Odyssey

05 Jun, 2006

The H1-B program brings in mediocre people ?

Posted by: Gargs In: Economy|India|Tech and Culture

As expected, the H1-B quota for FY 2007 has filled up in less than 2 months since it started awarding those worker visas. This is a record. Last year, it took until the middle of August for the quota to close. This is going to ignite some major debate within the econo-political ecosystem as more people find out that they cannot hire experts from abroad.

Now, I have to say, some Indians speak the dumbest things possible if they have to make a point. I guess it’s just in our blood. Take the example of IEEE’s VP for Career Activites, Ron Hira. He is definitely not Indian by birth, but has Indian roots. Read what he says in this article in IT World about the H1-B cap.

Under a bill passed by Congress in 2004, the first 20,000 H-1B applications for workers with master’s degrees or higher are exempt from the cap. As of Thursday, the immigration agency had received about 5,800 exempt applications, it said.

With about 14,000 exemption applications still available, that suggests that some companies are looking primarily for cheap labor, Hira said. “That’s at least one indication that there’s not just geniuses coming in,” he said.

Yes, so basically, only the IT workers who have graduated from an American University at any point in their lives are geniuses. This is more disturbing than amusing. I guess what he’s trying to say is that all those workers outside America with decades of experience under their belts are somehow still inferior to that foreigner who just graduated from some shady small league school. Or maybe he is trying to say that recruiting companies are so stupid that they hire low wage foreigners from outside the country when they could essentially do the same from within the country!

I wonder what kind of a salary negotiation power advantage is held by a foreigner graduating from an American university compared to someone graduating from a foreign country. What is stopping an IT company from paying less to the foreigner already here in the US on a different visa? Does IT experience really not count when trying to find a job at a globally competing company?

I guess I am now an elite foreigner simply because I hold not one, but two degrees from an American university. I have a salary edge over other “regular” H1-Bs.

What about people who are “also” qualified but cannot enter the US?

6 Responses to "The H1-B program brings in mediocre people ?"

1 | DesiPundit » Archives » H1 B discrimination ?

June 5th, 2006 at 10:53 am

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[...] Looking at the way H1 visas are being filled up, Saurabh wonders if a salary negotiation power advantage is held by a foreigner graduating from an American university compared to someone graduating from a foreign country. [...]

2 | The Desi Nole

June 5th, 2006 at 3:37 pm

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Well he obviously does not know what he is talking about. Having filed for my H1-B in the recent past, I can tell you that a specific section deals with wages. According to that section, I have to be paid at the same level as an American (or for that matter anyone) working in a similar job in the same city.

If they do not offer me that salary as a minimum, then I cannot be hired.

So there goes his argument about low wages.

3 | HalfDesi

June 5th, 2006 at 10:23 pm

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From http://www.uscis.gov/graphics/howdoi/h1b.htm

“H-1B aliens may only work for the petitioning U.S. employer and only in the H-1B activities described in the petition.”

A US Citizen or Legal Permanent Resident (green card) can shop their skills around. An H-1B visa holder is tied to a specific employer, and cannot sell their skills on the free market.

As for the regulations on wages, numbers can be manipulated. For example, the job could be inappropriately categorized with jobs that pay less. Also, you may be significantly better than the average employee, but they don’t have to pay you significantly more.

It is now taken for granted that you have to work on an H-1B before you can get a green card in the US. Before 1990, it did not work that way.

Increasing the H-1B visa numbers just expands a flawed program. The real solution is to increase the number of green cards available for highly skilled professionals (and their families).

4 | Prasad

June 6th, 2006 at 12:46 am

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H1Bs are derived from the existing pool of people available. The program per se does nothing to keep geniuses away. There are a bunch of mediocre people entering the US universities now thanks to educational loans and rich parents. Hence some of the H1Bs would be from this pool of people.

The reason qualified foreign graduates do not get an H1B is because the “American” companies do not have a proof of their being “qualified” , cos they do not fully trust the educational system in other countries ( read India ). Fair enough , with our share of fake degrees and scams.

The real advantage the H1B offers employers is that , it helps cut down attrition. Once on an H1B you need another employer who is willing to sponsor your H1B. Thats where the wage limitation is imposed.

5 | HalfDesi

June 6th, 2006 at 1:03 am

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Dunno if it is so much as foreign educated workers are perceived to be unqualified. IIT has been imortalized in Dilbert.

The American education system is funded in part by the government. NSF Grants, DoD research, etc. And some of that is subsidizing your education even if you are paying full tuition.

After you are done with US grad school, the country would like to get some return on its investment. If you go straight back to India, the US loses that investment.

Of course, the Indian government makes a large investment in all the IIT students… an investment that walks out the door when an Indian gets an H-1B.

Another possible factor in the preference for american-educated students… they are more acclimated to american society… or, at least they are perceived to be.

6 | Gargs

June 6th, 2006 at 1:32 am

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It makes sense for companies to “prefer” a graduate from an American university, but how is a recent graduate from an American University better or more qualified than lets say a person with years of experience abroad?

The 20k provision started only last year so basically you can assume that most people getting those visas are recent graduates, because the ones who are experienced already have their H1s since a long time ago.

Of course, this is not taking into consideration various factors like working for years and then coming to the US for a graduate education.

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