New Definition of Chutzpah — Senators Propose an Infinite H-1B “Cap”

In the math world, i2 = -1, but in the Senate i2 = ∞.

If you don’t get the math pun here, don’t worry.  It’s just my way of leading in to the I-Squared Act, introduced in the Senate today.  The measure would in essence allow an unlimited number of H-1Bs, in that it would remove the cap, currently 20,000 per year, on the special H-1B category for foreign students earning graduate STEM degrees at U.S. universities.  (I’ll call this the “Master’s Category” for reasons to be explained shortly.)  It also would allow a tripling of the ordinary H-1B category, as well as do all kinds of other damage.  But trust me, the numerically most harmful provision would ultimately be that newly-infinite Master’s Category.

Sadly, this is directly related to a topic that I’ve discussed often — the notion that the H-1Bs hired from U.S. schools are the “good” H-1Bs, while those hired directly from India by the bodyshops are the “bad” H-1Bs, a claim I strongly dispute.  This is why the Master’s Category was created in the first place, and now the bill’s authors are capitalizing on all the publicity that supports the Good H-1Bs, Bad H-1Bs concept.  I’ve argued in my blog (see above link) that this publicity is actually counterproductive; by giving the impression that the problem is largely limited to the bodyshop sector, this publicity hides the fact that the problem pervades the entire industry.

So, you ask, what’s wrong with giving visas to those with graduate degrees?  Aren’t they more qualified?  If not enough Americans pursue graduate study, isn’t it justified to fill this “gap” with foreign workers?  The answer is very simple:  NO.  Explaining this point will be my focus here.

First, let’s keep in mind that some of the most successful people in the computer field didn’t even have a Bachelor’s degree:  Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Larry Ellison (Oracle), Mark Zuckerberg, Mark Andreeson (developer of the first widely-used graphical Web browser) etc. Others had degrees but not in computer science such as Nathan Myhrvold, the former Microsoft Director of Research, and Tim Berners, inventor of the World Wide Web.

Next, though the industry likes to claim they hire H-1Bs because not enough Americans earn a PhD, that is a falsehood.  While it’s true that more than 50% of computer science degrees in the U.S. go to foreign students (itself a consequence of H-1B, as a National Science Foundation report correctly predicted way back in 1989), that is NOT the main reason they are hiring H-1Bs; the vast majority of H-1Bs hired by the tech industry, including by the big-name firms, do NOT have doctorates.  Data is hard to come by on this, but as of 2000, only 1.6% of the H-1Bs in computer-related fields had a PhD (in any field).  More recent comments to me by an Intel official, for example, show the percentage is still low today.

One can argue whether having a doctorate in computer science is a big thing or not (I would argue mainly not), but the point is that it is irrelevant.  At least in the case of CS, in the special 20,000-visa H-1B category, we are talking about Master’s students.  Hence my term, the Master’s Category.

You may ask, “Aren’t workers with Master’s degree holders better, more qualified?”  My firm answer is NO.

For example, consider the UC and CSU systems in California.  The CSU campuses have some excellent faculty — I know some personally, and highly respect them — but the fact is that the average quality of the students is lower at CSU.  Moreover, to be frank, the Master’s courses at CSU schools tend to be of the same quality as Bachelor’s level courses at the UCs.  In other words, for a foreign Master’s holder from CSU, the claimed “higher quality” due to having the Master’s is an illusion.

Nationwide, I believe that most of the students in the Master’s Category are at lower-tier schools such as the CSUs, including private institutions.  While I don’t have complete data on this, I believe the following help may make the point clear:

In addition, my EPI paper showed that the average quality of the foreign grad students in CS is lower in terms of patenting rates, participation in R&D, and as mentioned, selectivity of graduate institution.

In other words, folks, the claim that the Master’s Category H-1Bs are of higher quality is simply false.

And that flatly contradicts the claims made by the authors of the bill, such as:

  • “The bill focuses on areas vital to ensuring the United States can maintain its competitiveness in the global economy…”
  • “America must be a country that makes things again, that invents things, that exports to the world, and to do that we need the world’s talent.”
  • “Our immigration system needs to be modernized to be more welcoming of highly skilled immigrants and the enormous contributions they can make to our economy and society.”
  • “…it’s important that we take steps to ensure that the world’s best and brightest do their work here in the United States.”

Really?  The foreign students at CSU are “the world’s best and brightest”?  They can “make enormous contributions” even if their Master’s degrees are actually more like Bachelor’s degrees?  Listen, I’d the first one to say that any institution has a few extraordinarily talented students, but the percentage is low; the vast majority of the CSU students are mediocre.

The reader should not infer that I’m in favor of giving all the foreign STEM grad students at UCs visas either.  They’re nice people for whom I wish the best, but in general they are no better than the Americans. I really do believe H-1Bs should primarily be for the best and the brightest.

And by the way, the bill fails to deliver on another claim made in the above press release:  “[the bill would help employers hire immigrants] while making reforms to protect [US.] workers.”  I’ve read both the summary and full text of the bill, and there is NOTHING there about U.S. worker protections.

Worst bill I’ve seen in the H-1B field.

 

 

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41 thoughts on “New Definition of Chutzpah — Senators Propose an Infinite H-1B “Cap”

  1. […] he’s cosponsoring a bill that would vastly increase the number of H–1B visas, including removing all caps on H–1B visas for foreign students earning master’s degrees in the U.S… You’ll be glad to hear the bill repurposes some of the fees collected on H–1B visas and […]

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  2. I suggest that a requirement for employment in STEM fields that have professional licensure be the holding of the entry level of the license. In addition, a person must hold a bachelors degree in a field appropriate to the employment.

    For engineers this would mean that an individual would have to be an Engineering Intern according to the NCEES and should also be a holder of a NCEES record before being granted a visa to be employed. A masters candidate should be able to easily pass the Fundamentals of Engineering exam which is based on undergraduate academic preparation for the practice of engineering. A person desiring a green card based on employment in the area should hold full licensure; in the case of engineering, this would require that the person be a licensed as a Professional Engineer prior to applying.

    There is a precedent for this in other professional fields such as medicine, nursing, pharmacy, physical therapy, etc. In fact, the suggestion for engineering is more lenient than those of the professions listed.

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    • Most of the H-1Bs are programmers, for whom your criteria would be inappropriate. In any case, even for engineers, I don’t think your proposals would have much effect. And of course, Congress would never agree to it.

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    • There is a precedent for this in other professional fields such as medicine, nursing, pharmacy, physical therapy, owning a taxi service, hair-braid
      ing service, house-painting, plumbing, paving, etc. And an ugly, economically corrupt development it has been. One way the physicians and surgeons leveraged into a closed practice was by blackmailing a gullible king who had a case of the measles, as I recall. Restrictions on med school slots have, as intended, restricted the numbers of doctors, and artificially increased compensation, while we continue to see nearly 100K/year die from doctor-caused issues (albeit the vast majority of genuine malpractice is committed by a small percentage of doctors). (My boss wanted me to present a paper to a computer-wranglers conference during an earlier wave of lobbying for such licensing, so I did a bit of research. Maybe I should have done it on that stats package I ported and inserted more dynamic memory management, but that didn’t seem sufficiently worthy of a topic at the time.)

      “As late as 1916 half of America’s engineers had never been to college at all, and debate between representatives of the ‘shop culture’ and the ‘school culture’ was often intense… A panel participating in the… 1983-1986 National Research Council study warned against ‘a somewhat elitist rejecton of those perceived as not holding the proper credentials’.” — Samuel C. Florman 1987 _The Civilized Engineer_ pp198, 221-222 (citing “Engineering Infrastructure Diagramming and Modeling” 1985 _Engineering Education and Practice in the United States_ sub-report by panel on Engineering Infrastructure, Diagramming and Modeling pg71)

      So, the questions return: How do we tell who are genuinely the best and brightest? How do we tell whether someone really does have especially valuable knowledge or a knack otherwise unavailable within the USA (or UK or Europe, as the case may be)?

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      • We already have “best and brightest” work visas (O-1) and green cards (EB-1, National Interest Waiver). I think the guidelines they use work pretty well, though I’ve advocated loosening them a bit.

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        • They absolutely do not work well. These programs are riddled with weird requirements. For instance, I was told that National Interest Waiver, EB-1 et al. don’t apply to me because I don’t work in academia.

          Let met tell you my background. I’ve been in the U.S. for 16 years, more than half my life. I’ve paid full out-of-state tuition, and maintained legal status even though the horribly-mismanaged USCIS seemingly went out if its way to prevent me from doing so. I have a doctorate from an ivy league institution where I ranked amongst the top in my peer group. I have published articles that have been featured on the covers of major journals. Upon graduation, I was offered a job that pays in excess of $150K/year with amazing benefits. I have held this job for about a year now. Because I have no dependents, ~50% of my income goes to taxes.

          Yet, because of not winning the H-1B lottery, I’m being asked to leave. Meanwhile, people who jumped the fence, worked illegally, paid in-state tuition, etc are being given drivers licenses and work permits.

          Forget all the statistics, the rational arguments, the references to history and “rule of law.” The main reason why there is so much opposition to people like me staying is that I am not white. Simple as that.

          Why, may I ask, have you never mentioned the E-3 program for Australia? And several other programs for developed countries? Do you know that these programs are riddled with even more loopholes than the H-1B?

          You COULD be campaigning for better controls and robust standards for visas. A few simple tweaks can drastically reduce the rampant abuse in the system (e.g. the so-called “middle-man” arrangements). Somehow, I think that if most of the H-1B holders were Irish, British, or even German, it would be quite fine with you.

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          • It would have been really helpful if you had read some of my writings first. I’ve stated repeatedly that I strongly support facilitating the immigration of “the best and the brightest.” (But NOT the immigration of the rudest and most arrogant.) Whether you qualify for either of these categories I don’t know, but you certainly seem to make a prima facie case for both.

            In fact, I’ve written that we should liberalize the definitions of EB-1, O-1 and the National Interest Waiver. I’ve also pointed out that at least two of my faculty colleagues, one from India and the other from China, would I believe not have been hired had I not strongly promoted their cases with the faculty. And yes, believe it or not, I strongly opposed the special Australian H-1B when it was proposed and implemented. You may wish to check out my bio, to see more about me and issues regarding racial minorities. Then you’ll see what a fool you’ve made of yourself, and who knows, maybe you will publicly admit it.

            If you read my writings regarding the large proportion of foreign students in U.S. PhD programs, you’ll see that it is actually due to H-1B. Back in 1989, an NSF internal report complained that PhD salaries were too high, and recommended bringing in large numbers of foreign students to swell the market and suppress wage growth. (The H-1B visa was enacted the following year.) It also forecast that the stagnant PhD wages would drive U.S. citizens and permanent residents away from doctoral programs. The forecast of course proved accurate in all these aspects.

            Assuming you do get your H-1B and green card (my first guess would be that you have an incompetent lawyer regarding EB-1), you’ll likely eventually find that the H-1B program comes back to bite you, with limited job possibilities and disappointing wages. The rampant age discrimination in the tech field, fueled by all those young H-1Bs, knows no racial boundaries, as countless nonwhite readers of this blog have discovered.

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  3. @matloff January 14, 2015: the Master’s courses at CSU schools tend to be of the same quality as Bachelor’s level courses at the UCs

    Perhaps a bit OT, but could you give a quick 3e4-ft view of the difference/relation between the CSUs and the UCs for the benefit of us non-Californians? (though, FWIW, my father and his family are Tulare Azoreans) Frankly I’m surprised to hear that the CSUs give graduate degrees *at all*, as I had previously believed that they were essentially “dressed-up” versions of what in the East are called “community colleges.”

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    • No, the CSUs are definitely NOT like community colleges. They offer 4-year degrees, and most offer Master’s degrees. Most of their faculty do research, and I personally know several first-rate professors at CSUs.

      The “U” in “CSU” stands for “university.” They used to be called “state colleges,” e.g. San Francisco State College. At some point, maybe in the 1980s, they asked for a University name, and after receiving it, moved more and more in emphasis on research. In the case of the San Diego campus, they now even are offering PhDs, jointly with UC San Diego.

      I was reluctant to make that remark that the CSU Master’s courses are at the level of UC Bachelor’s, as it is not a nice thing to say. But I stand by the remark, and it’s very relevant. It ought to be clear that as a general rule, the lower the admissions standards, the less depth and degree of challenge the curriculum.

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      • @matloff January 14, 2015 at 9:01 pm: In the case of the San Diego campus, they now even are offering PhDs, jointly with UC San Diego.

        So why have both CSUs and UCs?

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      • I’ll explain my understanding of the difference between the UC and CSU system, and let Dr. Matloff know if I am wrong.

        The UC teaches the top 8-10% of California high school graduates, and the idea was to prepare students for graduate work, research, and theory. The campuses vary, Berkeley and UCLA the most selective and highly competitive. The axiom “publish or perish” applied to professors. Many of my professors only taught 2 classes a year, and classes were often taught by grad students. To help with funding, there has been a strategy to bring in more foreign students who pay higher fees.

        The Cal State system focused on more practical coursework – say, majors in business administration, accounting, finance, etc. Professors here often taught multiple classes per term, and students who had attended both considered Cal State professors to be generally better teachers and more communicative. The junior colleges served a dual purpose of preparing HS graduates for four year schools, and also technical two-year training like programs in dental hygiene.

        I believe this was all part of the Master Plan for Education for California crafted in the 1940s or 1950s. There is a bit of envy as UCs had more prestige and higher monetary suport, while the Cal State system educated maybe twice the number of students.

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        • Largely accurate. UC faculty do teach less than those in CSU, though 2 courses per year is NOT a standard load at UC by any means. As I mention, CSU faculty now “publish or perish” too, though with (presumably) less output required. The “theory vs. practice” dichotomy is not very true these days, comparing UC and CSU.

          The Berkeley and LA campuses of UC are the most prestigious and most difficult in terns of admission. This is largely because they had a big head start, as the earliest campuses to be established. But there is top research being done at all the UCs, and admission to some campuses, such as my own, has become much more selective.

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        • @Tom Roche January 14, 2015 at 7:59 pm: could you give a quick 3e4-ft view of the difference/relation between the CSUs and the UCs for the benefit of us non-Californians?

          @ML1999 January 15, 2015 at 7:22 pm: The UC teaches the top 8-10% of California high school graduates, and the idea was to prepare students for graduate work, research, and theory. […] The Cal State system focused on more practical coursework – say, majors in business administration, accounting, finance, etc.

          Thanks: that’s the sort of first-approximation which I sought, and it allowed me to find the California Master Plan for Higher Education[1]. So, IIUC,

          1. In the MPHE, the UCs were explicitly research institutions, and de facto “organs of elite reproduction.”

          2. In the MPHE, the CSUs were explicitly “comprehensive 4-year undergraduate campuses”[1], and de facto teaching institutions.

          3. Since the MPHE (1960), CA support for public education has imploded, while (especially this century) student populations (both under- and graduate) have exploded.

          4. The CSUs are more numerous and spatially-widespread than the UCs, aiding their political power.

          5. Truly it is said among my people, “vulgar Marxism [aka economic determinism] explains 90% of what goes on in the world [today].”[2]

          so my guess is,

          6. The UCs will seek to maintain their exclusivity.

          7. Rather than limit the “academic bubble” in graduate students/degrees, the CSUs will seek to “pick up the slack”–and the funding–for educating what would otherwise be surplus graduate students.[3]

          [1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_Master_Plan_for_Higher_Education#Purpose
          [2]: http://lbo-news.com/2012/05/22/explaining-what-exists-in-memory-of-bob-fitch/
          [3]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_Master_Plan_for_Higher_Education#Subsequent_changes

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  4. I likewise don’t see any “reforms to protect [US.] workers”. I can only guess that they are referring to the following item in the summary:

    Reform fees on H-1B visas and employment-based green cards; use money from these fees to fund a grant program to promote STEM education and worker retraining to be administered by the states.

    Using the “creative speech” that is so common on this issue, the bill’s supporters likely say that this REFORM of fees on H-1B visa is being used to help retrain U.S. workers, thereby PROTECTING them from being negatively affected by this massive increase in cheap, young, foreign labor.

    Perhaps a plank should be added that the federal government pledges to hire H-1Bs at something closer to the rate that they are being hired in places like Silicon Valley. According to the first chart and table at http://econdataus.com/stemsv13.htm , 45 percent of the software developers in Silicon Valley are non-citizens. According to the first chart and table at http://econdataus.com/stemgov13.htm , however, a mere 2.3 percent of software developers working for the federal government are non-citizens. They could multiply that by 10 and still be at just half of the level in Silicon Valley.

    For serious suggestions on the H-1B system, comments can be submitted to the federal government by clicking “SUBMIT A FORMAL COMMENT” at https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2014/12/30/2014-30641/immigration-policy and leaving a comment on question 3-e by January 29th. So far, there are 716 comments and, judging from the first couple of pages, they seem to be chiefly from immigrants and visa-holders.

    Also, you can send an automatic letter to your representative and vote to support or oppose the I-Squared Act at http://www.opencongress.org/bill/s169-113/show . So far, only 11 people have voted with 8 in favor and 3 opposed. The real problem may be the mismatch in the organizations listed that support and oppose the bill. Three organizations oppose the bill: International Federation Of Professoinal And Technical Engineers, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and AFL-CIO. Opposite those three are 76 organizations which support it. Those 76 include all the big hi-tech firms including Microsoft, Google, Apple, Facebook, Oracle, IBM, and Intel. Which side do you think that our politicians, at least those looking for campaign funds, will listen to?

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    • The slogan “H-1Bs now, training programs for later” has been used by the industry for 20 years now. And starting in 1998, training funds from user (employer) fees began. The Dept. of Commerce later concluded that the funds didn’t work, because they were being used to train technicians, not engineers. Meanwhile, Sun Microsystems, very big at the time, said there is no way training could work for their jobs.

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  5. In a well-functioning market, the best and the brightest would receive substantially higher compensation commensurate with their greater abilities. Why not set that as the criteria for their visas? It still would require diligent oversight as many of the advocating employers are the best and brightest purveyors of deception in this realm.

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      • Do you have any ballpark figures for what these H1B programmers are paid today, and what their American counterparts are paid?

        I’ve also heard the generalization that the Chinese-born developers were technically adequate, back lacked the ability to innovate and think independently and creatively. This could hark back to an upbringing that was very constrained and controlled by the government and political system. I thought I recalled reading years ago that China even knew this was a problem, and was trying to address this.

        I haven’t heard this about immigrants from India, but also know that many have a different journey. One of my friends spent time in his early education years in Britain, and a second attended a private British school in India and was raised Christian, so the cultural barriers coming here may have been much lower.

        This may all be rendered less important due to the rapid spread of information and culture the past 10 years with the Internet, iPhones, twitter, etc.

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  6. My question is why does STEM professionals, who couldn’t procure jobs due to the H1B work visa program, not themselves come forward? We hardly ever see somebody coming forward and claiming that they couldn’t find a job (as a STEM professional) because younger, indentured H1Bs were favored, why is that? I mean there must be a large number of such individuals all across the US, right.

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    • Right! There are lots of them out there, so why don’t they speak out?

      Some are afraid of blacklisting. One guy I know who has spoken out publicly, for instance, had his H-1B activism thrown in his face when he had an on-site job interview. He didn’t get the job.

      More generally, though, the problem is that the programmer/engineer personally type tends to be reticent. They don’t like speaking up, they don’t like calling attention to themselves, don’t want to be interviewed by the press, don’t want to become activists.

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      • It would make your job so much easier if these individuals speak out collectively against the program! I am sure the government wouldn’t be able to deny the problem then.

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        • Not my job! I advocate, but I don’t organize or lobby. I do sometimes provide advice to the activists, but even there they usually ignore it. 😦

          But you are right, of course. If the U.S. citizen/permanent resident programmers and engineers were to actually ORGANIZE, they get real reform enacted.

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        • Rohan, another barrier is they don’t have their hands around the whole issue like Dr. Matloff. They know what is going on, but some don’t have the qualitative skills, others don’t know the whole enchilada… the whole topic can be a bit complex with multiple inter-related issues.

          I had specific knowledge of one discriminatory case, but when I mentioned it to a lawyer they told me “you don’t have standing”. An American programmer happened to get an interview at a company I worked for, I don’t know how. Anyway, he passed the technical interview, and they must have liked him because they offered him a job, and he accepted. This was on a Wednesday or Thursday. I met with him briefly: he was in his late 40s, American, technical, but much more communicative than our typical developer, which would have been a great asset for us.

          On Friday the President went to the HR Manager and said, “Call this man and tell him the job no longer exists.” The HP Manager did as instructed, and apparently the man didn’t take it well. He replied, “You can’t do this … how does this happen… you can’t do this.” Monday morning a new H1B Visa applicant from Shanghai showed up at work, the only thing different was that she was our first female developer. The man who lost his job to her would never know what happened. Who is going to spill the beans?

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          • Yes, who is going to tell the guy? Not going to happen.

            Legally, the employer holds all the cards. Unless this was an H-1B-dependent employer, it has no obligation to give U.S. citizens and permanents hiring priority, or retention priority in the case of a layoff. Rescinding a job offer is probably legal too, likely not even requiring the employer to give a reason.

            Unfortunately, the industry lobbyists have Congress and the press convinced that it’s a huge seller’s (i.e. worker’s) market, so in their minds, the above would be an extremely rare occurrence. They’re wrong.

            Note carefully that the employer told HR to say that the job no longer exists, giving himself even more legal protection, against a possible lawsuit by the American applicant. But again, that protection is probably necessary.

            I agree that this whole topic is exceedingly complex, thus making it all the harder to explain to Congress and the press. Even many of the anti-H-1B activists have some misconceptions.

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          • Senor Matloff, on top of all of this, this employer is not stupid. He meets with his lawyers regularly, and jumps through the required hoops to fulfill the letter of the law. The job was posted on our website, and at some point we even posted the jobs on a bulletin board. But rarely if ever were Americans or permanent residents interviewed, and they required a minimum of a Masters degree even though they knew that wasn’t needed.

            I’m also told by a lawyer friend that it is OK to require a foreign language as part of a job search, so if they said Mandarin was required to speak with our test staff in China, that would be another barrier. I’m also told since my departure that he has had Chinese workers here whom he is paying Chinese wages to! I thought they would love it here, but they have an extremely hard time even buying food to survive, and most have reportedly asked to go back to China.

            Long term, it has hurt him as he has had numerous new products fail, and the top-down authoritarian management style has slowed company growth. They’ve survived, yes, but others have thrived or been acquired.

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        • In my experience engineers tend to have a view of the world that doesn’t lend itself to organizing as a group. It must be something in their genes. The prevailing thought always seemed to be “we do better on our own” or that “I can compete against anybody” or “why should you know my salary and I yours”. It never occurred to them that they were just cogs in the wheel. These people seemed to have a very naive view of how the world really works. I liken it to lacking street smarts.

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  7. Norman, I just discovered your research on this topic and feel like I’ve won the lottery, and I don’t mean the H1B lottery! As a prior warning, you might be contacted by Senator Jeff Flake’s office, as well as Rep. David Schweikert’s office for more information.

    As you know, Flake is behind the Hatch bill and I’ve place embarrassing pressure on his alma mater BYU at all levels, and he’s starting to become defensive. Rep Schweikert has been phenomenal in adeptly handling illegal immigration but fell under the H1B voodoo doctors like Markie Sugartown of Facebook. I’ve aggressively been tutoring him on the underlying truth, and your work provides excellent information that should provide to be valuable in turning his, and other representatives’ views on the truth behind H1B.

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  8. “notion that the H-1Bs hired from U.S. schools are the ‘good’ H-1Bs, while those hired directly from India by the bodyshops are the ‘bad’ H-1Bs”

    As far as I have seen, professor Matloff, you’re the only one who makes such a distinction. It doesn’t matter whether the bodies shopped are recruited at/hired out of US colleges and universities or IITs. They’re still on H-1bs and they’re still bodies shopped.

    There are many US citizens bodyshopped within the USA and a few outside of it. I was bodyshopped for a time by a firm primarily known as a super-computer manufacturer before I transferred from “professional services” to one of our software product development subsidiaries. An entrepreneurial friend (born and raised just a couple blocks from where I type at this moment), after selling his software firm in the late 1980s, became a body shopped across borders by Intergraph. Some people like being bodyshopped; I certainly did not, and less so as I learned more about how it works.

    The vast majority of H-1Bs are bad, the only exceptions being those very few H-1B grantees (and the visas granted to them) who are reasonably classified as brilliant, “best and brightest”, “innovative”, who actually do have substantive knowledge and talent that none or a mere handful of fellows of like calibre have… the sort of folks nearly all of us agree should be sought out and welcomed, regardless of their country of origin.

    P.S. I believe that bill number may be S153.

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    • The distinction, between the “Intels” and the “Infosyses,” are unfortunately made all the time, including in that Blumenthal article. I’ve always argued that this distinction is artificial and counterproductive.

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  9. I doubt the current lottery system for H1B even makes sense or will exist for a long time. Students spends hundreds of thousands of dollars to get education from the esteem colleges in US, and after that they lose jobs in fortune 500 companies because they did not make the lottery. Some other guy taking a “shot” at H1B through a small body shopper get’s his slot. Does it really makes sense to reject a Harvard or MIT grad working for Mckinsey or Google who could be the next larry page or mark zuckerberg and instead allot a visa to someone who works in 6 projects a year with exaggerated resume.

    There was 1 bill gates and 3000 Harvard/MIT grads who work for Mckinsey. Work out the odds. You really waiting for a guy coming in through a body shopper to start the next Microsoft…then good luck.

    And what about the colleges themselves. They charge a $100 grands for an education and then can’t even promise a visa. Why would I spend so much money. Why not spend $4K and apply for H1b through 4 different body shoppers and end up way ahead of everyone else. Who’s stopping. Obviously US values both the same.

    Something has to change and fast to make it worthwhile for the right people to come in. Or it just doesn’t make any sense anymore. Sorry not being rude but feel the need to raise a flag if something is completely astray.

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    • Your points are good, but of course they are not new. I’ve stated many times, including here in this blog, that we should facilitate the immigration of “the best and the brightest,” and I’ve supported proposals to use offered wage as a proxy for that, i.e. dole out the visas according the order of offered wage. I’ve also pointed out that Obama could implement this with the mere stroke of his pen, as the statute does not say how to allocate visas if there are more applicants than visas.

      By the way, there were proposals to limit visas to the really elite schools as far back as 1995, if not earlier. I’m rather leery of that, as I consider a degree from an elite school as neither a necessary or nor sufficient condition for brilliance, but at any rate, such proposals are political nonstarters. The sad truth is that most employers are NOT anxious to have brilliant workers; bright, yes, but that’s all, and instead what they want is cheap, immobile workers.

      Some time ago, I was at a research conference, and a recruiter from Texas Instruments (one of the most strident firms demanding expansion of the H-1B program) gave a talk on some CS education topic. During the Q&A I mentioned a new grad (BS Physics at Princeton, MSEE at Cornell) who had applied to TI three times, and was rejected all three times. I asked the recruiter how they could have happened. I expected her to say something like, “He probably had an attitude problem,” but what she actually said — in public! — was, “TI doesn’t really want brilliant workers.”

      One point where I’d disagree with you is your sense of urgency in bringing in the highly talented. As I said, I do support that, but on the other hand, H-1B and related programs are holding down wage levels so much that it has become unattractive for many of OUR OWN best and brightest to go into more lucrative fields.

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