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.
I think they should swap the quota, ie., 65000 for advanced degrees and 20000 for general quota and instead of first-come first-serve basis, the application cost should be "directly" proportional to the demand..the highest bidder (, in this case the company) gets the piece of cake....just being honest..
I saw an article last week showing up the Pi-Chart on the Categories and Companies who tried to apply the most H1B's. About 5 IT Staffing/Services companies applied for more than 90% visas just for IT. It's a crystal clear abuse of H1B VISAs. It's creating artificial demand for VISAs and the lottery system simply leaving it to the luck than getting the real and deserving talent required for the projects causing the debate asking for more H1's or not finding talent.
I think legal system should fix this issue first before they talk about other stuff.
How about a tax of $70,000 annually per H1-B visa holder employed by any company? (I don't know if 70K is the right number, maybe it should be 100K, or whatever; but that's not so important here.) This is a tax to be paid by companies every year they employ an H1-B visa holder. This tax incentives the companies to hire US citizens and permanent residents, for whom there is no such tax. What will this do other than raise billions of dollars for the FED? It will also prove that there is no shortage of engineering talent. Suddenly, companies will start finding talent which they claim did not exist before. Currently, there is one and only one reason that companies go after H1-B holders: cheap labor! The more H1-B visa holders a company hires, the less it can pay everyone in the company.
You are missing the point, the raison d'etre for sponsoring employees on an H1-B basis is that there is a shortage of talent. I've been trying to hire engineers in silicon valley for the last 6 years and ALWAYS had difficulty. The wage determination to the Dept. of Labor ensures that the wage paid is consistent with the a salary paid for a similar job ib the same area. You could introduce a tax as you suggested and guess what? ..... more jobs will go overseas because it will cost less to employ people from other countries outside the US.
There is no shortage of talent.
I have a BS degree in Computer Engineering from UCSD, and an MS in ECE from UCSB College of Engineering. I have great experience in embedded systems and software, and don't mind moving. Yet no SV company has arranged an interview, let alone made an offer.
One headhunter told me a job I applied for had 50 applicants. In addition I have lost count of the number of times I apply to a position and see "this position is closed."
Azscot, there is no shortage of talent. I have heard the same excuse my whole career.
azscot: I believe you are missing the point, not I. Here is a suggestion: since you have difficulty in hiring, chances are very good that you are offering low wages. Whatever you consider to be the standard pay for the job in question, offer 50% more, and see what happens. See if you still have difficulty finding the right talent!
azscot - If there's a shortage of talent, why were I and many of my friends laid off from our engineering jobs, which then went to Singapore?
And why, after I went back to school and earned a PhD in EE, did it take me almost a year to get my first job offer?
And why are several of my grad school friends, with Master's in EE or Physics, still looking for jobs two years after graduating?
I've thought about this as well. A $40-50k annual fee to retain an H1B holder on staff, but that $40-50k goes directly to a scholarship fund for US Citizens-only to enroll in advanced technical degree programs (no Art History degrees) in US Universities.
There is no shortage of talent in this country, but that talent is being neglected because companies have no interest in investing in the continued technical development of their employees. They just hire for the skills you already know. So it is encumbent upon all of us to never stop learning. Practice life long learning and stay on top of the current skills needed today.
If companies really need these H1-B employees then those employees should be in the top 20% of the salary band and not make up more that 10% of their job title. That way they don’t take all the jobs and only the best get accepted. Once they no longer meet those criteria they are out. We should not punish companies for wanting the best talent or educate foreigners and not get anything back. If we follow these two simple rules the H1-Bs won’t be cheap labor or take all the jobs.
Why don't companies start schools in Mexico and Central America. Then they can encourage the graduates to come across as undocumented aliens and not pay them much of anything?
Seriously I believe the real reason is companies don't want to pay.
If you read the article you'll learn that the real demand for the H1-Bs themselves is to allow highly skilled IT folks in to work for Wipro, Tata etc. There's several lessons to be learned here. Back in the bad old "mainframe" days corporations hired IBM to write custom software specifically applicable to their market segment because they figured out it wasn't cost-effective to train them and keep them trained themselves. Then along came EDS and then with the advent of minicomputers there came "system houses" and other specialists who also employed these folks, that all changed prominently two more times, once when the PC came along, and again with the internet. What becomes evident here is there are really THREE paths for "computer guys", there's EE, CS and then there's IT as a separate category of solving applied business problems with the computing resources available. The distinction I'm making is IT was always pretty much the "abandoned stepchild", folks who make it work WELL (and on schedule) pretty much had to get their most relevant training "on the job", you can't get this education at any Ivy League "brain factory" and US managers have short patiences for any ad-hoc collection of IT people who can't solve these extremely challenging technical problems almost instantly with next to no resources. They're the "Rodney Dangerfields" of the computer game, they "don't get no respect" from US managers when they're staff employees. But let an offshore agency bill for their services from "behind a corporate veil" and these guys are all of a sudden worth their weight in technical gold, to the point where the visas to get these folks in here get used up in a New York minute! (I wonder if the plain ol' US EE is similarly underappreciated, and if that's REALLY why there's this big push for STEM education? Hmmm...)
This sounds like a lot of BS to me. It is simply not difficult to hire a newly graduated EE, from an accredited university, and then have him train himself him to do IT. What a bunch of baloney, sorry.
I'm not opposed to H-1B visas, in the sense that we should always be looking to import great talent. But to use as the excuse that a company needs basic IT guys, and can't find them from US graduates, sounds too idiotic to be taken seriously.
A primary goal of a university education is teach kids how to learn. University is not supposed to be like a vocational/technical school, where the students are taught very highly focused skills. If a EE grad can't pick up what's needed for IT on his own, I have to doubt he could ever have graduated.
Companies that pretend they can't find the talent they need are being disingenuous. They put on this show of job openings, accept either no one or only those few who happen to mention certain overly-restrictive key words in their resumés, and then whine that they can't find local talent. I don't buy it for an instant.
Wait a minute Bert, I think we're talking about two different types of IT. When I think of someone fully qualified in IT I'm thinking about someone who is completely capable of programming, tuning and deploying applications, someone who has vast knowledge of topics like Microsoft Foundation Classes, distributed component object model (DCOM) and CORBA and multithreaded architectures and using them to author and deploy applications across multiple servers, someone who can set up and manage a secure VPN. If you think these topics are things some EE freshout can teach himself in a few hours you are very wrong! I mean I'm not saying I believe it's "beyond the intellectual capacity" of an EE to master this stuff IF he's being formally trained by his employer (which seldom happens, as you point out) but if I were using this technology to run an international enterprise that's live online I certainly don't want someone "learning on the job" - and bringing down the network to do so! If your notion of IT is just doing the tasks of the average sysadmin then I might see things your way, but once again you're displaying the tendency I've observed of many US managers to vastly oversimplify the problems IT guys deal with to keep these complex applications online and running smoothly, which was really my point in the first place. (And I admit at least things have gotten better than the days when all program testing had to be dome between 3 and 6 AM Sunday morning which was the only time system maintenance could be scheduled...!)
I guess I'm saying that most IT folk, most of the time, deploy and install applications and services that have already been well figured out and debugged. They won't be developing these from scratch. Not as IT people, at any rate. If they will be developing these tools, it is a software experts at software companies.
Same goes with the network itself. They will likely want to go through Cisco or Microsoft certification programs, to learn some of the finer tricks of the trade, and should certainly do their own reading on network topics, but this is hardly beyond the reach of a EE grad.
And yes, I do believe that companies like to pretend that their IT candidates must already know how to "author" their own mirrored server software, how to author their own IETF RFCs, how to write multithreaded programs, but quite frankly, that's what this rukus is all about. The companies end up hiring H-1B candidates who have none of this knowledge anyway, mainly because they can be offered a lower salary. It's a big scam.
Interesting opinions @
Fact 1: Immigrants represent a big portion of the technical talent in US firms and universities.
Immigrants represented 24% and 47% of the US math- and science-based workforce with bachelors and doctorate educations in the 2000 Census, respectively.
Immigrants account for 60% of the math and science doctorates from US universities. (1)
Fact 2: Immigrants represent some of the best technical talent in the US.
60% of the top science students in the United States and 65% of the top math students are the children of immigrants. (1)
Foreign-born high school students make up 50% of the 2004 U.S.Math Olympiad’s top scorers, 38% of the U.S. Physics Team, and 25% of the Intel Science Talent Search finalists, the United States’ most prestigious awards for young scientists and mathematicians. (1)
A slight change to the topic:
It is very obvious right now no matter where you go for food, it is immigrants, mostly Mexican people, working in the kitchen.
For landscaping, it is Mexican people.
If you take a road trip, you may find a lot of immigrants working at farms.
There are tons of jobs available. Yet millions of "jobless" and "poor" American people do not want to work.
This "American" culture, mentality, and social structure is biased, unsustainable, and destined for failure.
Interesting comment. It turns out that one of the changes made by the German government, to turn its previously stagnant economy around, was to incentivize people to work. In part, by reducing welfare benefits to 1 year (I believe that's right).
But forget the facile welfare reference.
As the population ages, and fewer working people have to subsidize ever larger number of retirees, the notion should be that unless you are independently wealthy or physically incapable, you SHOULD be working. Not so much a matter of "want." Every household has to be self-supporting, and then some, except retirees or the physically impaired.
Whether we're handing out H-1B visas for less-than-exceptionally needed engineers, or the way more prevalent problem of hiring illegal immigrants for cheap manual labor, the result is that people who should be working are unable to find a job. Which drags down the economy.
It's a travesty that young engineers in the US can't find a job. If the job market needs IT types or software types more than RF engineers, then you suck it up and learn the new skills. Any EE has to do this anyway, unless he plans to work for only a handful of years after college. And companies need to be made to quit pretending that their needs are so highly focused that only a couple of people in the world can meet their needs.
Right on, companies are of course competing with each other on many levels including to hire talent, and they're also "pretending" to have needs that are superior to the competition - take this to the limit like things are now and these companies are "competitively pretending" which is exactly what you're seeing happen.
The other side of this is of course the compensation. I spent most of my career working under contract or "job shopping", yes sometimes the pay is better but mostly I appreciated working in situations where the employer was well enough organized to actually know what the project was supposed to be about (and therefore not wasting my time and trying to blame me for HIS disorganization) before he hired me. A close friend of mine has a saying about the "marginal price of employment" but what all the microeconomics really means is that the elasticity of the employment rate on the downside is EXACTLY zero, in other words if there's exactly one TOO FEW engineers in the entire labor market he may be able to charge a little more for his services, but if there's exactly one TOO MANY engineers the marginal price is zero and that last engineer literally cannot get away charging a rate for his services that even pays his expenses, and that's how it's been in my field for almost five years.
The need for H1B's may get a lot greater. You may have read the hoopla in the newspapers over this weeks' publication of the "Next Generation Science Standards" which will guide high school science curriculum for the indefinite future. The philosophy is "depth not breadth", deeper analyis of fewer science topics. So what was dropped? There will be no requirement to teach electricity & magnetism in public school education-no ohm's law, no electric circuits no amps, ohm's, volts, induction, nor right-hand-rule. Read 'em for yourself at www.nextgenscience.org. I teach high school physics -- public education in the US is led by fools -- now bringing you a disaster in science education, with fewer students who will be motivated to choose EE as a college major.
I've always thought that the H1B visas were for a generalized pool of talent and not anything unique. I've managed to have a L1-B specialized knowledge visa with various companies for over 10 years and have been doing my best to train local talent so I no longer need to go to the US
There is a lot of illogic in this whole H1B system. #1 is that there is a shortage of labor. In a free market, there is never a shortage. Price fluctuates so that price matches demand. If you can't hire engineers, you aren't paying enough. If you have too many qualified applicants, you are probably paying too much.
#2 is that foreigners are being paid what an American would be paid. This is nonsensical. The market wage for a domestic engineer, by definition, is the salary you must offer in order to get a domestic engineer to leave his job and work for you. If you cannot get an American to work for you, you are by definition offering submarket wages.
I know the deal, I have worked as H1B worker for a major semiconductor company 7 years back. They paid me the minimum allowable wage for that state, which btw was still 3 times more than what I earned at home. A US engineers would never work for such a salary and as even fresh out of college grads were paid at least 1.5 times mine. I have to say that I was proficient in my trade but not an expert. They mainly want some cheap labour and H1B is the means to that but there are definitely exceptions where certain skills are in short supply if not totally unavailable.
If they could hire american engineers for that pay they probably wouldn't go for H1Bs. In the end either the companies or the engineers have to adapt to the times, looks like one did.
You start out by saying that you "know the deal" but from what you have said it is painfully obvious that you don't and I'll prove it shortly. Meantime let's try on a hypothesis, suppose you're working away happily in your home country and one day your boss gets in touch with me and finds out that I have the skills to do your job and I'm willing to do it for 20% of what you're being paid. Overnight you're out of a job, you aren't given an opportunity to "rebid" for it. Then after taking your job I go to an online industry forum and try to tell a story that I took a job from someone who was incredibly greedy because I was willing to work "for a reasonable rate". Mind you, you still have to pay your mortgage, your taxes, any medical and legal bills you may have, and to put your kids through college, and you were just barely making all that happen before I came along. (And even though you would probably despise me you would still have to marvel at how I would be able to find equivalent services costing 20% what you were able to find, or how I could manage to get along without them entirely.) Would you be particularly "appreciative" that I was there to "point out" that the "real problem" was that you're a total greedhead? Gee I don't think so.
Now let me cite some rough statistics. The typical salary of a CEO for a US semiconductor company is something like 9.5 times that of the average US engineer, and that may represent as little as 10% of his total compensation, and the other corporate officers are similarly compensated. Yet somehow while bearing these "costs" as overhead, these companies manage to operate at something close to 50-55% gross profit margin, and that includes paying for the services of many US engineers at their "regular" salaries. So where on earth do you get the motion that the average US engineer is "grossly" overpaid, that these corporations "couldn't operate at a profit" without being able to hire engineers extremely cheap, is that just "standard propaganda" when they recruit H-1B candidates?
Because let me tell you right now, that's "the deal" and you definitely didn't get it! It would be MUCH better for both of us if instead of accepting a hideously low wage, you could manage to upgrade your skill level so you could come here and compete for something MUCH closer to a living wage, then we'd BOTH be happy! (And I hope you don't take umbrage that I tool the time to point this out, this isn't intended to be a personal attack in any way.)
If there were no H1B visas, the market price for people with high demand skills would float up and encourage willing employees to offer to relocate or gain the necessary skills. The H1B visas (one way or another) seem to bring down wages and discourage domestic workers from training for the jobs. We've all seen workers being laid off and replaced by inexpensive H1B labor. We seem to be creating a culture of dependence on H1B visas which accentuates the problem.