Here is a question that has been bothering me for awhile

Posted: June 23, 2011 by chad98036 in Uncategorized

I am mostly unemployed at the moment, catching a few contracts here and there but nothing permanent right now.  This has placed me in the situation of dealing with quite a few different placement agencies and I have noticed that over the past couple years the workforce has become increasingly Indian.  To the point that I would say 80% plus of the contacts I have are with an individual of Indian origin.  And I am not just talking phone contacts either I am talking in-country, go to the office, and sign paperwork contacts.  This leads to my question –

How are these guys getting visas? 

My understanding is that work visas are supposed to be restricted to individuals with specialized skills or for jobs in which there is a shortage of qualified American workers.

Am I seriously supposed to believe there is a shortage of Americans who are qualified to screen resumes, set-up interviews and fill out INS / IRS paperwork?  I have a hard time accepting that.

Maybe my understanding of the applicable immigration law is faulty.  I am not a lawyer so that is extremely possible, but I have seen the H1B wave at an unnamed large tech company in the technical areas and no if it is moving into the soft skills that’s a little disturbing (disturbing was not the word I was looking for) out of the scope of the program as I understand it.

  1. MikeD says:

    Software companies have lobbied VERY hard for expansion of the H1B visa program claiming that there simply are not enough US grown software engineers/network engineers/etc to fulfill their needs. Never mind the legions of out of work US software engineers. The real reason has nothing to do with availability and everything to do with affordability. Why hire a US programmer for $80k/yr when you can get two Indian born engineers on an H1B fro the same price?

    Honestly, I understand the motivation of companies to try to cut all costs where they can. Who is really to blame is the fucking Federal Government for not slapping their asses down and saying “Really? Not enough US programmers? We have over a 10% unemployment rate, hire locally you cheap fucks!”

    • doubleplusundead says:

      Doesn’t do much good if the company folds or outsources because operating costs are too high, stop thinking like a union member, protectionism won’t save your ass. Trust this Rust Belt resident. It. Doesn’t. Work.

      • doubleplusundead says:

        Companies are in the game to make money and grow, not hire people, don’t make the liberal’s mistake of looking at a company like it’s a welfare service and it’s obliged to hire and pay at a high rate.

        • MikeD says:

          The problem here is that the explicit purpose of an H1B visa is to import workers into fields which the US cannot fill the needs of internally. In other words, if we don’t have enough rocket scientists, we can allow extra rocket scientists into the country to work until such time as our domestic supply of rocket scientists comes up. Mind you, this is in excess of normal immigration procedure. These H1B visa holders are allowed to skip in front of the immigration line because they hold shorthanded skills. That is why the program exists.

          I understand completely the idea of a company keeping costs as low as possible, as well as the concept of their responsibility to the shareholders, and not to some fucking union.

          However, I also recognize that the existing system is being abused in order to get highly skilled workers for substandard wages. Mind you, I would have ZERO problem with that company moving its offices overseas to achieve those savings. Expressly for the capitalism principle. What I object to is the blatant abuse and corruption of a system on shady pretexts. If you want to save money on wages, go for it. DO NOT turn the system into a Chicago style machine.

  2. doubleplusundead says:

    A lot of times Indian, Chinese, Korean and Filipino families’ll pay to send a family member over for work, and that person’ll then help the others get over to the US from there through sponsoring and helping them through the legal minefield. I have no problem with this, as they’re usually coming over legally in my experience and integrate. You may be seeing an out of proportion amount of it because of the field you’re in, and the fact that you’re on the West Coast in a major metro area.

    The west coast has always had a high % of Asians and Indians because it’s most likely where they’ll land when they fly over (or ship over, in ye olden days), and that’s where a good chunk of the tech industry is at. I’d also wager part of it is because American people in the tech field out west are moving to places like Texas, where they aren’t taxed and regulated into oblivion. With the possible exception of Detroit, even our worst Marxist hellholes here are usually a big step up in quality of life for most people in the developing world.

  3. DejahThoris says:

    This is anecdotal, but the engineering-focused university that I went to had a large and aggressive marketing program geared towards East and South Asians. From what I was told, this is a common tactic amongst smaller universities with graduate programs. This particular place wanted to re-orient their focus on post-doc and doctoral research (mo’ money mo’ money!) instead of undergraduate instruction. This is a little tiny school waaaay up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, but they have a large Indian and Chinese student demographic. International students bring in lots of money, and I assume are able to get the appropriate work visa when the yearly job fair recruiters hire them fresh off the block.

    I was an undergraduate at the time (old student amongst the young), and learned this from the professors who were disgruntled that so much money was going into the computer science/engineering department and the other sciences were being sucked dry.

  4. chad98036 says:

    I don’t have a problem with immigrants, I am just curious how this all works under, presumably, H1B. I know that a large proportion of the immigrants at MSFT for example are on H1B visas. (I know because I know people in HR there and they have communicated that information to me). Now under the H1B program, as I understand it, spouses are not eligible for employment in the US and relatives cannot be sponsored for entry so if the law is being followed that can’t be the source of workers.

    Regarding the pay issue – I agree companies aren’t obligated to hire people, and pay should be based on merit, but in the case of H1B visas the law does state that the employee has to be paid the higher of the locally prevailing wage or the wage of a similar employee at that company. So it should not, in theory, be a pay issue, but one of the major criticisms of H1B is that it is used for wage busting.

    • MikeD says:

      And that’s because the company does NOT pay them less than the other employees. They pay all the employees that wage, and surprise surprise surprise, no one is willing to take that wage (thus clearly there are no qualified US workers, and therefore they need more H1B visas).

      Legal immigration is a wonderful thing. And I’d like to see the process made less onerous. But these H1B visas are NOT immigration, it’s a work permit. And they’re only good for a limited amount of time. Once the few years of visa are up, they get a new fresh faced young programmer from overseas (who cannot demand a higher wage for the skillset they earned at the company) to replace them. One of the biggest problems we have at my software company is young guys coming in, getting experience under their belt, and getting headhunted away to higher paying jobs (we’re not an H1B company, and I’m in SC which is a right to work state). These H1B guys don’t have that option. They get the experience, but they get shipped home before they can really make demands on higher paying jobs. And given the fact that the money is SO much better over here, there’s a nearly unlimited number of young guys willing to come over to take the work.

  5. RobinKaty says:

    capitalism is fine, until it undercuts the moral fabric of the sociality that built it. Americans made this country and made it possible for all the US companies to thrive, for them to lose site of that and hire foreigners to do the work that Americans can do is sad. The other side of the coin is that Americans must be willing to work for a reasonable wage and not drive the company to outsource. When you have an imbalance, unions seem to fill the void of the American worker and that is bad for all concerned because that leads the way for Socialism which ultimately is bad for both the worker and the company.

    • MikeD says:

      The problem isn’t capitalism. The problem is succumbing to the temptation to abuse the systems in place which ends up with multiple second level effects which end up hurting the country. By keeping the jobs in the hands of entry level foreigners, US programmers fresh out of school can’t get the employment experience that employers want for filling positions over the H1B guys.

      Mind you, this is NOT my situation. I sidestepped the whole thing by taking a parallel career track outside of programming. And I’m damned glad I did. I have seen this all from the sideline, and it’s ugly.

      And once more, I’m very strongly capitalist (if not more than a bit Randian about the whole affair). But the problem is, the market is NOT free when the government steps in and provides what amounts to cheap labor FOR the companies. That’s a manipulated market.

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