The Obama Plan for Executive Action on Foreign Tech Workers

Though the main attention on Obama’s speech on immigration last night will be on his plans for the unauthorized immigrants, he definitely included provisions regarding foreign tech workers, specifically regarding H-1B, employer-sponsored green cards and the F-1 foreign student visa.  His proposals have something for the employers, something for the foreign workers, but nothing to help American workers. In this post, I’ll explain the proposed changes and their likely impact, and also discuss what executive action a labor-friendly president could have taken.

From my point of view, the President’s plan has three major elements:

  • Granting work rights to spouses of H-1Bs.
  • Further extending the Optional Practical Training (OPT) part of F-1.  OPT gives foreign students the right to work for a period after graduation.  For years, the period was 12 months, but George W. Bush used executive action to change that to 29 months, and there are reports that Obama may change this to 48.
  • Allowing green card sponsors to switch employers much earlier in the green card process.

There are obvious adverse impacts here to American workers, by swelling the labor market, thus reducing job opportunities and wages for Americans.  This is especially true in that the foreign workers are overwhelmingly young, thus exacerbating the rampant age discrimination that we already have in the tech world.

Some readers may be surprised to hear that I strongly support one of those proposals, but they shouldn’t be surprised at all.  I’ve been stating for years (e.g. in my 2003 article in the University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform) that, for many tech employers the appeal of hiring foreign workers is to have not just cheap workers but even more important, immobile ones.  As a result, employers often hire a foreign worker over an equally-qualified U.S. citizen or permanent resident.  The third point in Obama’s proposal above would actually be beneficial to American workers, as it would make the foreign workers’ period of de facto indentured servitude much shorter, thus rendering the foreign workers less attractive to hire in the first place.

However, the key word in the last sentence is would.  For the reasons I’ve given, employers will NOT like that provision, which by the way, the foreign tech worker organization Immigrant Voice is taking credit for.  So, the employers may work behind the scenes to quash it.  In doing so, they would have to speak carefully, as they don’t want to admit that they prefer hiring foreign workers for their indenturability.  But the lobbyists are very good at spin, and they will likely say something like “Why would any employer pay $10,000 in legal fees for green card sponsorship if the worker can jump ship to another employer?”  One mitigating factor is that the employers do want the potential foreign workers to find work in the U.S. attractive, and freedom of movement would help in that regard, but again, it’s vital to keep in mind that indentured servitude is hugely valuable to many employers.  I don’t think they’ll go quietly on this one.

Now, what actions could Obama have taken to help the American worker?  In a more positive tone, what could he still do now?

  • He could roll back the OPT period to the original 12 months,  instead of extending it.
  • He could enforce the section of green card law (note:  NOT H-1B law) that states that the Secretary of Labor must ascertain that employer-sponsored immigration does not adversely impact American workers.  This could be applied to the definition of prevailing wage, the defining of jobs by employers to be entry-level (negatively affecting Americans over age 35), and so on.
  • He could apply federal age discrimination laws to the foreign tech worker issue.  I mentioned one example in the previous bullet, and here is another.  While most H-1B employers are not required to give priority to American workers, those employers are still subject to age discrimination laws like anyone else.  Since a large part of the wage savings accrued by hiring H-1Bs comes from their youth, enforcement of age discrimination laws could really reduce H-1B usage; they wouldn’t want to hire older foreign workers in most cases.  Of course, those laws are complex and subtle, but much could be done with this.
  • He could direct federal agencies to give contracting preference to those vendors who hire large percentages of American engineers and programmers (no, NOT American secretaries,  janitors, accountants and marketers).

But all indications are that the Obama administration simply doesn’t care about American workers, so the above is just blue-skying.

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41 thoughts on “The Obama Plan for Executive Action on Foreign Tech Workers

  1. “reports that Obama may”

    So, are the three bullets you list the whole plan, or not?

    IMHO the only reason that Obama felt he could or should make a move at this time was the H-1B related issues, he would not have moved at this time without them, the Zuckerberg conspiracy got it done.

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  2. You never explain why is there a necessity to protect the American worker in the first place! Why do you discourage competetion in tech? There is a supression of wages because wages are the only thing that a foreign worker has to negotiate with. What is so wrong with Microsoft trying to keep wages artificially low? Your “analyses” seem to be tainted by personal views rather than being objective.
    That H1B program is indentured labor is absolutely true, but if you ask any of the H1B workers I doubt many will look at it the same way that you do.

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    • “Tainted by personal views”? Aren’t you being a little presumption about someone you’ve never met? And indeed, I’ve talked to many H-1B workers, none of whom has expressed a liking for the system.

      In spite of your hostile tone, you are raising excellent questions, which are important to answer, which I will.

      Unless you support the notion of open borders, i.e. having no restriction at all on the number and type of people allowed to immigrate to the U.S. — a rare, but certainly intellectually consistent point of view — the reason you support having some restrictions on immigration is to protect the people who are already here. That is why people known to have TB (or ebola) are ineligible, with similar issues for those with criminal records and so on.

      In other words, all of us, presumably including you, are protectionists. The question is where to draw the line. The law on foreign professional workers, e.g. H-1Bs, is built around the theme that U.S. workers are to be protected. You personally may not support that idea, but almost all major players in the H-1B debate — politicians, academics, industry leaders and so on — take that as a given.

      So, all those major players would disagree (at least publicly) that it’s fine for Microsoft bringing in foreign engineers to keep wages low. And you know what? The former H-1Bs themselves disagree too, once they become Americans. When they reach 35 or 40, and find that H-1Bs are being hired instead of them, they’re hopping mad. And they don’t want their children to later face difficulties in finding work because cheaper H-1Bs are available.

      To me personally, first of all, a big issue is that I don’t like being lied to, and I don’t like to see Congress being lied to.

      Second, there is the issue of quality. I’ve bought foreign cards (Japanese) my entire working life, because I believe they are better made (less sure about that in recent years, though). Similarly, I’ve always strongly supported facilitating the immigration of “the best and the brightest” from around the world. The problem is that most of the H-1Bs are not in that league; on the contrary, my research (and that of others) has shown that on average, the former computer science foreign students are of somewhat LOWER quality than Americans of similar background.

      To me, this last point is huge. The H-1B and green card programs are replacing higher-quality engineers by lower-quality ones, a serious threat to our economy.

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      • First off, I know I came out presumptious and hostile and I would like to apologise for that. That wasn’t my intent and was very untoward on my part.

        As to your point about everyone being a protectionist at some level, I disagree. I don’t believe immigration control to regulate labor and immigration control to regulate disease/crime are the same. Protection from direct bodily harm has to be different than protection from competetion in the marketplace, don’t you think? Nonetheless, I actually am for total open borders for I have seen immigrats do wonderful things in a span of just one generation. I speak from experience of India where I have seen Bangladeshi immigrants come and capitalize on businesses that no one else would be willing to do (e.g. tanning leather). I have yet to read an article that factors in the economic output that is generated by the generations of immigrants yet to come in calculating the cost of immigration. But that is because I am not an academic and do not keep up with immigration affairs.

        If we start with the assumption that the American worker needs to be protected, then having a humongous bureaucracy becomes imperative. Also true that the same foreign workers after getting their citizenship crib about other immigrants offering cheap labor. Fact that they do does not make it right.

        Unfortunately I have not read your research about the “quality” of foreign workers. Assuming its true, that American workers of similar backgrounds are higher quality than foreign workers on average, what if the jobs that are being generated do not demand quality but quantity. What if the foreign workers are satisfying the demand of low quality cheap labor because that is what the market demands. That basic programming jobs are particularly “high skilled” and cannot be learnt with some training on the employers or employees part is also an assumption. In my company itself I have seen motivated people go from helpdesk and IT support to software developers and then managers. In the tech industry a college degree has little to do with skills per se. The H1B program has been in place for I guess 20 years. If it was replacing high quality American engineers with low quality foreign engineers, America would have been in a massive decline, yet the last 20 years has been the era of the biggest software companies emerging.

        In my opinion that is what is happening; American companies see that they can get indentured labor which may/may not be as high quality as their American counterparts but are willing to do minutely broken down tasks at a significantly low cost without much investment and training and these companies are jumping at this labor market that the government has created ! Now what american workers can do is aggressively comptete on prices or go to some other market where their labor is appreciated. Unfortunately for them, America still remains the center of innovation and progressive thinking especially in tech.

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        • Well, Manas, you’ve got to face it — you’re a confessed protectionist. 🙂 And so is almost everyone else. As I said, it’s just a matter of where one draws the line, with some drawing it at difference places than others. And again, it is longstanding American law to provide protection to American workers, something that basically all sides have agreed to.

          H-1B goes back 20 years, and before that, there was H-1. The fact that the American economy is still pretty strong in spite of those programs doesn’t mean that the economy wouldn’t be better without them. And it is only in recent years that hiring foreign workers has strongly become the first resort, rather than the last.

          Moreover, we could afford weak engineers back then, when there was little world competition, which is no longer true today. America’s forte’ is innovation; by hiring mainly non-Americans from non-innovative cultures, we give up our one real advantage. Anyone can see that will create problems in the long run.

          By the way, please don’t change the subject in the discussion. You claimed that if I actually talked to H-1Bs, I’d find that they see things differently. I replied that I’ve talked to plenty of them, both current and ex-H-1Bs, and that they see the problems too. You
          then said that that doesn’t make them right, fine, but I was merely answering your question.

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        • “If we start with the assumption that the American worker needs to be protected, then having a humongous bureaucracy becomes imperative.”

          To protect the American worker against competition from all foreign workers might take a humongous bureaucracy. However, nobody is suggesting that. What I would suggest is that it’s a serious problem when a large number of a nation’s citizens play by the rules, earn degrees and work for years in fields in which they appear to be well-suited, and are then suddenly thrown totally out of those fields. It has a chilling effect on the workplace and the society at large. When I started working in this industry, it seemed that companies valued employees who shared their knowledge inside the company and helped make other employees more productive. Now competition is the name of the game, inside and outside the company. I no longer document anything I do or comment my code any more than is required. The strange thing is, it is rarely requested that any of us programmers do so! Most upper managers just care if the code seems to run.

          What makes this situation worse is that many of those in favor of increasing the H-1B cap continue to put out flawed studies that claim that all foreign-born workers create jobs and increase tax revenues (see Norm’s prior post). This implies that we are all winners and that there is no reason to scrutinize these policies. Young STEM graduates being unable to find work and older STEM workers being thrown out of the industry are never even mentioned. According to the studies’ data, they don’t exist! Only by getting to honest data that has received honest scrutiny from all sides can we hope to have an honest debate.

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          • I agree that the key thing that needs to be done is to ensure fair competition. That would include limiting the indentured servitude that ties H-1B workers to their companies and to mandate a realistic prevailing wage. As something that would be hard to circumvent, the Programmer’s Guild suggests a minimum wage of $100,000 for H-1B workers at http://www.programmersguild.org/docs/PG_h1b_points_april2013.html .

            Speaking of prevailing wages, we need to better enforce our current laws regarding them. I posted a subset of the LCA (Labor Condition Application) data online at http://econdataus.com/lcainfo.htm . As you can see, all requests for over 1000 positions were denied but there were many requests for just under 1000 positions that were certified. That suggests that there is a known cutoff at 1000. Then, there were a number of certified applications that did not appear to contain enough information to determine the workplace location, a critical piece of information for evaluating the requests. Then, I noticed that nearly every application that proposed to pay a salary significantly below the prevailing wage was denied. However, many that proposed to pay a salary many multiples the prevailing wage, suggesting bad salary data, were certified. For example, a request to pay a product consultant $11.4 million a year and a staff dentist $15.5 million a year were certified! That’s despite the fact that they listed the prevailing wages as $84,344 and $136,864, respectively. It appears that someone is just applying a set of filters to the data and “rubber-stamping” everything else.

            Some of the bad data may be designed to hide applications for paying below the prevailing wage. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if much of the bad LCA data is designed to skew statistics. For example, the multi-million dollar salaries would help make it appear that H-1B workers are being paid well above the prevailing wage, on average. There may also be some connection between this bad LCA data and the fact that the government is starting a new policy of destroying the original LCA records after five years (see http://www.computerworld.com/article/2839375/feds-set-to-destroy-h-1b-records.html ).

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          • The prevailing wage is NOT the market wage, once skills sets and so on are accounted for. An LCA figure that is above the prevailing wage does NOT imply that the worker is being hired as cheap labor. And that is before the age issue is abused.

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          • True. At http://dpeaflcio.org/programs-publications/issue-fact-sheets/guest-worker-visas-the-h-1b-and-l-1/ , I see a discussion of this that concludes: “Experts have estimated that the prevailing wage is at least 20 percent lower than the market wage. Phiroz Vandrevala, an executive with Indian IT firm Tata Consultancy Services, remarked in an interview that “our wage per employee is 20-25 percent less than U.S. wage for a similar employee.” I also see that you discuss it extensively starting on page 3 at http://heather.cs.ucdavis.edu/SloanDCPaper.pdf .

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        • Manas, everything you say is reasonable, but there are a couple of corollaries. First is that the H-1B program is all about reducing average wages. You can hardly expect that to be pleasing to those who were getting the higher wages before or would be getting higher wages otherwise. It also chases the best quality native talent out of the H-1B impacted STEM market, which has secondary impacts on the nation as a whole – growing addiction to H-1B is just one. Finally there is an impression that it is even more counterproductive than that, that many employers just love having indentured servants making less money – so much that they are happy to replace one native worker with THREE (or more!) imported workers each making half as much. And this leads to additional scenarios that you might be able to deduce. So even if it is legal, it seems in many ways perverse, even beyond the first level of competition that others might take as the whole story.

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    • American workers – especially new graduates – are at a disadvantage compared to foreign nationals graduating under the F-1 visa program. When neither an individual on OPT nor the employer needs to pay the Social Security and Medicare taxes, individuals for whom the employer is required to make payments are at a disadvantage in the hiring process.

      It is often discussed how top remain on OPT for the longest period of time possible to take advantage of this benefit. There is a simple way to fix this disparity; require employers pay FICA taxes on the basis of payroll independent of whether the employee is required to pay.

      Once a person transitions to H-1B and tax payments are required, they are at risk of being replaced by a cheaper employee on OPT.

      H-1B fees are an issue for employers that can be ignored if the employee is limited in his movement to another employer as is the case now. Once H-1B workers have the flexibility to change employers, the employer may find it advantageous to hire employees for whom he does not have to make the payments to attorneys and US government for sponsorship and to follow the H-1B guidelines such as payments to consultants while on the bench.

      The only ones who are guaranteed to benefit under the proposals mentioned are students transitioning to OPT. You on H-1B should be careful in gloating; you may be disappointed.

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      • Another factor, implicit in your analysis, is that many employers simply don’t want to have an engineer around that long. If OPT goes to 4 years, that might be quite enough for many employers. Their salary has gone up by then, and maybe they’re more expensive in benefits, e.g. due to having acquired a family. Meanwhile,the employers themselves say that only the new graduates possess the latest skills in a fast-changing tech world. I consider the skills issue to be a red herring, but it certainly would give them an excuse to replace the “aging” OPTer.

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        • An excellent point. Most product cycles are 4-6 years in length. After working for the cellphone company for 13 years, I have seen this happen with the database project management software the company would buy…. By the time the kinks are ironed out, and we have adjusted our work styles to match the software…. about 5 years has gone by, and some slick consultant type sells the company on a whole new tool. The cycle begins again.

          So a lot of software development and engineering will be linked to the sales cycle of about 5 years. For a company to be able to get a slew of cheap workers for 5 years, then start fresh with a new batch for the next 5-year cycle, is ideal from a purely utilitarian perspective.

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      • What you said about OPT and social security and medicare is true. For the record I am opposed to all of it even for American workers.

        But what you fail to factor into your analysis is that a H1B employee has critically more experience than a recent graduate on OPT. So although in some cases an OPT might provide much needed comptetion for a H1B, in most cases I think the employer will prefer the H1B because at the end of the day getting the work done is more important that saving a few bucks and earning a bad name in the process. Also OPT extensions are not blanket 27 month extensions but contingent upon employee sponsorship if I can remember correctly.

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        • The major firms, such as Intel and Microsoft, have stated publicly that they want the new or recent grads. In other words, they don’t value experience. I believe they are badly mistaken, but that’s the way they see it.

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        • I question whether H-1B workers are more qualified than OPT workers; in some instances they may be uniquely qualified but in the majority, they are no better qualified than US workers and in a large number of cases are substandard.

          I doubt that short training classes in a specific technology for someone with a “distance learning” degree or one from one of the newly formed institutions springing up in South Asia in engineering or IT is anywhere close to a BS degree from a reputable US institution. The quality controls in the engineering and CS/IT education in the US are taken very seriously by both the individual universities and the education community as a whole. Many H-1B IT workers are not even educated in one of the 5 areas recognized in the ACM/IEEE computing curricula. A masters degree in a STEM field from an institution that required no articulation courses to correct deficiencies in undergraduate education is suspicious. If a university is accredited according to the Washington Accord, that is one thing; if not, it is entirely another.

          There is acknowledged to be a significant level of fraudulent experience and documents in the claims of H-1B workers from certain parts of the world. Immigration forums frequently offer for sale falsified documents including university certificates. The sharing of employment documents is openly sought and offered.

          An H-1B worker need only be a graduate and may have no experience. It is my belief that no foreign university graduate should be permitted to be employed as even an engineering trainee unless they have passed the NCEES FE exam which would demonstrate they have an education comparable to a US trained engineer. Norm may be able to speak to a comparable certifications for the various IT tracks.

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          • I am strongly opposed to certifications, which test for all the wrong things, e.g. memorized command syntax.

            Please note that when I referred to my own research (and that of others) that found that the average quality of the foreign workers is lower than that of their American peers, I was looking specifically at foreign graduates of American universities.

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    • I sense a moral basis for your comment. You speak for the interests of immigrant workers. That is admirable, and I appreciate that. That moral interest should help you understand the legitimate moral interests of other workers. I am very comfortable protecting the interest of American workers and all other workers in my labor market. Their well-being becomes the basis of my well-being.

      You say, “… why is there a necessity to protect the American worker in the first place! … There is a supression of wages because wages are the only thing that a foreign worker has to negotiate with.”

      That statement tells me you are willing to sacrifice my well-being for yours. I am telling you, I want you to prosper in a system with rising living standards.

      I also think of this in terms of power relationships. The purpose of an economy is to raise living standards. As a standard, it should apply to all workers. Good public policy will create rules that raise living standards.

      Employers understand this clearly. They have exceptional political power and bargaining power. They use their power to write rules to their advantage. They get what they want. They are not interested in your well-being or mine.

      To the extent they can exploit your market vulnerability and exploit your willingness to sacrifice my interests to divide us, they will do exactly that.

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    • It’s a matter of honesty.

      The NSF, between 1986 and 1989, repeatedly claimed there was an impending “shortfall” in STEM talent when there was not any evidence to support that assertion. The lobbyists then started dishonestly asserting “talent shortage”, that all H-1B recipients are “best and brightest”, and “highly-skilled” or “high skilled”, when there is not now nor has there ever been any evidence to support these assertions.

      DHS says they can’t keep track of how many people are in the USA on temporary visas, don’t have any idea how many have over-stayed their visas or where they might be… yet, the propagandists keep pushing for numbers that would be even more difficult to properly manage.

      DHS and the Obummer and Shrub regimes have said they want to “stream-line” the approval process. Examiners who have raised reasonable questions about inconsistencies in applications have been penalized, denied promotions, etc.. Proper background investigations are still not conducted on visa applicants. Many are approved without so much as an interview. No objective minimal standards have been implemented for student, exchange, guest-work or LPR visas, let any standards requiring successful applicants to be “highly-skilled”, or “best” or “brightest”… or even bright.

      At the same time, credit-checkers and data aggregators, and state and federal governments regularly violate US citizens’ privacy (Simpson-Mazzoli of 1986 requires that our privacy be violated), wtih the result that age discrimination, and discrimination against US citizens on the basis that they are US citizens is easy, while government has created tax and other incentives against interviewing, relocating, hiring, or training US citizen STEM professionals over a certain age (commonly 35 years).

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  3. I have to say, from my perspective, regarless of granting mobility for those in the GC process, or requiring H-1Bs be paid 100K+ (as some suggest for H-1B only workers), a stigma has been generated and propagated by the media, certain politicians, corporations, lobbyists (foreign and native), that Americans aren’t smart/qualified and are not hard workers – and immigrants are the “best and brightest”, hardest working people… So, that sitgma, coupled with the “diversity” initiatives at some companies, have employers looking to hire based on the stigma or to fill their own idea of diversity… Also, from my perspective,with regard to diversity, they hire based on that alone and do not hire based on “who” is the qualified, experienced candidate… Where I work, they constantly push, promote the diversity thing – they have “celebrations” and internal organizations based on nationality, that promote diversity, thus pressuring hiring managers to think “diversity” first, where they have to do the “diversity” thing so they don’t look like they are a “naysayer” – they are pressured to conform and not do the right thing, to hire based on qualifications and experience.

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    • Yes, the underlying assumption is that the dumb Americans aren’t qualified, or are too stupid to choose a tech career.

      I disagree on the diversity issue, though. In my experience, there is a lot more talk than action.

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      • There is a lot of rah-rah on diversitism, but it is usually designed to send subtle psychological “hints” to those who are excluded (white males). There seems to be a constant stream of internal news articles, celebrations, summit meetings, recruitment drives, etc. for everyone except the white male, in many big companies. As you say, this is more of a psychological ploy than a business strategy, no matter what the execs claim publicly.

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    • Employment opportunity and compensation have already been suppressed.

      This is another dishonesty — stating it as “it may possibly at some time in the distant future” — when it has been happening for 2-3 decades.

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  4. Don’t forget the knowledge base.
    Think of the old karate kid movies, or the master brick layers and the apprentices or whatever floats your boat.

    By forcing out the Americans, many who rode this wave from the very beginning, we are losing their knowledge, wisdom, and experience, and we are replacing them with wet behind the ears kids who bring nothing to the table but theory

    This is why we are hearing of more and more systems that are failing on roll out.

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  5. Excellent summary, Norm. The portability item took me by surprise, too. There seems to be a movement under way — even beyond the tech fields — to try to reduce the portability of employees. Urban planning is intent on making living spaces and workspaces in the same “multi-use” complex, so that employees get used to the idea that work is simply another part of the building, and to change employers would suddenly add commuting costs, travel time, and other inconveniences.

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    • US tech workers have to take the blame for the negative consequences of the H-1B visa program. Apart from a small group of individuals (inspired by Prof Matloff), IT professionals have sat back and done virtually nothing. Its too late now. The jobs are gone. I personally know of high tech workers that have been out-of-work for three or four years. They will never get back into the industry. Meanwhile, the US continues to sink economically – but most people don’t know it. The mainstream media continues to feed the public lies and half truths. I try to keep up to date with the real news on http://www.informationclearinghouse.info. Another good source is http://www.rt.com (watch their news live on http://rt.com/on-air/)

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      • I strongly agree with your point that “the US continues to sink economically – but most people don’t know it.” The buildup of the early 2000s masked the fundamental problems, and now people are unrealistically thinking we can get back to the good ol’ days. I also agree that one needs a wide variety of news sources in order to know what’s really going on. However, I disagree that it’s deliberate deception by the mainstream news outlets; instead, it’s a combination of gullibility and laziness.

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  6. The depth of permeation of the culture by the notion that Americans are by world standards relatively ignorant and inept in technical matters is incredible.

    An NPR broadcast discussion I heard the other day of the dangers of spam to consumers mentioned that a significant amount of it reaching the US can be traced to Russian freelancers, or spam `farmers.’ Why Russia is so `productive’ in that respect was posed as a question, and the answer that satisfied the discussants was that compared to the US Russia has much better K12 mathematics education. The US lags shamefully even in cybercrime.

    My anecdotal observation about affirmative action in technical areas, largely in the private non-profit sector, concerned with natural, hard science, is that diversity in hiring, when it’s a factor, usually decides between arguably equal-ability candidates, where the tie would otherwise be broken by some personal association or something similarly arbitrary
    ; in clear-cut cases of a single superiorly qualified candidate that candidate gets the job. And the beneficiaries of affirmative action of this sort have overwhelmingly been women, not minority races, ethnicities, or nationalities.

    I’ve seen cases of incompetents or mediocrities hired, because incompetents—compliant, assured not to-rock-the-boat, uninnovative types—were desired: an observation which bears on the point above about bad engineers driving out good, as well as on the earlier discussion of the role of innovation and creativity in technology jobs in another post in this blog.

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  7. I dont care a pint about all the fight about protectionism, h1b fraud etc etc.
    But what makes American visa system the biggest game of mockery is that , one is required to prove that he would return after his studies to get an f1 but once landed in US offered OPT CPT h1b green card etc.
    Visa officers arbitrarily reject f1 visas making some people look stupid before those who can FOOL the stupid visa officers. Totally closing down the immigration and student visas is up to the people and govt of US but when you do allow people you should be fair and have some reason for why you give a visa and why you reject a visa. from this stand point of view whole visa system of US is total BS. canada Australia UK etc have realized and quickly made changes to their systems or and uK has totally closed down the immigration programs. but US is still living in 1920s.

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    • If US really wants to implement 214b, someone on f1 should n’t be allowed to change visa, extend visa or apply for h1b. That is the simplest way. IF you want really high skilled immigrants then make 8.0 on IELTS across all bands a requirement and greencard EB2 EB3 will not have any waiting list for years but only for months. Just make that requirement a requirement for all those applications which are now pending and the 14 years waiting list would cut down to 14 months in no time.
      It is that simple BUt congressmen and senators who are paid stooges of NASSCOM and software companies of INdia which are good at gaming the system as well as perpetrating all kinds of frauds would never allow any changes that would prevent these companies from bringing in cheap slaves and looting US and INdia in the process.

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    • Most of the reform proposals in Congress the last few years would rescind the “intention to return home” requirement, which as you said, is enforced haphazardly and inequitably. That said, in my experience there are indeed some foreign students who originally come here with the intention of eventually going back, but who later change their minds.

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      • Matloff,
        I recently read this article of yours and I truly appreciate the research and thinking you have done on this H1B issue. I am an H1B candidate myself and I do agree to the fact that I am not the best. There certainly would an american who might be better than me.

        I would just like to point out one thing which I believe is least touched upon in the article as well as the comment section. H1B visa have mainly two categories of people coming in. However both categories are way too different from one another. The first is the 65,000 H1b’s who are usually people outsourced from companies in India, China etc and others are Masters/PHD graduates from accredited US universities .. I am from the latter category.

        I strongly believe that there should be a separate H1B statistics for Masters graduates from accredited US universities because they are different from the general H1b’s. Additionally I also believe when people state US STEM graduates.. a specification should be made whether they have a Masters, Bachelors or PHD?. In the field of technology it is very highly essential to have the maximum education possible and have an up to date knowledge.

        I do not think it that for a technical job opening one can directly compare a Masters graduate and Bachelors graduate . ( I am sure both can get the work done.) However from an employer’s perspective a Masters student brings something extra and you cannot blame them for opting for a higher educated individual irrespective of whether he/she is a foreign national or a US citizen.

        There is a reason why people opt to do Masters and PHD… they want to climb up quicker and learn more from the normal peck of candidates.

        Additionally STEM is also a very vast field and not just programming. I am Masters graduate in Telecommunications from a very well know university in the US. I am not lying about this one, in the three years I spent in that school I did not find a single US citizen in any year and so was the case with many of my contemporaries in other schools. .

        Overall the point I want to make is that although your article somewhere speaks a lot of truth, the H1b program and the STEM filed graduates that we are talking about is filled with a lot of variables and it is unfair to generalize everyone under the same roof.

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  8. Regarding Dr. Matloff’s research about foreign students at American universities:

    Some of these people fall under a DIFFERENT visa. H1B is a class for anyone trying to work in some STEM field. EB2 is for people who hold an “advanced” (masters or higher) degree from a US university. This is regardless of GPA or other factors. There is a trend of people from Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh to fabricate undergraduate credentials to show a bachelors degree, whether or not this degree is actually valid or if the candidate has the educational background of a bachelors degree . American university admissions processes are unable to verify these credentials at universities, some of which award degrees based on CASTE. This results in admissions officials giving the “student” the benefit of the doubt and allow them into American universities. These fraudulent “students” eventually fail in their masters program, yet they are allowed to stay in the USA and take American jobs from more qualified candidates. A 1.5 GPA and a 4.0 GPA are the same as far as the EB2 programs are concerned.

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  9. I’ve personally seen people in the EB2 program who can’t even do logarithms correctly. I’ve experienced one anecdotal case of this. The EB2 in question was trying to do his younger sister’s homework which involved logarithms. This is what happened over google hangouts while this said eb2 was trying to get me to do his sister’s homework:

    (EB2): sent you the solution

    4:33 PM me: that solution is wrong.
    4:34 PM me: log(a -b) != log (a) – log (b)
    4:36 PM me: trust me.
    well don’t trust me
    figure it out and verify it. it’s math
    4:37 PM those math people love to prove correctness/incorrectness
    i am surprised u and ur masters degree friends do not understand though.
    4:39 PM i feel bad for your outsource team. but not so much since they probably still know less than you. they are subject to a guy who doesn’t know elementary school math

    4:43 PM (EB2): Hmm
    I solved the problem right

    me: that’s not right.
    the solution in the image

    4:44 PM (EB2): That is right

    me: it’s wrong.

    (EB2): But not sure if they have logs intje syllabus

    me: log(x+y) does not equal log(x) + log(y)
    4:45 PM it’s time for you to read your elementary math books
    that “apply log11 11 —-> =1 part is wrong.
    4:46 PM this is a shame man.

    4:47 PM(EB2): On the way to home
    Will check on it

    me:
    but you still dont’ know math kaka
    your math score and actual knowledge seem to conflict

    (EB2):
    Fuck off you
    Asswhole
    Do something
    I solve the problem s that I.need to solve to gete going today.
    I do a better job than you at it.

    This person is fully employed at Qualcomm where he does nothing but accuse his employers of racism when he is unable to do simple tasks. Every few months, he’ll attempt to jump to another position internally because his managers find out he is totally incompetent.

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