When employers hire H-1Bs it is the cheap labor they want and therefore no attempt to hire an American is made. This is legal. Unlike a greencard, which requires the employer to look for an American, the H-1B does not require an employer to look for an American or even make the position known to Americans.
The Department of Labor puts it this way:
"H-1B workers may be hired even when a qualified U.S. worker wants the job, and a U.S. worker can be displaced from the job in favor of the foreign worker."
@chanj0 says "Most often than not, a lot of employers are looking for over 90% match of skills and experience. To be honest, only the people who are currently working in the company or have recently left fit the criteria. Next question is why they are able to find the candidate elsewhere."
I believe that once an employer concludes there are no available qualified candidates, they move towards the cheaper H1B process and hire someone they will train. This isn't a level playing field. If employers made the same effort to train a local worker, the H1B process would not be necessary.
The problem is not that there are not enough Americans to fill these jobs. The problem is that the H-1B is 20-30 percent cheaper. The public schools in the top 200 universities prefer to admit foreign students because they pay out of state tuition which is much higher than in state students pay. Google "California State University departments rebel over resident enrollment dilemma." Also Google "David Berliner Our Schools vs. Theirs: Averages That Hide The True Extremes" and For a historical prospective on industry claims of a shortage of skilled workers Google "Do we need more scientists? By Michael S. Teitelbaum." The section titled "A history of gloomy forecasts" is a bit old but you will get the point.
The majority of the world's top 200 universities are in US. So why it is that US cannot produce the birghtest engineers from the local US citizens? Is it because the US parents do not want to finance the education of their kids , the way asian parents do?
I have seen the Asian parents mortgaging their houses to arrange for study loans for their sons and daughters aspring to to study in US.
There seems to be an urgent need for US to look at this isssue to bring the US local students at par with the international student community so that this every year controversy on the Foreign workers can be resolved.
This topic is always controverial. Employers often claim they couldn't find local candidate so that they have to find candidate elsewhere. Question is the requirement of the job vs the credential of candidates.
Most often than not, a lot of employers are looking for over 90% match of skills and experience. To be honest, only the people who are currently working in the company or have recently left fit the criteria. Next question is why they are able to find the candidate elsewhere. No one except the hiring manager and the company will be able to answer this question.
Leaving the discussion of requirement vs credential aside, I believe maintaining a quota of H1B and immigration visa is important. I'm sure no government wants to have thousand of people coming to flood the city. The reason is simply, the city may not be prepared for the sudden growth of population. Road will get congested. Housing price spikes. I can see the reason quota shall be imposed and I also see the growing pain of companies.
This issue often gets overlooked with immigration reform and it still escapes me why.
First off, the numbers we're talking about are staggeringly different. H1Bs are a drop in the immigration reform bucket.
Aside from that, though, this would also be controversial. The reason is, any US citizen graduate engineer who can't find a job, and in recent years there have been quite a few of these, will naturally blame his unemployed status on H1Bs.
On the other hand, attracting the "best and brightest" is also a good thing. So to me, even this H1B issue cannot help BUT be contentious.
Only to underscore that point, we saw a blog to that effect on EE Times recently. A blog about how hard it is to find US citizen candidates, after the HR department adds in arbitrary filters to reject the vast majority of US applicants.
Who gets to decide who the best and the brightest are? H-1B shouldn't be expanded, they should be augmented with another program that allows Universities to give their top foreign graduates visas. That way we have a variety of institutions deciding who are the best and brightest and not just businesses looking for the cheapest labor.
H-1B's give way too much power to the employer, and are used by non-tech employers, too.
For example, I know of a music studio that mainly employees H1B music teachers -- and there is no shortage of music teachers! (Maybe there is a shortage of music teachers willing to work under the same conditions as the H1B teachers. Oh, and as soon as the H1B teachers get a green card, they leave).
Message to the US government: If the best and brightest want to come to the US to work and start businesses, let them come! Stop limiting the number of H-1B visa issued. This issue often gets overlooked with immigration reform and it still escapes me why.