Microsoft Tops H-1B Visa Employer List - InformationWeek

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IT Leadership // IT Strategy

Microsoft Tops H-1B Visa Employer List

Software and tech services companies dominate the 25 biggest corporate users of the labor-import program.

2012 Salary Survey: 12 Career Insights
2012 Salary Survey: 12 Career Insights
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Microsoft, which has long argued that the United States needs to import more high-tech labor to fill what it says is a skills gap, filed more requests for H-1B visa workers over the past two years than any other company, according to a new study.

The software maker filed paperwork for about 4,100 H-1B workers over 2010 and 2011, according to the study, published this week by the Brookings Institution. That's about 1.26% of all applications filed during the period.

IBM was second, with about 3,300 applications filed, while India-based TCS was third, with about 3,200 applications. Deloitte Consulting, with 3,000 applications, was fourth, and India's Wipro rounded out the top five, at 2,900.

Brookings data shows that, while 70,000 employers applied to hire H-1B workers in 2010-11, the top 25 companies, mostly tech firms, accounted for more than 12% of the applications.

[ Will Microsoft's management practices--not its competitors or its products--be the cause of its decline? See Microsoft A Victim Of Its Own Success. ]

"A small number of companies were very heavy users of the program," the study's authors noted. "The employers requesting the most H-1Bs are large private companies specializing in information technology, consulting, and electronics manufacturing."

In addition to tech companies, the top 25 included retailer CVS and financial services giants Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase.

To hire an H-1B worker, employers must receive approval from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The visas, which are reserved for workers in what USCIS calls "specialty occupations," are good for three years and can be renewed for an additional, three-year period.

The program isn't without controversy. Critics say U.S. companies should not be importing labor at a time of high unemployment. Backers say the country faces an IT worker shortage, and that H-1B employees help fill the gap.

The program is limited to 65,000 visas per year, plus an additional 20,000 for workers who hold an advanced degree from a U.S. college or university.

Microsoft officials have long maintained that the cap needs to be raised or eliminated altogether. Testifying before Congress in 2008, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates said the cap "bears no relation to the U.S. economy's demand for skilled professionals."

As of June 1, the government had issued 55,600 standard H-1B visas out of the annual allotment of 65,000 for next fiscal year, according to USCIS. The feds also issued 18,700 H-1B visas reserved for graduates of advanced degree programs in the United States.

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Andrew Hornback
Andrew Hornback,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/26/2012 | 2:24:41 AM
re: Microsoft Tops H-1B Visa Employer List
You think terminating an American citizen employee one month and hiring an H-1B employee the next month is bold? How about bringing in all of your H-1B employees, getting them trained and brought up to speed by your American employees and then getting rid of an entire team of American employees because the H-1B folks work cheaper? Think that doesn't happen... I've seen it first hand.

When you have the "bean counters" running the business instead of the founders/evangelists running it, you see all sorts of crazy things happening. One example - a Fortune 500 organization that I have some insight into was having to downsize their facilities and determined that the best way to save money was to give back an entire floor of a building that they had leased. Rather than acquire cheaper floorspace to house those displaced employees, they decided it would be a good idea to "hot seat" cubes on another floor that they currently leased. Employees that were already in those cubes were told to reduce their number of personal effects since they would be having "new neighbors." Two people in the same cube = same team size but half the floor space requirement. Rather than keeping things VERY cozy all the time, some employees were given the opportunity to work from home when their cube-mate was going to be in the office as well.

With regards to a union for high tech workers... take a look at the UAW (yes, THE UAW).

As far as I remember, employers have to keep applicants' information on file for something like 12 or 24 months for examination by the EEOC in case of discrimination allegations, etc. So, those records could be made available, if the appropriate form of pressure was applied.

Andrew Hornback
InformationWeek Contributor
User Rank: Strategist
7/25/2012 | 10:07:25 PM
re: Microsoft Tops H-1B Visa Employer List
It's taken a long time, but I've finally reconciled for myself what the "shortage" is. And it is indeed true--under the terms in which the US government has allowed corporations to define it. The sad thing is that under their definition, there is no amount of training nor education that can ever fill the void. Their definition has moved further and further from a core skillset and baseline knowledge to focusing on the context or medium in which the skills and knowledge are represented.

Take the Ruby language statistics here:

So in 2002 we had about a 1/4% of developers using it. Just to make this easy let's pretend there are 1 million developers so that number is 2500. Heading toward 2007, numbers suddenly increased twelvefold to 30,000, hitting 40,000 within the next two years. By 2009, there were 15,000 or so with over 2 years experience and only about 2500 with over 5 years. As companies' usage grew, do you think they all trained their own? My guess is most of them skipped being involved during bleeding edge time then turned around and started to require 5 years experience for half of their positions.

Current hiring practices focus more on the method du jour of expressing skills rather than core skills and buzzwords that are easily sought in a resume. So long as companies are allowed to dictate immigration policies based on defining wants that they've played no role in fostering as "needs", the drivers to enter or stay in these supposedly critical fields simply won't ever meet demand. Under the rapidly changing environment in IT and STEM, we're reduced to little more than gamblers hoping we've picked the right horse for the next race.
User Rank: Apprentice
7/25/2012 | 2:45:20 PM
re: Microsoft Tops H-1B Visa Employer List
Powerful information. Sadly, most members of Congress are loyal to their benefactors like Microsoft and blind to the needs of their electorate.

US employees and foreign visa workers adversely impacted by corporate visa fraud and abuse, please file a complaint with authorities who can act. I recommend starting with the DoJ. Here's how you can reach them:
boycott Microsoft now!
boycott Microsoft now!,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/25/2012 | 1:22:04 AM
re: Microsoft Tops H-1B Visa Employer List
I am glad people are realizing the fate of a company that will not support locally. They lobby billions to save millions. Worthless corporate greed that has destroyed their own company by ruining Americans lives to save a few pennies.

Less not forget the facts;
MSFT hires prison labor out of Washington state and Texas to do all packaging and pay the prison inmates pennies an hour. Less not forget that it will only hire India based companies that RENAME their company twice a year so that they can max out their visa limits. Less not forget it has reduced wages 75% over the last five years and demanded engineers to work harder longer days. Less not forget the propaganda it distributes every year to universities about interns. They do not pay interns but advertise wealth and opportunity which is another lie broadcast by their marketing teams. Interns do not get a paycheck, zero money, zero anything except room and board. Much like indenture servants its the new 21st century slavery, with no boundaries. No support from government. Its important to organize against those companies that have destroyed the lives of people for profit. As companies like this continue to loose profit they will INCREASE hardships and demand more work while not paying for more work. This company has come to the end, much by the support of the public demanding real change. Why support a company that will not support locally? Why support a company that will not support you?

They alone have destroyed the internet and created the common workplace of hard times for everyone. When a large software company does this, the competitors follow immediately afterwards.

We have already contacted congress for public testimony but have gotten no response. We intend to speak until death and dissolution of this company is dissolved forever. They have created an atmosphere replicated by other big tech companies. Its the industry common practice.

Microsoft deserves nothing but a complete break up and payback to the ideas stolen.

We demand CREDIT for all past, current and future applications developed. Much like the credits given to the film industry on movie credits, Software developers DESERVE the same credit. Credit, pay, and reimbursement for ALL applications developed! NOW!

Boycott Microsoft

User Rank: Apprentice
7/24/2012 | 7:11:00 PM
re: Microsoft Tops H-1B Visa Employer List
The truth is there is no shortage. This is the controversial H-1B debacle those who research the truth discover companies like Microsoft take advantage of the poorly written H-1B program.

The research reveals the advantage is the H-1B worker is cheaper, younger and indentured. Substantive evidence overwhelming supports this while all companies have to do is make a claim.

This is the case at over half a dozen organizations I have personally witnessed. Not only is the program loosely written but there is no enforcement.

Yes, it is a lie, and I've seen it first hand. Some are so bold as to lay off American workers then hire H-1B the next month. I've watched two companies do this. One company found their favorite loophole, which was to hire graduates of a Canadian university claiming they have skills Americans don't have. They have an undergraduate CS program that has a minor in BA and they claim that is the skills they need.

But they hire both American and H-1B into the same jobs with the same descriptions - there is no distinction in the position description. They also like to promote them to lead before their visa expires and pass over seasoned American workers because once they are in a lead position they are more likely to get a renewal because they claim they are critical to their business.

The other company wasn't even offering a reasonable justification. They laid off their most expensive engineers and replaced them with H-1B types. Their justification? "More bang for the [buck]." I added [buck] because the director caught himself and stopped just short of saying the word. He was speaking directly to me.

Now to tell you the stupidity of the second company, they laid off a contractor that was to be a new hire - and that contractor was directly responsible for over $1.2M that would have been lost the fiscal year previous to their layoff, and half of that revenue was retaining their oldest customer who was about to jump ship.

This is the stupidity of American corporate management these days. I guess thanks to companies like Microsoft, once you are seasoned, you'd better find something else to do or you will be forced out of the field. You are too old and too expensive.

I'm not a fan of unions but this H-1B fiasco gives reason to consider it for high tech workers.

It would be interesting to subpoena the resumes Microsoft received and who they called and who they interviewed. If there is anything that deserves more regulation it is the hiring process.
User Rank: Apprentice
7/24/2012 | 5:28:34 PM
re: Microsoft Tops H-1B Visa Employer List
Meanwhile, Microsoft has announced their worst quarter ever and appears to be heading towards irrelevancy at a very rapid pace. That's awesome. As an American tech worker, I make sure to recommend any and all products that aren't Microsoft. In addition to usually being the worst products on the market, it gives me a certain degree of satisfaction to abandon a company that abandoned American workers a long time ago.
User Rank: Apprentice
7/24/2012 | 3:49:09 PM
re: Microsoft Tops H-1B Visa Employer List
It's little wonder that Microsoft tops the list of H-1b employers. Since Microsoft and Jack Abramoff wrote the H-1b laws, they know the loopholes and where they can and cannot cross the line.

It's remarkable how the "big lie" - we can't find American talent, has invaded the corporate and political hierarchy. Keep repeating the same big lie over, and over, and over, and people believe its true. This sad but effective tactic worked in WWII is being repeated by Microsoft and other labor arbitrage gamers.

Looks like the "big lie" is catching up with Microsoft - Vanity Fair's recent expose on how MS has lost its edge, and why it isits own worse enemy - its "Survivor" management practices (stack ranking).

Microsoft's eradication of its most valuable asset - its own employees, highly experienced talent who understand the market, technology, and how to get things done within MSFT (a skill only learned on the job) with younger, cheaper, pliant, and less experienced foreign visa replacements - and its billion dollar loss last week are no coincidence.
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