CS degree is if it were a requirement for the job. Which is circular reasoning: you need a CS degree to be a Sr. SE because a Sr. SE needs a CS degree.

      2. Provide all earning statements for the last 3 years and for all states you had income from.

      Hate to break it to you, but we citizens have to do this every year.

      3. Provide all client contracts that you had in the last 3 years for the full company.

      Most likely to prove that you're actually working, and not attempting to bullshit your way to a green card.

      4. Provide a detailed job description along with future contracts (for all 3 years) along with locations, contacts of client companies and images of work areas.

      Same as above. Although, I find it a little ridiculous that they want to know what your future contracts are for the next three years. I mean, you're not a fortune-teller!

      The process is really ridiculous right now and I have started looking at canada, singapore and india.

      I mean this with sincere honesty: leave. Not because you're a burden on the system, or because immigrants==suck, or any other racist, xenophobic bullshit excuse a lot of people will give.

      No, I'm saying leave because this country is a sinking ship. As an American, I would leave this country in a heartbeat if I knew I could find work in Canada or Europe. You do not want to be here. The people here are some of the most vile, ignorant, hateful people on the planet. Go someplace where you will be appreciated. Go someplace that has health insurance. Go someplace that treats its immigrants with the respect that they deserve.

      So pack your bags, sell your car and belongings (or throw them away) and get the fuck out in 10 days.

      Yeah, that's some fucking bullshit right there. Like I said... this is an opportunity in disguise. The next twenty years are going to be incredibly rough on the great American "experiment," and I feel the only ones who will be left will be the religious nut-jobs that seem to breed like rabbits.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 18, 2009 @03:15AM (#29782461)

    A US citizen who is a senior engineer or manager makes somewhere between $120K-$200K, depending upon the company and value of stock options. In the bay area or elsewhere in coastal california, the quality of life that buys you is very much middle class - nothing special house, 2 cars, struggling to put the kids in private school, etc. This is especially true if single or the spouse isn't working, which is more likely to be true for a foreigner. A western educated engineering manager in India can probably afford a nice home, several servants, nice holidays (with vacation time to match), etc. It is hardly surprising that, without the likely return of dotcom millions in the stock option lottery, the lure of their home country has a lot more appeal. Or maybe it is just that all of the engineers who came over in their early to mid twenties during the dotcom boom have now reached maturity, both professionally and personally, and are looking to start a family back at home or take their family home before the kids get too old. If the average age of returning tech workers is into the 30s, that seems somewhat likely. A 36 year old was 22 at the start of the internet boom years, 24 when things really started to take off.

  • My case (Score:5, Interesting)

    by varanama ( 820238 ) on Sunday October 18, 2009 @03:29AM (#29782519)
    I was born in Madrid, Spain. As i was 10 my parents changed me to a german high school and after that i went to Germany to study engineering. While I was studying Mechanical Engineering in Aachen I went one year abroad to Montreal. That's when i started realizin.g than maybe North America wasn't as advanced as i thought, But hey, Canada is not the USA. So when I finished and got the opportunity to made my Phd at Berkeley, I took it. Coming from Germany, I've always looked at Berkeley and MIT as "the future". I thought they were light years from us, another dimension, robots walking through the campus... I thought it was going to be like the jump from Spain to Germany...

    When I arrived, it didnt took me long to realize how wrong I was. After two years I remember talking with my parents, and saying that at the moment the only thing I wanted was to finish as fast as possible. I just wanted to be able to put Berkeley in my resumee and leave, because I really thought I was waisting my time. I was trying as hard as possible to be productive. But it was not only that my tutor was not good enough, or that my department didn't had the money I needed, the worst part is that we were overall behind what my department in Germany was doing. I felt so frustrated spending 90% of the time reinventing the wheel and putting the USA stamp, feeling that I was leaving in the past, and trying but not finding the way to do something about it that i really wanted to leave and do something useful with my life. It was even worst when I talked with a good friend of mine who was also doing his Phd at the same department in Munich. He got almost unlimited finantiation, lots of students doing their master thesis for him, and was really learning a lot, not only about the subject, but about managing a big reserarch team and lots of long time experiments, we just didn't had the same means...

    When I finished it was really easy to find interesting jobs in the states, I even doubted because of one really interesting offer at Lockheed. But the real fact was, that the offers from Germany where at a whole different level. I had been in Berkeley! For them that was... Godlike. As I came back I started working for a private company for almost three years, and after that I took a part-time management position at that company and been working there partime since. At the same time I started also working part-time in my second Phd at the university. Im not only doing what i really like, at the moment Im getting a lot of support from very good people, students included, and from the university, state, privates companies... I really feel that im working with the best people in the world.

    And till now i've just mentioned the academic side! The rest of my life can be summarized in: I'm payed better in Europe than in the States and at the same time living here is cheaper! And if you add a better public transport system, higher security feeling, way better health care... it's not hard to understand way researches are not staying there. I know a lot of indian people here, and they have already moved their families in and have no plans to retourn to India in the distant future...

    So yeah, people go to the states to study because of the fame. When they arrive, they realize things back home werent so bad as they thought. And when they finish things even get better at home, because due to their studies in the states, they are seen as gods... If you add that the quality of life in the states isn't even in the top10 of the world, and that the loan/expenses ratio is better in lots of other countries, you have your answer.
  • by Alioth ( 221270 ) <no@spam> on Sunday October 18, 2009 @05:00AM (#29782791) Journal

    I worked in the US for a few years. So why did I leave?

    Of course, everyone says the grass is greener in the US, but compared to home, really it's not - it's just different. But there were enough downsides to being in the USA which made me eventually leave. In order:

    1. Family. I would prefer being close to them, 4800 miles isn't close enough. (I now live 10 minutes walk from my Dad).
    2. The INS Dehumanization programme - the Kafkaesque manner in which visas and green cards are processed. I just wasn't willing to go through that any more. I hear it's even worse for people from places like India and China, I guess I'm lucky coming from Europe.
    3. Healthcare - I like living somewhere where I never need to ever worry about getting healthcare, even if I fall upon bad times.
    4. Bigotry and illiberalism - I lived in Texas. Too many religious people, and when I left, also Bush was President.

    Don't get me wrong, I think overall the United States is a good country, and one of the best in the world - despite its faults. Any country has faults. But I just wasn't prepared to go through the unpredictable, abitrary and dehumanizing immigration processes to live somewhere that's just as faulty as my home country, but is also 4800 miles from my family.

    • by danpat ( 119101 ) on Sunday October 18, 2009 @11:56AM (#29784661) Homepage

      I mirror this situation. My wife and I had the opportunity to work in San Francisco for a couple of years. We're Australian.

      The experience was great, but in the end, all the little things (health care, racism, homeless, political opinions, the ongoing wars, etc) added up and San Francisco is pretty liberal and open-minded compared to most of the rest of the US. We now live in Canada where the quality of life is great and we have public health care, so we don't worry about going bankrupt if we get sick. Don't underestimate how important that idea is to a lot of people.

      For those Americans that are afraid of the whole spectrum of "socialist" political ideas all I can say is "don't knock it till you've tried it." While complete freedom is a wonderful idea, it often appears not to be practical when attempting to maximise the quality of life of a large population. There are certain freedoms that appear to be worth giving up (in countries like Australia and Canada, we haven't felt oppressed and it's nice not having to worry about people exercising their freedom to carry a concealed weapon).

      In more socialist countries, it appears that the general concensus is that everyone gives something up to improve the quality of life for the whole. In the US, the general concensus seems to be that no-one should give anything up (even if they never use it), fuck you commie bastards. I always found discussions with that kind of attitude difficult. The "Team America" movie is hilarious because it's all so true to life.

      Fair enough, I guess, but it doesn't suit everyone.

  • by canadian_in_beijing ( 1234768 ) on Sunday October 18, 2009 @11:01AM (#29784327) Homepage

    It's not just Indians and Chinese 'sea turtles' going back overseas.... I have no background in China, born a Canadian of European background and spent the past 5 years in Beijing. Found thousands of Canadians and Yanks just like myself living in China. Who are these people? Most are highly ambitious entrepreneurs from good families that are searching for the new wild west, the land of opportunity. They could easily stay and work in the US but some of (maybe lots of) todays youth are not happy working in mega corporations who don't give a shit about their employees, long hours, little recognition/room for advancement, no loyalty, etc...

    By many China is seen as the new wild west with new opportunities, challenges, and a sense of adventure that can't be found back home. One billion people where everyone needs new products and ideas. At least that's what the new expats believe. Easy road to riches... but that's not the case. I never met anyone over in Beijing that made a fortune off of China except the expats on big overseas packages. Most small foreign start ups are loosing or breaking even... and as a foreigner in China your chances of success are severely crippled because of your lack of Guanxi.

    Benefits of living in China: Cheap cost of living, nice modern apartments with all the amenities (pools, gyms, squash, etc), extremely safe, maids, cooks, drivers, cheap taxis, new restaurants opening every day with fanatical service, rapidly expanding nightlife, modern architecture that puts most US cities to shame, cheap shopping, ability to grab weekend vacation flights around Asia for cheap, holidays like the Chinese new year with all the fireworks are amazing, etc. It is possible to live very well on $1-1500/month. Most foreigners just out of university get by on significantly less. Overall there is a great sense of adventure in daily life, nothing is routine.

    Disadvantages: pollution! ...remember some days not being able to see 5 feet in front of my face, most days not being able to see a building 200 feet away... covered in smog. Hard to find quality western groceries. Chinese people are very friendly overall but it takes lots of time to build up connections and guanxi. You can't just go over there and expect to start up the next Google in a year because the locals will shut you out. In Beijing there is little life on the streets except for Wanfujing... central development has left most streets deserted because there's no shops or culture around lots of areas. Old Beijing and the hutongs are disappearing at an alarming rate to put up shiny new skyscrapers. Office culture is a nightmare in terms of productivity. Trying to get anything done that requires innovation is like building the great wall because nobody will stick their neck out and take a chance. Managing most local Chinese people is difficult and requires detailing every aspect of their job, productivity is slow. Government regulations require you to hire so many locals and it is becoming harder to fire non performing people. Office rents can be as high as in the US. Overall I found the overall cost of doing business in China was on par with costs in the US. Also government policies are highly unpredictable and can severely cripple your companies ability to do business. Long terms there are many risks and uncertainties.

    Why did I leave China? Got fed up with the quality of life and lack of opportunities in China. Also there was some Chinese government visa changes. When I left about half of my friends were also planning on leaving. Lots of expats were planning on moving their business out of the country to places such as India or finding work in Dubai or elsewhere in Asia.

    US is not the land of opportunity it once was. The bush era has left a bad taste in everyones mouth and it will take a long time to get over. Where are all the opportunities in the US if there's no commons (manufacturing, R&D, etc) in things like solar, electric cars, electronics, etc? The US needs to keep these hubs of innovation in the US or the talent will keep going overseas.

  • by cinnamon colbert ( 732724 ) on Sunday October 18, 2009 @11:17AM (#29784427) Journal

    In 1945 we were the economic king of the hill not because we are smarter or more creative (the myth of the non creative asian will be viewed by our children the way we view the idea that woman are tempermentally unsuited to excercise the vote) but because the other guys were down.
    Finally the restof the world is catching up; this explains the long term (since the 50s) decline of the american job market (except for the top 1%), the silly idea (obama) that more education and hard work will help (like we are really gonna out word/dollar someone in china)

Research is what I'm doing when I don't know what I'm doing. -- Wernher von Braun