Skip to comments.Trump Visa Policy Helps American Tech Workers
Posted on 08/05/2018 12:39:28 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
Companies have been showing an increasing preference for hiring Americans since President Donald Trump imposed heavier scrutiny on visas heavily used to hire foreign tech workers.
While some companies say they need more of the visas to make up for a shortage of American talent, data suggests the visas have been abused to displace American workers.
In April 2017, Trump issued an executive order to Buy American and Hire American.
In response, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) set on to fight fraud and abuse in the H-1B Visa Program.
H-1Bs allow U.S. companies to hire up to 85,000 foreign workers a year for up to six years and then sponsor them for permanent residency. Eligible workers can be hired generally for any job that requires at least a bachelors degree. Most of those who have used the visa are computer workers.
The H-1B visa program should help U.S. companies recruit highly-skilled foreign nationals when there is a shortage of qualified workers in the country, USCIS stated on its website. Yet, too many American workers who are as qualified, willing, and deserving to work in these fields have been ignored or unfairly disadvantaged.
The agency has made it clear it will go after cheaters and protect the economic interests of U.S. workers. It seems to have taken aim at companies providing technology outsourcing, such as Cognizant, HCL, Infosys, Tata Consultancy Services, Wipro, IBM India, and Accenture.
American Dream Outsourced
Outsourcing companies have been the dominant users of H-1B visas, with the top 15 of them scooping more than one in four approved applications in fiscal year 2017. The reason these companies obtain such a high proportion of them is the sheer number of applications they make, since USCIS picks applications by lottery, until the 85,000 cap is met.
These companies bring in tens of thousands of foreigners every year (usually from India) to more cheaply manage technology, such as computer systems, for American businesses. The businesses in turn fire their local tech workers.
Sometimes H-1B workers are 40 percent cheaper than Americans, and as an additional bonus to employers, H-1B workers are unlikely to complain about substandard wages and working conditions, wrote Ron Hira, a research associate at the Economic Policy Institute.
Thanks to a loophole in the immigration laws, the American workers have little recourse.
In 2015, Walt Disney Co. outsourced its computer operations in Orlando to Cognizant Technology Solutions and HCL America, laying off 250 American tech workers as a result.
Some of those laid off took Disney and its contractors to court for breaking immigration laws, because H-1B sponsors have to certify that the foreign hires will not adversely affect the working conditions of workers with similar jobs. The petitioners argued they were adversely affected, because they had to train the people who were replacing them for lower pay.
The judge tossed out the case, saying Cognizant and HCL hadnt lied in the H-1B paperwork because it wasnt their employees who were affected, but Disneys, reported Orlando Sentinel.
Trump Steps In
The president said hes not against bringing in top talent from overseas, but not at the expense of Americans.
Right now H-1B visas are awarded in a totally random lottery, and thats wrong. Instead, they should be given to the most skilled and highest paid applicants and they should never, ever be used to replace Americans, he said last year.
In April 2017, USCIS suspended fast-track, two-week processing for H-1B petitions, making applicants wait six months to confirm approval. The fast track was restored in October.
USCIS also switched random checks on H-1B employers to targeted checks on those who have a high ratio of H-1B hires, hard-to-validate business credentials, or who bring in people on H-1Bs who then work at other companies work sites.
In February, it announced that companies that sent H-1B workers to a third-party worksite may be asked for detailed documentation to ensure a legitimate employer-employee relationship.
And in March, USCIS issued a policy memo that makes it harder for H-1B applicants to increase their chances by having multiple companies sponsor them separately for the same job. Typically, around 200,000 applicants vie for the 85,000 visas.
It seems companies have noticed Trumps scrutiny, sponsoring 7 percent fewer initial H-1B applications in fiscal year 2017 than the year before.
Forty-seven percent of US companies plan to or are willing to hire international talent in 2018, down from 55 percent that had such plans in 2017, stated the Graduate Management Admission Councils report based on a 2018 survey of over 600 American companies.
Moreover, companies gave their fresh H-1B hires a nearly 6.2 percent average pay raise in 2017the biggest since 2009which relaxes the H-1Bs downward pressure on American tech wages.
Some companies and immigration advocates say America needs more H-1Bs.
The U.S. university system is not currently pumping out enough qualified science, technology, engineering, and math degree students. Our economy needs these talents, said Jason Finkelman, an immigration attorney from Austin, Texas.
The fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) are expected to need almost 2.3 million new qualified workers between 2016 and 2026, according to a 2017 report by the Congressional Research Service (based on 2016 data).
Nearly all STEM jobs required a bachelors degree or less, according to a 2017 report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Only five percent required PhD or a professional degree and almost none required a masters degree.
During the 2016-2026 period, American universities are expected to award close to 4.5 million bachelors degrees in STEM to American citizens or permanent residents, based on National Science Foundation 2015 data and assuming similar trends in growth of interest in these fields of study as from 2009-2015.
Foreign students on temporary visas represented less than 10 percent of the math and computer science bachelors degrees in 2015. But they dominated the graduate programs, accounting for nearly four in five computer science full-time graduate students, according to a 2017 report by the National Foundation for American Policy.
The reason may have to do more with immigration than with academics.
Degree to Green Card
In the current booming job market, with more jobs openings than people officially unemployed, American students in lucrative STEM fields have a good chance of landing a job of interest with a bachelors degree. Instead of a graduate degree, which often means swelling their student debt and delaying paychecks, they may opt to have a few more years of experience on their resume.
Foreign students, on the other hand, are incentivised to enter graduate programs, because 20,000 H1-B visas are reserved each year for graduates of U.S. masters programs.
The students are incentivized to stay for a PhD as well, because published papers beef up their immigration case. If their employer sponsors them for a green card, immigration laws will give them priority for proof of exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business.
Many of the students never reach the green card goal, but that doesnt stop colleges from profiting off their tuition fees.
A 2017 report by the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) think tank accused 55 colleges with more than 100 campuses nationwide of being visa mills with as much as 95 percent of their students being foreigners on temporary visas.
Foreign students in STEM fields can obtain work authorization as on-the-job training for up to three years after graduation under the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program. The program also gives employers a 7.65 percent tax break.
David North, a fellow at CIS and author of the report, said around 40,000 foreign students are attached to the 55 schools, with an estimated turnover of 20,000 per year as new students arrive and old ones depart.
Many of those departing are either going into illegal status or will do so after a period in the OPT program, the report states.
USCIS tightened the STEM OPT eligibility in January, imposing conditions to ensure its actual on-to-job training and not just the hiring of foreigners as cheaper labor.
While foreign students scramble to find out if the H-1B-to-citizenship pipeline still holds, American STEM workers can expect higher salaries and demand for their skills.
This is soooo dishonest. We have the STEM talent.
Infosys is one of the worst abusers.
I work in IT and as far as I can tell, I am one of two people that voted for Trump at my company. Hillary promised infinite H1-b visas if she were elected, yet nearly everyone in a software development company voted for her.
Too bad the real news is that congressional legislation is doubling and more the numbers of H1B, H2B, and others. A big disconnect. And will Trump veto that any legislation increasing foreign workers? I sure hope so.
How dare he try to help AMERICAN workers, that’s just plain racist.
Most of the visas are controlled by a small handful of Indian firms that bring Indian semi-tech workers like quality control workers or lab workers to the united states. They barely speak English and are not from the best universities. And they work for Indian companies who hire them out to American companies while paying them far less. Its a scam that allows these Indian companies to make billions off this slave labour.
That, with a long overdue realization that most foreign-born tech workers are over-documented and under-qualified.
Oh? Good to know.
85,000 per year for 6 years means there are half a million H1Bs in the country at any one time.
This definitely holds wages down, when it doesn’t put people out of work altogether.
When I started, companies ran training programs for new hires. They needed people that bad, that they would actually train them. They stopped doing that, in my business, years ago. Why would you, when you can just hire a boatload of guys from Bangalore?
Every policy initiative by Trump is a winner for the middle class. The biggest winner for the middle class is yet to come...TARIFFS! When FAIR trade replaces UNFAIR FREE trade, America will be Great again.
Notice, that the Paul Ryan Republicans all want to dramatically increase the number of H1Bs per year.
Many companies are sending the work offshore now. Think of the IT department of a very large yet unnamed retailer that has let bunches of people go recently.
Many IT types may be brilliant with tech, but they lack common sense.
The WITCH companies
- Tata (TCS)
We need to put a 50% tariff on H-1B visa holder’s salaries. The money paid will go into scholarships for American citizens who study STEM programs at university. The goal being that US citizens replace those foreigners holding H-1B visas.
Or a 10% tax on all remittances, such as Western Union. That would pay for the wall in no time.
It takes more than common sense to design robust, maintainable code which can be demonstrated to meet business needs.
Or, do both!
My company solved the problem by buying an Indian dev company and they just do all the staffing out there. My division uses all local talent but they loaned me out to another division that uses all indian workers because they’re months behind schedule and I’ve already caught them up.
True. But voting for Hillary, who was offering unlimited guest worker visas, does show a lack of common sense.
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