June 2, 2006 7:59 AM PDT

H-1B limit reached for next year

The federal government has already received enough applications to reach the next fiscal year's cap for the H-1B worker visas so beloved by technology companies.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services said Thursday that it determined on May 26--scarcely two months after this year's application window began on April 1--that the number of petitions streaming in will exceed the congressional limit of 65,000 visas. The people approved in that round of applications are eligible to start work on Oct. 1, 2006--which is when the federal government's 2007 fiscal year begins.

Another 5,830 petitions had arrived as of May 26 for the separate 20,000 visas reserved for the 2007 fiscal year for foreigners with advanced degrees from U.S. institutions.

Regardless, employers seeking skilled foreign workers without such degrees cannot file petitions until the next application window opens on April 1, 2007.

Proponents of the H-1B program, which permits foreigners with at least a bachelor's degree in their area of specialty to be employed in the United States for up to six years, viewed the announcement as additional evidence that Congress urgently needs to raise the limit.

"This is bad news, as America keeps losing the race to other countries to attract the world's best and the brightest high-skilled workers," said Ralph Hellman, president of the Information Technology Industry Council, whose member companies include Apple Computer, Dell, Cisco Systems, IBM, Intel and Microsoft. "This further underscores the need by Congress to provide additional incentives to attract these workers."

Those large technology companies have claimed for years that such changes are essential for filling key gaps created by a shortage of qualified Americans. Some, such as Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, have gone so far as to suggest scrapping the restrictions altogether.

The industry edged closer to getting its way last week, when the U.S. Senate voted to raise the cap to 115,000 as part of a sweeping immigration bill. The measure also contains a provision stipulating that if that cap is reached in a certain year, then it can be raised by 20 percent for the next year. The government's baseline H-1B quota has remained at 65,000 since 2004 after peaking at 195,000 between 2001 and 2003.

That bill, however, is expected to face obstacles in the House of Representatives because of broader conflicts over the Senate's approach to immigration policy and border security.

Meanwhile, the H-1B system also has its fair share of critics. The U.S. division of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, which represents high-tech professionals, has argued that the current system lets powerful corporations nab foreign workers at lower salaries than they would pay their American counterparts--or, in the most unsavory cases, to keep American workers out of jobs entirely.

"We don't understand why the Senate wants to expand a program that numerous government reports have found leaves U.S and foreign workers open to exploitation," IEEE-USA President Ralph Wyndrum Jr. said in a statement. "Fraud, abuse and misuse of the visas is rampant. The program should be fixed before it is expanded."

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high cost of living on the west coast is what holds back these companies
Homes in the San Francisco, San Jose, and Oakland are selling from $800k a piece. In some places, for example Palo Alto, home regularly sell for a million.

Rent is typically over $1200 a month (for a 1 bedroom flop, and I hope you like rats).

You have to make at least 60k, just to stay above water in the Bay Area (own a car, eat, rent your own shelter, and pay taxes).

Further Hi tech companies are not having problem finding workers (at a living wage). I have seen many applicants rejected this year (who were more qualified than I was when I came on board, 6+ years ago).

At some point you have to realize that we cannot compete with billions of other people for a job.

Remember, it's better to stand to the left (or right) of the stampeding herd, than to be a bull fighter in the center of its path.

I think managers like to play musical chairs, I think there is some perverse joy derived from it.

And that importing workers will cause bad things to occur:

- Money is going to leave the country, and so devalue our dollar
- Wages will be depressed, thereby decreasing the side benefit of high-tech jobs to the rest of the workforce.
- Eventually, a significant percentage of these guests will return to their home country, and use their skills (mostly learned on the job), to win business back to their home country. Further devaluing the dollar.
- Inflation is now being driven by the high-cost of resources (such as oil), not wages, so inflation is here to stay for a while.

Does anyone ever think about why oil is 70+ dollars a barrel? It's because so many dollars leave the U.S. and other countries need oil to develop their nation (and to put into their new Mercedes, civic, or yamaha).

When the dollar crashes, there will be a world-wide recession. And temporarily at least, the U.S. importing power will be no better than that of Mexico.
Posted by Jake Leone (143 comments )
Reply Link Flag
That's why Phoenix is Silicon Valley Part 2
Appartments for $600-$800 & houses here for under $200K.

And we have this great weather too - going to get to 110F today :-)

As an Integration Architect, there aren't too many better places to be.
Posted by DryHeatDave (79 comments )
Link Flag
NO Increase in H1B quota
Even before Senate considers increasing the H1B quota what they should first realize is that how many H1B visa holders are actually working in US??? More than 50% of H1B visa quota has been filled by international companies for their employees and they may or may not send their employees here to work. They just safe-guarded their side if there is a need. So what happens is that the people who are already here or who have studied here and waiting to get H1B visa will not get it because the quota is full. I think there should be clause in H1B regulations that if a person who gets a H1B visa, outside of US, does not come to this country in certain period of time and does not start working here....his/her visa will be terminated and the quota will be avialable for someone else in the queue. This is difficult to implement but the abuse of the quota by international companies need to be stopped. H1B quota should be for internal american companies to be utilized.
Posted by niketubhatt (1 comment )
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...and you still want to pursue a technology career?
With all the "free trade" agreements we have signed, Americans are now on the same footing as the Indian and Chinese engineers. Their schools are perfectly fine and they are good engineers. Unless American engineers can work really cheap they have no future. As long as corporations continue to bribe our politicians they will continue to sell us out. Soon the next 'great' invention will come from Asia and we will see no economic benefit. When will we wake-up? America is becoming a country where the only good careers are filing law suits or charging a fee to increase personal debt. Technology and pharmaceuticals are gradually heading overseas so they are in decline now. A harsh lesson is coming to this country.
Posted by aroyce (28 comments )
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You need to get some facts straight before you start talking. Technology in decline? NO.

A joint study by Money magazine and Salary.com of the best jobs in America ranks "Software Engineer" as #1, with 46% expected growth in the next 10 years. That's right, the amount of jobs for programmers in the US is expected to nearly DOUBLE. I would hardly call that a decline....

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://money.cnn.com/magazines/moneymag/bestjobs/" target="_newWindow">http://money.cnn.com/magazines/moneymag/bestjobs/</a>
Posted by SonicV4 (37 comments )
Link Flag
NO Increase in H1B quota
Before the H1B quota is increased, certain things need to be taken into account. Past several years many international companies have used up tens of thousands of H1B visas just to be on a safer side if there is a need to send their employees here to work in US. They may or may not send their employees, but they are safe because they have thousands of employees on H1B visa on their side waiting to come here in their respective countries. So the students who have come here to study and are waiting to be sponsored by american companies have to fight for 2 things - first to get a job in an american company and second convince them to get the H1B visa before the visa quota is over. Before increasing the H1B quota, senate should first implement a regulation for H1B visa holders outside of US that they have to be here in certain time period and work for a certain time or else their visa status will be voided and hopefully made available to someone else. This is difficult to implement but the abuse needs to stopped. The idea behind H1B visa is for american firms to hire international work force and not for international companies to use the visa to have a H1B work force in their respective companies. According to me this crisis is an illusion created by international companies.
Posted by n9b (1 comment )
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Why increase H-1B during layoffs?
I don't understand why tech companies clamor for increasing H-1B at the same time they are laying off workers. For example, Sun Microsystems just announced they are firing 5,000 people.

Are we really supposed to believe that tech companies can't find good talent in the bay area and the rest of the country?
Posted by criess (1 comment )
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layoffs are unrelated
Did you check what qualifications the 5000 people Sun is laying off have?
For example, a hardware engineer, which Sun has a lot of, isn't qualified for software development, which is what a lot of people on H1 do.
Posted by JoeF2 (1306 comments )
Link Flag
H1B Increase
I am not sure to what extent there is demand of H1B folks. As far as I can tell the H1B program is misused by companies typically the smaller companies or so called body shoppers. They exploit the H1B workers to max. extent possible luring the greencard and all that.

I know there are tons of stories on this. But it is unfortunate none of them have taken any stand on this issue in senate and house. Sure I have to agree senators work for special interests of body shoppers.

As long as folks are experienced why would they need to be associated with a comapny. For instance I am competitive enough to take care of myself, paying taxes etc., why do I need to pay some percentage to my company with absolutely no benefits except they run payroll at the end of month (yes it is the norm in desi body shoppers). It is not bi-weekly.

I would agree with H1B naysayers.. America do not need increase in H1B. It is just a way to bring more people from India/china etc.,...
Posted by sudhendra (3 comments )
Link Flag
Fighting the wrong fires
As admirable as it is to supply opportunities to foreign workers, Congress is fighting the wrong fire by using the H-1Ss for filling in the tech jobs. A better use of time and money would be to help educate American workers. The "best and brightest" in our own country aren't being given the chance to even learn because of high tuition and other economic factors. Subsidizing college education for a larger percentage of Americans (not just the minority populations, but *all* of them) would go a long way toward helping us stay on top of the tech wave.
Posted by crredwards (1 comment )
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Would have to start much earlier
Americans are to a large part avoiding the hard work that is needed in engineering and computer science. In particular in graduate school, the majority of engineering and CS students are foreigners.
Posted by JoeF2 (1306 comments )
Link Flag
Looking at this problem from the wrong angle
Instead of whining about the H-1B limit, corporations need to raise the salaries for the "grunts" who actually do the work. If they paid a good rate for the location, they wouldn't have a problem attracting workers. This isn't an issue about lack of qualified workers - it's an issue of corporate greed and indifference.
Posted by Get_Bent (534 comments )
Reply Link Flag
except that it is worldwide competition
Blaming "corporate greed" for everything is just a cop-out.
The H1 is not about cheap labor. Peopl on H1 have to be paid the same as Americans.
Posted by JoeF2 (1306 comments )
Link Flag
I agree
I totally agree with you. I'm on an H1-B visa, and companies are looking to hire us (and other workers) at minimum rates. Outsourcing/offshore vendors are the worst, they keep upto 50% profit margins when placing employees, both onsite and offshore. No wonder there is such a high turnover! And the 'grunts' don't have much bargaining power when it comes to higher salaries.
Posted by eztiger (2 comments )
Link Flag
Experience counts just as much
Over 20 years of software and systems engineering should be enough to interest most employers, except the ones that are only willing to pay compensation of less than half of the historical average. And that accounts for a large percentage of them even where there is a great demand, i.e, NYC metro.

With a great deal on H-1 candidates, why should they bother to pay a living wage and health coverage for employees?
Posted by ebabin (6 comments )
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willing to pay compensation?
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.analogstereo.com/nissan_quest_owners_manual.htm" target="_newWindow">http://www.analogstereo.com/nissan_quest_owners_manual.htm</a>
Posted by Ipod Apple (152 comments )
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I am an H1B and I just got a 110k offer +20% bonus
and this is only one of the offers. I am waiting from another company which I predict is going to be slightly better.

And I am only 25. So, I guess Comp. Science degree is paying off very well.

I worked hard, got the right skills (wireless) at the right time.

All Americans that b!tch that can't find a good job, are just some big whiners. Work hard, and don't be lazy, but smart on what you do.
What I usually see is a lot of you just getting the first or second job and get complacent, and not working enough.

I got a full academic scholarship from an american university, so no loans for me. I got an internship at this huge financial company, and I worked so hard and beyond the call of duty, that they hired me, and sponsored me for a H-1B back in 2003-2004 when it is was the worst of the times.

I had to get by with a non that great salary, but eventually, now that the market picked up, I have offers left and right, and just have to do my pick.

The company got some american interns too, but unfortunately they didn't work as hard, plus they took more time and resources away from the senior developers, then contributed to the projects.

Bottom line, companies are always going to try to get the best skill set for the MONEY. It is purely business.

Unfortunately, unlike lawyers and doctors, Tech work is very easily exportable abroad, hence severely limiting the supply of smart people in this country, will just hurt the Tech industry more, and make businesses set shop for good in the cheaper countries.

Limiting the entry of smart people in this country, just benefits the lazy, the unskilled and the unfit people (dinosaurs) for the 21st century economy.
I am tired of EEE and their xenophobic arguments. Bunch of hicks.

Fighting for the Rules of H-1b and not letting companies to use and abuse of it, is a good thing. If you make it more expensive (enforcing the already laws) for companies to hire foreigners, then they will always get americans first.

But fighting to limit the entry of smart people in this country is not right, and counter productive in the long term.
Posted by albatros246 (6 comments )
Reply Link Flag
H1B's are not the solution to the so called deficit.
First off, why do you get on this talkback and brag about how you are taking another job from a more deserving American? Do you actually believe that there are not enough smart, home grown Americans that can't do the job you just got? There are hundreds if not thousands of IT pros out of work because of H1B visa. It is not about whining about not getting the jobs H1B's are getting, its about getting a fair chance to get in an IT job without having to worry about outsourcing. How would you like it if an American person goes to India or anywhere our jobs are getting outsourced and took a job that could have been easily been given to an equally educated Indian person? I am almost sure that you would be heated because it just is not right.
One of the main problems with H1B's is that it takes away from the entry level jobs that would be available to new grads. And when those jobs are taken by H1B's Americans are left in the cold and get caught in the loop of employers needing experience but new grads can't get that experience because H1B's get the jobs are first line for these lower end jobs. Now when you say that Americans should work hard and get more educated, that is a very hard thing to do because it is simple: Education is very expensive and not everyone has the money to keep going to school. Even self learning can get expensive especially when there is the strong possiblity that a person won't get any results from trying to get that education. To sum up, please look at things from the Americans perspective and not your short sighted views.
Posted by Sdvs (2 comments )
Link Flag
It's actually harder for a 'legit' H1B to get job
You said:
One of the main problems with H1B's is that it takes away from the entry level jobs that would be available to new grads. And when those jobs are taken by H1B's Americans are left in the cold and get caught in the loop of employers needing experience but new grads can't get that experience because H1B's get the jobs are first line for these lower end jobs

As a new computer science grad from an American college, my experience was exactly the contrary. It took 3 months for me to land an OK offer, while most of my American classmates, most of whom had lower GPA's than me, got offers earlier than me. Many companies came to the on-campus job fair with a 'No sponsorship for H1B's', and when they did sponsor, they would prefer Americans because of the saved cost and hassles from the immigration procedures.
For the people who think H1B's steal your jobs, you would not know how much harder to get a job when H1B is needed unless you experienced yourself. As far as I know, none of my classmates got lower than normal offer just because they need H1B's (mostly in the 60k-80k range for developers). It is clear that many companies will not sponsor H1B if they can hire an American (qualified, of course).
Posted by bigtime007 (9 comments )
Reply Link Flag
No way
Ok are considering the job market as a whole or are you going on where you live? If guarentee you that it is easier for foreign workers to come to the US and get a decent paying IT job with the help of the H1B visa and subsidized education than an American grad. Jobs like call center and desktop support end up being the jobs given to H1B's. That leave people like myself not able to get into the market because of lack of experience.
If we keep giving up our high tech jobs to foreigners and not trying to educate our own properly and doing it at an affordable rate the US will not remain on top of other countries.
Posted by Sdvs (2 comments )
Link Flag
IT's about enforcement, not restriction
Most legit companies, big or small, do hire H1B's following what the law says. On the other hand, many consultancies exploint the loopholes of the law, and apply H1B's in batches, with very low wages. Sadly, the USCIS only cares the money it receives for the applications. It does not care the abuse, which leaves Americans out of jobs, and thoes of us legit immigrant workers high and dry. If the law can be enforced, then I am confident H1B program will be a very good add-on to the US tech industry, and this kind of finger pointing will not happen at all.
Posted by bigtime007 (9 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Enforcement is indeed key
H1 violation can and should be reported to the DOL:
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.dol.gov/esa/forms/whd/WH-4.pdf" target="_newWindow">http://www.dol.gov/esa/forms/whd/WH-4.pdf</a>
Posted by JoeF2 (1306 comments )
Link Flag
reporting H1 B frauds
I know of a person whose H1 B visa is filed using false docs. I thought of complaining regarding it but I dnt know where to report H1 B frauds.
Posted by annie_s97 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://h1bfrauds.blogspot.com/" target="_newWindow">http://h1bfrauds.blogspot.com/</a>
Posted by akannan (1 comment )
Link Flag
Why the hate on foreign workers?
I came to the US to get a degree in Medical physics...treating cancer patients with radiation. As soon as I mention that I am a foreigner, the door gets slammed in my face. If I could go back home to work in a radiation oncology department I would but I can't because at the moment there isn't such a program (it's in the design stage now)! Places are advertsing jobs but would rather leave their places understaffed than hire a foreigner God forbid!!! I guess things only go one way.....we (outside world) good enough to cook and clean in your houses but God forbid we want to be more!
Posted by medphys9 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Thinking of moving your talent to US? Here is the bottom line.
If you are a foreigner and think of coming to US for grad school in the sciences and then work in US, here is my advice after 6 years of doing just that. Bottom line is that 1) it won't be too difficult to find a job if you are willing to work for less than an American, 2) if you expect to be paid the same amount as an American, you will have to be unique in some way, or there must be a shortage of Americans for the job, or else an American will likely be hired, 3) even if you are unique, top of your American class, best and brightest, from a top US university, worked hard in US grad school for several years, etc., the H1B quota system will force you to start your job by Oct 1, AND, prior to that, secure it by Apr 1, which is often impossible given all the other constraints (your graduation date (often in May, which is too late), etc.), resulting in you having to go home for several months before starting your American job... (and many US employers simply won't wait that long and will hire an American instead), 4) when you work for the American company, you will have to be obedient/work overtime/constantly prove yourself because if you get fired (common occurrence in US, jobs here are not as steady as in some other countries), you will have to leave the country immediately (imagine trying to start a life like that... it's constant living under the gun... can you go on a date, make friends, etc., and be sure you won't have to leave it all behind next week?... will the American society even expect you to do those things, or are you here primarily to make $$$ for your employer?), 5) your kids might have it the "normal" way, but you will stay an immigrant... one day you will watch your kids and realize they are very different from you, 6) it will be difficult for you to get promoted, because: a) you lack American cultural skills, and unless you came to US as a teenager (at the latest) this will be hard (but not impossible) to ever replace; lack of cultural skills tends to make other people uncomfortable and is as such bad for business, b) immigration rules will make it difficult for you to change into a managerial job, c) it will be perceived by the society that as a foreigner your current job of programming 55+ hours a week already is what you deserve given your background, that you should be happy as is, and that asking for more is asking too much; again there are exceptions, but not that common, d) your foreign name will be a constant deterrent/source of confusion; you might consider adopting an American name, but then, there will be people who will think that you are fake and don't respect your own heritage, 7) there will be Americans who will not like you, simply because you are a foreign worker - many posts on this website attest to that. So, it's a good idea to come to US if you are from a very poor country, civil war, no jobs, or if you like American policies (you will like it here if you support Bush - remember, more than 50% of Americans supported Bush in 2004; you have to be at least comfortable with this (saying as many educated foreigners tend not to be), as these people could be your bosses, landlords, the lady at the dry cleaner's, your co-workers, your father-in-law, the schoolteacher of your kids, the nice American girl/guy that you met last week in the park, etc.). I suggest seriously considering opportunities at home, even if you are the best and brightest of your country. Smart foreigners often think that their country is backwards, whereas US is "a great land of opportunities". While there are many great things about Americans, American way of life, etc., there are also many hidden pitfalls. Go watch Sicko the movie. If you do come here, you should expect to work long hours and be paid a reasonable amount for it (you will not be rich... Paris Hilton will always be richer, more admired, receive more attention than you, legal system will like her better, no matter what you achieve in your life).
Posted by pixelator_ (4 comments )
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