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UC Davis Study Concludes H-1B Workers Neither Best Nor Brightest

Unknown Lamer posted about a year ago | from the but-neither-are-the-americans dept.

Businesses 353

CowboyRobot writes "American companies are demanding more H-1B visas to ensure access to the best and brightest workforce, and outside the U.S. are similar claims of an IT worker shortage. Last month, European Commission VP Neelie Kroes bemoaned the growing digital skills gap that threatens European competitiveness. But a new study finds that imported IT talent is often less talented than U.S. workers. Critics of the H-1B program see it as a way for companies to keep IT wages low, to discriminate against experienced U.S. workers, and to avoid labor law obligations. In his examination of the presumed correlation between talent and salary, researcher Norman Matloff observes that Microsoft has been exaggerating how much it pays foreign workers. Citing past claims by the company that it pays foreign workers '$100,000 a year to start,' Matloff says the data shows that only 18% of workers with software engineering titles sponsored for green cards by Microsoft between 2006 and 2011 had salaries at or above $100,000."

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353 comments

So Microsoft lies (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43077035)

What else is new?

Re:So Microsoft lies (4, Funny)

3.5 stripes (578410) | about a year ago | (#43077045)

A somewhat on topic first post?

That's fairly new.

Re:So Microsoft lies (2)

cgimusic (2788705) | about a year ago | (#43077089)

With no swearing or racism either. What is happening on /. today?

Re: So Microsoft lies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43077245)

SpzToid's rule, nothing can such so badly, for so long.

Re:So Microsoft lies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43077769)

FUCK OFF YOU PRICK

Re:So Microsoft lies (2)

stepdown (1352479) | about a year ago | (#43077709)

Might the costs of securing employees green cards etc. be treated as a benefit or part of the first year's salary?

The study also notes that 34% of financial analysts and 71% of lawyers hired from abroad earn over the $100,000 mark, when you consider all professions the figure is 21%.

schadenfreude (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43077051)

So when nerd inventions blast away other people's jobs, most of the people around here start screaming about buggy whip manufacturers and the need for a rapidly adjusting workforce. When US companies go outside the priesthood and get overseas IT people because the locals don't meet their needs, then suddenly protectionism is awesome. The rest of the country has zero sympathy here. Nerds have constantly pushed technology that has cost people jobs. From replacing checkout operators, to devastating travel agencies, to Google self driving cars getting rid of taxis to "disrupting education" so you can fire a lot of university staff. When a nerd looks at someone with a job who isn't in IT, all they seem to be thinking is "how can I automate it so that this sack of meat is no longer in the equation"

Re:schadenfreude (5, Funny)

Chrisq (894406) | about a year ago | (#43077355)

Nerds have constantly pushed technology that has cost people jobs.

... but this time its serious because they're talking about nerd jobs.

Re:schadenfreude (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43077429)

Nerds have constantly pushed technology that has cost people jobs.

... but this time its serious because they're talking about nerd jobs.

Bah, bullshit.

It's serious because we are talking about government screwing with the labor market. It is neither open competition (so that H1-B visa holders can at least compete and move job to job) nor is it fully closed so that it is Americans competing internally

Instead, you have indentured servants brought in using the H1-B visa program artificially lowering wages. It is not natural competition or progress in any way.

Re:schadenfreude (2, Insightful)

Stormthirst (66538) | about a year ago | (#43077471)

Anyone who works for a company is an indentured servant. Do you really think companies pay you what you're worth? No. They pay you what they think they can get away with.

Re:schadenfreude (5, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about a year ago | (#43077573)

H-1Bs are different. If a US citizen decides that they are being screwed, they can give notice, quit, and find another job. If an H-1B decides that they're being screwed, then they can't move jobs unless they can find another company that will go through the H-1B sponsorship process, which takes time, before the short grace period expires and they get deported. It gives their new employer a really strong bargaining position if every day that they delay finalising the remuneration agreements puts their potential employee a day closer to being deported.

Re: find another job? Wut?!?! (1)

helobugz (2849599) | about a year ago | (#43077683)

If a US citizen decides that they are being screwed, they can give notice, quit, and SEARCH+BEG FOR another job ^^ Fixed it for ya. H1B's just have higher formal education level for cheaper wage, precisely what most recruiters desire!

Re: find another job? Wut?!?! (5, Insightful)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | about a year ago | (#43077819)

Yes, but a U.S. citizen does not risk being deported and if they believe that all companies are screwing them they can attempt to start their own business. An H1B visa holder must find a job with a company that can sponsor their visa in order to stay in the country and they must do so within a time frame that is well-known to all such potential employers. If you are a U.S. citizen it is unlikely that your potential employer knows how much longer you can afford to be unemployed and thus has less negotiating leverage than they do with someone with an H1B visa.

Re:schadenfreude (1, Insightful)

dreamchaser (49529) | about a year ago | (#43077583)

Anyone who works for a company is an indentured servant. Do you really think companies pay you what you're worth? No. They pay you what they think they can get away with.

Oh please. If you're good at what you do you'll generally get what you are worth. Hint: what you are 'worth' is based on market forces. That includes companies paying what they can 'get away with' and where that intersects with one's skill set and experience.

I certainly think I am paid what I am worth. I do quite well and am hardly an 'indentured servant'.

Who decides what a worker is worth? The market does. Now, when you have government interference that can be skewed. Minimum wage is an example of that. Is a high school kid pushing a broom worth minimum wage? That is open to debate. H1B visas are another example of t his because they tend to tie a worker to one employer, making it difficult for them to 'shop around' for another job, thus lowering their market value.

Re:schadenfreude (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about a year ago | (#43077801)

Who decides what a worker is worth? The market does.

This is true, but it's disingenuous when corporations can manipulate the market through their government ties.

Re:schadenfreude (5, Informative)

RabidReindeer (2625839) | about a year ago | (#43077669)

Anyone who works for a company is an indentured servant. Do you really think companies pay you what you're worth? No. They pay you what they think they can get away with.

An "Indentured servant" is midway between an employee and a slave. Technically, the Indenture is a debt that must be paid off, and employers can buy and sell indentures, thus effectively buying and selling the person attached to the indenture.

In that sense, H1-B is metaphorically accurate, since an H1-B without an employer loses their right to be in the USA. It's not technically accurate unless the H1-B worker is actually working off a debt (say, because he signed up with some body shop back home and had to pay to get the Visa and posting).

Nobody ever gets paid what they're worth. Not garbagemen, not teachers, not software developers, not CEOs. They get paid what they can get away with. Some get away with murder, others get murdered. That doesn't make them indentured. All of them can quit. Some of them can find other positions elsewhere, others may only be able to afford to quit in the sense that they can afford to starve. When you are indentured, you can't quit.

Re:schadenfreude (2)

dkleinsc (563838) | about a year ago | (#43078027)

Anyone who works for a company is an indentured servant. Do you really think companies pay you what you're worth? No. They pay you what they think they can get away with.

That's not indentured servitude, that's wage labor under capitalism. And yes, wage labor under capitalism is exploitative - you're being paid less than your contributions, but have some semblance of security of a bi-weekly paycheck.

First off, historically speaking indentured servants in the Virginia colony were routinely beaten, abused, starved, and often dead before their indenture was up. The primary differences between the indentured servants in Virginia and the slaves was that the servants were white and might eventually be freed. Once freed, indentured servants would usually try to settle west of the land that was already taken up by plantations and the like (fighting of American Indians to do so), and many of their descendants are still there in Appalachia.

So while not quite historically accurate, the use of the phrase "indentured servant" makes more sense for H1Bs than it does for citizens. Citizens are free to leave their employment at any time. H1Bs who leave their job also must leave the country. That threat allows employers to over-work H1B applicants and pay them less than they would citizens.

Re:schadenfreude (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43077653)

Funny also how the same nerds that rip anybody who says "I'm a libertarian," to shreds here are so quick to turn around and shout about how "government interference in the labor market" is horrific and that the best thing that could happen!

The irony is delightful: When we have something other people want, government intervention to make that thing more accessible to other people is a hideous, unspeakable distortion of the capitalistic free market, but when somebody else has something we want, using the government to seize control of it is just making sure those other people "pay their fair share."

You didn't build that operating system, nerds! You didn't build that banking software. You needed other people to do it! Now share!

Re:schadenfreude (4, Insightful)

cbiltcliffe (186293) | about a year ago | (#43077425)

If you don't see the difference between technological progress, and distorting the market and lying in the name of profit, then that's your problem.

Re:schadenfreude (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43077485)

You can't give even a single example of a "nerd" invention that causes a net decline in jobs. Your horrible buggy whip example is a case in point. If the buggy whip industry had been protected from progress, then many more thousands of jobs in the automobile industry would never have existed.

As to "automation" and "nerd inventions" unless your position is "all inventions are nerd inventions" then that's a bit of a stretch. I haven't, for example, seen Slashdot as a place where high praise is given for red light cameras, automated checkout lanes or Hell even industrial robots for the most part (I'd say Slashdot is fairly neutral about industrial robots as they are boring, old tech). So, even if there are some pro-automation nerds out there, they aren't posting on Slashdot.

I'm for open immigration (an unpopular position I know) but the grotesque and byzantine H1-B system ultimately benefits no one (except perhaps a tiny group of executives who like having indentured servants.)

Re:schadenfreude (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year ago | (#43077931)

I haven't, for example, seen Slashdot as a place where high praise is given for red light cameras, automated checkout lanes or Hell even industrial robots for the most part (I'd say Slashdot is fairly neutral about industrial robots as they are boring, old tech). So, even if there are some pro-automation nerds out there, they aren't posting on Slashdot.

Hey, I actually get turned on by industrial robots! I don't think I'm the only one with appreciation for complex mechanical systems diligently slogging away in harmony of motions. (I got indoctrinated by popular literature on automation when I was around ~10 yo. It was new and it was cool. I guess some things just grow on you that way.)

Re:schadenfreude (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43077509)

The problem is the import of digital Beaners.
They aren't smart, they're cheap. They offset jobs locals want.
Microsoft would rather pay cheap imports who don't perform, than pay honest wages to locals who can get the job done.
This helps explain the last decade or so of Microsoft patches and holes. You pay peanuts, you get monkeys.
Unless the nerd invented IT migrant workers, you didn't RTFA!

Re:schadenfreude (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about a year ago | (#43077837)

Only true if you're focused on the big picture.

Automatic telephone switching sure as hell costs some short term jobs, but opened a marketplace so wide that the jobs created outweighed to operator jobs by many, many times.

However, again you have to remember the market is far from a fair market right now. The biggest corporate entities (the ones that can afford lobbyists) have undue power in the market. A good example of what Adam Smith wrote about this is not.

Re:schadenfreude (2)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year ago | (#43077851)

So when nerd inventions blast away other people's jobs, most of the people around here start screaming about buggy whip manufacturers and the need for a rapidly adjusting workforce.

Increasing productivity per worker, per capital invested, per energy unit consumed is always good. Or isn't it? The rest are social issues, you may choose a bad solution for those or a good one, but how does that bear on the former issue?

When US companies go outside the priesthood and get overseas IT people because the locals don't meet their needs, then suddenly protectionism is awesome.

If they're lying and the locals actually do meet their needs, then it's not "protectionism is awesome" but "stop lying and suck it up, bastards".

Re:schadenfreude (4, Insightful)

moeinvt (851793) | about a year ago | (#43078005)

We have this thing called "government". We also implicitly subscribe to the concept of a "nation" with physical borders and an idea of citizenship of that nation.

As long as we are operating in this framework, the government of a nation should be implementing policies which are to the benefit of the citizens. Importing 20 million illegal immigrants to compete for unskilled labor positions and importing hundreds of thousands of foreign IT workers to compete with citizens for jobs are policies which are detrimental to the vast majority of the citizens.

A technological innovation creates an increase in productivity. Importing a foreign worker to do the exact same work as a citizen doesn't make an hour of labor more productive. It simply increases supply and drives down the price of labor.

There is NO "shortage" of labor, skilled or unskilled, in this country. In fact, we have a vast surplus as demonstrated by the employment picture(the real data, not the BLS BS).

Let's see MS publish an ad for an IT position. $120,000 salary plus benefits. They'd have no problem whatsoever finding skilled applicants.

Supply and demand (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43077055)

You increase supply, and demand price drops. Train them up, after 5 years they have to leave (H1B is time limited), so they return home, rehire in their home country at a discount, (well after all living costs are cheaper). Then you've cut your costs.

What's good for American business is good for America, well the business part of it anyway.

Just think, if demand was high, Americans would be trying to get good University degrees and filling those jobs. Instead, USA has become a net importer of IT goods and services.

Re:Supply and demand (4, Insightful)

Mitreya (579078) | about a year ago | (#43077083)

Just think, if demand was high, Americans would be trying to get good University degrees and filling those jobs.

I think you got it wrong.
Americans have university degrees. Unfortunately, they demand a competitive salary (since getting a degree in US is expensive). Also, Americans tend to leave and get another job if they are underpaid

H1B employees, on the other hand, are forced to take what they are offered or lose their visa and go home.

No that is the inevitable outcome (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43077141)

No, this is the inevitable outcome. By forcing down salaries and exporting IT jobs, there will be fewer Americans going to University and being saddled with great debt in the process because the reward is less.

The fewer Americans, the more H1Bs are needed and so on, spiraling down. Just because it takes time to do, doesn't mean it isn't inevitable.

Really, they need to recruit the best in the world AND KEEP THEM. Instead they're recruiting trainees on a visa designed to export them again, then export their jobs when they're trained.

Re:No that is the inevitable outcome (3, Insightful)

Phrogman (80473) | about a year ago | (#43077293)

Moreover, once a crop of H1Bs have done their 5 years, gained their experience, and returned to their home country, they become a pool of trained employees who can be hired to work from their home country at wages that are suitable to that country and substantially cheaper than those paid to an American employee - even a new hire in all likelihood. Thus the pool of overseas low-cost employees builds while the number of positions that *have to go* to US Citizens decreases. The former H1Bs are familiar with the working environment and business routines of the US companies after 5 years as well, and so potentially need less training in that regard. This will likely continue to spiral until the majority of US IT jobs are actually being done outside the country wherever possible. I am Canadian, and the same applies here of course after its own fashion. Not all jobs can disappear this way of course but anything that can be done over the internet can - and thats an increasing number of jobs.
When the technology for remote controlled robots being developed in the military spills over to civilian life more completely, you may even see those jobs that require a physical presence here in North America, disappear as well. Right now someone has to physically carry a new system or printer from the loading doc to the office to install it, but when that can be done cheaper by someone operating a robot in Bangladesh, even that might be gone.
Time to learn how to repair robots perhaps (although eventually it will be cheaper to just unpack a new one from China than it is to repair a broken one).
What is in the interest of Big Business, is manifestly NOT in the interest of their employees a lot of the time.

Re:No that is the inevitable outcome (3, Interesting)

Znork (31774) | about a year ago | (#43077439)

By the time remote controlled robots would be usable enough to carry around and install office equipment it won't be long before we have robots that can do it without any remote control.

And I doubt there will be a significant time span where robot-maintainer is a useful job; we'll have robots for that too.

There needs to be a serious discussion on what kind of society we are going to have when human labour is obsolete. The current system will start seriously breaking down when capacity outstrips demand by a significant degree and any increase in demand will be met by further automation.

Rethinking economics regarding AI and robots (1)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | about a year ago | (#43077499)

On robotic trends and societal implications, see my post: http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=3515335&cid=43077393 [slashdot.org]

Or see my site for lots of ideas about the economics aspects of ongoing economic changes related to automation and increased productivity.
http://www.pdfernhout.net/beyond-a-jobless-recovery-knol.html [pdfernhout.net]

Essentially, as I say on my site, there are five interwoven economies (or types of economic transactions -- subsistence, gift, exchange, planned, and theft) and the balance between them changes along with technology and culture. Right now, we need to be talking about things like re-strengthening the subsistence, gift, and planned economies, while softening the exchange economy with a basic income. Because in a world full of cheap robotics, the exchange value of native human labor in the USA is not going to be that high. And otherwise theft increases as the moral bargain behind any particular economy is seen to break down -- and growing theft has its own huge costs and undesirable aspects.

Marshall Brain's site is great about the general topic of the economic implication of robotics (including wealth concentration):
http://marshallbrain.com/robotic-freedom.htm [marshallbrain.com]

Re:No that is the inevitable outcome (4, Interesting)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | about a year ago | (#43077541)

This is a very insightful post. Wish I had mod points; instead I replied to another reply below.
http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=3515549&cid=43077499 [slashdot.org]

The only thing that will stop the outsourcing economically from places like the USA or Canada (short of political change, but the money is against it) will be when global wages equilibrate as relative currency values change. But by then, in a couple decades, AI and robotics will be doing most things people are paid for now, and it will be hard for most people to compete in a race-to-the-bottom with machines that work ever-more-cheaply 24X7 for most jobs. Even if some people can compete, a lot of people like doing things like being outdoors growing plants, or making stuff with their hands, or building big things, so I can't see how most people are going to be happy spending huge amounts of time stuck doing whatever is left after all those things are mostly automated (robot management -- except won't AIs do that?).

Still, while doing meaningful work (which includes child care) is essential to human health, having a paid job is only essential in a certain kind of economic system (like without a basic income). Canada has pioneered in that area:
http://www.dominionpaper.ca/articles/4100 [dominionpaper.ca]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_Credit#Canada [wikipedia.org]

Re:Supply and demand (4, Interesting)

Kwyj1b0 (2757125) | about a year ago | (#43077495)

Americans have university degrees. Unfortunately, they demand a competitive salary (since getting a degree in US is expensive). Also, Americans tend to leave and get another job if they are underpaid

I know lots of students who are paying US college rates for a masters degree (Ph.D students generally get paid by the university/grants) and so need a competitive salary as well - and no student who gets a degree from a US college (whom I know) is working for peanuts. They get the same salary as their US counterparts (you could argue that the increased workforce is driving down costs overall, but that is supply and demand). And 90% of the class are international students, almost all of whom want to stay in the US. And many H1B workers switch jobs when they can/need to. They just have to get the new job BEFORE quitting their old job (or within 30 days of quitting or something like that).

The real problem is the H1-B to green card process - the rules stipulate that once you apply for a green card (which many H1Bs do) you can't switch jobs (even within the same company) till the process is complete (3-5 years). Or else you need to start the application from scratch. The US is the only country that makes it so hard for even skilled workers to get a green card. It is easier to get a EU/Canadian/Australian green card sitting in the US than it is to get a US green card. If the US made it simpler to get a green card for skilled workers, many H1Bs would not be tied to an employer for so long.

Now, if you are talking about hiring overseas workers from outside the US - by getting them H1Bs from within their home country - then the issues you raised might be true. But a LOT of H1Bs are given to international citizens in the US itself.

Re:Supply and demand (1)

baffled (1034554) | about a year ago | (#43077549)

In what field, may I ask, are all these people with degrees not working for peanuts? I've been avoiding a degree on the basis that it won't guarantee me stable employment, just cost me time and money. Just wondering if I'm way off here.

Re:Supply and demand (1)

Kwyj1b0 (2757125) | about a year ago | (#43077663)

In what field, may I ask, are all these people with degrees not working for peanuts? I've been avoiding a degree on the basis that it won't guarantee me stable employment, just cost me time and money. Just wondering if I'm way off here.

Obviously, my experience is anecdotal (but from a large state university) - I know people from electrical engineering (VLSI/Signal processing), and Computer Science (video/image processing, and data mining) who get paid (at or above) the standard rate, as per glassdoor. But if you are a citizen, the best bet is control theory, if you are slightly mathematically inclined. I know several defense contractors who are unable to fill in control theory positions - a good international student who worked with NASA and Boeing (as a part of his advisor's team) was unable to get employment in his specialization because of citizenship issues. He got tired of waiting for it to get sorted out and had to take a (higher paying but less stable) position at Schlumberger.

Re:Supply and demand (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43078017)

Americans have university degrees. Unfortunately, they demand a competitive salary (since getting a degree in US is expensive).

I'm just wondering...wouldn't it be more cost-efficient for you guys to go study to Europe? For example, the CS programme at Charles University [www.cuni.cz] in Prague seems to ask for 6000 Euros per year for foreign students. That's for the *English* lectures, if you bother to learn Czech before coming here, it's actually free of charge, even for international students. (I guess someone felt quite intensely that the money invested in students is worth making foreigners spend the effort to connect to our humble homeland.)

Re:Supply and demand (1)

wren337 (182018) | about a year ago | (#43078033)

What if H1B workers became free agents after 6 months? No paperwork on the part of the hiring company, they just accept a new offer and file something to say they are switching employers. If the problem is that there are not enough qualified people in the "hiring pool" then this shouldn't matter, right? After all they will tell you that they're paying a competitive salary already.

This whole artificially depressed salary thing could blow over if they weren't indentured servants, unable to move. You could normalize salaries pretty quickly. And the sponsoring company would have to become competitive enough to keep people.

Re:Supply and demand (1)

Seumas (6865) | about a year ago | (#43077239)

Ultimately, it's a matter of American employees having to live in American cities (usually in proximity to the American companies that have jobs, which means high density expensive cities) and pay American prices for food, rent, health care, education, travel, clothing, etc. The companies they work for, however, have a global pool of employees to price-pick from. There is an imbalance in opportunity here that makes competition and negotiation a tough nut to crack that favors one side of the employment equation, but not the other.

Re:Supply and demand (1)

Bengie (1121981) | about a year ago | (#43077877)

Just think, if demand was high, Americans would be trying to get good University degrees and filling those jobs.

I don't think I like that idea. I got my degree because I enjoyed it, not because of money. There were a lot of idiots in school and even more out of school. I don't like the idea of people getting degrees "because they're in demand".

One more thing (4, Interesting)

Mitreya (579078) | about a year ago | (#43077057)

Critics of the H-1B program see it as a way for companies to keep IT wages low, to discriminate against experienced U.S. workers, and to avoid labor law obligations.

Also, H-1B employees cannot easily go to another company if they are abused at their current job.

If invited H-1B workers were able to jump ship for better conditions, the market would reassert itself soon enough.

Re:One more thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43077189)

This isn;t completely true anymore. It is a bit easier nowadays to move an H1B from one company to another.

Re:One more thing (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43077415)

If invited H-1B workers were able to jump ship for better conditions, the market would reassert itself soon enough.

Big surprise. Government intervention fucks us again.

Re:One more thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43077817)

Big surprise. Government intervention fucks us again.

Yes. Borders are a government invention and shouldn't exist.

Appropriate for the day (0, Troll)

gmhowell (26755) | about a year ago | (#43077059)

I can't think of a better article to get another fine Troll Tuesday off to a rollicking good start. I'm sure the discussion will be completely free of slander and polemics and a classic example of the betterment of humanity that can come from true communication.

Re:Appropriate for the day (3, Funny)

Threni (635302) | about a year ago | (#43077113)

Please do the needful - I need this asap.

Re:Appropriate for the day (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43077391)

You, sir, just made my day.

Re:Appropriate for the day (1)

squiggleslash (241428) | about a year ago | (#43077519)

You know, I remember when I almost had a conversation about immigration with my friend - at least, I like to think of him as my friend - Aaron Swartz. I'd have said something like "The whole problem with immigration and jobs is rights. The right for a non-immigrant to be treated fairly. The right for an immigrant to be treated as a human being. The whole H1B thing undermines that by discriminating against American who need jobs at home, by recruiting desperate foreigners who can be abused and paid less to do the same work."

I like to think Aaron would have agreed with me on this.

Re:Appropriate for the day (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43077569)

And then he'd get them arrested for stealing wireless service from their neighbors and breaking the utilities by stealing gas and electricity from the apartment downstairs, and they could follow his leadership by killing themselves when they get deported for committing felonies.

Come to think of it, that's one way to cut the number of H1B's Think your friend Aaron could hold a seance and lead them tocommitting wire fraud, at least?

Re:Appropriate for the day (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43077605)

The term isn't stealing wireless service, because you aren't actually taking anything. it's copyright infringement wireless service.

Re:Appropriate for the day (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43077701)

Oh my god, I was thinking the same thing the other day about my friends - at least I like to think of them as my friends - Terry Childs, and Julian Assange! I'd have said something like "RAH RAH RABBLE RAH. This is my trite point that is obvious to everybody reading this, but I'm making it while name-dropping nerd heroes who many feel have been mistreated by government, in a ridiculous attempt to whore karma!"

I like to think that Terry and Julian would have both agreed with me on this!

But they took yer job? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43077063)

They took hs job!!!!
Durka Durrr
Durrrrrrr!!!!!!!!

Less skilled often means less profitable (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43077095)

Amazing how even though lower-skilled people, even considering savings in labor, are often less profitable to the company than higher-skilled, competent people, many companies still prefer the former.... My guess is a lot of it has to do with how managers are paid at big companies. Obviously every company is different but at the few I've been to a manager's salary is primarily determined by:
a) headcount
b) labor costs

Obviously the 2 seem a bit contradictory, but doing a little linear programming yields that for the manager to maximize his profits, a large # of low-wage workers is preferable to a smaller # of high-wage ones, even if the costs are the same and even if the output of the latter is better. If we want to change the environment first thing we have to do is get rid of the perverse incentives.

Re:Less skilled often means less profitable (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43077389)

The perverse incentive would remain even if a company changes the salary to ignore factors of head count and labor costs. When a manager is looking for a new job, those factors of headcount and labor costs would still be relevant.

Re:Less skilled often means less profitable (1)

helobugz (2849599) | about a year ago | (#43077721)

What are you smoking? Show me these companies, unless by 'lower-skilled people' you just mean idiots WITH degrees and by higher-skilled you mean certain struggling unemployed folks that didn't piss away $$$$$ paying a bunch of foreign fucks to "teach" in a post-secondary situation.

Why have such a program at all? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43077103)

Shouldn't a country be extremely happy to have skilled workers? They add to the economy and thus help everyone. Why make it such a hassle? Why not just invite everyone who has an above average salary and why not give them the freedom to freely choose and change jobs as they like?

Result of competition solely on Cost not Quality (2)

realxmp (518717) | about a year ago | (#43077119)

If you have an industry who is trying to compete solely on cost then the work is going to be done by the lowest bidder via H1B or outsourcing, take your pick. The tiny advantage of H1B being slightly more jobs and dollars manage to stay in the US. Unfortunately software companies have demonstrated that if they can't bring the workers to them then they have already demonstrated they are willing to send the whole kit and caboodle overseas. The US software industry can only compete with this by competing on quality and the ability to understand a client's needs and write software for it rapidly, on time and to budget. You've got a cultural advantage in that a US based employee is more likely to understand how a US business process works than someone used to a different business environment but it seems few companies are setup to take advantage of that. The other problem being that management culture needs to be encouraged to reward look at long term balance sheet rather than saving a few bucks on buying rubbish software and paying hundreds of bucks to make it work for you.

but check their metrics (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43077379)

high salary
high rate of patent production
Ph.D. dissertation awards
doctorate earned at a top-ranked university
employment in R&D

$100K for a new grad? Really?
high rate of patent production ... lots of assumptions built into that
Ph.D. disssertation awards? ... no selection against non-native speakers
top-ranked university? ... would love to see their metric for that.
employment in R&D ... 1/5 isn't bad.

Re:but check their metrics (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about a year ago | (#43077657)

$100K for a new grad? Really?

In theory, an H-1B is only supposed to be granted if it is not possible to find a qualified person in the native labour pool. If someone has a degree that is so specialised that there are no US citizens with that skill, then why wouldn't they expect to be paid $100K or more?

Currency war leads to trade war (1, Insightful)

udachny (2454394) | about a year ago | (#43077139)

USA is leading the currency war (able to do it so far, since USD is 'reserve', but everything is transitory), and the objective of a currency war is to inflict damage upon yourself. Destroying your own currency means literally destroying its purchasing power, destroying savings, destroying investment.

However historically all currency wars lead to trade wars, that's because once the participants of a currency war realise that printing money is actually a very simple thing (compare actually to producing something of value), they open the flood gates and it starts pouring down like there is no end. Trade war is the next logical step in this path towards complete self-destruction. That's when tariffs and import taxes and various other legal barriers to entry of foreign products and services (and labour obviously) are elevated ever higher.

They say that the greatest trick the devil ever played was convincing people that he didn't exist. Well, the greatest trick the governments are able to play on the people is to convince them that inflation is good for them but also that there is no inflation.

It's insane how brainwashed the public is, both to believe that rising prices increase economic activity and that money printing is not inflation itself. But that's what it takes for the government to be able to pull this crap and enter a self-destructing currency war - a brain dead population, that believes that shooting itself in the head repeatedly is a good strategy for survival.

This story is related to this same problem, people thinking that their misery comes from the outsiders, from foreign currency markets, from foreign products, foreign labour. That's how wars start - by the mob believing that it is at war with other nations, while in reality the mob is the primary mover and self-destructing mechanism, with complete lack of vision and total lack of understanding that it is its own worst enemy.

Currency war and trade war is not something you want to participate in, it's like they said in the War Games: the only winning move is not to play.

Re:Currency war leads to trade war (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | about a year ago | (#43077405)

"USA is leading the currency war (able to do it so far, since USD is 'reserve', but everything is transitory), and the objective of a currency war is to inflict damage upon yourself. Destroying your own currency means literally destroying its purchasing power, destroying savings, destroying investment."

Their logic is that, if you disincentivize saving and the acquisition of real property by reducing interest rates to near zero, people will go out and spend their money, or invest it in the stock market, both of which "stimulate" the economy.

Of course, it has been proven time and time again that this doesn't work, and only leads to a Weimar Republic situation where the money becomes worthless. But, that doesn't stop the boneheads in Washington DC chasing those short-term gains that come from printing money and giving it to voters.

The US really is doomed. I give it, at most, 50-100 more years before it completely collapses. I just hope I'm gone by then.

Re:Currency war leads to trade war (1, Interesting)

udachny (2454394) | about a year ago | (#43077461)

I give it, at most, 50-100 more years before it completely collapses.

- less than 5, probably 2-3.

Bogus (5, Insightful)

wienerschnizzel (1409447) | about a year ago | (#43077161)

First thing - the Economic Policy Institute is clearly a political think tank rather than a pure research institution. Biased.

I was wondering how would you evaluate the skill of IT workers on a large scale so I looked at the actual article. These are their metrics:

- salary

- rate of patent production

- Ph.D. dissertation awards

- alma mater university rank

- employment in R&D

The data then comes from surveys.

I call BS on this study!

Re:Bogus (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43077279)

No, he criticized another researcher for using survey data. He relied on a widely used Federal database for this paper.

Re:Bogus (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43077543)

The epi researcher has fans out there:

"No man has been more authoritatively quoted by the anti-immigration lobby." from a random website [arthurhu.com]

http://www.arthurhu.com/index/matloff.htm

Re:Bogus (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43077681)

Yeah, it's not really a "UCSD study", it's Norman Matloff, who's been at this anti-H1B crusade for nearly 20 years. Matloff is a respected computer science professor and recently wrote a book on gdb for O'Reilly.

Matloff seems legitimately ticked off by pronouncements from companies like Microsoft, but his "research studies" are sure to ratify his opinions on the subject. In other words, they're fatally biased. So the headline should probably be "Norman Matloff says...."

Mixture of topics; I'll comment on one (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43077175)

Most interesting to me was the one on comparative skills; from the linked article:

The assertion that the foreign graduates offer superior skills or ability relative to U.S. graduates is found not to be supported by the data:

-On a variety of measures, the former foreign students have talent lesser than, or equal to, their American peers.
-Skilled-foreign-worker programs are causing an internal brain drain in the United States.

The attached analysis seems pretty thorough, and seems to support the first point. Not so sure about the second. But then again, the publisher (EPI) is described as:

"EPI advocates for low- to moderate-income families in the United States.
  EPI also assesses current economic policies and proposes new policies that EPI believes will protect and improve the living standards of working families."

So not sure how neutral their standpoint is...

Common sense would certainly point to all graduates being pretty much of the same ability, no? (Well, at least all following a normal distribution of intelligence and ability, regardless of race or nationality).

Language Barrier (1)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | about a year ago | (#43077271)

I think one of the biggest hurdles is the language barrier.

As a software developer, your job is converting the truth into software. If you can't communicate fluently with the source of the truth for that software, then you can't do your job well. Many of the foreign workers that are my peers speak broken English. *I* find it harder to understand them, and I'm their colleague, working on the same subject matter, so I have concerns about their ability to gather requirements and produce software for the laymen who are our customers.

Mind you, I think the same way about the youth of today. I value precision and concision in English the same way I value it in any programming language.

Most people never mention this for fear of being labelled racist - it's not about that. Language is the software developers primary tool, and it behoves you to be able to use it well. Because the history of computing has it's roots firmly in English-speaking nations, English has become the lingua franca of programming. I happen to have been born in an English-speaking nation, so I have a natural bias.

Re:Language Barrier (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43077443)

"your job is converting the truth into software"; kids, just say NO to drugs!

Re:Language Barrier (0)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | about a year ago | (#43077547)

'Converting truth into software' and referring to the customer as 'laymen' makes it sound like you think of yourself as a priest.

That's scary. You're an engineer. At the highest level you're the dude that lays out the cubicles. At the lowest level, you're one of the grunts that builds the cubicles. That's it. You're a grunt, just like the rest of us.

And that toner in the LJ4 on third floor isn't changing itself while you sit here and pontificate. chop chop.

Re:Language Barrier (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43077875)

Software developers don't talk to anybody, that is the software designers job. You do ALL your work related communication on "paper" just to make sure you have full tracebility. Give me the specs on paper and STFU. If they are unclear you will get them back with a request for a fix.

BTW. The best software engineer I have ever worked with could only say hello, yes and no in english. She could read and write it though and I have NEVER seen prettyer and bug freer (that's a word now) code than hers! She was a C++ god!

Duh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43077301)

The H1B system isn't designed to hire only skilled workers. There is a separate track for people who have gotten their degree from a US university, but a PhD from a strong foreign university is on exactly the same footing as an apple-seller when applying for an H1B. There is a limit to how many H1B's can be given per year. A bit before that limit is reached, the pending set of applications are entered into a lottery for who will get in. The apple-seller and the PhD have the same chance to win that lottery. The only lower bar is that there is some trouble and expense to hiring H1B employees and in demonstrating that the company could not find a similar US hire, so it's probably not worth it to the company for an apple-seller.

No Free Market for Employees (3, Informative)

Sterculius (2856655) | about a year ago | (#43077347)

Supply and demand right? The "Free Market" right? Once again, brainwashed Corporatists who believe they are Free Market Capitalists think it is OK for corporations to simply manipulate the supply through H-1B visa abuse rather than pay the free market rate. These are the very same boobs who squawk that CEO pay is based on "talent" and the great scarcity of ex-football players with big egos who want to make 50 million a year. Tell me Corporatists, why is CEO pay OK, but programmer pay gets under your skin so much? Ah, because you believe that if you suck up to Big Daddy he will take care of you. Infants.

Re:No Free Market for Employees (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43077517)

Actually the need for H-1B makes the market less free.
A really free market does not know visa or borders at all, in a free market a company could just hire ANY employee from all over the world as it sees fit.

I completely agree with you, the arbitrary restrictions imposed on the free market by the immigration policy have to go. Everyone with a job offer should be able to work anywhere in the world without the need for visa programs or government approval.

Re:No Free Market for Employees (0)

Sterculius (2856655) | about a year ago | (#43077621)

No, anonymous coward and idiot ... can I buy a car directly from China or India? I want to pay exactly what they pay, no surcharges. I want to get my electricity from China as well, at the going rate over there. You moron. Can I pay what they pay for housing, for utilities? Can I pay what they pay in taxes? No, you fucking idiot, because I live in the United States. So what you suggest has not shit to do with a free market -- it is Corporatism, pure and simple Crony Capitalism. Did I mention that you are an idiot or a moron. Sometimes I forget and leave those out. Ah, but you are anonymous, so what can you really say.

It used to be that... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43077357)

only the best and brightest would apply for a post graduate or doctoral program in the U.S(students for non-US countries) because they had a genuine interest in the subject matter(and had full scholarship from the top universities). My elder brother attended a top university and went through the H1-B program and is a citizen of the United States. I tried to follow his foot steps, alas at a crappy university. Long story short I didn't quite meet the standards that my brother had set and returned to my home country, where I do work in the tech industry, but not in R&D or state of the art tech...

Many whom I considered below average(compared to me), did however, find jobs in the U.S and they too have become US citizens by now.The kind of jobs they entered were SAP developers, core Java programmers et.al, which I don't think should even qualify for the H1-B program. One way to bring up the standards in H1-B program is to mandate that candiates attend top universities in the US on F1 and convert to H1-B when hired.

They're good enough (0)

MikeRT (947531) | about a year ago | (#43077369)

Microsoft doesn't need the best and brightest for many of its teams. Take Windows, for example. "Good enough" is more than sufficient for most of the user-facing pieces. A non-stupid H1B is suitable for any number of mundane tasks that don't affect the performance of the core of the product.

This is the same problem we have with illegal immigrants. If illegals are able to do 2/3 of the same job for 50% of the pay, that's good enough for many jobs like construction and utility work. The company that hires the cheaper labor is the one that has the cheaper costs most of the time if the work is good enough.

The solution, though, is not to give H1Bs the flexibility to change employers. The solution is the same as with illegal immigration: make companies find other ways to get the job done. We also have plenty of ways to make doing work in the US more competitive that doesn't interfere with worker rights and compensation. For example, abolishing all corporate taxation or making it a 1-2% income tax on revenue, not profits would not only reduce the tax burden but drastically reduce the compliance burden.

No longer a need for H-1B (5, Insightful)

gatkinso (15975) | about a year ago | (#43077417)

Now that thousands of DOD/NASA/NOAA/FAA/ect technical contractors are going to be looking for work.

Re:No longer a need for H-1B (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43077515)

All of whom had jobs at 2011 and 2012 funding levels, which are still lower than 2013 funding levels, even with the sequester.

But, I guess that if cutting the federal budget by 2% is going to cause economic apocalypse, we may as well claim that the US will lose 170,000,000 jobs because of it...

Oh wait, Democrats already have...

Re:No longer a need for H-1B (1)

gatkinso (15975) | about a year ago | (#43077629)

Who said economic collapse? Reading my OP I certainly don't see that claim. I simply said thousands of experienced homegrown techies are going to be on the job market.

Time to go home Manmeet, your services are no longer needed.

Oh, and by they way... we took yer jerb!

Re:No longer a need for H-1B (1)

Sterculius (2856655) | about a year ago | (#43077661)

The enormous Farm and Oil subsidies weren't touched, so your Crony Capitalist overlords are safe, huzzah!

H1B and L1 visas are both being abused (5, Informative)

paper tape (724398) | about a year ago | (#43077455)

The standard procedure for companies when they want to do this is to first post a job opening with outrageously high skill and experience requirements, and a sub par salary.

Any American workers who are qualified for the position are generally already employed at the same or better wages, in positions with lower requirements - so few if any apply. If a qualified worker does apply, it is a win for the company - they've just hired an overqualified worker for 1/2 to 2/3 of the salary such a position should command.

In the more common case that no workers apply who meet the qualifications set, the company applies for an L1 or H1B visa on the basis that it "cannot find qualified American workers". They then bring in foreign workers who do not meet the original requirements, for even lower salaries.

Re:H1B and L1 visas are both being abused (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43077567)

Actually H1B visa requires that the position be posted in the US for a pre-determined period, before the alien can be offered the job to ensure that citizens can apply. The company issuing the job notice writes the requirements so only a few can qualify and usually specific to the alien applicants skills. This is to ensure only the alien can be reasonably chosen. Rarely does the government review the actual applicants to ensure the citizen is given priority.

In the apartment where I live (200 units), there are approximately 85 Indian families working at various companies in the area. Multiply that by a dozen or more apartment complexes in the area and you can visualize the number of alien workers in high paying technical jobs on H1B visas. It is cheaper to hire an alien worker and move them to the US than pay a local qualified worker. I know these alien workers do not have skills greater than US citizens.

There is a bill in Congress to increase H1B visas from 85K to over 300K. This is a crime and a cheap corporate trick to hire workers for half the going US salary. There are no aliens with higher skills than US citizens that would justify H1B visas, unless you were talking about rare scientific skills like Exo-Planetary Geologists and we have those scientist.

Any US government official, congress person or president that agrees with H1B/L1 visas has been paid off for their vote.

This kind of issue should be left to the citizens of the US, in a referendum voted by all fifty states. POWER TO THE PEOPLE and NOT THE REPUBLIC.
You can't buy off 330 million people.

Re:H1B and L1 visas are both being abused (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43077587)

while this country let's in more than a million immigrants with no regard for their skill level and no one complains about that. some 55k are literally chosen at random.

Re:H1B and L1 visas are both being abused (1)

Ecuador (740021) | about a year ago | (#43077665)

The main problem I see is that H1Bs are very restrictive, so the really talented people will prefer to not go to the trouble and find another developed country that will appreciate them more. Think about it, it is an expensive (ok, the company eats the cost - but you are tied to them) and lengthy process (you apply on April for an October VISA), you can't easily change companies and, most importantly, your spouse is not allowed to work. So, while H1Bs can be relatively well-paid, due to the difficulty of the process they are far from being the best-paid, plus if they have a family the other family members will have to go through the same process with another company if they want to work (and they will, since H1Bs are usually not in the highest salaries), plus there is always the danger of the company your VISA is tied to to go down suddenly. Why would the best want to go through such an ordeal, get such a treatment from the country they migrate to? It's not like the US is the best place in the world to live in (although if you can choose where you go in the US there are nice places).

A few thoughts (2)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | about a year ago | (#43077599)

It's not surprising US PhD's are more focused on the higher ranked schools. The premium, over an MS, for PhDs, is small relative to the cost so there is little incentive to earn one; and if you do the opportunities are far greater from a top school. For foreign students, a PhD has far more prestige and value and hence higher demand. lesser schools can use that demand to generate cash and fill programs.

Why not make H1B's more mobile - after six months or a year in the US allow them to freely change jobs. That's enough time for them to prove their skills and get an idea of their true worth in the job markets. Companies would need to be meet real market values for talent and would be more selective on who they hire and what they pay to avoid losing real talent while paying to get them here.

I can understand why people who are have the talents for STEM leave the field. I make far more in a non-STEM field than I ever made in engineering and haven't hit a plateau as many of my friends still in engineering. I remember when I first got my degree being shown a graph that showed salaries peaking and then real income declining as you gained experience since at some point it was cheaper to hire someone with less experience than pay you. The advcie I got was get some experience and then bolt - either to management or another field where your skills are rarer and experience is valuable.

Re:A few thoughts (1)

Sterculius (2856655) | about a year ago | (#43077647)

What field did you move to? My defense contractor programming career is obviously coming to an end.

Re:A few thoughts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43077829)

Several of my former coworkers from various companies have bitten the bullet and gone into law, with mixed results. I've never felt jealous of them.

Re:A few thoughts (1)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | about a year ago | (#43077893)

What field did you move to? My defense contractor programming career is obviously coming to an end.

I actually got an MBA and went into strategy consulting. When I was in school a significant percentage of my classmates had STEM degrees; and post degree went into consulting or finance (either on Wall Street or for a company).

Study performed by citizens? (1)

animeshpathak (873597) | about a year ago | (#43077633)

I wonder how many grad students and academics of this study are on visas themselves, and how it might lead to an interesting paradox.
(did not read TFA, this is ./ afterall)

That's not the point (2)

ThatsNotPudding (1045640) | about a year ago | (#43077675)

The whole point is H-1Bs are cheap and *compliant* - being nothing more than indentured servants and all. Please, please also ignore the massive percentage of industrial espionage against US companies that is conducted by recent or 1st gen emigres.

the major problem (1)

ub3r n3u7r4l1st (1388939) | about a year ago | (#43077843)

The primary/secondary educational system in the US, unlike those of Asian countries, emphasize individualism over obidience. Here, slight slap on a kid's back and you might have a lawsuit against you for "child abuse".

business analyst h1bs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43077731)

I have seen a lot of H1B visa holders hired as "business analysts." Skills required to be a business analyst: organization, communication, reading, and writing. In other words, most high school graduates could do this job. Yet somehow, there is a "shortage" of these "technical" skills, and we have to grant extra visas to fill these jobs when the unemployment rate for high school graduates is over 8%.

Re:business analyst h1bs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43077855)

I have yet to meet high school graduate able to do business analyst job. By your logic, you can hire any healthy person as a marathon runner, after all they can run.

why stop at IT? (2)

Sterculius (2856655) | about a year ago | (#43077803)

You know, these brilliant "free market" gurus are right, so let's go all the way with this idea. Whatever your job is, be it in accounting, sales, plumbing, whatever ... let's allow every foreigner who wants your job into the United States and let them work at whatever pay they will accept. Come on, after all you are SO DAMN GOOD that it wouldn't effect YOUR job, right? In fact, let's just open the borders. Anyone can come to the United States without restriction, except that if they choose to take your job at a lower wage, your ex-employer can also threaten them with deportation to keep them in line. Oh, that's right. You are SOOOO SMART and just SO DARN GOOD that nobody could replace you! You are mommy's special little boy, aren't you?

Re:why stop at IT? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43077913)

Lemme guess, you just got word that your job at McDonald's was outsourced to a 14 year old undocumented worker?

Sorry man, I feel your pain!

I bet you'd rather... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43077905)

... live in an ALL WHITE country.

Again.

H1B itself proves american arrogance and stupidity (2)

goruka (1721094) | about a year ago | (#43077979)

The argument about H1B is completely stupid and misses the point.
The reality is that the US is one of the biggest markets in the world and products are developed for that market all around the world.
I live in an emergent economy (South America) and 90% of the companies that develop software or expot other kind of product/services have the US or Europe as target.
The main difference between here and the US is that, even though people does not earn as much in the US, talented or experienced employees are much, much cheaper.
And about the saying that American companies will always prefer to deal with other American companies, it's really easy to set up a company in America even if your workforce is somewhere else.
My point is, it doesn't really matter where the brightest people is, but that it's much easier to "steal" American jobs by not being in America than being there, and this is not even about outsourcing. At least with H1B, the worker will pay taxes in America and will help create jobs, as they will be a part of a team.
Other countries, like Canada or Germany, understand this much better than America and welcome reasonably talented people and gives them citizenship very easily, because they understand it's much more benefical to have them inside the country than outside.
That is why, the fact that H1B itself exists is proof of American arrogange and stupidity. It's the old xenophobic political fallacy of blaming those outside for the problems inside, and by judging the arguments of most posting in this article, it is really working.
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