Employers’ Guide to Working Around the Durbin/Grassley Bill

Dear employers who rely on IT workers supplied by Infosys and similar rent-a-programmer firms:

You may have heard that the recently introduced Durbin/Grassley H-1B/L-1 reform bill will end business as we know it for the Infosyses. But really, you have nothing to worry about.

First, even if the bill were enacted, it would first be greatly watered down during the legislative process, as happened with previous incarnations of the bill, due to pressure from the lobbyists. The latter would also achieve further emasculation of the bill when the Dept. of Labor would set up the regulations to implement the bill. Keep in mind that Senator Rubio’s main immigration adviser is from the giant Fragomen immigration law firm, which represents Infosyses.

But, just for the sake of argument, suppose the bill stays completely intact. In that scenario, you still have excellent options!

One solution would be to shift from an Indian Infosys to IBM, Cognizant or Accenture (or many other firms that will open rent-a-programmer departments to cash in on the clipping of the Infosyses’ wings). There may be a slight wage increase, but basically it will be business as usual.

The bill does subject all employers, including those mentioned above, to requirement that American workers be given hiring priority, but this requirement, long in place for the Infosyses and for the green card process, is notoriously easy to circumvent. No worries here.

Second, the bill gives work visa issuance priority to foreign students at U.S. colleges and universities. The Googles and Facebooks will grab the MIT grads, of course, but you’ll have plenty of students left to choose from who are of quality equal to or better than the H-1Bs you currently use from Indian schools. If you are a company like SCE in southern California, for instance, there are no fewer than TEN CSU campuses nearby, and lots more just a day’s drive away, easy to bring in for interviews.

The Infosyses will be hiring the foreign students too, either as OPTs or in a separate bill Congress will enact later, Staple-a-Green Card, so the firms won’t violate the 50% H-1B/L-1 limit in the Durbin/Grassley bill.

Remember, although the Infosyses are quite skilled at cost cutting, the main reason they’re currently able to supply you with cheap workers is that those workers are YOUNG.  The new foreign student grads will almost all be young, so again, business as usual.

All is good.

 

 

 

 

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7 thoughts on “Employers’ Guide to Working Around the Durbin/Grassley Bill

  1. Meanwhile the NACE data continues to go down and our communities in America grow poorer and poorer as the wages you pay to non immigrant workers continues to get sent to their home country rather than being spent in america.

    And the quality of work continues to go down as “Freshers” learn via O-J-T and proxy help.

    And American children no longer attend our schools for software development as they realize that the deck is stacked against them after watching their parents lose everything after spending their entire lives working in the software industry.

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  2. The wage requirements of the bill and the priority accorded to foreign students for visa allocation don’t seem consistent. The minimum wage requirement, as I understand, is the maximum of (i) prevailing wage based on experience level (current system); (ii) 50 percentile wage for a given SOC and Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA); and (iii) prevailing wage for skill level 2 for a given SOC and MSA.

    Most foreign students are likely to be classified as skill level 1. I did some comparisons for Architecture and Engineering occupations and Computer and Mathematical occupations in the Bay Area and in Austin, TX and found that most level 1 candidates do not meet the 50 percentile wage requirements.

    All is not good 🙂

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    • You are raising an important point, though you are missing part of the story.

      As I’ve said, the bill is aimed at rewarding the “Intels,” who the folks in DC believe are the “good” H-1Bs. The Intels generally hire at Level II. Of course, I disagree with the premise, but in terms of consistency, yes, the bill is consistent.

      And of course, by giving priority to foreign students, it is not implying that all foreign students are eligible for a visa.

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      • I see your point. There are rather few SOCs where companies (i.e., “Intels”) can afford to hire inexperienced foreign students at level 2 (or median, if higher). But the H-1B applications from these few SOCs make up the large bulk of the total applications (SOC 15-xxxx). Perhaps level 3 and 75 percentile should have been specified for the minimum wage requirement.

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          • The bill is supposed to provide an advantage in the allocation of visas to foreign students with advanced degrees in STEM fields. But the minimum wage requirement is designed such that only a subset of the STEM fields, such as computer programmers, software developers, computer systems analysts, or actuaries, can take advantage of the preferential allocation of visas. These fields have the capacity to pay young (inexperienced) foreign students median/level 2 wages. The large number of STEM fields outside this small subset of computer/math occupations does not pay new graduates (both U.S. and foreign students) median/level 2 wages. In fact, many of these fields require 3-4 years of U.S. work experience followed by professional licensing in order for a candidate to graduate from skill level 1 to skill level 2.

            However, the small subset of computer occupations mentioned above constitutes a bulk of the demand for H-1B visas. Therefore, despite the proposed amendment, the demand for H-1B visas is still likely to exceed 65,000, and the companies in the computer programming/software business will not be significantly affected by the more stringent minimum wage requirement (because they already pay their new graduates the level 2/median wage).

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          • Yes, I agree that the demand will still exceed 65,000. That’s why I’ve been predicting that “the other shoe would drop” some time after this bill passes, in the form of staple-a-green-card. The latter would NOT be instant, but would carry its own work visa, separate from H-1B.

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