June 6, 2007 4:00 AM PDT

Tech seeing red over green-card proposal

Silicon Valley companies would be forced to compete with fast food joints, shops at the mall and truck-driving outfits for the same pool of legalized foreign hires under a controversial proposal that the U.S. Senate is debating this week.

The prospect of unpredictable competition for a fixed number of immigrant visas based on an applicant's educational background and work history, which would replace the current employer-sponsored green card system, is drawing stiff opposition from technology lobbying groups that are pressing senators to preserve the current system.

Groups like Compete America, an alliance mostly composed of high-tech trade associations and individual companies, say the practice would chip away at the predictability of the current process for recruiting and hiring foreigners and leave too much control over the talent-screening process in the government's hands. The current proposal would hand out visas based on a point system that grades factors like education levels, family ties, English prowess and whether an occupation is considered "in-demand."

"The best the government can hope to do is select a pool of generically potentially qualified candidates, whereas a company knowing exactly what it needs, exactly what skills and exactly what kind of individual can best deliver is going to be far better able to make the right match," Lowell Sachs, Sun Microsystems' senior manager for federal government affairs, said in a telephone interview. Sun is one of the core members of Compete America.

In a change that would be akin to long-standing systems in Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom, the proposed merit-based system would eventually allocate about 380,000 green cards each year to foreigners with the highest scores--up to 100 points--based on certain criteria. The bill is called the Secure Borders, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Reform Act of 2007 (PDF).

How the point system works

Let's say a 40-year-old doctor from Germany with 10 years of work experience and midlevel English skills wants to emigrate to the United States, where his sister is a legal permanent resident. Out of 100 possible points, his score would be:

20 -- Specialty Occupation
20 -- Masters degree
8 -- "STEM" education
10 -- Midlevel English skills
4 -- Sibling of U.S. legal permanent resident

Total: 62 points

Supporters of the idea, including the Bush administration and key Senate Democrats like Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), say the overhaul is necessary in order to ensure that both "high-skill" and "low-skill" workers have a chance at obtaining permanent residency in the United States and to reward well-educated, English-speaking foreigners capable of working in specialty and high-demand fields.

The system works through simple addition, with up to 100 points allocated for categories such as occupation type and language fluency. An example: someone with a master's degree would automatically receive 20 points; people with English fluency would receive 15; and people in occupations found to have grown the largest amount in the past decade by the Department of Labor would receive 16 points. (The most recent survey, which offered projections between 2004 and 2014, ran the gamut, including computer scientists, registered nurses, food preparers and waiters, janitors and maids, retail salespeople, receptionists, office clerks and truck drivers.)

What that means is a brilliant 40-year-old computer programmer who a company like Google or Apple views as crucial to the success of a forthcoming product could easily score less than a new nursing school graduate with zero work experience (younger workers get an extra three points). That's even more likely to happen if the programmer isn't proficient in English and the nurse is (an extra 15 points), or if the programmer doesn't have formal education in a science, technology, engineering or math field (which could potentially add an extra eight points to the nurse's score).

Uncertainty over "high demand" jobs
Some immigration experts said it's not entirely clear whether the system proposed by the Senate bill would do more to harm or help technology employers.

After all, the system would award bonus points to foreigners who have worked in science, technology, engineering or math occupations in the United States for at least one year and to those seeking occupations in designated high-demand fields, which include computer software engineering and systems analysis.

"In actual use, probably most of the jobs for which companies are hiring high-tech workers and most of the workers would probably score high enough," said Doris Meissner, a senior fellow with the Migration Policy Institute, a Washington think tank, and commissioner of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service during the Clinton administration.

Still, she added: "If the person they want doesn't score high enough, they would not be able to reach the person, even though that is who they have identified and selected to fill a particular job. It adds another layer of complexity and procedure, and most important, it adds uncertainty. Employers don't like that."

Another worry is that the government could change its mind about the definition of "specialty" (worth 20 points) or "in-demand" (worth 16 points) occupations. Because it's unclear which occupations will fall into those categories if and when the law takes effect, it's a "much bigger wild card than anyone is comfortable with," said Bob Sakaniwa, associate director of advocacy for the American Immigration Lawyers Association, which is part of Compete America and does not support the Senate bill as written.

CONTINUED: H-1B visa increase…
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I will get 87 pts there
The US needs me.
Posted by joelam888 (300 comments )
Reply Link Flag
End th Green Card is used as whip to keep h-1b employees locked in place
The Green-Card-Whip needs to be taken from the employer and put into the hands of the employee. For years employers have used the Green-Whip to keep h-1b employees in line, because if the employee leave, then green card process must start again, from the beginning, with the new employer.

The Tech companies are nothing but a bunch of slave oversee'ers. They should be ashamed to keep a class of people in indentured servitude.

The h-1b program itself is being used to outsource jobs. More high-tech jobs are being removed by the h-1b program than could ever be created by the program.

It is a fact, that Indian IT Outsourcing companies use a huge number of h-1b visas to train their (Indian only) engineers, and then send them back home to continue outsourcing whole departments.

You cannot discriminate in the hiring by race, creed, or NATIONALITY.

When Indian companies only consider h-1b candidates (and then only from from India), for jobs based in the United States, it is a clear case of discrimination.

Prejudice in hiring decisions is a crime in the United States, it violates Federal Civil Rights laws. When companies are found to have violated such laws the punishment can include criminal sentences.

The main question is, if there is a job in the United States, do Indian IT companies (that are h-1b dependent) even consider a non-Indian candidate?

So far all evidence, and all the numbers point to a the startling fact, U.S. engineering candidates are barred from applying for U.S. jobs created by Indian IT companies.

Some of these Indian IT companies have U.S. staff that is 90% or more Indian, and almost all here on h-1b visas.

In open testimony before congress, a U.S. Citizen and job applicant tried to get an interview with for an open position in the United States. She was told that she could not apply for the job, just (and only because) because she could not be hired under an h-1b Visa.

Congress is merely asking questions, and India is protesting way-to-loudly. Something aweful (a complete disregard for Civil Rights) is being coverd up by the whole Indian IT industry and the Indian government.

There is no equality in the hiring practices of these h-1b dependent Indian IT companies, either you are Indian or you are not, that is the hiring criteria for an Engineer at an h-1b dependent Indian IT company for a job based in the United States.

This clearly is discrimination, this is prejudice, this is wrong, and against U.S. law.

The american people have the right to know when companies are destroying the very fabric of our society, by planting the seeds of racism, prejudice, and discrimination.

India threatens us with trade sanctions unless allow their companies to continue to discrimate. Call their bluff, India needs trade with the U.S. more than the reverse. Further what good is trade, if it leads to riots, protest, and civil unrest. Discrimination, more than any other, is something that we all agree needs to be eliminated.

The Senators are merely asking questions. Clearly though, we need to subpoena these companies. This is the biggest case of open-discrimination, bigotry, and prejudice in the United States today.

Karmal Nath (the Indian Commerce Minister) and NASSCOM (the Indian Service Companies group) knows Indian IT companies discriminate against U.S. citizens. They know that that Indian IT companies practice discrimination in the United States. And they are trying to black-mail the U.S. into letting it continue.
Posted by Jake Leone (143 comments )
Reply Link Flag
nothing new
its goes both ways... you mean to say the Bankers don't have preference? don't they judge you based on the clothes you wear? or how you talk? whether you use the right kinds of words in the interview, or how you approach a problem, ofcourse! people who are hiring will have a bias for people who look like them, talk like them and even think like them. Is'nt it evident when you look at the Corporate CEO's or Board members or American Presidents, they all APPEAR to be conservatively dressed white males who are at least six foot tall and speak in a Southern accent. And last I checked US is a capitalist country, Competitiveness is the name or the game here, price, quality, quantity, reliability are all advantages that a player is allowed to use. Think about it, its a fair game. You cant expect the state to protect you from the repercussions of laziness and incompetence. This is a jungle in which compete or u loose, there is not much choice here. Accusing someone of cheating because you are loosing is a loser's mentality and a sign of weakness. How do you not know that there might be a good reason you did not get hired. May be your weakness is clearly visible, after all 10% of their staff is American... correct, may be their standards are a bit too high, just like it is for CEO's of major companies.
Posted by ss02906 (8 comments )
Link Flag
You cannot discriminate
"You cannot discriminate in the hiring by race, creed, or NATIONALITY."

My @$$. Over 35? Too old, so-called "rusty skills", don't want you. Pale male? Forget it. Dot-com experience? Go sell programs at Wrigley or drive cab. Been making middle-class pay? Not here.
Posted by Too Old For IT (351 comments )
Link Flag
Sorry for the duplicates
I was promised a secretary when I became an engineer but tech came along and typing I so avoided in HS to keep from being tracked I now have to do.
Posted by goodfriends43235 (7 comments )
Link Flag
H 1B
These visa's are just a way to keep wages low. I was replaced, on a contract with Nokia, by a Philipine national because he would work cheaply. If this immigration bill passes the U.S. will be flooded with cheap labor. Enforcement of the current immigration laws is the answer. The non-enforcement that has been going on, is a violation of the Oath of Office every person in Congress, the Vice President, and President has taken.
Posted by perfrog (10 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The Immigration bill is payback
from El Presidente Bush and from the Senate to all the businesses who have lined their pockets over the years. I've been a Republican since 1980, but no more. This is nothing more than a big honkin' subsidy to business to provide, as you say, cheap labor, plain and simple.
Posted by techslave (1 comment )
Link Flag
Tech seeing red over green-card proposal
Posted by teakilla (9 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Shame Shame Shame!
What a shame to see all of this pandering to foreign workers at the expense of hard working Americans. The issue is always how many GreenCards should we give out and never how do we find Americans to do the jobs. You rarely hear discussions about training Americans to do the jobs that the tech industry needs. You hear a lot about educating Indians and their system that so heavily exploits our American tech industry. Yet when was the last time that you heard about any tech companies making an effort to meet its workforce needs with American workers? When have you seen our government actually debating the issue and trying to come up with solutions?

It must be all about cheap labor. That is why you rarely see any significant efforts to reach out, educate and train Americans. Where are the public service TV commercials? You don't see that but we consistently you see request for more foreign workers. Consistently we see more stress being placed on our social services with Americans getting the short end of the stick. Its certainly shameful and it has to do with greed and corruption in our political system and those who deny that reality and try to skirt around the issue with contrived statistics, well, shame on you for selling out your country to the lowest bidder.
Posted by tetsuyo (50 comments )
Link Flag
Odd numbers.
I notice that speaking additional languages, or having multiple degrees does not count for extra points. Is it healthy for America to stay a mono-lingual country?
I also notice that some of the fastest growing job categories (from the "survey") are all but excluded from present HB-1 and NAFTA visa classes. That will become a bottleneck in the near future.

Perhaps a point value based on mutual temporary worker exchanges could be added. Some people like to see the world and work at the same time, but don't intend to settle down. For every american who gets a job outside the country, a foreign worker can temporarily take their place. For instance, I know Canada has a stripper shortage right now - how about an exchange of people with brains for people with booty? :)
Posted by Marcus Westrup (630 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Yes, Cheaper and Better.. just like the Honda's & Toyota's instead of Suburbans and mustangs... (... inefficient, poor performers... gas guzzlers)... accept it!
Posted by ss02906 (8 comments )
Reply Link Flag
What mythical planet do you come from? My husband has been a tech consultant/programmer for over 20 years. It is simply NOT true that the foriegn techies are better; cheaper by the hour for sure but after they screw around for a long time, they end up calling on someone like our company to clean up the mess and complete the project...if they can now afford to finish it. Costs way more in the long run. Naturally there are exceptions, but the vast majority are barely mediocre at best. Often their training and experience are very puffed up, some even fabricated. I do agree with the the requirement that they speak English relatively well, we have had problems with that, too. There is no shortage of qualified American workers, but it's just like the call centers, etc., the large companies don't feel that Americans should make any more than third world residents...I guess if that's the way people here want it, that's the way it will be... It doesn't seem like the American dream to me, though.
Posted by jettt (6 comments )
Link Flag
Anything to screw Americans
Bill Gates, Bush, Pelosi, Reid, Kyl, McCain, Graham, Kennedy, and their ******* don't give a damn about America or it's citizens. These folks are all millionaires and wouldn't be hurt by their idiotic amnesrt bill.
Special interests (the above greedy suckers and those they are in bed with and take money from) want to degrade workers pay and leave this nation without sovereignty and dumb us down to mexico's level. It all comes down to: do you want a United States, or do you want this amnesty with increased immigration plan.
Posted by blueyes123 (54 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Supporting unqualified Americans are like supporting American cars
They just suck.
Posted by joelam888 (300 comments )
Link Flag
The government lies about the number of out of wk American engineers
These green card programs ARE a turn back to the 1900's with employers holding the whip. I had the dubious pleasure of training my Indian replacement who would work for half to a fourth of what most Americans would work for, he then headed back for India with the whole department being replaced by cheaper labor. That was 51 American tax paying jobs lost. When are our congressmen going to wake up and find that their paychecks stop because we can't pay taxes when India,Korea,China,Mexico have our high paying jobs.....America is becoming a 3rd world country.
I that the government is still espousing that there are too few engineers in this country...that's strange because I sat in a room with 91 engineers in all disiplines and background, all looking for work for more than a year all being told that while our experience was stellar a more qualified candidate was chosen. That candidate most often was foreign. We all came to the same conclusion...There ARE plenty of engineers in America but they are not willing to work for minimum wage. After the unemployment runs out you are no longer counted.....What wrong with this picture?
Posted by goodfriends43235 (7 comments )
Reply Link Flag
From my experience
These so called "high tech" workers who are chronically unemployed are self-taught, very unskilled, and have no understanding of the fundamentals.

In short, they have no business working in high tech.

Few Americans with the background and up to date skill stay unemployed and under paid for long.

Most of this whining are from people who can't understand why they can't get a job with their l33t VB and HTML skills, but know nothing substantial. It must be the immigrants fault.

You want a real high tech job? You need to invest in serious education and work your ass off. If you want a job that requires little skill or brains, go get an MBA or something.
Posted by MSSlayer (1074 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Re: From my experience
In my experience (twice unemployed for at least 16 months), people who are over 30 become at risk for unemployment. Excuses are given for why they don't measure up to some company's standards, such as their skills are rusty, etc. But the reality is that the companies impose arbitrary standards for employment, such as asking them to quote from memory obscure Unix commands, when it is obvious that the answer to such questions is to consult man pages and other references. (The posted job requirements do not state that obscure Unix commands must be quoted from memory.)

Tech workers must be self-taught, whether or not they have degrees. A degree program cannot encompass everything that a tech worker needs to know.

FWIW, tech companies can hire whoever they want. However, don't force the unemployed US taxpayer to bring these people into the US. Let these companies complaining about the so-called shortage set up offices on their own nickel in the countries where these presumably better candidates reside. Let us keep our tax money and use it to set up our own businesses, and compete.
Posted by CPCcurmudgeon (51 comments )
Link Flag
H1-B visa program
As the man said: "American company's cannot control themselves from exploiting the H1-B visa program". Why? Because greed wins out everytime. Please don't tell me that H1-B visa program employees in the high tech sector (read: help desk, system analysts, system administrators, etc) get paid as much as their, deposed American counterparts. This is utter nonsense. If that were true, then said companies would not be so hot to get them onboard. They get paid less..period. This is nothing more than our government's continued assualt on the middle class. Our government now sees it's role to provide American companies with cheap foreign labor to replace so-called "high price" American labor. These poor companies just cannot survice having to pay fair market wages for high tech workers anymore. But, they can pay outrageous salaries to CEOs, CIOs and the like. Why not bring over H1-B MBAs to fill their jobs? I don't see many companies clamoring for those types of foreign laborers. I'm sure they'd work for much less than current CEOs and upper management. The stock holders would be ecstatic!
Posted by rickhal (7 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Calculate your points at www.ready4greencard.com
Looks like someone has already created a website to calculate your points under the new immigration policy. See how many points you earn :-)
Posted by nihar15 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
The system is clearly far from perfect. However, employees using the <a href="http://www.cmbeb5visa.com">green card visa</a> as a 'whip' is a very serious problem. It is not dissimilar to the way some ex-convicts are treated at their first jobs out. With every system, there comes abuse. The only thing we can do is remain vigilant in trying to keep the abuse to a minimum.
Posted by MikeMJF (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag

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