October 21, 2005 12:29 PM PDT

H-1B visas may grow by half

U.S. senators this week endorsed a proposal that's long been a favorite of technology companies: a bigger pool of foreign workers.

A spending measure approved on Thursday by the Senate Judiciary Committee will boost the number of H-1B visas for highly skilled guest workers by about half--from 65,000 to 95,000.

special report
Waging battle on foreign labor
Salary concerns renew
H-1B visa opposition.

The proposal would also raise H-1B application fees for U.S. employers by $500, which supporters described as a way to offset spending and avoid sizable increases in the federal budget deficit.

The changes won't take effect unless the full Senate--and later, a conference with the House of Representatives--approves. That may be easier said than done, as the House's version does not currently provide for a change in the H-1B visa cap. The next step for the bill is a debate in the Senate Budget Committee, currently scheduled for Wednesday.

The aim of the H-1B program, launched in 1990, is to keep U.S. companies globally competitive by allowing them to fill voids with skilled professionals from abroad. Under the program, foreigners with at least a bachelor's degree in their area of specialty can remain employed in the United States for up to six years.

Representatives from the technology industry generally applauded this week's move as a positive first step.

The measure "will give U.S. business more ability to compete, succeed, remain competitive and provide new revenue for training U.S. workers and for deficit reduction," said Jack Krumholtz, managing director of federal government affairs for Microsoft, whose chief has called for an unlimited supply of H-1Bs.

But some argued that the proposed increase wouldn't be enough to make a real dent. "My guess is if Congress does approve the 30,000, then those will get eaten up pretty quickly, and we'll be back in a similar situation," said Harris Miller, president of the Information Technology Association of America, which counts IBM, Microsoft and Oracle among its members.

The visa cap hit a peak level of 195,000 between 2001 and 2003 but was cut back to its current level in 2004.

Congress "didn't foresee there would be a continued need for keeping it at that level, but it was very unrealistic to let it go back down to 65,000 when you had 195,000 and all those visas were being used up," said Harry Joe, a Texas-based immigration lawyer whose clients include technology companies that employ H-1B workers. "I think it needs to revert back to what the historic demand has been."

For the past two years, Joe said, the annual limit was met just as the new fiscal year began. Last year, that prompted Congress to approve a boost of up to 20,000 visas for foreigners who receive master's degrees or higher from American schools.

The idea of raising the number of visas has not been universally embraced. The IEEE-USA, which represents high-tech professionals, has criticized the system for taking jobs away from qualified Americans and has suggested that the companies have gotten away with paying less to foreign workers. Chris McManes, the organization's senior public-relations coordinator, said on Friday that the 65,000 number is sufficient.

"It should be a fall-back option for companies who cannot find U.S. workers," he conceded, "but we feel that in most cases, U.S. workers could be found."

56 comments

Join the conversation!
Add your comment
Great, just what we need
more people coming over on H1-B's. Did anyone ever consider that there should be some incentive to help train US Citizens to fill these jobs instead of bringing in someone from overseas and paying them 10-30% less?

I know it's not that simple, but the "short fall of people with required skills" has been growing for 10 years, and so has the number of H1-B workers. You think if there had been training incentives 10 years a go, companies would still be asking for more H1-B workers?

Great planning folks.
Posted by webdev511 (254 comments )
Reply Link Flag
There are incentives
It is called college. American kids seem to prefer easy stuff, though...
Posted by JoeF2 (1306 comments )
Link Flag
H1 - B
This is one incentive that america should consider greatly. Most talents coming from other countries seem to have a good track record at contributing to american economy
Workers with exempliary records or skills should be given priority.

Foreign workers works much harder
New ideas are given an incentive which gives them a reason to inovate and produce much better products.
Over all I think both H1-B and local workers should be given priority It keeps america on the lead for technology.
Posted by optimus53 (2 comments )
Link Flag
Corporate Criminals
are saving perhaps $30 Billion a year in payroll
costs by using cheap slave labor under H1-B.
The really sad thing is that they haven't
given Congress even 1% of this amount.
The politicians aren't just ******:
They're cheap ******.
Posted by (139 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Cheap slave labor ?
Well before I take offense to your categorization of H1-B as "cheap slave labor", would you mind letting me know how did you arrive at that conclusion or what exactly is your definition of cheap slave labor in the H1-B context.

Well if you ask me...I enjoy a good hard day at work (just like I did back home), drive a nice German car (a little better than what I used to drive back home), spending some evenings/weekends with friends, socializing, playing tennis, roller-blade, golf, badminton etc. (again just a little different than what I used to do back home), earning a good salary (definitely more than I what I used to back home)...if you call all this cheap slave labor...hey I am not certain, but may be lot of folks out there wish for the same.

Now if you were to argue whether H1-B has been good for America, I think you and me will have a healthy debate.

Not sure, how name calling is helping the argument. And this is true for folks on both sides of the aisle.

<me>Hard working H1-B worker from India</me>
Posted by (3 comments )
Link Flag
People on H1 have to get paid the same
This "slave labor" stuff is of course just a myth.
People on H1 have to be paid the prevailing wage, i.e., the same as Americans.
Posted by JoeF2 (1306 comments )
Link Flag
Way to show your ignorance
Do your research first before spouting off inflamatory flames...
Posted by edyang (54 comments )
Link Flag
More jobs gone
Increasing the cap by 30,000 just means that many Americans out
of work. Wake up, your job is next.
Posted by Edward Judge (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Lemme see
The limit WAS 110,000. They weren't all used up & the limit was dropped. The limit goes up again - but to less than the 110,00 limit that existed before.

I work with 1 offshore team in Manila & 1 in Mumbai. ALL of those people take money out of the US and pay NO US taxes. But anyone on an H1B comes into the US & pays taxes - do y'all want foreigners taking American jobs & paying US taxes - or foreigners taking American jobs & paying NO US taxes - pick one.
Posted by (409 comments )
Link Flag
That's of course not true
Your assertion is not backed by any data.
Posted by JoeF2 (1306 comments )
Link Flag
Note from a recruiter
We are looking to hire some basic technical and QA folks. We are willing to pay in the low six figures, benefits plus options. But, we need someone fluent in english to play a support role. After many weeks of advertising an inadequate resume flow, below is a note I got from my recruiter...


---
From my recruiter:::

The not so good news is we have not seen a good flow of qualified candidates for the QA or Server Engineer positions. Besides the lackluster response on our postings, we have sent out emails and left vm's for candidates we have in our database but have not received response. I did check with another recruiter, XXX YYY who is currently working for a software start-up and he said the Software Engineer and QA positions he is working on have been difficult as well, seems, good technical folks are employed and not actively looking. They decided to go the college route and are doing H1 Visa for candidates with Masters only for the Software position.
Posted by tjschwartz (1 comment )
Link Flag
out to lunch
The americans that complain about all the foreigners coming to the US to take away US jobs are just out to lunch. Maybe the US government should do away with all H1B, maybe then they'll figure out alot more jobs just went offshore. I was an H1B, and I have always made very good money. My wife and I are now on green cards, and we make in the top 5% of american house holds. I'm not sure what all this slave labor talk is about. Its just ignorance I suspect.
Posted by KickinA (10 comments )
Reply Link Flag
H1-B is good for the US
Listen, I have two friends, one graduated from a top 10 US university with Magna *** Laudi and double major in Computer Science and Finance and one graduated with a MS Computer Science and is now a Math PhD student. They both can't get jobs because of the H1-B limit. If they can't stay here, they will go back to Asia and compete with the US. Think.

If you can't fight them, be with them.
Posted by joelam888 (300 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Pure B.S. the H-1b limit on Masters from U.S. univ, not yet reached.
If you friends truly have a Master's (Magna *** Loudly) from a U.S. university, then there are H-1b slots for them.
Posted by Jake Leone (143 comments )
Link Flag
H-1B's are Generally better.
The competition in the yearly lottery to get an H-1B, plus the cost (~1000USD) for a company to sponsor the visa, implies that there has to be a compelling reason to do so; generally, successful H-1B canidates are an order of magnitude more qualified than the rest of the applicant pool (and must be in order to justify the cost of sponsoring).

As to the claim of slave labor: in the application process, they must disclose their salary information, and it must be at least the median to be approved. Thus, if they were going to be paid slave wages, they would never have been granted the visa.

As for the claim that what is chiefly need is more training of existing citizens: having been a researcher at a large engineering school, I can attest to the fact that the vast majority of native born citizens only wish to learn as far as it provides vocation. It follows that, most of the people sitting in the labs are not US-citizens.

The remedy to this situation is not to simply pay for more post-secondary education, rather our cultural attidutes need to change to elevate continuous study above fashionable consumption and consumerism, if the United States wishes to engages in protectionism as some are insisting that we ought to.
Posted by jbs36 (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Why do we need more h-1ber's? Because friends hire friends.
The reason why we need more h-1b visas is because hiring managers can't find enough friends to hire of the same ethnic background.

It's a form of discrimination.

There are more layoff this year in the high-tech area than there were last year. Yet there on no cheap (bachelors degree) H-1b visas left.

We don't need any more h-1bers, industry hasn't even used up the more expensive H-1b visas (those for master degree from a U.S. university).

H-1ber's then proceed to encourage companies to move jobs overseas.

The value of the dollar is plummeting and soon Americans will be living like the 3rd worlders who work for food. When will Republicans get it? A good economy needs good jobs.
Posted by Jake Leone (143 comments )
Reply Link Flag
We need H1s
While there are layoffs at some companies, that doesn't mean that these people have the skillset that the hiring companies need.
Try getting a database designer to work on operating systems...

A good economy indeed needs good jobs. That's why we need more people who can work in these jobs. If companies can't find these people, their only option would be to outsource the jobs to some other country. Getting more H1s into the US keeps the jobs here in this economy.
As for the H1s for people with Masters degrees, it seems you have forgotten that college graduation is in summer...
Posted by JoeF2 (1306 comments )
Link Flag
Paying H1's the same
Maybe the law, but as with immigration law itself, some people are not following it. That's why we have 10+ million illegal aliens. We may very well have H1-b's who are not getting the wage they are supposed to be getting. Who is checking ? How are they checking ? They're supposed to make employers hire only legal, documented workers but if there ore over 10 million illegals working in the US, it's clear employers are not doing what they are supposed to do. Why is it a leap to believe that H1's aren't getting paid the same as U.S. citizens. Will the H1 complain ?
Posted by steve51 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Then report violations
If you know of violations, report them. The form is <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>
DOL enforces it, and has fined companies.
Referring to illegals in this context is just a red herring. Stick to the topic, please.
Posted by JoeF2 (1306 comments )
Link Flag
Reportng is Futile
I have reported violations of the
"prevailing wage" clause, and the complaints
were rejected on the grounds that I did not
have standing to make the complaint.
The logic is that only the H1-B immigrant
himself or a person who can PROVE that they
were laid off or were otherwise _directly_
affected is allowed to complain.

In other words, it's a scam. The whole thing
is just a run-around designed to waste
your time.

Regarding claims that it's a "myth" about low
pay for H1-Bs. Read the case files:

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.lca.doleta.gov/" target="_newWindow">http://www.lca.doleta.gov/</a>

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.flcdatacenter.com/CaseH1B.aspx" target="_newWindow">http://www.flcdatacenter.com/CaseH1B.aspx</a>

The format isn't as convenient as it used to
be, but you'll find that thousands of H1-Bs
in the software industry are being paid $24k,
and that hundreds of thousands are being
paid less than $40k. So, no, it is not a myth.
If you read the actual LCA forms, it becomes
quite evident that nobody in the US government
cares to enforce the "prevailing wages" law.

-dave chapman
Posted by (139 comments )
Reply Link Flag
You need evidence
Of course, without any evidence, your complaint would have been just another baseless whine.
There is no requirement that you have to be directly affected.
Oh, and quoting some salary figures without the actual job description is of course completely meaningless.
Posted by JoeF2 (1306 comments )
Link Flag
I have no clue?
You obviously have an agenda here. I am in contact with every piece of the IT puzzle. I work with professionals doing consultants, in house workers, contractors, admins, and PC builders. I know mainframe, AS/400, Unix, PC-Windows and PC-Linux professionals. I know whereof I speak, and what you are saying is nonsense, and directly contradicts what the REALITY of IT is. IT salaries are growing at a slower rate than any other profession; while more and more jobs are shipped overseas. The idea of some kind of 'shortage' of professionals here in the states is a LIE. That's right, I said it, a LIE. The problem is that the professionals here can't survive making 30k a year. Kids starting out of college might be able to do that, but they had better not have any aspirations to own a home or start a family. I know MANY professionals that are scared to death that if they lose their jobs, they will NEVER find one in IT again - and these are skilled workers with years of experience.

Again, I cannot condone tricking kids into a field with no future. Now, if the kid had an MBA and a couple of courses in IT so they could specialize in managing offshore workers, there might be a future (read: a future with growth potential) there, sure. A business analyst? Maybe.

But doing the technical work, be it development or system administration? I'm not cruel.
Posted by imric1 (26 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Jobs are shipped overseas because there are not enough people here
If you really knew the REALITY, you would know that companies only ship jobs overseas because they can't find people here. Outsourcing overseas requires a big initial investition, delays things, and isn't done lightly.
And IT professionals don't make just 30K. If you float such numbers, you really have no clue. People at MS, at Oracle, at Sun making $30K? Give me a break. Good people make $100K without problems.
Posted by JoeF2 (1306 comments )
Link Flag
Meanwhile, back OT
I find that H1Bs are being hired because they are cheaper, not because of a mythical 'shortage'.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.infoworld.com/article/05/10/25/44OPreality_1.html" target="_newWindow">http://www.infoworld.com/article/05/10/25/44OPreality_1.html</a>

Abuse is by far more common than legitimate use, he says.
Posted by imric1 (26 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Bogus study
The study compares apples and oranges.
Posted by JoeF2 (1306 comments )
Link Flag
Sure it is.
More assertions, no facts, not even an anecdote. No studies, no research, just words that contradict experiences common to those folk that really work in IT.

It's clearly not worth continuing this discussion.

I call on all readers to actually read his posts, and the posts he responds to, and ask yourself these questions - WHERE are his facts, WHAT is he trying to accomplish, and WHO is he trying to convince?
Posted by imric1 (26 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Facts
The "stufy" compares the average salary of CS people in California with the average salary of people on H1.
First off, there are quite large salary differences between Silicon Valley and other areas of CA.
Second, the "study" doesn't say if the people on H1 are actually working in CA or somewhere else. Salaries in other areas of the country may differ quite a bit from salaries in CA.
As I said, the "study" is comparing apples and oranges. It is sad that you apparently weren't able to understand that without me going into the details.
It is a classical thing of how to lie with statistics. Undergraduate Statistics 101 class...
Posted by JoeF2 (1306 comments )
Link Flag
 

Join the conversation

Add your comment

The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Click here to review our Terms of Use.

What's Hot

Discussions

Shared

RSS Feeds

Add headlines from CNET News to your homepage or feedreader.