Now Hiring — Foreign Students Preferred

In my comments yesterday on the Senate hearing, I noted that most of the senators were viewing the issue of foreign tech workers through an “Intels are heroes while Infosyses are scoundrels” lens.  They believe that mainstream firms like Intel use H-1B and green card programs responsibly, while the IT services (rent-a-programmer) firms such as Infosys abuse it. Most senators at the hearing seemed in particular to support granting special immigration privileges to foreign students, the favored group of the “Intels.”

This view is incorrect; actually, abuse of the foreign tech worker programs pervades the entire industry.  My theme in this posting is that the “Intels” often give hiring preference to foreign students and other foreign workers over Americans.

Following are a number of illustrations and examples for this point.  Before beginning, I wish to note that though some of the items below involve anonymous workers or firms, I’d be happy to discuss details with interested congressional staffers on a confidential basis.  Also, note carefully that almost all of these items relate either directly to foreign students or to employer-sponsored green cards; thus these items do NOT apply to the “Infosyses,” which rarely hire foreign students or engage in green card sponsorship.

  • Many firms prefer to hire foreign students in lieu of Americans,
    due to the immobility that students incur due to green card sponsorship. Employers don’t want engineers to leave them in the lurch during an urgent project, and while one can’t prevent Americans from leaving, green card sponsorship allows the employer to immobilize the foreign students.
  • Managers in at least two name-brand Silicon Valley firms have privately volunteered the information that they engage in this practice. One of the managers added that his firm requires at least x% of all hires to be foreign.
  • During the hearing, witness John Miano showed an IBM job ad that was restricted to foreign students.
  • A manager at another name-brand Silicon Valley firm complained,

    …[hiring managers] get a lot of H-1B  re’sume’s. I had to go out myself, instead of relying on [HR], to go and advertise at several colleges…I found a very good [American]

  • An American worker responded to a job ad at yet another famous Silicon Valley firm, and learned that person named in the ad didn’t work for the tech firm at all.  Instead, she worked for a nationally prominent immigration law firm that represents numerous Fortune 500 companies.  The ad stated that only U.S. citizens and permanent residents could apply, but that turned out to be a smokescreen. Apparently the firm was collecting American applicants to REJECT, so that it could satisfy legal requirements in sponsoring a foreign national for a green card.  A Dept. of Labor investigation ensued, ultimately finding that the law firm had stepped over the line in some cases.
  • In the infamous “TubeGate” incident, another prominent immigration law firm placed onto YouTube a set of videos of an event the firm had held for its clients, describing how to legally avoid hiring American workers (and, in another video in the series, to legally circumvent prevailing wage requirements).  The intent was for the videos to serve as promotion devices, but the Programmers Guild pounced on them. In one of the videos, a partner in the firm says,

And our goal is clearly, not to find a qualified and interested U.S. worker. And you know in a sense that sounds funny, but it’s what we’re trying to do here. We are complying with the law fully, but ah, our objective is to get this person a green card, and get through the labor certification process. So certainly we are not going to try to find a place [at which to advertise the job] where the applicants are the most numerous. We’re going to try to find a place where we can comply with the law, and hoping, and likely, not to find qualified and interested worker applicants.

  • Articles on, a popular Web portal for immigration lawyers, have called the green card process a “charade”; the foreign worker already holds the job, typically hired earlier as an H-1B, so the employer doesn’t want to find an American to fill the position.  Yet of course the immigration lawyers don’t want a law requiring employers to give hiring priority to Americans at the initial hiring stage either. Writing on ILW, green card expert Joel Stewart, wrote “Employers who favor aliens have an arsenal of legal means to reject all U.S. workers who apply.”
  • Immigration lawyers openly make pitches to employers to hire foreign workers instead of Americans, citing the “attractive” immobility of the former. For example, immigration attorney David Swaim, whose firm biography states that he designed immigration policy for Texas Instruments, one of the most active lobbyists for H-1B expansion on Capitol Hill, repeatedly cites this advantage accruing from hiring foreign students in his Web page, naturally titled (F-1 is the name of the student visa.)  Dartmouth University’s Tuck Business School makes the same pitch to employers, pointing out that “Because it can be difficult for [foreign] employees on a work visa to change jobs, international employees are less likely to leave unexpectedly. This lowers your costs for talent recruitment in the long-term while also creating loyalty among your employees.”
  • Legislation in 2000 slightly shortened the immobility time for the foreign workers. Immigration lawyer Jose Latour responded to employers worried that the immobility would be lost by saying, “the labor cert process…[still] requires a trusting relationship between employer and employee…the need for stable employment for the realization of permanent residency remains unchanged,” i.e. H-1Bs will continue to need to stick with their employers for years while the green card is pending.
  • A February 28, 2005 article in Computerworld reported that “Most of the students enrolled in the New Jersey Institute of Technology’s graduate program are foreign nationals…Stephen Seideman, dean of the school’s college of computing science [notes the exploitability of the foreign students, in that they] will do everything they can to stay [in the U.S.]”

Again, I must remind readers that we are talking NOT about the “Infosyses” but instead about the “Intels,” especially the group extolled by both the “Intels” and most of the senators at yesterday’s hearing, the foreign students.  It is clear that the claims made by the “Intels” that “We would much prefer to hire Americans if we could find qualified ones” are often hollow, and that no special immigration deals should be enacted for the foreign students.

10 thoughts on “Now Hiring — Foreign Students Preferred

  1. A benefit for hiring students on OPT or CPT is not widely known. Neither student employee nor employer is subject to FICA taxes. This permits an immediate savings to the employer and permits the employer to pay the “student” less to have the same effective salary as a US worker especially when the income tax effect is taken into consideration as well.

    There is no salary requirements on OPTs as there is on H-1Bs. It is possible to forgo salary to OPT “interns”. OPTs can use this time to find an H-1B sponsor and utilize CAP GAP to work between their OPT period and the start of their H-1B employment. International students will forgo pay to avoid the 90/120 day unemployment rule.

    There are no limits on the number of individuals taking advantage of this opportunity. I have seen estimates of upwards of 100,000 per year using the program.

    Time on these programs do not count toward the 6 year H-1B limit. It is possible for a STEM worker graduate to work for 29 months on OPT for each degree level (minimum of 7+ years), 6 years on H-1B and recapture the time outside the US during the H-1B period even if on paid vacation from his H-1B job for a significant duration of employment in the US before a green card comes into play.

    OPT also permits employees to be less than full time and work on 1099s rather than W-2 employees.

    I do not know how Obamacare comes into play. In the past, some universities have permitted OPTs to remain on university health insurance which is cheaper for both the employee and employer.

    I wonder how the proposal to give green cards to advanced US degree graduates will impact this program.


    • Ron Hira talked at length about the OPT program at the Senate hearing on Tuesday. You can watch the hearing and download the testimonies at . Hira’s discussion of the OPT program starts on page 9 of his testimony. However, I was saddened to see that a number of supposedly intelligent people are still parroting the claims of a single working paper which I replicated at and found to be seriously flawed. On page 6 of Benjamin E. Johnson’s testimony, he states “a 2012 report found that each foreign-born graduate from a U.S. university with an advanced degree who stays in the U.S. to work in a STEM occupation creates an average of 2.62 jobs for American workers.” The 2.62 number is the main one that I looked at but I noticed that two people mentioned a 183 number from the same working paper. On page 2 of Bjorn Billhardt’s testimony, he says that [s]tudies show that for every 100 H-1B workers, an additional 183 jobs are created for workers born in the United States.” I don’t know how a single working paper became “studies”. In addition, Senator Charles Schumer states the 183 number as established fact at about 32:22 into the video. I’ve added all of those references to a list I’ve posted at . Not to pick on the Democrats, I also came across references from Republicans Orrin Hatch and Ted Cruz. I’ll look at the 183 number if I have a chance but my company is currently running me ragged at my IT job. Along with lower wages, I think that abuse of workers is another result of our immigration policies. When you can abuse your indentured foreign workers, why not abuse your few American workers as well?


  2. As Norm illustrates above,

    1. Corporations operating in the US now have powerful incentives to hire foreign students.

    We also know that

    2. US universities have a powerful incentive to admit foreign students: higher tuition and fees. (There may be others, that’s just OTTOMH.)

    3. Corporations exert influence over the US corporate-funded media, via the obvious means. (Seek left past the comma 🙂

    4. US universities exert influence over the USCFM, especially its non-commercial/”public” segment. (They advertise throughout the USCFM, and many “public” broadcasters are operated by or associated with universities.)

    Sooo … how to attack this corrupt nexus?

    Liked by 1 person


    This is the kind of “talent” American companies hiring. I actually feel better now that I know that there IS ALMOST NO COMPETITION to be found in the eb2/eb3/h1b programs. These kinds of “students” actually pose no threat to someone who is actually well educated because they provide no value. They are simply dead weight or even worse, detrimental to any company that hires them. When my so called “competitors” fail, that’s just better for me.


  4. I appreciate your post, Norm. Several of my recent articles have noted how work visa programs such as OPT and H-1B have morphed into “government-sanctioned foreign hiring preference programs.” Please use the quoted phrase to learn more.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The big problem is that DHS hands over background-check responsibilities almost totally to the edu institution. And no one is conducting proper background investigations. They don’t want to. Too costly. Too troublesome. Too inconvenient. So they don’t.. and then wonder why we get “bad eggs”.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Norm and readers interested in role of students in 20th-century Chinese immigration may be interested in Madeline Hsu’s[1] new book, “The Good Immigrants: How the Yellow Peril Became the Model Minority”[2], and this booktalk[3]. Hsu details how student status was crucial for Chinese immigration before and after the Cold War, its influence on policy (esp the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965[4]), and the politics of (though Hsu does not use the term) brain drain. ~37 min into the talk[3], she makes some interesting comments (that I suspect could be extended much further 🙂 about US importation of foreign labor:

    > If we see Asian Americans as being so highly achieving, it’s not [that] there is an American system that produces them and facilitates their success, it has to do with the conditions that attended their immigration. And so it’s really the importation of a highly achieving population as opposed to a demonstration that [the] American system in terms of education, in terms of fostering [and] nurturing of its own domestic population, is well-functioning. This is one of the contradictions that I am trying to point [to, and to draw] this connection between international education and our immigration policy, and the kind of immigrants [who] are allowed and encouraged to come into the [US]. I also try to point to the reality that it’s only certain kinds of occupations that qualify [one] for immigrant status.



    • Hsu’s theme is not new. All the scholars writing in this topic have noted the fact that much of Chinese immigration has been through employer sponsorship of the college educated (though there is plenty of blue-collar immigration too, through family sponsorship).

      I went to and clicked the Look Inside button, and put in the search terms that I know the most about — “H-1B,” “Wen Ho Lee” and “welfare.” Unfortunately, she was wrong in various senses about all three topics. Browsing through the book in general, it appears that she has generally taken the Politically Correct view and looked for sources to cite to justify that view. Judging by this small sample at least, it appears to be a disappointing work.

      Liked by 1 person

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