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Sensible H1B debate

Eric Lemaitre
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 03, 2004
Posts: 538

Hi all,

It must be useless to recall that this year H1B cap was reached in a single day, hence requiring a lottery to determine lucky petitioners.

Although I am trying to remain balanced and sensible on any matter, I believe one can say now that the US labour immigration system has reached the paramount of stupidity : relying on a lottery to select professionnals instead of relying on some kind of professional assets to sort them out.

Of course, I know the present H1B cap is kept frozen by 2 completely opposed powerful antagonist US lobbies, industry saying "unlimited qualified Aliens" and local workers saying "all needed qualified locals already there, no more Alien in", so this worst possible solution was the only left anyway. But despite this year H1B story clearly shows that system is broken IMHO, the practical impossibility to find a compromise between these 2 extreme positions has lead to a complete status-quo, no decision is taken at all, a complete do-nothing, the worst possible choice ever when things go wrong.

This is why I would like to invite fellow Java ranchers to a sensible and moderate debate about the possible solutions to avoid this deadlock. Here are my proposals, open for discussion :

* Minimum wages for an Alien would be imposed by law at 100% of computed average local market wages for the same professionnal level, so that an Alien simply costs as much as an US local (slightly more with visa fees). Hopefuly if Aliens simply cost as much as local citizens the latters would be preferably hired instead of the formers since it is much easier, less easily available Aliens being then hired only when local skills are obviously not there. This could bust out the "lower wages preference" H1B issue.

* Aliens on H1B would have an automatic personnal US bank account with direct US salary deposit, so that they are not paid back much less by their Alien bodyshoper employer who often keeps most of their salary. This could bust out much of the interest of bodyshoping.

* Aliens on H1B would be enrolled quickly for GC after some mounths (6 ?) of successful full professional activity on US soil (but of course with heavy USCIS backlogs still requiring many years of wait before concrete GC), so that Aliens can swith jobs easily for they wouldn't be tied for long years of practical slavery to their present employer by fear of H1B then GC sponsorship loss.

* US companies abroad would have to standardize their interviews process and report interview results to USCIS, so that a pool of available Aliens up to US standards could be selected when needed for US labour visa.

* US companies could have a mandatory quota (evaluated each year) of local freshers to recruit, so that US freshers are not kept out of job market because of both (obvious) lack of initial practical paid experience against availability of experienced Aliens.

I would like of course to remain on sensible tracks on this matter, simply consult some blogs to check that untamed disussions on this subject may easily turn to havoc, I don't want that. We are all professionals, let's remain professional.

Comments, thoughts, ideas ???

Best regards.


Eric LEMAITRE
CNAM IT Engineer, MS/CS (RHCE, RHCX, SCJA, SCJP, SCJD, SCWCD, SCBCD, SCEA, Net+)
Free Online Tutorials: http://www.free-tutorials-online.net/
Jesus Angeles
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 26, 2005
Posts: 2057
Originally posted by Eric Lemaitre:
a lottery to select professionnals instead of relying on some kind of professional assets to sort them out.


I think it is still based on their technical evaluation. They just randomly get who gets evaluated first. The question is: If the quota is not filled among those first-day submitted applications, do they open up for more applications?
Jesus Angeles
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 26, 2005
Posts: 2057
It is indeed frustrating for the applicants. Lets hope the quota is increased.
Eric Lemaitre
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 03, 2004
Posts: 538

Hi Jesus,

It is indeed frustrating for the applicants. Lets hope the quota is increased.

I believe a quota is necessary anyway since it looks like the only sensible balanced option between "any Alien in" and "no Alien in", especially if it is reevaluated each year according to present market situation lawmakers discussions suggest.

Perhaps this year only almost doubling the quota so as to accept all H1B first day applications, but in counterpart seriously discussing reforms of labour immigration system would have been an excellent workaround.

But the extremely frustating thing is that despite the system seems obviously broken no reform at all is seriuously wondered about, at least about the legal immigration aspect.

Best regards.
Eric Lemaitre
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 03, 2004
Posts: 538

Hi Jesus,

I think it is still based on their technical evaluation.

In practice, no. I discussed recently with my boss who had been an HR for years so had recruited many H1B, as years of paid experience may replace diplomas, strictly anyone with at lesat 2 years of paid experience may apply to H1B whatever he is really good or not. For without offending anyone, you may have worked for years in a given field and not be good at this work. This is why H1B are so numerous to apply.

They just randomly get who gets evaluated first. The question is: If the quota is not filled among those first-day submitted applications, do they open up for more applications?

I believe yes, not all H1B petitions will be accepted so some petitions will have to be selected again from remaining pool through another lottery untill the 65,000 cap of accepted petitions is reached. This is why it will take some weeks despite lottery preselection is over since "long" (was on 12th april).

Best regards.
Andrew Monkhouse
author and jackaroo
Marshal Commander

Joined: Mar 28, 2003
Posts: 11480
    
  94

Speaking as someone currently working in the USA on a visa, my experiences:
Originally posted by Eric Lemaitre:
* Minimum wages for an Alien would be imposed by law at 100% of computed average local market wages for the same professionnal level ...
Yep - that is what is required legally, and what happens at the company I work at. In the very best case, I will cost at least as much as if my company had hired an American. (In reality there is a one off cost involved with getting me here that is higher than getting someone from anywhere within the USA - this is just considered a cost of business.)
Originally posted by Eric Lemaitre:
* Aliens on H1B would have an automatic personnal US bank account with direct US salary deposit, so that they are not paid back much less by their Alien bodyshoper employer who often keeps most of their salary. This could bust out much of the interest of bodyshoping.
I have mixed feelings about whether this argument belongs with the H1B argument - I suspect that your issue may be with body-shop companies, and not with the H1B (or any other employment visa). And as such it might be better served in a separate topic.

But to give my experience - I have my own personal bank account, and the company I work for pays my salary (which is the same salary as would be paid to a US citizen) directly into my bank account. There is no garnishing of wages (which would be illegal) or any attempt to touch my money.
Originally posted by Eric Lemaitre:
* Aliens on H1B would be enrolled quickly for GC after some mounths (6 ?) of successful full professional activity on US soil (but of course with heavy USCIS backlogs still requiring many years of wait before concrete GC), so that Aliens can swith jobs easily for they wouldn't be tied for long years of practical slavery to their present employer by fear of H1B then GC sponsorship loss.
My understanding is that if you are on a H1B you can swap jobs fairly easily - the new company just has to pick up the sponsorship (the company I work for seems to do this on a fairly regular basis). And while there are points within the H1B -> GC process where it is problematic to change job titles / positions, these are well known, so someone planning on getting a GC should be able to work within the limitations.

Note that it is in the employer's best interests to help the employee get the GC rather than risk the visa expiring (which then requires recruiting / hiring / training new staff). My experience has been that the company I work for will do everything in it's power to help an employee get a GC.
Originally posted by Eric Lemaitre:
* US companies abroad would have to standardize their interviews process and report interview results to USCIS, so that a pool of available Aliens up to US standards could be selected when needed for US labour visa.
Difficult, although I can see what you are attempting to achieve.

I believe that the current rules are that you must have a recognized degree in an appropriate field to be considered for a visa. Assuming I am right about that (and again, I am basing it on my experiences), then the government is (in my opinion) working on the right level.

I am not sure if this is just H1B -> GC, or whether it also applies to getting the initial H1B, but (at least in the former) you must have the right level of qualification for the job. So if you have a degree but the team you will be working with all have doctorates you may not get the visa. I know that when applying for a GC, if the entire team only have degrees and you have a doctorate, the company must prove that there is no American with a degree available to take your position - the fact that you have a doctorate will not help you.
Originally posted by Eric Lemaitre:
* US companies could have a mandatory quota (evaluated each year) of local freshers to recruit, so that US freshers are not kept out of job market because of both (obvious) lack of initial practical paid experience against availability of experienced Aliens.
The obvious argument against this is that this could restrict companies from hiring the best person for the job, and instead force them to hire someone who is not qualified.

These sorts of regulations are usually brought in to stop discrimination, often against minorities. In this case I don't believe that we are looking at discrimination against American citizens, but rather a bias for the best qualified person.

Again I wonder if your experience / knowledge of body-shop companies is giving you a different perspective than me (I believe your contention is that the body-shop companies are almost exclusively H1B visa hirers). My perspective is based on working for a company that hires the best people for the job, no matter whether they are American Citizens, on H1B, on TN, on E3, or any other legitimate work visa.

Regards, Andrew
[ April 22, 2007: Message edited by: Andrew Monkhouse ]

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Luke Kolin
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 04, 2002
Posts: 336
Some logistical issues with your proposals. An interesting discussion-starter, though.

relying on a lottery to select professionnals instead of relying on some kind of professional assets to sort them out.


It's important to note that nothing has changed in terms of selecting H-1B professionals; it's not like the H-1B is now a lottery. It has always been that the day the quota was reached, a lottery would be used to select petitions to be accepted for that particular date. All that is changed is that finally, the quota was reached on the first day.

Minimum wages for an Alien would be imposed by law at 100% of computed average local market wages for the same professionnal level


The difficulty I have with this idea is that "professional level" is very hard to quantify. Do we base it on years of experience? Test scores? How does it translate across professions?

This could bust out much of the interest of bodyshopping.


This doesn't change the fact that thousands of individuals in many industries (US citizens and non-citizens) provide professional services at a much higher billable rate than they are paid.

so that Aliens can swith jobs easily for they wouldn't be tied for long years of practical slavery to their present employer by fear of H1B then GC sponsorship loss.


How does this work? You don't get to switch jobs until several years into the GC process. Just getting things started with an LC doesn't give you portability.

US companies abroad would have to standardize their interviews process and report interview results to USCIS, so that a pool of available Aliens up to US standards could be selected when needed for US labour visa.


Most foreign workers and companies would have an aneurysm. Would you like to work for a French company in France, and because it has a US parent have all of your recruiting data transferred over to the US government? Why should US firms give the US government data about their foreign operations?

US companies could have a mandatory quota (evaluated each year) of local freshers to recruit, so that US freshers are not kept out of job market because of both (obvious) lack of initial practical paid experience against availability of experienced Aliens.


Lovely. Maybe French companies should try this first - I think it's a lot harder for under-30s to get a job in your country. Let us know how well that works out.

Cheres!

Luke
Arjunkumar Shastry
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 28, 2005
Posts: 986
Originally posted by Eric Lemaitre:


* Minimum wages for an Alien would be imposed by law at 100% of computed average local market wages for the same professionnal level, so that an Alien simply costs as much as an US local (slightly more with visa fees). Hopefuly if Aliens simply cost as much as local citizens the latters would be preferably hired instead of the formers since it is much easier, less easily available Aliens being then hired only when local skills are obviously not there. This could bust out the "lower wages preference" H1B issue.

How is that feasible?Suppose I am a US based employer and I need Unix administrator with 5 years of experience.As I am going to pay the salary I have the first voice on how much salary he should earn.Market salary may be say 80K but my budgetery constraints and other factors(for e.g.I think 80K is not worth,65K is the worth salary )prevent him to give 80K.



* Aliens on H1B would have an automatic personnal US bank account with direct US salary deposit, so that they are not paid back much less by their Alien bodyshoper employer who often keeps most of their salary. This could bust out much of the interest of bodyshoping.

Bodyshoppers and propspective H1Bs work hand in hand.Almost every H1B who departs from here is aware that bodyshopper is going eat part of cake for few months
.Thats the deal,you take some part of money and I reach there in turn.



* US companies abroad would have to standardize their interviews process and report interview results to USCIS, so that a pool of available Aliens up to US standards could be selected when needed for US labour visa.

Upto US standards?AFAIK industry has never complained that H1-Bs are not upto standard.So though this is a good point,industry will not agree.Supposing I am US employer,any new person(H1B or citizen)I would like to take interviews by my IT department and not Govt. selection process.
What if person gets selected by standard process and found unqualified later?


Namma Suvarna Karnataka
ankur rathi
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 11, 2004
Posts: 3830
If Aliens are costing less then why can't locals (Americans) work for the same less price??? :roll:
william gates
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 21, 2007
Posts: 112
It all depends on the situation. If somebody plans on coming to the US, working their butt off for a few years, save as much money as possible, and then move back to whatever country they are citizens of, it is a lot different than somebody who wants to stay in the US or is from the US..

Costs will be a lot different depending on circumstances. Because if you know when you go back to say, India, where many things might cost less than in the US, it is a lot easier to think you'll work hard, save money, then go back with a lot more money then you ever imagined.

Where as somebody from the US or somebody planning to stay in the US knows there is no such thing as "going back someplace and being able to live more comfortably." It is what it is..

On to the other issue about firms overcharging and taking money. I don't think it's much different as far as certain companies charging a firm
$80/hr while you get paid $40/hr. That happens for most consulting companies and contracting firms, regardless of where you come from. You get paid less than what you are being charged out as. Sometimes you might be getting less pay, but most of the time, a company charges a certain amount. And a lot of times these firms have huge contracts and deals with the large corporations and organizations. So counting out or trying to avoid the "middle men firms" is nearly impossible at times. It is what it is.

As far as pay rates.. It's business. If say people from India start demanding more money, the companies will start looking elsewhere for cheaper labor. Maybe they go to china, africa, who knows where. It's about money. It rarely is about skills. If a US person demands 40/hr while somebody on an visa demands 30/Hr with the same skill sets, they'll go with the cheaper price. And if somebody from china or africa or brazil or wherever start charging 20/hr, they'll jump on that ship.

That is why people in the US don't like to work on the cheap. Costs get more expensive the longer you plan to stay someplace. And when there is no other option to move to, you have to demand a certain salary.

Just as those on a visa need a certain amount to survive and to save, it'll start bothering you if somebody from africa or china or brazil or wherever jump in and demand half of what you're making because maybe it's cheaper to live where they come from and they know this and know after so many years, they can go back and almost live like kings off the money they saved.

While it should be about skills and experience, it never is. It's always about the bottom line. It's business and business will always go for the cheaper bargain.
S. Palanigounder
Ranch Hand

Joined: Apr 03, 2003
Posts: 145
Check out this news on H1B:

http://news.zdnet.com/2100-9595_22-6172981.html
Arjunkumar Shastry
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 28, 2005
Posts: 986
Nine companies booking for 20,000 H1B visa is really questionable.almost 1/3 of visas go to these nine companies.
Visa program questioned
Nine companies are asked for explanation:
Infosys Technologies Ltd. in Fremont, Calif.;
Wipro Limited, Mountain View, Calif.;
Tata Consultancy Services Ltd., Arlington, Va.;
Saytam Computer Services Ltd., Andhra Pradesh, India;
Patni Computer Systems, Mumbai, India;
Larsen & Toubro Infotech Ltd., Mumbai, India;
I-Flex Solutions Inc., Mumbai, India;
Tech Mahindra Americas Inc., Englewood, Colo.; and
Mphasis Corp., Bangalore, India.
Eric Lemaitre
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 03, 2004
Posts: 538

Hi by S. Palanigounder,

Check out this news on H1B:
http://news.zdnet.com/2100-9595_22-6172981.html


Yes, there is an awful lot of links on all immigration related forums which state that all major Indian IT consulting companies in US (in short : biggest US bodyshoppers) will have to explain their (ab)use of H1B (yes, I know I exagerate, but up to which point ?).

The unofficial reason why the 65,000 petitions for a whole year were exhausted in about half a day (130,000 petitions received on first day) is that all biggest Indian IT consulting companies (which represent 70% of H1B demands in IT field), so as to be sure to get as many H1B visas as they expected, simply filed some 3 times this number so as to maximize their chances, making the whole system explode. Even if IT is booming today, it simply looks impossible they have for real contracts in hand for as many people as they asked for an H1B, they must have multiplied their real staff need, there is no other sensible explaination. This will be easy to check anyway. Not surprisingly, many testimonies of visa abuse and salaries far below sensible prevailing wages for their Indian employees reappeared at the same time.

It looks like after French bashing, Indian bashing (hopefuly exclusively for bodyshopper companies, providing no colateral dammage occurs) is the next trend to come in US. Considering what happened to "French fries" for a while, be ready for "Liberty tandorii" .

Jokes apart, it looks like qualified immigration matters at last gained some attention by lawmakers, and it is not too early. Even the superiority of some other alien immigration system like Canadian one (merit based instead of US family based) seems being evaluated.

Best regards.
chandra garre
Greenhorn

Joined: Nov 08, 2005
Posts: 7
This is an "n"ever ending debate, and to be true here are a few things that i have observed.

The demand for H1 is because everyone in the world considers US as a great place to work and that drives people in masses over here. Most of the input is good but there are really bad ones too who fake with wrong resumes etc and that is what is hurting the market and economy as such.

1. From my side I would consider that even for consulting etc there should be strong background checks.
2. Large indian companies do really have the requirement, I was in Infosys for a long time, and i am sure companies listed (Infosys et al) dont ever cheat, since they represent india, and moreover the investigation is not probing misuse as its being stated, but it seems the senate wants to know how its being used so that they can make it more effective.
3. Since H1B is scarce and it is not something that anyone can get in 1-2 days, large companies use contingencies to plan their future business and requirements and hence atleast 20% (i guess) of their requests are for future demands which might or might no materialize , but thats very valid considering manpower shortage leading to lost projects for Indian firms.


Taking the original author's points .
1. H-1B people are not employed for low wages, though yes there are some consultants who cheat unsuspecting employees.
2. Already there are lot of jobs that are not given to H-1B employees, especially the ones that require security clearance.
3. Lot of employers (good companies) are scared of approaching H-1B employees since they are scared of the over burden of sponsorship.
4. H-1B emp contribute to social security which they never get back for their own security.
5. I am against companies displacing locals with H-1B for low cost reasons, but either way high cost of locals is also harmful for the company since that would lead to closure of the company in total. Either way its a loss.
6. I have seen a lot of my friends who have H-1B working in bad jobs (i dont want to be a guru of classifying what good and bad is ) , but bad jobs are jobs that are boring and repetitive, without any scope of growth, but they have no other option.
7. Lot of companies treat H-1B contractors as dirt, with no respect for their inputs, but of course even if they are good they cant hire due to unwarranted fear.

So where does this lead to, we know there are people against H1 and there are people for H1, and the subset of people is also very well known, with people who are gaining by H1 are the ones who are on H1, they will support H1 and the ones who are citizens are against H1, with citizens who have been "job" displaced are the ones who have strong views against H1.

Is there anyone with a neutral opinion ? I guess that would be the toughest one to find.... The answer as usual is within us, and the state of a human mind is directly related to their status (h1 or citizen), in which case as usual bias, skews opinions .... :-)
Eric Lemaitre
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 03, 2004
Posts: 538

Hi all,

It looks like anyway the new discussions at congress which will begin tomorrow 21st may completely change the situation.

Congress wants to end family based immigration system and switch instead to merit based immigration, exactly like Canada which is now a reference to US.

What is more a new "super H1B" visa will be created exclusively for really qualified Aliens (MS minimum plus many paid years of professional experience, while today with some professional experience in any field (fashion models for example) may apply which makes H1B candidates much too numerous for the cap, hence present H1B crisis). There is no doubt many such "really qualified Aliens" could as well be involved in new merit based immigration system, so this matter will have to be discussed much.

The excellent thing is that President Bush absolutely wants to sign a comprehensive and sensible immigratio reform ASAP, including public opinion and almost all HR and congress people who would have much to loose to a new "no-doers" attitude., so this time it looks like everyone agrees at last for an immigration reform move.

I read that US administration began to reject any new family based GC demand, although legitimate, because present backlog is about... 30 years, which makes of course the system completely unapplicable. The new immigration hearings at congress involve GC backlog reset. A good sign showing that obviously broken US immigration system must move anyway.

Reference : Border Security and Immigration Reform Act of 2007.

Best regards.
 
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