Had not heard about this particular “border bill” until I stumbled across the NYTimes article, but I know that corporate use of H-1B visas is not popular among American IT workers:
A Senate bill approved Thursday night by unanimous consent would pay for more security along the Mexico border by raising fees for companies from India that operate in the United States and hire so many Indian workers that they have been criticized for violating the spirit of American immigration law.
Republicans had proposed paying for the beefed-up security by tapping into stimulus money. But Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, said his staff had come up with an alternative that would not hurt American workers: raising the visa application fees paid by any companies with more than 50 people in which more than half the work force has H-1B or L visas that are intended for skilled foreign workers.
Senate aides said four Indian companies would qualify for the significantly higher fees: Tata, Infosys, Wipro and Mahindra Satyam, all of which operate in the United States and are criticized as “body shops” because they provide outsourcing of Indian professionals to American companies. Large American high-tech corporations, which bring the bulk of the skilled immigrants into the United States, would not be affected since the vast majority of their work forces are made up of Americans.
India’s high-tech industry reacted angrily to the proposal, with the New Delhi-based National Association of Software and Services Companies issuing a statement saying that raising the visa fees by more than $2,000 per application would violate international trade practices and unfairly focus on Indian companies. And Peter McLaughlin, an Infosys spokesman, said, “It is unfortunate that this tax is being levied on a discriminatory basis when the need is to open markets to make companies more competitive in the global marketplace.”
But senators complained that the companies could remedy the situation by hiring more Americans. “I’m thrilled that these companies are complaining about having to hire more Americans,” said Senator Claire McCaskill, Democrat of Missouri. “That is the whipped cream and cherry on top of this sundae.”
The House may take up the bill next week.
Of course it would be even better if the Senate went beyond pitting brown furriners against other brown furriners and made some effort to push American corporations into hiring Americans, but still — it’s a start?
IANAL, but how can an immigration policy violate international trade practices? It’ll be interesting to see which Senator holds this because of their financial backers squealing like a pig over this. I doubt it’ll do much for IT in this country unfortunately.
Wait, what? It’s late, and I’m tired, but I don’t understand this bill. And, what you said in the last paragraph–how about working on American companies first?
Well, India’s high-tech industry has always run on low wage tech workers so this might hurt the pockets of the upper management more than rest of the company. As long as the exchange rate for a dollar in Indian money (rupee) remains in the upper 40’s, it wouldn’t hurt the tech workers. This application fee is one time (totally needed twice during a six yr h1b visa stay) and the companies would probably ask the worker to chip in for some of it if it’s hitting the companies bottom line (basically greed). They might even ask the companies on whose site the workers actually land to pay for some of it. The ideal solution would be to charge the fee to any company hiring non-Americans for IT work in US. But till then this would have to do.
Well, sheeeet, Dems are actually playing hardball for a change. If I had to pick between helping the Indians vs. the brown ones south of us I will pick the ones south of us. Anyday. And its not for the politics its the freaking geography.
I’m halfway expecting the senators from CA or WA to come out against this. Yes, making it more expensive to hire H1-B people drives up wages, which their constituents will like, but it also drives up expenses for the hirers, and that’s always the trump card, isn’t it?
Can it really be called “against the Indians?” Isn’t it written to be “companies that use more than 50 H1B workers?” That is simply a higher level of cost/scrutiny for any company–whether it is employing the dread Indians or the dread Canadians or the dread Germans–that has a higher than normal/necessary H1B worker? The other thing to do, of course, might be to pass a law stating that H1B workers must be paid the prevailing wage for their category in the US at the highest market level. But perhaps that’s not possible.
Hmm, it will be interesting to see how much msm covers the H1-B visa issue. I remember awhile back seeing a video of a corporate CEO giving a talk to other corp heads on how to get around the rules of job opening ads for american employees so they could take advantage of lower wage H1-B workers…if they could “prove” there weren’t enough americans for the jobs or something like that. Maybe others here remember more about that than I do.
All I recall is the number of jobs that Corporate America has off-shored. Could that not be part of the unemployment issue as well???
In IT, hiring foreign workers may or may not be necessitated by a need for skills that American workers don’t have, but where I work in scientific research we hire a lot of Chinese because the U.S. is *not* producing enough workers sufficiently skilled in the basics for even entry level research jobs. Now, some of those Chinese workers are incompetent; personally, I think if we’re going to hire incompetent workers, we should hire incompetent *American* workers, but ideally, for the most efficient use of NIH research funds, all of our workers should be competent. In order for that to happen, the U.S. (and the southeast in particular) is going to have to step up in the education field. When I was a kid, U.S. schools were some of the best, if not the best, in the world because we (actually, the military) didn’t want Ivan to beat Johnny. Right now, QiMing is whooping Johnny’s fat, unchallenged ass, and we as a society had better get on the stick.
What about the companies that employ these workers through these Indian IT companies? I mean, are THEY paying the visa fees?
What about all companies that outsource or send labor overseas or hire H1-B workers. Punish them across the board. Reward companies that keep and create jobs over here. Why don’t we hear more of this type of rhetoric coming from our leaders? Why don’t we have any legislation with real teeth to force American companies to produce their shit here, thereby employing American workers? Am I just the most pathetically naive person on the face of the earth.
I am so sick of wimpy, half-measures when it comes to solving the unemployment issue I could vomit. Yeah, slap a band-aid on the fucking gaping wound and we’re supposed to be all happy that Indian companies are being punished. Lah-de-fuckin-dah.
@harlana: I agree with harlana.
I think that making our iffy relationship with India even worse by targeting them specifically is silly. The people who should be targeted are the people who are outsourcing the jobs in the first place. But they have lots of lobbyists so we will not cross their interests.
@greennotGreen: Instead of complaining about how American academics do not have the background, how about we level the playing field by making it so a quality education does not cost more than a decent house in certain parts of the US? And how about we pay graduate students better than what a cashier could make at Target? Do we value the skills of the highly educated or not?
Yes, this is an issue in the IT world. It’s definitely cheaper to hire H1-B visa holders in many cases, usually from India, than it is to hire American workers. There are a lot of IT workers jobs that could be filled by Americans but aren’t. I personally know two very skilled and experienced IT workers that have had a hard time finding a job in this climate. One was laid off and his previous job was filled by a much, much cheaper H1-B visa holder. If the Indian IT chop chops are complaining, that’s probably not a bad thing.
Agree. But our leaders (or is that “leaders”?) want to keep the corporations happy, and they won’t be happy if they can’t outsource, off-shore and fill their positions with the cheapest labor possible.
@Starfish: I think the problem is less with college education than everything leading up to it. A decent state school should prepare someone for entry level, but not if it takes four years of state school to get that person to tenth-grade level. It’s more about critical thinking skills and reading comprehension than anything else, and that should be happening way before college.
BTW, if the majority of the electorate actually *had* reading comprehension and critical thinking skills, we’d be in a very different place as a society and economy – a better place – than we are now.
@Violet: What we need is serious populist rhetoric aimed at the corporations, not Teabag populism, reasoned populism. Of course, I agree that any political leader who does this would face media assassination, as what happened to Howard Dean back in the day for vehemently opposing the Iraq war and admitting he would break up media monopolies, probably the latter being the true death knell of his candidacy.
Anyway, I guess I am stating the obvious that can somehow never be. Back in the 60’s, if you stepped out of line, they shot your brains out. Now they just use the CM.
Be careful what you wish for.
A couple of years old, but it summarizes the issues in IT.
Right now, there isn’t much of a need to bring in H1-b workers and from the look of the number of applications filed, the cap for 2011 of 65,000 visas may not be reached.
Companies are giving their projects to be managed by vendors. Whether it is an American company, like IBM, Accenture, or an Indian one like Wipro, or TCS, isn’t the main issue. If the Vendor feels they can’t get the people they want to work on the project in the U.S., then they will move it off-shore.
There’s a unintuitive inverse relationship between the demand of H1-b’s and the projects moving off-shore: the more H1-b visa work is done in the U.S., the less projects are moved off-shore.
If the employment situation in the U.S. ever improves and we end up facing a huge growth in IT, like we did in the 1990’s and the U.S. isn’t able to supply enough IT people to fill demand than companies will move projects off-shore.
If the cost of H1-b visas becomes prohibitive than in a good labor market, companies will choose to have the work done overseas because they cannot find people here to do the work or afford bring people here to do the work.
The bottom line issue in evaluating H1-b visas is to look at the business practices of corporations. The trend to out source projects to vendor management companies, such as IBM, Accenture, Wipro, Infosys, etc. will continue. If these companies have people with H1-b visas, who cannot come here to manage projects or it is no longer cost effective to bring people here to work on projects, they will move more of the projects off shore.
@aimai: Visa rules with Canada and Mexico allow people from those countries to come on TN Visas, which are easier to obtain. The H1-b visas rules do not effect our North American brethren.
There are already prevailing wage laws in place for H1-b workers taken from Labor department surveys for workers in specific fields.
I have had family on H1-b visas and the issue isn’t paying an H1-b visa worker $50/hr versus an American at $100/hr. Rather it’s about paying an H1-b worker $135,000 per year versus paying an American $150,000 per year for a certain job.
Targeting few Indian IT companies by charging them a premium for a h1b visa is basically a no-balls approach towards solving the immigration issue. Some revenue is raised to provide for border security issues by making sure that none of the constituents of either party are hurt or aggrieved by the move. It might help with increasing American hires for IT jobs (no evidence provided for that) but won’t even dent the unemployment issues in the country. It’s like treating a brain tumor with aspirin, the headache might be relieved but the patient is going to die sooner or later if not treated with a comprehensive approach.
I’ve spent my career in the IT business. It has always been a hotbed of glibetarian self styled meritocrats. It’s been sad, tragic, funny to see them singing an entirely different tune when it was their jobs facing downward wage pressure from foreign competition.
I do not see that there is much that can be done about this. If Indian workers are better and cheaper, or as good and cheaper, then the question becomes how do companies go about dodging laws designed to prevent them from employing them.
I happen to doubt that the problem with the IT job market is primarily foreign competition from Indian workers. This just happens to be a visible example of increasing productivity and a shallower learning curve in a now mature industry.
The real problem is systemic, a massive shift in internal terms of trade in the US between capital and labor. This is where the government is supposed to act, making the taxation system more progressive, shifting the tax burden toward capital holders, strengthening worker protection laws, raising the minimum wage, protecting consumers from usury and so forth.
An eight week course in Java scripting is not gonna do it, but that or the equivalent seems to be what will be on offer for over 45 year olds seeking jobs.
Talking to people, who manage IT projects the downward pressure isn’t just a wage issue. The pressure to get projects done at lower costs is also there. Roll-outs, which once would’ve cost a business $10 million to do will now be done for $3 million. Some of it is a function of how much better the technology has become in simplifying tasks, like bug fixing, for example.
I agree with you that there has to be something done to improve the lot of workers versus those who control the capital. I’m not sure what the solution is, but we can’t keep putting so much instability into the lives of American workers and not eventually have sustained economic problems because of it.
This is a canard. Of course we are producing a fantastic amount of kids ready for entry level research.
If the Chinese worker is so much more ready for the job then why do you think you ever see an incompetent one show up?
It’s a cost issue, nothing more.
H1-b is a cost issue. It has nothing to do with the lack of appropriate resources, in any field I am aware of.
Yes, gene108, that is my point. Productivity has skyrocketed, both in terms of how many people it takes to do a rollout AND in terms of how skilled they have to be.
I also agree that it is hard to see what to do about this. The idea of a plug-in society, operating on global terms, (see Brunner Shockwave Rider) where everybody works on essentially short term contracts with no corporate safety net means there has to be some kind of government intervention to protect workers.
This isn’t merely true from the perspective of weak assed pinkos. A society that is driven by maximizing short term return to capital, with the government becoming part of that enterprise, is not sustainable.
But if you take Geithner at his word, that is the current plan.
And part of that skyrocketed productivity is the capability of the boxes being rolled out. The total project costs are less because the machines are much cheaper, which is another aspect of the same issue.
joe from Lowell
Making the Republicans take embarrassing votes that can be used against them in the fall?
More like this, please!
@Corner Stone: Why do you think the reported unemployment for 20 somethings is 25%?
Do you really think all those individuals are unprepared? Untrainable in a teaching environment like research or IT?
@Jayackroyd: I do not see that there is much that can be done about this. If Indian workers are better and cheaper, or as good and cheaper, then the question becomes how do companies go about dodging laws designed to prevent them from employing them.
I’m in the industry, but in gummint contracting so not directly affected by outsourcing since everyone involved has to be a US citizen. From what I’ve seen it would be a huge improvement if the work got done as well and cheaper when it’s outsourced. It’s extremely difficult to manage outsourcing projects, and the whole point of these projects is usually to do it on the cheap and underbid everyone else.
So what happens is that the coordination doesn’t get done, the requirements analysis, quality control, and testing doesn’t get done (no budget for it), and you get back a bunch of poor quality crap, usually late, that doesn’t do what it’s supposed to, even if anybody knew what that was. This is followed my a massive crash effort by the skeleton domestic staff, who at least have an idea about what the client/customer actually wants. This blows up the costs and burns out the domestic staff. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but in India at least and probably the rest of the outsourced-to countries the talent pool tends to be a lot shallower than it looks. In India, you’ve got graduates from IIT, which is like MIT squared, but after that you’ve got the equivalent of Bob’s IT Institute and Cosmetology College and Bait Shop and little in between. So outsourcing companies get a distorted idea of the talent available if they look at overall statistics and only the cream of the crop.
So what happens is that the coordination doesn’t get done, the requirements analysis, quality control, and testing doesn’t get done (no budget for it), and you get back a bunch of poor quality crap, usually late, that doesn’t do what it’s supposed to, even if anybody knew what that was
It is for these reasons that I think the Indian threat is overstated, and is a xenophobic shiny object being used as a distraction from what is really happening.
Of course, the stuff you’re citing here doesn’t have a whole lot to do with the national origin of the contractors who fuck up a job that has been spec’ed poorly from PPTs exchanged by senior management who are unqualified to be Dilbert’s boss. The 2010 census project was a complete horror show, and you remember that IRS project…..
Actually, origin does still matter. A kind of cultural understanding, for lack of a better term, as well as meaningful communication.
When you source a project to Bangalore because it’s “cheaper”, and then find you have extra layers of management due to time zone differences and generally higher QC implementation the captured costs really aren’t there. I’ve seen projects spec’d out and then come back with a 20% to 40% higher layered overhead cost than was anticipated.
The product is shit most times so you then pay US based staff overtime to debug or otherwise correct.
But none of that matters. The bosses in control have their short term cost savings due to “cheap” outsourcing. They point to their reduced outlay, get their bonus and then when the project comes due and is an epic nightmare they never pay a price for it. But guess who does? The US based staff that is reduced to control costs.
This is going to seem wildly off-topic, but this is the only Open Thread in town at the moment, so:
Has anyone seen “The Kids Are All Right”? It’s had good reviews, and I’m a fan of Bening and Moore. I’ll probably go see it this afternoon, but just wondered if the BJ commentariat had any opinions on it.
Thx, and back to yourr scheduled discussion.
This is a fairly accurate description of what I have seen, and experienced with clients.
Let’s take the Philippines for example. To begin with the talent pool is tiny. And after about 6 months the people who understand IT and can speak English jump from job to job with no restraint for a fraction increase each time. So you have a constantly rotating pool of people working on your project, or monitoring your HQ IT or whatever.
Then when an issue arises they basically follow a script. They go from A to B to C and so on. Not to be harsh but I’ve never seen an instinct to do troubleshooting. Which is good in some ways and bad in others. You don’t want them going off into tangents and improvising when they are a world away and there’s a problem. But you also don’t want to do the same 8 first steps each time before you get into the meat of the problem.
Communication complicates this, as well as most Western based individuals intense need to physically interact with their counterparts in a crisis or serious issue.
Where are they? They’re not applying at my university. Now, it may be a cost issue in that if we paid more, then maybe those talented kids would be going into research rather than whatever other fields they’re going into, in which case we need to raise the amount of money the U.S. puts into research so we can pay more (and I’d be all for that because I haven’t had a raise in three years.) Money having been tight recently, very few labs are hiring, but before that, Principal Investigators were always complaining about the low quality of applicants they interviewed. I’ve seen the result, and it isn’t pretty.
Come to think of it, you may have a point. My university was just highlighted in Chronicles of Higher Education for having the most number of administrators who are paid over $1million/ year. It’s like the rest of the economy. The people at the top live like kings while the foundation slowly crumbles.
In the US, to this point at least, you do not get $50K talent when you advertise for a $22K job.
People in their 20 somethings expect and/or need more than $22K to get by.
This seems to pretty clearly target companies based on outrageous economic behaviors. The fact that these companies, with disgusting hiring practices, happen to be “brown furriners” reflects more poorly on the “brown furrniers” than it does on those trying to bring about reasonable hiring policies. Those companies operate in America and reject American workers categorically but from your twisted ass view the people trying to curtail that behavior are the racists. Give. Me. A. Fucking. Break.
The problem isn’t with our education system. It’s that academic research has an incredibly shitty career path. The graduate students and post docs who do most of the actual research work are paid like shit, and there aren’t nearly enough higher-level jobs for the ones who want to pursue them. If we really believe that scientists are vital for our future, we need to start paying them enough to attract and retain top American talent, and we need to provide a life-long career path for PhD scientists who don’t wind up as principal investigators. Instead we fuck people over for as long as possible and drop them like a hot rock as soon as they start asking for a living salary. Is it any wonder that so few Americans are interested?
I work in scientific research we hire a lot of Chinese because the U.S. is not producing enough workers sufficiently skilled in the basics for even entry level research jobs.
This is because entry level research jobs in the biological sciences pay extremely poorly, and the career path doesn’t offer much for the investment of time involved in school. Rational American born people in the field are going to go into industry or consulting rather than work for NIH. To a degree, NIH and academic biology research seems purposely designed as a “loss leader” to attract talented foreigners willing to accept low salaries which are much higher than they could get in their home countries.
By contrast, IT covers a lot of jobs that don’t require graduate degrees, are not particularly specialized, and don’t pay that highly. IT shops where the majority of employees are foreign raises a huge red flag. One also has to consider that they are using up H1B visas that could go to more highly talented jobs rather than the lower skilled ones used by these body shops.
Everyone’s comments about pay in the university research sector are valid and a more important point than I had thought. It’s true that most of the senior research assistants I know have stayed on the job for reasons other than money (if people only worked for money, we’d have next to no elementary school teachers, or only those for whom bagging groceries would be too mentally taxing.) So maybe what I’m saying is that the U.S. isn’t producing enough talented entry-level research workers who don’t need money!
@greennotGreen: Where are they? They’re not applying at my university. Now, it may be a cost issue in that if we paid more, then maybe those talented kids would be going into research rather than whatever other fields they’re going into, in which case we need to raise the amount of money the U.S. puts into research so we can pay more (and I’d be all for that because I haven’t had a raise in three years.)
More dollars into research may be nice, but I think you really have to redesign the career path for research in this country (and Canada too; not sure about Europe). What’s the career path for a budding researcher? Do your undergrad, spend five to ten years doing coursework and research duties while being paid like an entry-level clerk while being pushed to publish as much as possible (in journals that people don’t read because they’re too busy trying to publish, too).
Now you can try to get a faculty position, which has moved from tenure track to a series of poorly paid adjunct faculty positions with no future, or go out in the Real World where most of the big corporate research facilities have been downsized to improve the bottom line or startups that are poorly-paid crapshoots. And your student loans didn’t magically vanish, either.
At least with medicine and (until recently) law, there was a pretty good chance that you’ll make a bunch of money at the end of it to make up for the years of student penury and pay off your loans. Research, good luck. You’re generally paid well for a middle class position, but it takes a hell of a long time to make up for just bailing after undergrad and getting on with your life. At least with foreign students, the ones that are talented enough to get into US grad schools have had either low cost schooling or the connections back home to have a decent support system.
On Edit: based on the reaction, it looks like all the academics came out of the woodwork on this point. We’ve got a big goddamn problem with how research is done in this country, and it’s got very little to do with unmotivated badly educated kids.
Where are they? They’re not applying at my university.
Someone with a degree in biology who took a basic computational bio/bioinformatics class could probably get a much higher paying job as a programmer. And then seeing the career path for Ph.D. students will probably be much more inclined to apply to medical school. Even one without graduate school ambitions would be inclined to go into industry or just go into nursing.
I realize that researchers don’t (and shouldn’t) concern themselves to highly with the economic return on their research, but people really do think about the economic returns on their education.
Anyone discussing NIH-funded research should keep in mind that there are tons of barriers facing foreign students and postdoctoral candidates on the funding side, which means that these workers are not low-cost by any stretch of the imagination. The dearth of US-born scientists is real; many potential scientists in this country pursue fields like medicine, which are more prestigious and pay a lot more. For the most part, this is kind of a different issue.
I for one support liberal immigration policy, so the idea of taxing high-skilled immigrants from places like India and China so that we can more effectively bar those from Mexico is disturbing, to say the least.
the idea of taxing high-skilled immigrants from places like India and China so that we can more effectively bar those from Mexico is disturbing, to say the least.
We’re not taxing high-skilled immigrants. We’re taxing companies that are bringing in low-to-medium skilled immigrants on a massive basis who wouldn’t otherwise be able to get an H1B with another company and, for that matter, are taking up spots that could have been used by better-qualified H1Bs.
The thing I don’t understand is that if these companies are engaging in the practices described in the article – opening offices stateside and then staffing them primarily with H-1B workers – why not hit them with a combination of equal-opportunity and immigration law investigation? Such a high percentage of H-1B workers suggests strongly that either (if the companies are paying decent US wages) they are discriminating against American workers in hiring, or that they are not actually paying wages decent enough to attract local workers at all, which suggests violation of immigration law requiring companies pay H-1B employees the prevailing wage for the position.
As described, this shouldn’t bd a taxation issue but a law-enforcement one.
On the other hand, HP has paid its last two CEOs over a quarter biilion dollars the last ten years, including a likely 50 million as part of a golden parachute for faking expense reports to cover the CEO’s mistress.
I’m not from the southeast or in an NIH-type field, but in my area (engineering, midwest), when entering graduate school, foreign students need much more training than Americans — for the Chinese and Indian students, their lab skills are almost nonexistent, their technical communication skills are very poor (Chinese) to not very good (indians). Critical thinking is pretty variable, although again most of the foreign students have had no exposure to this.
Of course in my research group, we mostly start our likely graduate students as undergraduate researchers, so they get quite a bit of experience prior to grad school.
Stop paying grad students $20k, techs $25k and postdocs $35-45k and you can complain. I got a PhD from a good department at a top 10 medical school and few of my classmates have gotten anywhere in “research science”. I’ve had fellow PhDs quit science to teach at high schools because the pay is better. I’ve seen good researchers drop their jobs to repair and sell equipment because they could double their salary overnight (and the long-term prospects were better). One of my labmates finished his PhD and started working on A/C systems because his options in science sucked. The US scientists and engineers are available, but poor career prospects largely caused by the ridiculous glut of foreign grad students and fellows willing to work for peanuts has destroyed the job market. No one can compete with a the giant mob willing to work for cheap and do exactly what the boss wants (or they’re going “back home”), it encourages all the worst kinds of behaviors by PIs, but that’s another story…
This. A big part of the problem is that the academic model is broken. Back in the halcyon days, academia was supposed to be training people mostly for jobs in industry, with a few left over to renew and grow the academy. The research the students were doing was real, but its function was as much training as it was producing knowledge.
The massive growth of academic research has shifted the balance between the need for training and the need for knowledge production, but the basic structure hasn’t adapted. What should have happened was for universities to create new career paths for long-term, non-faculty researchers, but the way grants are structured makes that impossible. Instead, we’ve gradually increased the time required to get a PhD and made post-docs nearly mandatory for a higher-level position. Somebody entering research today can expect to spend 1/4 or more of their career officially as a trainee but really as a lab peon. It’s a crazy way of doing things that never would have been adopted if we were designing the system from scratch.
@greennotGreen: NIH funds? Aren’t those taxpayer dollars? Why are any Chinese getting paid out of those?
And the problem isn’t a shortage of American IT professionals, it’s a shortage of American IT professionals who will work for peanuts and work 14 hours a day.
@aimai: Professional victimhood isn’t something reserved for the Catholic League. You don’t even have to mention certain groups by name to get one of their self-appointed leaders to whine and cry about it.
There’s a lot of flat out abuse of H1B visa holders, because the visa is tied to their employer, and the visa holders cannot negotiate for salary, benefits, or not working weekends.
Crap from management that lazy Americans would not put up with, or would start looking for another job if they were asked to put up with, is all too common when the hardworking foreigners don’t have the options we do. It’s what makes them foreigners hardworking.
It’s just a basic labor rights issue. Even Glibertarian Republicans who hate unions and support their Orwellian-named “Right-To-Work” laws should be able to see this — H1B visa holders are not employees, they are indentured servants.
As a few commenters have pointed out, H1B workers must be paid the prevailing salary. Companies can finagle this a bit since there are no standard IT salaries but most H1Bs working for US companies are paid like their American colleagues.
The real reason US companies like to hire H1Bs rather than the many available American workers is that the H1B visa is provided through the company for that one job. The worker has to take whatever the company chooses to give as far as hours, assignments, bosses, etc. without complaint because if the H1B worker quits s/he must leave the country almost immediately. It’s really indentured servitude.
I think if H1Bs are to be taxed higher (and that’s perfectly reasonable with the level of unemployment in IT and other fields now) that the higher fees should be based not on the percentage of H1B employees but the total number.
You know who used to be really good on this topic? Lou Dobbs. When he first got his show on CNN, he had a nightly list of companies that were laying off, importing workers, exporting jobs, and on and on, including CNN advertisers.
And then he went around the bend.