Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
April 4, 2007
POLITICS: Raise The H-1B Cap

Lost in the perennial debate about amnesties, guest workers and lettuce-pickers is the H-1B visa, an economically vital program to let highly educated professionals who already have jobs lined up to enter the country to do them:

There's currently an annual cap of 65,000 H-1B visas, which allow foreigners with a bachelor's degree in their area of specialty to spend up to six years working for companies in the United States. Up to 20,000 more visas are available for foreigners with advanced degrees from U.S. universities.

Whatever your thoughts on immigration more generally, these workers - many of them with advanced high-tech degrees and in great demand by U.S.-based businesses who are trying to onshore employees instead of offshoring facilities - are an exceptionally valuable economic resource our government should be encouraging. And as this year's H-1B lottery, which yet again was massively oversubscribed in record numbers from the very first day it opened (this Monday) shows, the dynamism of the U.S. economy is attracting far more of these workers than our government will permit into the country:

A spokeswoman for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services told CNET News.com on Wednesday that the estimated 150,000 petitions received by the agency as of Monday afternoon--and an as-yet uncounted number that came in on Tuesday--set a record for the first days of a new application round.

Yes, you read that right: more than half of the applicants just on the first day will be turned away. Some of those opportunities may not knock a second time.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:38 PM | Politics 2007 | Comments (25) | TrackBack (0)
Comments

Yes, the US is such a bad place that all the world, intelligent and otherwise, wants in.

Posted by: maddirishman at April 4, 2007 2:15 PM

As a High tech worker the H1-B program is the biggest fraud there is. All companies use this as a way to drive down wages. It is a fact the these workers make at a minimum 30% less than their American counterpart doing the same job. If they are so smart, well trained and in demand why are they paid must less than the American doing the same job?

Posted by: Javaman at April 4, 2007 2:26 PM

They are paid less because they are willing to. Even now, how many UAW workers are willing to take less considering the chances of the plant closing? As Larry Niven wrote, "In the eyes of the universe, stupidity is a capital crime."

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at April 4, 2007 3:12 PM

Javaman - It's competition.

Daryl - In fairness, it's more shortsightedness than stupidity, and more than a few UAW workers may have economically rational reasons to be shortsighted, especially if they are close to retirement and/or think they can get a second job after killing the current golden goose. Although closing the plant is one thing, driving the company into bankruptcy and jeopardizing the pension plan is another.

Posted by: The Crank at April 4, 2007 3:24 PM

If you were a software engineer or programmer would you be willing to take a 30% or more pay cut when your company is turning record profits? Also, since the company holds the workers visa they are not free to work for any other company. So instead companies lay off the Americans and bring in much much cheaper H1-B labor to do the same work. Hooray profits are great for the American economy.

Posted by: Javaman at April 4, 2007 3:30 PM

"It's competition" are you serious? If a company decides to increase profits by decreasing labor cost by removing fully qualified employees and having them TRAIN their H1-B replacements and pay them 30-50% less in wages. Can you explain how the average high tech American worker can compete? Keep in mind these are workers that are college educated and some with advanced degrees.

Posted by: Javaman at April 4, 2007 3:42 PM

Javaman:

What is your source for "It is a fact the these workers make at a minimum 30% less than their American counterpart doing the same job."

Posted by: WD at April 4, 2007 5:37 PM

Javaman:

Your numbers didn't sound right, so I did a little -- admittedly very little -- research. In order for an employer to obtain an H1-B slot, it has to demonstrate that it is paying the prevailing wage for the position. What is your source that, in fact, H1-B's are paid 30% less?

Posted by: WD at April 4, 2007 5:54 PM

WD

Quick question, what is the high and low end of you pay scale? Is there a 30% difference there?

Posted by: Javaman at April 4, 2007 6:50 PM

I'm in high tech too - but honestly the H1-B doesn't bother me too much. The tech market for people that understand software and can apply that to business is booming. At the same time it does create some downward pressure for direct competitors. Nontheless I'd agree its a net positive for our country and economy.

I'm assuming law degrees don't carry from one country to another - maybe that's why the crank loves it?

Posted by: Brendan at April 5, 2007 12:39 AM

Javaman:

I don't understand your question. I just know that a company has to certify that it is paying the prevailing wage for the position to be filled, which makes policy sense, to prevent company's from doing just what you say -- undercutting American workers with cheaper foreign labor.

Where did you get your 30% figure from? I didn't mean my post as a flame. I just wanted to know where you got that 30% number. Do you know something about the process where H1-B's are paid 30% less than prevailing wage, despite the consequences. It certainly wouldn't be the first government program to have perverse consequences.

Posted by: WD at April 5, 2007 10:02 AM

"despite the consequences" should read "despite the requirements."

Posted by: WD at April 5, 2007 10:03 AM

prevailing wage is a term that gives companies a giant amount of leeway. He is a example, we all know wage scales overlap. Here is an guide Company A has pay grades A, B and C. Pay grade A is 35k-55k, pay grade B is 42k-70k and pay grade C 50k-90k. Company A has most of its staff on the high end of B and mid to high level of C. Now Company A decides to reduce labor cost by laying off staff and replacing them with contractors and H1-B workers. Also, keep in mind a general rule is your cost to the company is close to two times your salary. That is where the 30% number comes from.

Posted by: Javaman at April 5, 2007 10:45 AM

Javaman:

I understand that there is room to play with amorphous numbers like "prevailing wage." And I would suspect that companies would have to do so to compensate for the legal costs of bringing in a foreign worker. What I meant with my question was, did the 30% come from a Wall Street Journal article, Department of Labor statistics, a Michael Moore movie, something else that you read, your own calculations, etc.?

Posted by: WD at April 5, 2007 12:47 PM

Gartner is one source

http://www.cioinsight.com/article2/0,1540,2111591,00.asp?kc=CMCIOEMNL040507EP23

Posted by: Javaman at April 5, 2007 1:27 PM

Javaman:

The link you posted doesn't show anywhere that H1-B's are paid less, let alone 30% less at a minimum. When you said "It is a fact the these workers make at a minimum 30% less than their American counterpart doing the same job," it sounded like you had some basis for that. If that's true, it is a good argument for not expanding the H1-B program. But if you just pulled it out of your ear it sort of turns your comment into a pointless rant. I can say "It is a fact that Jennifer Anniston wants to date me," but that doesn't make it so.

Posted by: WD at April 5, 2007 1:44 PM

Here is a detailed examination of H!-B salaries

http://heather.cs.ucdavis.edu/Archive/IntelH1BWages.txt

Posted by: Javaman at April 5, 2007 2:59 PM

This doesn't say anything about H1-B's being paid at least 30% less than their American counterparts.

Posted by: WD at April 5, 2007 3:09 PM

Is your problem with the 30% or you do do not believe American workers are being replaced by cheaper equally qualified American labor? Which the last two articles clearly stated.

Posted by: Javaman at April 5, 2007 4:19 PM

I have a problem with people making up facts to support an argument, which it appears you have done.

Posted by: WD at April 5, 2007 4:45 PM

Not made up facts, but you are okay with companies making up facts to import cheap labor? 30% or more is a real number just keep your head in the sand.

Posted by: Javaman at April 5, 2007 7:04 PM

But Javaman, it is a fact that every imported that for every job filled by cheap imported labor creates 700 new jobs, paying $700,000 or more per year that are filled by Americans that were formerly homeless. And by fact, I mean a Javaman-style fact -- one that I made up.

Posted by: WD at April 5, 2007 8:54 PM

So you for the record state it is okay to collect 700,000 instead of 1,000,000. You can not be more clueless more facts on H1-B abuse. Once again 30% is not a made up fact if there is a 30% difference in the low and high end of a pay scale.

http://talkback.zdnet.com/5208-10532-0.html?forumID=1&threadID=32288&messageID=594351&start=-1

Posted by: Javaman at April 6, 2007 12:14 AM

My last post was obnoxious and I apologize for that. But I didn't say it was good policy to pay H1-B's 30% less than American counterparts if American counterparts are available. In fact, I said just the opposite, which is why I wanted to know where you got your "30% at a minimum" figure from, and that last link doesn't have that figure, either. If the 30% is an estimate based on your experience, fine. That's all I really wanted to know.

Also, I do not doubt your premise that there are abuses of the H1-B program. I just don't think companies are laying off American workers in favor of H1-Bs. The legal expense wouldn't be worth it and my understanding of the program is that there aren't enough H1-B slots available to employers to make it worth it.

Posted by: WD at April 6, 2007 10:02 AM

Proof in the pudding how it works. This is how companies layoff higher waged employees and replaced them with cheap H1-B workers it is called reorganization.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18023092/

Posted by: javaman at April 10, 2007 1:52 PM
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