Caveat Emptor with H-1B “Solutions”

I’ve warned repeatedly that “solutions” to the foreign tech worker problem should NOT be based on the “Infosys” model. (We could call it the Infosys/IBM model, to emphasize the fact that this model is used by both Indian and American firms.) Here a company hires foreign programmers or other IT workers from a third party, a “rent a programmer” company, then replaces Americans by the newly-hired foreigners. In many cases, the Americans are forced to train their foreign replacements. Note that the third-party companies are the actual employers and visa sponsors.

A number of parties in the H-1B controversy — not only politicians, but also critics of H-1B — have found it convenient to scapegoat the rent-a-programmer firms. “Oh my God, they’re replacing Americans!” But the word “replace” is egregiously misleading. The sad truth is that almost every employer of H-1Bs is abusing the system, by hiring H-1Bs instead of Americans. This is Clintonian parsing of words. (My allusion is of course to Bill — “It depends on what the definition of ‘is’ is” — but Hillary has been deceptive on H-1B issues too.

Case in point:  This Chicago Tribune article reports that Senator Durbin unctuously railed against Abbott Laboratories for taking the “Infosys” route. The senator’s bill with Senator Grassley is aimed at stamping out such actions. Think this sounds effective? Think again.

According to, Abbott applied for permission to hire 358 H-1Bs during 2012-2015, and submitted green card sponsorship applications for 60 foreign workers. Note that these applications were from Abbott itself, not the Infosyses. It is a pretty safe bet that numerous qualified Americans were rejected for many if not all of these jobs.

As I’ve said before, even if third-party hiring of foreign tech workers were totally banned (this won’t happen, obviously), it would be business as usual for Disney, SCE, Abbott and so on, because people like Senator Durbin are not willing to deal with the abuse of hiring of foreign students, INSTEAD OF Americans.

As even Senator Grassley once said, “No one should be fooled.”






17 thoughts on “Caveat Emptor with H-1B “Solutions”

  1. >third-party companies are the actual employers

    A dubious interpretation. Must we go back and review 1706 and the Microsoft decision?

    >It is a pretty safe bet that numerous qualified
    >Americans were rejected for many if not all of
    >these jobs.

    Only implicitly, since in most cases there is no serious attempt to hire Americans at all. So you see, carefully parsing your words, Americans never were rejected.


    • I’m not sure you’ve thought this through, Josh. Are you truly saying that Abbot’s direct hiring of H-1Bs — direct hiring foreign workers as permanent full-time employees, no 1706 rule, no third-party involvement, etc. — is acceptable?

      By the way, the correct parsing is, “Many Americans apply and are rejected, and many more would be rejected if they knew of the existence of the jobs.”

      Liked by 1 person

      • Maybe Abbott Labs hired also US citizens and permanent residents as employees.
        How many higher level employees were hired in total during those years ?
        Maybe A.L.’s indeed could not find in the US some of the people they needed with special expertise, skills, knowledge.
        Did you look into that ?
        Or is ‘I bet’ your best bet ?


        • I say “I bet” because this is my experience in more than 20 years of closely watching this issue.

          No one is saying that Abbott hires no Americans whatsoever.


        • I would be interested in seeing if Abbott Labs actually advertised these jobs in the papers on the dates that they said they did.

          Enter Abbott in the search box to see what I’m talking about.

          This is only the 2016 Data.
          I hope to have the 2015 Data loaded this week

          For those wondering why I am building these databases.
          Every single reference to non immigrant guest worker visitor data is to sites like myvisajobs and I’m sick and tired of hearing that Americans can’t do these jobs so I’m setting out to out do them in the Best and the Brightest category and i sure could use your help, but if you’re too lazy or to afraid to stand up for your future, I’ll do it on my own simply because it needs to be done.

          That, and I believe Americans in America have a right to know which company or government agency or school or media company is forcing them to dig their own grave by training their replacements before they are fired or laid off.

          And the only way they will be able to know that is if we develop a system that a low level employee can search to see if their company in their city is attempting to throw them under the bus,

          and then we must make everybody in America aware that this database exists so that peer pressure can do its work and force these companies to hire american and buy american so that we can do more to keep america at work by ensuring that Americans in America are hired.

          By the way, according to the 2016 data, none of the positions that abbott labs hired for had rocket scientist type requirements and any American could have filled them: (requirements follow)

          project mgmt. or project mgmt. support

          Package Solution Consultant – Emp. will accept any suitable comb. of ed., training or exp.

          SAP Specialist, SAP Analyst (Emp. will accept any suitable comb. of educ., training or exp.)

          reg. affairs, medical device R&D, medical device eng’g, or rel. field

          Electrical Engineer. (Employer will accept any suit. comb. of ed., training or exp.)


  2. A friend of mine was just laid off from Abbott. She needs to of course train her replacement, 17 years with Abbott and 27 years never unemployed. The networking and server parts are outsourced to India.


  3. All of them are going to increase work visas. The canary is out of the box. Close to 70% business cost is labor, there is nothing that is going to stop this trend. As far as Cruz goes, he is my senator and so called hard core conservative. Low government regulations mean softer on work visas and pro free trade. Audios America as we know it. The question is what are we going to do for work. The educated jobs are being scooped up by cheap foreign labor across the board and the trade jobs are being taken by H2-b and illegals. I am hanging on to the IT job I have, knowing full well this might be my last one. Frankly if I could find another one, I would have left this one a year ago.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Mr. Matloff,

    Can you do a blog post on proposed solutions to H1B reform and people can post comments of their proposals or ideas? And then we can all tweet the link to that blog post to Trump, Sen. Sessions, et al.

    Here are mine:

    – get rid of the ‘lottery system’ and the six month pre-employment application limit window (the application ‘season’) which encourages bulk filings of applications and filings for unneeded H-1B visas for ‘demand forecasting’ purposes, instead of real-time/real-need situations. It’s ridiculous that if a company needs a worker in the last quarter of the year that they’ll have to wait to apply the next year and hopefully get that worker over a year later. The system should allow year-long processing and take applications throughout the year.

    – create website for IT workers who are U.S. citizens to register and for companies to post jobs. This central register allows for more accurate processing of the LCA by making it easier for the Department of Labor to check if any American workers (local or national) fit the requirement (doing a search), to get an idea of what the domestic worker pool looks like, for American workers to respond to the job posting, and to have official goverment records of applications to job postings. If qualified Americans respond to a job posting, a company cannot request/apply for an H1B visa unless they can show that they interviewed several qualified American candidates AND offered the job to an American first.

    – tighten up how the ‘prevailing wage’ for an LCA is defined and checked and require that the DOL do more than just the current ‘honor’ system of filing employer attestations and document submissions (where fraud occurs), and instead do more active and more comprehensive fact-checking of LCA document submissions. Also require that the wage entered in the LCA be at least 10-15% higher than the prevailing wage or the highest salary of similar existing jobs in that area or current salary figures of American job applicants. Also DOL needs to tighten up checking which tier the job belongs to since there’s abuse in categorizing senior positions as lower tier obs.

    – require companies who request a foreign worker to post jobs at the local and national level (this prevents a requesting company from posting a job in some small town in another state to get around the rule of looking for Americans first) and show at least 3 job offers (of the job they’re trying to fill) to an American worker who was ready, willing & able (especially location-wise) to take that job

    – disallow the use of ‘unicorn’ job postings with a 25 or more bullet point list of ‘must have’ requirements requiring X years of this AND Y years of that which only one person (the foreign worker) qualifies for

    – do not allow staffing companies, foreign companies or subsidiaries of foreign companies (the Infosyses). The company requesting the foreign worker must be a U.S. company – that is they were created in the U.S. and have their headquarters in the U.S. So, a California corp or Delaware corp which is a subsidiary of Tata or Infosys is not allowed.

    – if the company does get an LCA

    – get rid of the exemption for universities

    – get rid of Free Trade Agreement carve-outs for Chile (1,400 H-1B1 visas) and Singapore (5,400 H-1B1 visas)

    – get rid of filing fee refunds to applications which are not randomly selected

    – get rid of refunds of Social Security/FICA contributions when a worker leaves when term is done

    – get rid of worker’s sponsored tie to employer

    – have a limit or cap on the number of visas issued to a country so that no one country can have a monopoly on the program. this prevents discrimination and allows for diversification

    – have independent audits of the system throughout the year to check for fraud and abuse.

    – require that companies guilty of fraud or abuse are not allowed to file again or ever


    • You have a lot of proposals here, well thought out. The problem is that most are political nonstarters. The idea of a national registry has been proposed before, and shot down every time.


      • We Americans in America can create this national registry on our own.

        But we have to work together to do it and it will require all of us exposing it to Americans in every nook and cranny of our country so that the average american can look and see if there is somebody available in their area with those skills.

        I believe a President once said I can do that but you have to make me do that.

        The peer pressure and nationwide demand once a system was up and running would change the non immigrant guest worker program just like Trump changed the conversation that we hear in the immigration debates that we never heard before.

        I’m willing to make Keep America At Work available to host such a project.

        And don’t tell me that we don’t have the money to do so.

        3.8 million computer and mathematical jobs out there as of 2014.

        If each put up a measly 100 dollar bill to get it started, we would have the money.

        I am willing to put up the first 100 dollars.

        Are you willing to match my efforts?


      • I would think that with Trump as President and Sessions in his administration, these proposals – including a national registry, would be possible and on the table for discussion.

        If not, an alternative would be to require that the company post the job on at least 3 national jobs website (Dice, Monster, Careerbuilder, etc) for at least 3-6 months. The processing of that LCA is where a lot of the fraud and gov’t lack of enforcement of the rules. The gov’t staff who is processing that LCA should be able to see all the applications for that job as well as search for Americans who fit the job description.

        Furthermore, something needs to be done with companies posting ‘unicorn’ job descriptions asking for ridiculously impossible or rare candidate profiles & experiences (the 25 bullet point list of requirements where the stars would have to line up to match).

        A commenter (AmericanSTEM) on your blog post ‘An Open Letter to the Laid-Off Disney Workers’ brought up several issues that are rarely discussed – and that’s how companies do not invest in training or apprenticeship programs anymore or have unrealistic job requirements (the ‘unicorn’ job postings). In a job that a recent college grad can do, they’ll advertise it as requiring someone with 3-5 years of experience, or in a job that can be done by an IT professional who can learn a specific software program in an afternoon or a day or a week, they’ll post the job as requiring someone with 3-5 years of experience in that software program, or in a developer/engineer job that works with the latest technology or programming language, the company posts the job as requiring X years of experience of this latest version when a developer or engineer with many years of experience with multiple previous versions can easily learn the newest version. I’ve seen job postings requiring 5 years of experience with a technology that just came out 3 years ago.


        • Unfortunately, the legal purpose of the LCA is NOT to check whether qualified and interested American applicants exist. On the contrary, it is legal to hire an H-1B even if such Americans are available.

          The green card is different, though as you said, quite gameable.


          • So was Rubio lying at the last debate when he said that Disney was breaking the law when it laid off those workers and outsourced the entire IT dept to Tata? He kept saying that Disney broke the law, when we know better that the courts recently ruled that Southern California Edison (SCE) did not break the law and what they did was legal.


      • Something that Trump said in his policy speech at Bismarck North Dakota last week (May 26 2016) makes me think he’ll consider a national registry or directory to hire first from.

        “My agenda will be accomplished thru a series of reforms that put always America First…regulation reform that eliminates stupid rules that sends our jobs overseas…Welfare reform that requires employers to recruit from the unemployment office, not the immigration office. We want to create jobs for our people.”


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