H-1B Rush Sparks Broader Debate - InformationWeek

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IT Leadership // Team Building & Staffing

H-1B Rush Sparks Broader Debate

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services division holds computerized lottery to distribute visas in random fashion. IT talent shortage debate continues.

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The technology business is back, if H-1B visas are any indicator. There was a rush for the specialty long-term visa this year, and on Friday the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services division said H-1B petitions exceeded the number of visas available.

The division held a computerized lottery on Sunday to distribute the visas in random fashion.

There are 65,000 H-1B visas available each year, and an additional 20,000 available to students from overseas who have received an advanced degree at a U.S. university. The USCIS said it received 124,000 petitions between April 1 and April 5, and that the cap was exceeded for both the general and advanced degree categories. Applicants for the advanced degree exemption who did not receive one were put into the general lottery.

[ CIOs need to do more than chase H-1B visas. Read CIOs Must Innovate Or Go Home. ]

The H-1B cap was reached in a single day in 2008. But since then they have not filled this rapidly. The quota was not filled at all in especially lean years like 2002 and 2003. Last year the cap was not reached until June.

"It responds to demand. It's also an indicator of [economic] confidence," said Stuart Anderson, executive director of the National Foundation for American Policy. Anderson said at least some of the demand had built up since last June, as companies looked to expand and hire new talent.

The H-1B petitions are used to bring in specialized talent from overseas, and applies to any job that requires at least a bachelor's degree. They've become synonymous with importing high-tech talent, and computer-related occupations make up about 40% of the list; occupations in architecture, engineering and surveying are next, followed closely by education. (See page 16 of this report.) More than half of recent H-1B visas have gone to Indian nationals. The list of H-1B petitioners is dominated by Indian outsourcers like Tata and Wipro, and U.S.-based technology firms like Microsoft, IBM and Amazon.com.

In a time of near-stagnant hiring in the U.S., when even recent engineering and computer science graduates seem to have trouble finding jobs, the H-1B is a source of political controversy. There are groups that think there should be more of them, as was temporarily the case in 2000, 2001 and 2002, when Congress approved an additional 110,000 visas.

The Partnership for a New American Economy, a bipartisan immigration reform lobbying group of U.S. mayors and business leaders, including Steve Ballmer of Microsoft, issued a release highlighting Canada's new Start-up Visa program that encourages foreign-born innovators to come to Canada. Jeremy Robbins, director of the PNAP, issued a statement calling for immigration reform saying "the urgency to reform our laws has never been greater."

Kim Berry, president of the Programmers Guild, also wants reform. "They shouldn't be doing the lottery," Berry said. Instead, the USCIS should accept applications for 60 days and then award visas to the most skilled applicants. "H1-Bs are going to $12-an-hour pharmacy techs and dental techs," Berry said. "We've been proposing the solution and it's very clear that industry is opposed because they don't want the best and brightest."

He says the H-1B program prevents young Americans with science, technology, engineering and math degrees from getting jobs, which instead go to immigrants who are here at the whim of their employer, facing a kind of modern indentured servitude.

Anderson acknowledged that H-1B visas do offer companies a guarantee that they will have an employee for several years, longer if the employee wants to get a green card. But he said that "in a practical sense it's often the only way to hire a foreign national to work long-term for a company," he said. That includes hiring graduate students trained at American universities.

Phil Fersht, CEO of HfS Research in Boston, sees the rush for H-1Bs as a sign of the decline of the U.S. technology economy. "The reason H1-Bs are becoming used so quickly is the Indian economy has developed a factory for IT talent. They're very, very good at it."

The U.S. is no longer as good at developing technology workers, he said. "I talk to CIOs all the time and their number one complaint is that the talent they've got isn't good enough. Even those that have never outsourced now say it's the only way they can get the talent they need."

But U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Chuck Grassley (D-Iowa) have long argued that the H-1B system is rife with abuse by companies seeking lower-cost labor. H-1B reform is part of the broader immigration debate under way on Capitol Hill this month. The IEEE-USA endorsed Grassley's recent H-1B and L-1 Visa Reform Act of 2013. Among that bill's aims are ensuring H-1B workers receive comparable wages to U.S. citizens with the same jobs, and barring employers from advertising jobs only to H-1B holders.

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User Rank: Apprentice
4/12/2013 | 2:41:46 PM
re: H-1B Rush Sparks Broader Debate
I understand the high emotions generated by this issue in these tough economic times with so many people out of work. But you guys must acknowledge the fact that there is a problem with math and science in this country. American students consistently shy away from these subjects.

I have lived in this country for the past 20 years, entered as a student on an I20 visa, and have been a citizen now for the past 4. I have always been affiliated with a college or university over those 20 years, whether as a student or a staff member/adjunct professor. I have tutored/taught, and continue to teach students, and can definitively say that math and science is a big problem.

The general attitude is, "once I graduate and establish myself, I will hire someone to do the programming and the technical stuff.....no need for me to worry about that". That is the attitude that needs to change.
User Rank: Apprentice
4/10/2013 | 9:15:26 PM
re: H-1B Rush Sparks Broader Debate
I say the past abuse of the H1-B Visas in the IT market has discouraged potential American stars out of IT. They saw the writing on the wall and decided that medical, finance, or business was the way to go. The past abuse of these Visas has made companies dependent on them.
User Rank: Apprentice
4/10/2013 | 8:00:49 PM
re: H-1B Rush Sparks Broader Debate
H1B is a crock of crap. There are more than enough American workers who either already have the skills or can easily learn what is needed (without the added language & culture barriers).
Corporations who request or insist upon H1B workers are only interested in Indentured Servants (another name for Slave labor), and to lower the wage rate nationwide.
User Rank: Strategist
4/10/2013 | 7:38:49 PM
re: H-1B Rush Sparks Broader Debate
"I talk to CIOs all the time and their number one complaint is that the talent they've got isn't good enough. Even those that have never outsourced now say it's the only way they can get the talent they need."

Couldn't possibly be the case that these CIOs who have heard so much about savings and flexibility realized in outsourcing that they are not hiring, considering, or searching for the best talent, or simply unwilling to pay the price for that talent and willing to accept something a little less at a reduced cost? It isn't that a CIO's job security is more dependent in the current fiscal climate of reducing operating costs and business management than being technically competent which for them is only value added if they are? If India has developed a "factory for IT talent" and let's say it is not strictly a salary issue, why is the US failing or what can they do to make the situation better (the article continues to reference foreign students that have studied in US colleges and universities, the same supplying the US talent pool)? Fersht's justifications fail sadly.
User Rank: Apprentice
4/10/2013 | 6:59:11 PM
re: H-1B Rush Sparks Broader Debate
10000%, there's really one group of employers that are in love with H1b - outsourcing and onshoring companies, mainly from india but also a lot of domestic ones that hope to imitate what the indian companies like Tata, WipePro and Infosh*t are doing. Body shops and pimps get an H1b, mark them up big time and profit, while'st American tax-payers take the fall. And for sure, H1b's can be exploited on account of their severe lack of experience, skill and know-how/know-not; really good people demand top dollar and have the control - pimp agencies and head shops hate that, as there's no profit in the high-skilled seasoned people...H1b/L1/B1 are all big fraudulent scams, how companies can get away with the lies that they spread is really a testament to their propaganda finesse....no one that does any thinking, after a minute or two would come to the conclusion that all the pro-H1b "tall tales" are simply hot air and pure bull$hit
User Rank: Apprentice
4/10/2013 | 6:47:12 PM
re: H-1B Rush Sparks Broader Debate
Maybe this will do the trick:

User Rank: Apprentice
4/10/2013 | 6:46:29 PM
re: H-1B Rush Sparks Broader Debate
Can anyone name the operating system made in India or China anyone uses?

Didn't think so. These people are industrial spies here to steal our tech.
User Rank: Apprentice
4/10/2013 | 6:45:46 PM
re: H-1B Rush Sparks Broader Debate
Companies ruined or almost ruined by imported Indian labor

Adaptec - Indian CEO Subramanian Sundaresh fired.
AIG (signed outsourcing deal in 2007 in Europe with Accenture Indian frauds, collapsed in 2009)
AirBus (Qantas plane plunged 650 feet injuring passengers when its computer system written by India disengaged the auto-pilot).
Apple - R&D CLOSED in India in 2006.
Australia's National Australia Bank (Outsourced jobs to India in 2007, nationwide ATM and account failure in late 2010).
Bell Labs (Arun Netravalli took over, closed, turned into a shopping mall)
Boeing Dreamliner ES software (written by HCL, banned by FAA)
Bristol-Myers-Squibb (Trade Secrets and documents stolen in U.S. by Indian national guest worker)
Caymas - Startup run by Indian CEO, French director of dev, Chinese tech lead. Closed after 5 years of sucking VC out of America.
Caterpillar misses earnings a mere 4 months after outsourcing to India, Inc.
Circuit City - Outsourced all IT to Indian-run IBM and went bankrupt shortly thereafter.
ComAir crew system run by 100% Indian IT workers caused the 12/25/05 U.S. airport shutdown when they used a short int instead of a long int
Computer Associates - Former CEO Sanjay Kumar, an Indian national, sentenced to 12 years in federal prison for accounting fraud.
Deloitte - 2010 - this Indian-packed consulting company is being sued under RICO fraud charges by Marin Country, California for a failed solution.
Dell - call center (closed in India)
Delta call centers (closed in India)
Fannie Mae - Hired large numbers of Indians, had to be bailed out. Indian logic bomb creator found guilty and sent to prison.
GM - Was booming in 2006, signed $300 million outsourcing deal with Wipro that same year, went bankrupt 3 years later
HP - Got out of the PC hardware business in 2011 and can't compete with Apple's tablets. HP was taken over by Indians and Chinese in 2001. So much for 'Asian' talent!
HSBC ATMs (software taken over by Indians, failed in 2006)
Intel Whitefield processor project (cancelled, Indian staff canned)
JetStar Airways computer failure brings down Christchurch airport on 9/17/11. JetStar is owned by Quantas - which is know to have outsourced to India, Inc.
Lehman (Spectramind software bought by Wipro, ruined, trashed by Indian programmers)
Medicare - Defrauded by Indian national doctor Arun Sharma & wife in the U.S.
Microsoft - Employs over 35,000 H-1Bs. Stock used to be $100. Today it's lucky to be over $25. Not to mention that Vista thing.
MIT Media Lab Asia (canceled)
MyNines - A startup founded and run by Indian national Apar Kothari went belly up after throwing millions of America's VC $ down the drain.
PeopleSoft (Taken over by Indians in 2000, collapsed).
PepsiCo - Slides from #1 to #3 during Indian CEO Indra Nooyi' watch.
Polycom - Former senior executive Sunil Bhalla charged with insider trading.
Qantas - See AirBus above
Quark (Alukah Kamar CEO, fired, lost 60% of its customers to Adobe because Indian-written QuarkExpress 6 was a failure)
Rolls Royce (Sent aircraft engine work to India in 2006, engines delayed for Boeing 787, and failed on at least 2 Quantas planes in 2010, cost Rolls $500m).
SAP - Same as Deloitte above in 2010.
Singapore airlines (IT functions taken over in 2009 by TCS, website trashed in August, 2011)
Skype (Madhu Yarlagadda fired)
State of Indiana $867 million FAILED IBM project, IBM being sued
State of Texas failed IBM project.
Sun Micro (Taken over by Indian and Chinese workers in 2001, collapsed, had to be sold off to Oracle).
UK's NHS outsourced numerous jobs including health records to India in mid-2000 resulting in $26 billion over budget.
Union Bank of California - Cancelled Finacle project run by India's InfoSys in 2011.
United - call center (closed in India)
Victorian Order of Nurses, Canada (Payroll system screwed up by SAP/IBM in mid-2011)
Virgin Atlantic (software written in India caused cloud IT failure)
World Bank (Indian fraudsters BANNED for 3 years because they stole data).

I could post the whole list here but I don't want to crash any servers.
User Rank: Apprentice
4/10/2013 | 6:44:43 PM
re: H-1B Rush Sparks Broader Debate
Infosys senior level meetings : "We will dump 6 million Indians in US and capture their entire IT market and no American will ever come to know about this. We will throw these Americans out of their own country. They don't know what we are doing over here."

Stuart Anderson is a known former immigration lawyer. Of course he's going to favor more flooding of USA with cheap foreign labor.

We can't trust anything these people say or anything the gov't tries to ram down our throats.
User Rank: Ninja
4/10/2013 | 6:35:24 PM
re: H-1B Rush Sparks Broader Debate
When we have a shortage of nurses do we go to H-1B visas? When we have a shortage of teachers did we go to H-1B visas? When we have a shortage of any work place talent other than technology do we go to H-1B visas? Its time to end the H-1B visas.
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