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Microsoft & Intel Get a Pass On Higher H-1B Fees

kdawson posted more than 3 years ago | from the mastercard-also-accepted dept.

Businesses 209

theodp writes "Criticizing companies that outsource high-paying American jobs, Senator Charles Schumer described Indian IT company Infosys as a 'chop shop'. (Nine Indian companies accounted for 20,000 H-1B visas as of 2007. In 2008, Infosys held 4,500 of the visas; the number was down by a factor of 10 in 2009.) The comments came as the Senate scrambled to fund the $600M Mexican Border Security Bill by hiking application fees for H-1B and L-1 visas. The Senate measure increases H-1B visa fees by $2,000 per application on firms that have 50% or more of their employees on this visa. Schumer pointed out that the bill would not affect high-tech companies such as Intel or Microsoft 'that play by the rules and recruit workers in America,' although they are among the biggest beneficiaries of the H-1B program."

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did i read that right (5, Funny)

TheRealQuestor (1750940) | more than 3 years ago | (#33186078)

why do the words Intel and Microsoft just not sound right sitting next to "Play by the rules"?

Re:did i read that right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33186124)

Yes you read that right. Playing by the rules means campaign contributions, Microsoft and Intel payed theirs.

Re:did i read that right (1)

Arimus (198136) | more than 3 years ago | (#33186146)

In this instacne they do... does not help them to break these rules so they'll play by them.

And apart from that its simple: =50% you do. So not exactly a hard rule (and a bit of work with HR, outsourcing/sub-contracting/contractors can help reduce you below 50% without doing any rule breaking; same as any tax - evasion of the tax would be illegal, avoidance isn't)

Re:did i read that right (2, Interesting)

shriphani (1174497) | more than 3 years ago | (#33186174)

Despite all the bad press they get, MS and Intel have very good hiring practices. They believe in hiring anyone who displays talent - regardless of nationality. They really don't have anything to gain by trying to game the H1B system. The shady stuff happens at smaller companies working on mostly insignificant stuff.

Re:did i read that right (1)

davester666 (731373) | more than 3 years ago | (#33186242)

Yes, it's just an incredibly huge bonus for them if they can hire the person really cheap [vs hiring a non-import].

Re:did i read that right (1)

Whatshisface (1203604) | more than 3 years ago | (#33186578)

That's the whole point...they aren't really getting them cheaper.

Speaking from personal experience, I graduated from a US university a few years ago and applied for a job at various tech companies, including Microsoft. I was competing with everybody else who had graduated, and would be paid the same as any entry level developer (which was about 65k at the time).

The only difference was that, as a foreign national, if they decided to hire me, they would have to provide me with an H-1B visa.

A large number of the H-1B professionals who work for MS and Intel and other tech companies, have come in the same way, by competing against other qualified candidates, including Americans, for the same salary, and proving themselves to be the best candidate.

There is a big difference between them and the "sweatshop" candidates being brought in by the outsourcing companies.

Re:did i read that right (5, Insightful)

anagama (611277) | more than 3 years ago | (#33186624)

While the starting salary may be $65k under our present system, it can't be said that in the absence of the H1-B program, the starting salary would still be only $65k. It used to be that when labor was short wages would rise, and that when labor was abundant, wages would fall. Since the whole globalization craze, that sea-saw balance of power between between labor and industry is gone, because with a whole world out there capable of living on dollars/day (something completely impossible in America), there is never a chance for labor to be short and for workers to get their payoff for suffering through the times when labor is abundant. In essence, we've created a system that always has a labor surplus leading to lower wages (or no wages) for everyone -- from the low skilled workers in the textile industry, to highly educated people in technical fields.

Open World (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33187378)

There is, and that is when the whole world gets to a standard above 1$/day. Artificially limiting where people can work and travel solely based on where they were born is quite a medieval practice that we have yet to get rid of. Globalization is all about more goods moving around then people. The reason you get cheap labour intensive goods such as Tuna, Rice, Coffee etc is because millions of people are artificially forced to live in unlivable conditions because they can otherwise do nothing or cant go anywhere else.

If your skillset is such that other people can compete easily then distinguish yourself, don't just advocate the medieval practice of limiting people's freedom of movement.

An open world is a world where goods and services are more fairly priced, not underpriced (third world goods) nor overpriced (certain first world goods, such as medicines). It is a world where 6 billion people can be as productive as the 1 billion in the western world. It would be amazing to live in such a productive world.

Mod parent up (1)

Clueless Nick (883532) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187894)

AC speaks up against hypocrisy. Should have been brave enough to post under own ID.

Re:did i read that right (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33187584)

Um, the "chop shops" bring in people from India at 35k/yr. The fee should be raised to 10k/yr and all proceeds should go towards expanding IT training programs at Colleges and Universities.

Re:did i read that right (2, Informative)

hibiki_r (649814) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187624)

How could one know that the standard would actually raise, instead of the work being offshored?

When a company actually plays by the rules, they aren't bringing a random programmer to the US: They bring one that, in his home country, would probably be at least leading a team and making them a whole lot more competitive, while the lack of said programmer here makes his firm less competitive.

Make the salary requirements for H1-Bs more stringent, and facilitate the Green Card process, and you'll have a far healthier system than we currently have, where not only are H1-B hitting the cap every year, but there are tems, if not hundreds of thousands of H1-Bs that have applied for Green cards and wait in line over a decade, with a more limited ability to switch jobs looking for a better wage.

Re:did i read that right (5, Insightful)

NormalVisual (565491) | more than 3 years ago | (#33186990)

A large number of the H-1B professionals who work for MS and Intel and other tech companies, have come in the same way, by competing against other qualified candidates, including Americans, for the same salary, and proving themselves to be the best candidate.

The mere fact that they're competing against qualified American programmers is indicative of a problem. The H-1B program is predicated on the fiction that there aren't enough qualified Americans to fill the open positions to begin with.

Re:did i read that right (2, Insightful)

trickyD1ck (1313117) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187220)

As much as you (and I) want to get paid more by excluding competition, other people want to buy products of your labor for less by respectively encouraging competition. In a world of competition and (relatively) free trade, to demand oneself a unique position that is protected from competition is dishonest, i think. Lest of course you also don't buy any of the cheap products that became available due to international cooperation and competition. This probably includes virtually all consumer products.

Re:did i read that right (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33187464)

No one is arguing that Intel, Microsoft, et. al. cannot start up divisions in foreign countries using the local labor pools and import the goods. The argument is that they are importing foreign nationals for the sake of undercutting local salaries under the false premise that skilled labor cannot be found in sufficient quantities locally.

Re:did i read that right (2, Informative)

hibiki_r (649814) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187678)

And if they left, they would compete against qualified Americans from another country with a cheaper standard of living. Claiming that wages would go up if they left is forgetting the other side of the coin altogether.

I'd also argue that, outside of a few companies that have HR departments that are more than ready to exploit the weaknesses of the program, hiring an H1-B is such a hassle that you'll still pick a comparable American instead if the salary is remotely similar.

Re:did i read that right (1)

shadowofwind (1209890) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187364)

Of my EE classmates at an American state university, I only know of two who got into Intel. One got in as an IT tech and eventually worked his way into an engineering position. Another got a job from his dad. I had nearly perfect grades, and later I had additional education, a successful work record, and good references, but despite dozens of attempts I've never even gotten an interview. I had 7 years of engineering experience before I reached $65K. A lot of that is just me of course, but the system and some of the claims made about it still pisses me off a little.

Re:did i read that right (2, Insightful)

bsdaemonaut (1482047) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187774)

There are very few degrees beyond computer science and engineering, unless your simply lucky, which can expect such high wages. The honeymoon is over, we have more competent people in this sector every year, it's natural for us to want wages to go up, but as our skills become more common place we have less to fall back on. It's funny really, it sounds like in your instance you went on to get another degree, but there is no shortage of people on here actually complaining about struggling to find 65k with a bachelor degree and no experience -- a number which, at least where I'm from, people graduating with degrees in veterinary medicine and law are also aiming for. Perhaps its time we, as a group, get over ourselves.

Re:did i read that right (1)

BVis (267028) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187876)

Perhaps its time we, as a group, get over ourselves.

Try supporting a family on 65k/yr in one of the highest cost-of-living areas in the country. 65k is practically poverty level for a family of three here, let alone four or five.

And before you tell me to move to somewhere where the COL is lower, you have to remember that the salaries are correspondingly lower, the standard of living is lower, and the COL is lower because nobody wants to live there. Plus, my job is here, my family is here, and I like it here.

Re:did i read that right (3, Interesting)

BBF_BBF (812493) | more than 3 years ago | (#33186770)

Yes, it's just an incredibly huge bonus for them if they can hire the person really cheap [vs hiring a non-import].

If indeed, Microsoft and Intel are following the rules, they must pay AT LEAST the average wage in the local area, so they're not going to save all that much. Abusers don't follow that rule, they "report" that they pay the average or more, but then don't pay that amount to their H-1B employee aka Slave labor. However, one could argue that the companies can get top rung foreigners for average US worker prices, thus are really underpaying the foreigners.

Re:did i read that right (3, Insightful)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187568)

If indeed, Microsoft and Intel are following the rules, they must pay AT LEAST the average wage in the local area, so they're not going to save all that much.

You left out the part where Microsoft and Intel are keeping the local average wage low by using H-1Bs.

Also, what determines the local average wage and how often are the companies audited for compliance? I think you'll be disappointed by the answer.

However, one could argue that the companies can get top rung foreigners for average US worker prices, thus are really underpaying the foreigners.

Why ignore the top rung US workers or were you implying that US workers can't be top rung?

Re:did i read that right (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33187842)

Ah the old cheap myth. So, as a recipient of an H1B this year from MS (hence posting anon *grin*) my situation is as follows.

  • My starting salary is at the high end of one of the bands. As band/level has a range of around +/- $5,000 cheaper doesn't really enter into it because ...
  • The costs for the H1B were around $4k, so even if I were placed at the bottom of the level, despite my experience placing me at the top) they'd be saving around $1k, except ...
  • They paid for the contents of my house in Europe to be moved, and temporary housing and a hire car.

There's nothing cheap about hiring an H1B, at least not the way MS do it. Now the likes of InfoSys, sure, they bring over lots of people, with little benefits and set them up 4-10 to a house. That's pretty scummy, especially as they're viewed as cheap labor. MS have already started the green card process on my behalf - they're treating me like a permanent member of staff and will do what it takes to keep me.

Decry MS's business practices all you like, or the software quality, but one thing they don't do, or at least didn't where I was concerned, was use an H1B as a way of getting cheap talent.

Re:did i read that right (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33186340)

Posting as an AC due to the high number of H1B's in my office. But they don't work for us. They work for the contracting company we hire. The contracting company will get the bad press, slightly increase the per hour fee and the big company will point out that they're hiring American and not mentioning that they're contracting a lot more jobs than they hire and the contractors are rarely (if ever) American.

Re:did i read that right (2, Insightful)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187060)

Intel?!? The same Intel that shipped most of their R&D jobs overseas because "they couldn't get enough qualified Americans" - that Intel?

Uh huh. Riiiiiiiiiiiiiight.

Re:did i read that right (1)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187672)

H1B visas get a bad reputation because Microsoft and Intel lobby congress to increase the yearly quotas on the premise that there aren't enough skill US workers to fill the positions. As part of their lobbying (aka bullying) they threaten to relocate outside the US unless they get what they want like an increase in the quota and exemption from the H1B fee hikes.

Giving companies a free pass on the H1B application is violating everyone else's right to equal protection (ie 14th amendment). I know when I was in the forest products industry, my clients had to pay the same plant quarantine application fee as everyone else regardless of the size of the business.

H1B visas are necessary. They allow foreign scientists and other skilled labor to work along side US workers in most University settings. Like anything else, they can be subject to abuse.

Re:did i read that right (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33186872)

Gee, I wonder why they aren't getting H1B visas for AFRICANS?

Could it possibly be that Africans are LESS INTELLIGENT than any other race on the planet?

Say it ain't so! Let's just keep letting more of them into our countries, that'll work!

Nothing to do with Intel or Microsoft? (5, Informative)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 3 years ago | (#33186106)

FTFS: ``The Senate measure increases H-1B visa fees by $2,000 per application on firms that have 50% or more of their employees on this visa.''

And Microsoft and Intel evidently are below this 50% limit. As far as I can tell, this isn't Microsoft and Intel "getting a pass", as the title states. No company is being singled out here. It doesn't matter who you are, what matters if you have 50% or more of your employees on H-1B visa.

Re:Nothing to do with Intel or Microsoft? (5, Insightful)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#33186156)

Yeah... 50% total is also easy for big companies to avoid, by making sure to have plenty of employees performing non-skilled labor that count. They could actually aim to hire minimum-wage non-technical employees in advance in order to reduce the proportion of H1B workers. It could still be more cost-effective than hiring skilled labor from local applicants.

They ought to require firms applying for H1Bs to report number of workers in various categories or types of work, and if you have 50% or more of your employees performing any particular type of work on H-1HB visa , then the higher app fees apply for workers in that category...

So e.g. if >50% or your secretaries or H1B, or >50% of your support personnel are H1B, if >50% of your accountants/managers are H1B, or if >50% of your engineers are H1B....

Re:Nothing to do with Intel or Microsoft? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33186186)

if you have 50% or more of your employees performing any particular type of work on H-1HB visa , then the higher app fees apply for workers in that category

50% by any particular type of work is pretty bad...

This would really be pretty hard, especially if you only have 1 or 2 people doing certain types of work. It would be better if they put a and/or statement in there. Such as > 50% of your employees are on a visa, or > 25% of your employee's total income is in a visa.

P.S. Going anonymous here because the environment I work in has probably 40% employees on a visa, but maybe 75% of the income.

Re:Nothing to do with Intel or Microsoft? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33186378)

I work for a high-tech company who uses H-1B visas quite a bit. However, we hire anyone - from anywhere - that is good enough. I'm not sure whether there is more american citizens or more of us foreigners in the company - but to be quite honest, I don't see why it should matter.

You'll get hired if you pass a certain bar - no matter where you're from. USian? Cool. Canadian? Yeps, go ahead. South American? Excellent. European? Sure. African? Yay! Asian? Go right ahead.

Now, the bar is pretty damn high. I don't see why it should be lowered to hire more of a certain nationality.

Re:Nothing to do with Intel or Microsoft? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33186568)

Well, then you shouldn't care about the increase in price because you just want to hire that person.

Personally, not living in the US I don't understand the conditions these workers stand. But when the foreigners are actually getting paid better than the nationals it seems obvious they must provide a perceived value.

If each individual Indian is really better than the alternatives, then the Americans should try to prepare themselves better.

Now when the perceived value is because nationals are being classified as a lazy dog because of their ethnicity, there is probably a problem.

If you have two equal candidates and hire the Indian over the American because Indians are industrious and Americans play games in their mom's basement, then you have a problem. Not saying it should be solved by law. It's not any worse than career profiling.

I know many "senior" programmers with amazing pieces of paper and former workplaces to show who are out-programmed by the High school drop-out which at 30yo took a C# course in a local community school and applied for the job. A bad programmer isn't fixed by experience.

Of course generalization works generally, just don't rely blindly on it.

lot's of places use contrack jantors ferms any way (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187716)

lot's of places use contract janitors firms any way some of then hire illegals so even that is better as you have more Americans working and they must pay min wage as well.

Re:Nothing to do with Intel or Microsoft? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33186336)

FTFS: ``The Senate measure increases H-1B visa fees by $2,000 per application on firms that have 50% or more of their employees on this visa.''

And Microsoft and Intel evidently are below this 50% limit. As far as I can tell, this isn't Microsoft and Intel "getting a pass", as the title states. No company is being singled out here. It doesn't matter who you are, what matters if you have 50% or more of your employees on H-1B visa.

Every Infosys site I have been on has been 99% India citizen staffed. When they go back to their country for personal reason like marriage or death another one flies over and takes their place. Maybe 2% of US citizens is all I have ever seen in any department run by them.
Talk about Cliques

Re:Nothing to do with Intel or Microsoft? (0, Troll)

Third Position (1725934) | more than 3 years ago | (#33186422)

Every Infosys site I have been on has been 99% India citizen staffed. When they go back to their country for personal reason like marriage or death another one flies over and takes their place. Maybe 2% of US citizens is all I have ever seen in any department run by them.
Talk about Cliques

Nothing new about that. [youtube.com]

Re:Nothing to do with Intel or Microsoft? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33186362)

I'm a tax-savings bonus hunter. My job is to apply the formula.

Take the number of foreign workers in the field, (A), and multiply it by minimum wage, (B), then multiply the result by a trivial arbitrary number of payable hours, (C). A times B times C equals X...

If X is less than the cost of H1-B visas for A, we hire shills.

Are there a lot of these kinds of loopholes?

Oh, you wouldn't believe.

... Which... software company do you work for?

A major one.

You are right (4, Interesting)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 3 years ago | (#33186382)

This is just spin to try and make MS look like the bad guys getting special treatment. The reality of the situation is that if companies hire a majority of American (meaning either citizen or resident alien) employees then they don't pay the extra fee. MS and Intel were noted in the article as tow companies that "play by the rules" and hire a majority of American workers, but they were not given special dispensation.

My guess is the logic is twofold:

1) It is to help protect American jobs and encourage companies to hire local. After all if it costs more to hire H-1B employees, then it is not as attractive a proposition.

2) To derive the funding for the measure from a relevant source. The measure deals with immigration, so companies that bring in the most immigrants get to shoulder the burden. While it isn't a direct thing (since the bill is about southern border security) it is still related.

Re:You are right (2, Informative)

Jedi Alec (258881) | more than 3 years ago | (#33186512)

This is just spin to try and make MS look like the bad guys getting special treatment.

Posted by kdawson on Monday August 09, @02:02AM

In other news: water is wet and the sky is blue. Film at 11.

Re:Nothing to do with Intel or Microsoft? (4, Insightful)

copponex (13876) | more than 3 years ago | (#33186384)

Microsoft has 90,000 employees. Intel has 83,000 at least. Considering that there are around 100,000 H1B recipients, you could place nearly all of them at just these two companies and they wouldn't have to pay a dime for any applications, since it would be less than 50% of their employment.

Trickle down tax policies favor monopolies, and anything that taxes a company based on allowed percentage is going to favor huge corporations. But that's entirely the point. Start a ten man company with six H1B recipients, and you're looking at 12,000 in taxes. Microsoft can hire 44,000 H1B recipients and not pay a dime for the application fee.

Every company that hires people from outside the United States should be given zero incentives to do so. Otherwise they have no incentive to train an American for the same job, or to support public education measures so America can produce better workers.

Re:Nothing to do with Intel or Microsoft? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33186560)

copponex wrote:

Start a ten man company with six H1B recipients, and you're looking at 12,000 in taxes. Microsoft can hire 44,000 H1B recipients and not pay a dime for the application fee.

Do try reading the article next time. I'll quote the relevant section.

The $2,000 increase may be added to the $320 H-1B filing fee, said Sarah Hawk, who heads the immigration practice at Fisher & Phillips LLP in Atlanta.

H-1B visa fees can add up. There are a number of other add-on fees as well: a $500 antifraud fee that is required for any new H-1B and L-1 visa user, and a fee for training U.S. workers that scales from $750 to $1,500, depending on the size of the company applying for a visa.

Many companies also pay $1,000 extra for what's called premium processing to accelerate handling of the visa. And legal fees can run as high as $2,000.

Re:Nothing to do with Intel or Microsoft? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33186646)

>>>Every company that hires people from outside the United States should be given zero incentives to do so. Otherwise they have no incentive to train an American for the same job, or to support public education measures so America can produce better workers.

Don't you think the rest of the world will not follow the suit? To counter this, India/China will increase import duty on every product US makes (IPhones, MC-Donalds, Cisco Routers, Windows, Intel CPUs). Oh Damn! there goes 40% of the market.

Secondly, this bill will cause little damage to Infosys bottom line. Infosys will simply outsource more. Meaning, additional H1-Bs will not get hired. Those jobs gets outsourced to places like Bangalore. There goes tax dollars!

Re:Nothing to do with Intel or Microsoft? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33187794)

Does that 50% only cover their locations within the US? MS and Intel both have substantial international divisions, which I assume do not employ many Americans.

Re:Nothing to do with Intel or Microsoft? (2, Interesting)

nacturation (646836) | more than 3 years ago | (#33186388)

The submission is from theodp... what did you expect, an anti-Amazon patent rant?

Re:Nothing to do with Intel or Microsoft? (1)

recoiledsnake (879048) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187390)

The submission is from theodp... what did you expect, an anti-Amazon patent rant?

Google gets a 'free pass' too, not to mention almost every American company. Looks like the headline and summary were spinned to troll Slashdot.

Re:Nothing to do with Intel or Microsoft? (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#33186492)

As far as I can tell, this isn't Microsoft and Intel "getting a pass", as the title states. No company is being singled out here

  • Formally, the title seems correct to me: since neither Intel nor MS are affected, they do get a pass, at least for now, isn't it?
  • In real-world terms, even if other companies would "get a pass too", the most affected will be: either the pure sweat-shops or small American companies for which one extra employees in H1B visa may mean the difference between paying or not paying an extra tax.

Does it make sense? (note: I'm not discussing or implying anything about the desirability of any situation. Just exploring, cold-minded, the summary/title, and also observing with respect the good /. tradition of not reading TFA).

Re:Nothing to do with Intel or Microsoft? (3, Interesting)

toastar (573882) | more than 3 years ago | (#33186628)

FTFS: ``The Senate measure increases H-1B visa fees by $2,000 per application on firms that have 50% or more of their employees on this visa.''

And Microsoft and Intel evidently are below this 50% limit. As far as I can tell, this isn't Microsoft and Intel "getting a pass", as the title states. No company is being singled out here. It doesn't matter who you are, what matters if you have 50% or more of your employees on H-1B visa.

You must not be from america..... Or you failed you high school civics class. Of course it's worded this way, if it said the specific companies that didn't get taxed it would be a bill of attainder. The question is who it targets, 50% sounds like a round number, but you would be surprised at how many people probably lobbied to get it set that high. A good question is which companies would have been hit if it was set to 25% or 75%.

Re:Nothing to do with Intel or Microsoft? (2, Informative)

recoiledsnake (879048) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187404)

Picking out MS and Intel in the headline was clearly meant to troll Slashdot. Google and almost every other big tech company gets a 'free pass' too.

why? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33186112)

And why does it make sense to tax legal immigration to fight illegal immigration? As if legal immigration causes illegal...

Re:why? (3, Informative)

cappp (1822388) | more than 3 years ago | (#33186230)

It's part of the general insanity of US immigration. I have friends that attended elite American universities and earned graduate degrees in the hard sciences - mechanics, biological sciences, physics and so on - and struggled to be allowed to stay in the US. These are people who have invested huge amounts in the American economy, provided skilled intellectual labour during their time in the country, and threw themselves into politcal and charitable volunteerism. Most spent 8 years in the country and were invited to leave as soon as possible after graduation - or perhaps after a year of work experience training. That's madness.

Interesting portion of the article

H-1B visa fees can add up. There are a number of other add-on fees as well: a $500 antifraud fee that is required for any new H-1B and L-1 visa user, and a fee for training U.S. workers that scales from $750 to $1,500, depending on the size of the company applying for a visa. Many companies also pay $1,000 extra for what's called premium processing to accelerate handling of the visa. And legal fees can run as high as $2,000.

and

The H-1B fee increase is going to cover only a fraction of the $600 million the Senate wants for border security. The largest H-1B user in 2008 was Infosys, which accounted for 4,500 visas that year. A $2,000 fee increase would have added about $9 million to its visa bill.

Re:why? (3, Insightful)

jcr (53032) | more than 3 years ago | (#33186392)

That reminds me of one man I know who attended the University of Maryland, and got a computer science degree. He was from Hungary, and at the time, anyone shipping so much as a Z80 to Hungary was looking at hard time. This guy could have built a VAX from TTL parts from memory, and our brilliant government wanted to send him and his skills back behind the iron curtain.

-jcr

Re:why? (3, Insightful)

tempest69 (572798) | more than 3 years ago | (#33186702)

The problem I see with the H1-B is kinda backwards.. The companies are able to really abuse these workers. Now even If I don't care an ounce about these people - it's still bad news for me. When it comes time for death march coding it destroys the leverage of the local workers to make appropriate demands for compensation. When it comes time for raises it becomes harder to compete with the people who are here at lower pay grades.
The problem I see is the H1-B's are locked in to their jobs, and nearly indentured servants. My problem is that the Hungarian will work for 30k and they expect an American with that level of skill to work for a mere 45k. Though with some relaxing on the H1-B the Hungarian could go on to find 6 figure work. Working at a project appropriate to his skill level.
My take is that we should keep the high end labor.. it makes the US richer, it makes the immigrants richer, and it means we have more top end people working the hard problems.

Storm

Re:why? (1)

hibiki_r (649814) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187766)

Switching jobs is not so easy under H1-B, but not impossible anymore. Still, a barrier.

The real problem is in the Green Card backlog. If a company wants to make an H1-B permanent, they better have a Master's degree, because if they don't they will get approved, but face a backlog between 5 and 10 years. This is one reason many weak international students will go for a master whether they find it useful or not: It shortens the Green Card application process to under 6 months.

By the time an H1-B without a graduate degree gets a green card, chances are he's spent 4-5 years as an H-1B, and an extra 8 on the queue. I'd argue that a programmer with 5 years of experience is more valuable than one that just finished a quick master's degree after graduation.

Re:why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33186608)

...and add all costs involved for the applicant when going to the US Embassy non-immigrant visa appointment interview. For many people this often involved travelling far and one or two overnight stays. This can easily add up to another 1000 USD or more. Then the actually embassy charges roughly 150-200 USD for the appoint itself - it may vary but for me the "interview" has been taking 1-2 minutes of getting my finger prints (again!). Then add to the fact that you have to wait weeks/months to get an appointment (they are very busy), which may put you in limbo possibly without salary.

In addition, add all the time spent to prepare forms etc. That will takes many hours, and even days. IThen there are all people at the company hiring you that have to prepare more forms. So, I would imagine you can count days of work spent on just the forms. Translating that into money and you'll have another 1000 USD or so in costs. This not including the work at the US officials.

It's not the US (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 3 years ago | (#33186816)

Countries in general seem unable to have sane immigration policies. It is just one area that stupidity and bureaucracy form a perfect storm. Example:

My father is American, born in the US. My mom is a Canadian, born in Canada. Most of their lives were spent in the US (that's where I was born and raised). However, before I was born, during the Vietnam War they went up to Canada. My dad intended to dodge the draft. I say intended because he was never actually drafted but he wasn't waiting around for that to happen. Being married to a Canadian made it real easy to get in. In that time he obtained landed immigrant status, which is similar to a green card. That all ends, he moves back to the US, they start a family.

30ish years later, they decide to move to Canada. This is not a problem, as mom is Canadian. Also they purchase a house, and a business there. No big deal. Dad contacts Canadian Immigration about getting his landed status back. Surprisingly, they just give it to him. Not a single hitch, almost no paperwork. Just "here you go." Wow some sense at last right? If only.

So a few years later, he's lived there long enough to be eligible to obtain citizenship. He's applying, since there's no reason not to (you don't give up your US citizenship, you get both, I have dual citizenship, as does mom). Now the bureaucratic bullshit starts. Hefty fee, paid in advance, massive amounts of forms including asking all the dates you've been out of the country in the last few years and so on. All that gets submitted. He hears nothing, calls to ask. They say "Oh we won't even look at the application for 9 months or so."

Wait, what? I mean there's no reason (or probably even ability) to deny it, he's married to a Canadian, there legally, owns property, etc. However the process is what the process is so they accept an app and then just sit on it for months. Then there's more bullshit to come, he's been warned.

For that matter I've had people tell me I should look for a job in Canada. Reason is that they have a real lack of tech workers. They don't have enough locally to cover demand. Of course that doesn't mean they let more in, no immigration continues to be retarded. So as a citizen, a company would love to hire me since there'd be no bullshit, I could just move up and start work.

Re:It's not the US (1)

puto (533470) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187834)

Actually, There are grey legal areas in what your dad is trying to to do. First your dual citizenship is grounded in the ffact that you have dual nationalities. A parent from each place. However, if a US citizen applies for citizenship in another country, he can run the risk of losing his US citizenship. You really need to have your father read this. http://travel.state.gov/law/citizenship/citizenship_778.html [state.gov]

Re:why? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33186386)

The tax is because you're not supposed to be using immigrants as a source of cheap labor. Immigrants are willing to work for cheaper than Americans, so employing too many immigrants lowers the standard of living. I think the idea is that a small tax might tip the scales towards local labor and prevent companies from using immigrants to make up the body of their company.

dom

Re:why? (2, Interesting)

megaditto (982598) | more than 3 years ago | (#33186554)

What else is Chucky Schumer to do?

In an election year, the voters have three priorities: jobs, borders, and deficits.

Like any good Democrat he knows that you can't tax the illegal immigrants: they are already poor, and you will piss off many liberals.
You also you can't tax regular citizens because they might vote you out!

But by taxing work visas it looks like you are creating more jobs for Americans, while funding the borders, while reducing the deficit! Killing three birds with one stone!

Re:why? (1)

sqrt(2) (786011) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187096)

Those are pretty much the priorities of most people for most years, although it seems to more favor Republicans. Illegal immigrants DO pay taxes, they pay sales and property taxes (which are unavoidable if you buy goods and rent property) and most have payroll taxes taken out of the checks by their employer to cover their own asses. Many also pay into SS with fake numbers, so they'll never see any of that money but are subsidizing people who will.

Jobs aren't being saved or created by making it harder for educated people to come to the US and stay here. Borders? I guess borders are an issue for me, in that I want them to be totally open, and give amnesty to all people currently here. Deficits can be fixed with higher taxes for the wealthy and corporations - as well as reducing the size and scope of our military. With the left over cash you increase social welfare and entitlement spending.

I guess that's why I'm not a Democrat or a Republican, but a socialist.

Re:why? (0, Troll)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187618)

Because legal immigrants benefit more than citizens from a reduction in illegal immigration.

But of course that isn't the real reason, it's two birds with one stone - both legal and illegal immigration get punished a little since the person whose vote this is aimed at getting isn't anti-illegal immigration, they are anti-immigration (well maybe just anti-non-white-immigration in truth).

Legalize it. (0, Offtopic)

AlexLibman (785653) | more than 3 years ago | (#33186116)

(1) Open all borders. End all taxation. Auction off all government property and put all politicians / government bureaucrats in work prisons, with the profits going to their victims in the form of tax rebates. Ostracize anyone who ever thought government was a good idea, for any purpose whatsoever.

(2) Install FreeBSD.

Legal challenges are a comin' (3, Insightful)

PinkyGigglebrain (730753) | more than 3 years ago | (#33186150)

I can already see smaller companies going to court to claim that they are being unfairly burdened by the higher cost.

Right or wrong this is going to cause some fur to fly.

Another KDawson Special (1, Insightful)

bloodhawk (813939) | more than 3 years ago | (#33186154)

Why are MS and Intel even mentioned here? they aren't getting a pass, this isn't even related to them as neither have more than 50% of employees on Visa?

Re:Another KDawson Special (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 3 years ago | (#33186338)

Why are MS and Intel even mentioned here?

Because it was written by theodp.

Is that a viable business model? (5, Insightful)

gmhowell (26755) | more than 3 years ago | (#33186170)

If 50%+ of your employees are H1-B's, I would suggest that your business model is not viable in the United States.

Re:Is that a viable business model? (1)

moderators_are_w*nke (571920) | more than 3 years ago | (#33186278)

No, it just means your lobbying expenses are above average.

Re:Is that a viable business model? (4, Insightful)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 3 years ago | (#33186376)

Care to explain? If a company is doing it there and not going out of business it would appear to me that it's very viable indeed.

Re:Is that a viable business model? (0, Flamebait)

gmhowell (26755) | more than 3 years ago | (#33186602)

They are only doing it in the presence of government 'subsidies'. If your business doesn't work without subsidies, it is not viable.

Re:Is that a viable business model? (2, Insightful)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 3 years ago | (#33186818)

You get subsidies for hiring H1-Bs?

Where do I sign up - I'll take a dozen!

Re:Is that a viable business model? (1)

rollingcalf (605357) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187848)

The H1B is a subsidy in the sense that it artificially suppresses the wages of the H1B workers, due to the government-imposed barriers for changing jobs and the requirement to have a qualifying job in order to maintain legal status.

If the H1B visa weren't tied to a specific employer so they could change jobs freely without the next employer having to file a mountain of immigration paperwork, and there were a sufficient grace period (say 90 days) for a fired/laid off H1B worker to find new employment without being deportable, they would have more leverage to demand higher wages and wouldn't be so afraid of being fired for making such demands.

Re:Is that a viable business model? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33187650)

Tell that to every corn farmer in the U.S.

Re:Is that a viable business model? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33186688)

Yeah open up in India and hire Yanks to there, it's probably cheaper to hire Yanks as they are desperate for jobs and that :)

Re:Is that a viable business model? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33186870)

50%+ of your employees are H1-B's, I would suggest that the Employment Inspectors should come around and ask why no Americans could be found and ask difficult questions.
If the percentage was >70% then there should likely be an investigation and heavy fines if the H1-B's were ordinary folk.

In Australia there are a few Indian firms abusing our equivalent of H1-B's. It turns out employees do not get paid lawful 'overtime' money for march-of-death/impossible deadline projects and expected to work crazy hours to deliver, the the company won, because no-one else bid so low. And the cherry on the cake - a vague possibility of citizenship if they shut up and say nothing.

WSJ: Senator Probably Meant to Say 'Body Shop' (1)

theodp (442580) | more than 3 years ago | (#33186188)

WSJ [wsj.com] : It is likely the senator was going for 'body shop,' also a derogatory term, but one that describes firms who shuffle low-cost tech engineers around the globe.

Tax H1-B to fight illegal immigration? (2, Insightful)

cgenman (325138) | more than 3 years ago | (#33186248)

Shouldn't we be taxing H1-B applications to increase funding for local schools? After all, a big reason why workers come over on the program is because we genuinely lack enough skilled labor to meet our needs at reasonable price levels. Having come through the California school system myself, I'm a bit shocked that computers can add.

Taxing companies that bring over immigrant workers to pay for border patrol paranoia seems foolish. Tax them to help increase local talent levels. Or require the people to become permanent citizens, thereby permanently increasing the local talent levels.

Re:Tax H1-B to fight illegal immigration? (1)

Mitsoid (837831) | more than 3 years ago | (#33186280)

Politics and logic / common sense?

What country do you live in? It's not the US!

It would be nice though :-)

Re:Tax H1-B to fight illegal immigration? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33186876)

Decreasing illegal immigration will improve schools. It's kind of hard to teach kids fractions when 90% of them can't speak English.

Re:Tax H1-B to fight illegal immigration? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33186958)

Shouldn't we be taxing H1-B applications to increase funding for local schools? After all, a big reason why workers come over on the program is because we genuinely lack enough skilled labor to meet our needs at reasonable price levels.

Yeap, this is why American graduates are unemployable [informationweek.com]

Re:Tax H1-B to fight illegal immigration? (4, Insightful)

ultranova (717540) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187128)

After all, a big reason why workers come over on the program is because we genuinely lack enough skilled labor to meet our needs at reasonable price levels.

No, you don't. You, like all non-third-world economies, lack skilled labour willing to work at subsistence wage. This is the corporate definition of "reasonable price level", and is what offshoring and immigration labour is meant to fix. After all, the top 1% holds only a third of all wealth, so there's plenty of room for improvement.

Do these H1-B stay in the US (5, Interesting)

calagan800xl (1001055) | more than 3 years ago | (#33186488)

As I've been the beneficiary of an H-1B with Microsoft, I know very well that MS also does a good job at sending H1-B permit holders back home after 1-2 years, before they get a green card. They actually paid for my 1-way ticket back to Europe. I'd be interested to see what is the proportion of H-1B visa holders who end up staying permanently in the US and which company hired them.

Re:Do these H1-B stay in the US (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33186564)

They actually paid for my 1-way ticket back to Europe

They legally have to pay for that.

Re:Do these H1-B stay in the US (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33186732)

As any American citizen working at MS today I can contest, most of MS is made up of foreigners who are here on a green card or H1-B/L1 visa. On my team alone I am the only natural citizen and I hold the cheapest contract for the team. As an natural born citizen of the US and a worker at MS I'm appalled by the fact that most of MS is made up of foreigners here on green card or H1-B status while the rest of my country men go broke living on unemployment despite the fact that they qualify for many positions there.

Re:Do these H1-B stay in the US (1)

ook_boo (1373633) | more than 3 years ago | (#33186748)

An employment-based green card is very expensive, so it makes sense that MS would only give it to a few of their H1Bs. My company did sponsor my green card, and it cost them about $50,000. And in one of life's twists, I had to leave the US for family reasons soon after I received the green card, so all that effort was for nothing.

Support StartupVisa.com (1)

digitaltraveller (167469) | more than 3 years ago | (#33186662)

Alot of foreigners (like me) out there would like to come to the U.S. and hire (relatively) cheap American engineers,
but we can't do it because foreign investment visas are too costly/risky for small companies.

Here in Australia, our labour market is tightly government regulated, and it's nearly impossible to hire decent
engineers here for anything less than a king's ransom as competition for anyone good is fierce - even the banks
have problem hiring people.

So support startupvisa.com, to drive jobs and innovation from America's greatest asset - it's people.

Conspiracy by Intel and MS - (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33186670)

Is to keep talent at there companies only - What so evil about this is that -They don't like spread of talent to other mid scale companies to grow successful, as they did in this decade.

Nice way of getting aid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33186682)

So the Indian companies not only pay $1Billion a year to the social security taxes that go to fund the bankrupt social Security system with no benefits derived for the individuals they now get to pay $200 million to fight illegal immigration. What next? A tax on immigrants because they are good in Math?

By the way, this also applies to attorneys (1)

kwoodard (608147) | more than 3 years ago | (#33186686)

By the way, this also applies to firms that bring in foreign attorneys. Reference recent NY Times article. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/05/business/global/05legal.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=outsourcing%20to%20india&st=cse [nytimes.com] . My thought is that unemployed attorneys might be more politically active than unemployed IT developers.

This is why so many Americans are out of work (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33186696)

I've worked at MS of and on since the mid 90's. Today, as an American born citizen with over 15 years in software engineering the best I can get at MS today is a low pay rate contract position while the rest of the team (99%) is made up of full time or contract employees who got green card status from their H-1B or LB visas or are still work here on such visas. The average American born worker at MS makes up a very tiny fraction of the work force at MS anymore. It is time that our US elected officials end the visas and send these workers home and give those jobs to the very citizens of the US who are more then qualified. If they are not qualified then B.G. and company should be investing more to train their own country men instead of bring over the cheap labor. Think about that philanthropist man.

Protectionism by another name (2, Interesting)

BobTheLawyer (692026) | more than 3 years ago | (#33186700)

This is just protectionism - why shouldn't American companies be able to hire whoever they want?

Re:Protectionism by another name (3, Insightful)

Mikkeles (698461) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187148)

They can; but just because a company hired someone does not entitle that person to be allowed to live in (or even visit) the US.

Re:Protectionism by another name (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33187260)

That's protectionism too. Money can travel anywhere, people don't, it makes no sense in open economies, it makes sense in nationalist oriented economies.

Re:Protectionism by another name (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187698)

Just because an economy is "nationalist oriented" does not mean everything is does is "protectionism".

Immigrants are not goods or services hence restricting them is not protectionism - unless slavery was reinstated recently anyway.

You'd have something closer to a point if you were talking about restricting access by tourists. Still not as point though.

I assume you also classify quarantine rules stopping me from bringing my rabid dog into Australia as protectionist?

H1 (2, Insightful)

mike-seo (1874258) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187002)

We cannot altogether make the H-1 visa so difficult that we stop getting the adequate staff. At the same time there needs to be some preference be given to local Talent.

Urban Moving Systems (1)

LeepII (946831) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187016)

Meanwhile 200 "furniture movers" got H-1B's for Urban moving systems. I was not aware that there are too few furniture movers in the US for this position to qualify.

The new sweatshops in the US (2, Insightful)

richman555 (675100) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187088)

This is a tragic industry trend. I work at a company where about 75% of all developers are HB1 visa holders. These companies are looking for 'instant' workforces that they can bring along and dismantle when a project ends. They also like to work these people like crazy, as they will only be around for a few years. They can work hard for a few years and go back to their country with more money maybe to buy a house or get married. As for HB1 visa holders being cheaper, perhaps a little bit when it comes to health care, etc. I think employers like that they can demand even more out of these folks.

Sorry Mr. Fermi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33187098)

So if there was a new Manhattan project today, they couldn't hire the best people for the job, they'd have to fill a certain number of positions with unqualified people, because of affirmative action towards locals. And then you wonder why China will mop the floor with us.

Re:Sorry Mr. Fermi (0)

careysub (976506) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187306)

So if there was a new Manhattan project today, they couldn't hire the best people for the job, they'd have to fill a certain number of positions with unqualified people, because of affirmative action towards locals. And then you wonder why China will mop the floor with us.

Sorry, but no. You are referring of course to the scientific staff of the laboratories like Los Alamos and the Chicago Met Lab - all of whom served as government employees. The H1-B program and its restrictions only apply to private companies.

China does not give a f* if people die in a lab th (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187882)

China does not give a f* if people die in a lab that makes nukes and then will cover it up / get rid of the true as well.

Who needs H1Bs anymore? (3, Interesting)

Foolicious (895952) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187376)

My (now former) company simply opened multiple large IT ffices in places like Gurgaon, Mumbai and Noida, so they don't have to get H1B workers. (They were first opened as BPO offices.) American workers are slowly laid off (always in small numbers every few months) or lost by attrition, new workers are hired in those Indian offices and work for the Indian subsidiary of that company. Those offices have grown by leaps and bounds since they were first opened in 2002-3ish. So that company doesn't "outsource" anything or get any H1Bs. Whether or not that's a dirty trick is another discussion. Everyone will have their opinions.

I would say that any H1B in this economy is pretty frustrating if just based on perception (and perception tends to be reality...); I guess I just don't believe there aren't enough American workers to do those jobs.

Re:Who needs H1Bs anymore? (4, Insightful)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187550)

I know your former company, and they have changed their temp labor policy recently. In fact, the mix of foreign workers has been changing from largely Indian nationals to Asian nationals. But the offices worldwide still exist, and show no signs of being dininished.

Offshoring is still in progress. But I'm being converted as we speak.

It's a tangled mess, but I'm still disappointed. We just got a new temp in who is in the U.S. on an H1B. Seriously, they are doing the very same job that dozens of U.S. citizens did in 2008m the VERY SAME JOB. And many of those U.S. citzens that were laid off in 2008 are still looking for that work.

It's abusive, and has been for a long time. H1Bs need to be reduced dramatically. There are, repeat ARE, citizens that can do the work.

Where are the visas for foreign lawyers? (1)

trout007 (975317) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187416)

I find lawyers charge way to much. We should allow visas for lawyers that will work for $20/hr. I wonder what the odds of getting that through congress would be?

Border Security? (1)

drumcat (1659893) | more than 3 years ago | (#33187654)

WTF does this have to do with stopping illegal Latin Americans from crossing our southern border? ZERO. "Mexican Border Security Bill", huh. This is how we got in this fucking mess. Leave it to a guy whose state borders Canada...

Slashdot got it wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33187862)

The original article says "The proposed bill would hike the visa fee to $2,000 per application on those entities that have less than 50 per cent of their employees as US citizens." and not "firms that have 50% or more of their employees on this visa"

MSoft or Intel: they have offices all over the world so I find it hard to believe that more than 50% of their employees are US citizens.

The bill looks like is against companies like Infosys or TCS who (by virtue of being non US company) has less than 50 per cent of their employees as US citizens to get H1Bs.

Here are 2 things that always shock me:
1) To get an H1B or L1 visa, an ALL AMERICAN company has to invite a non US citizen to come and work in US (so the chop shop is not infosys or TCS)
2) Lots of cases: the jobs does not stay back in USA if you stop giving visas, they move back to where the H1B holder is from.

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