A number of people have called my attention to the “McDonald’s hires H-1Bs” article in Breitbart. I certainly recommend it, though I would point out that it is actually a meandering article that covers all kinds of interesting facts and numbers beyond McD’s. There is a ton to learn from here. I do have a couple of comments.

First, the article uses the word outsourcing a lot, much more than it should. I can hardly blame the author, who is an excellent, very insightful journalist, because terminology has become awfully confusing these days in articles on H-1B and related issues, but it is important to keep things straight. So for instance, when the article says

But American companies are now trying to outsource more varieties of jobs, including accounting, healthcare and design jobs. For example, American universities have hired H-1Bs for 100,000 prestigious jobs, including professors, lecturers, doctors, therapists, scientists and researchers. Engineering giant Caterpillar continues to hire H-1B workers in Illinois as it fires hundreds of American engineers and other white-collar workers, DeLoitte and other U.S. accounting firms have asked for more than 20,000 H-1B visas to replace American business-school graduates.

that term “outsourcing” is incorrect. The universities, for instance, are directly hiring H-1Bs, not “renting” them from an outsourcing firm such as Infosys. They are not “renting” those professors. Mind you, I am not defending the universities at all. Most H-1B hiring, including by universities, represents abuses of the visa program, in both direct and indirect ways. But it is not outsourcing.

Similarly, Caterpillar is also not outsourcing, according to another excellent recent piece by the same author. They are directly hiring foreign workers who are studying as foreign students at U.S. universities. Again, that does NOT make it “better”; but it is important to be precise in this complex issue.

Though I am reluctant to object to another point in this otherwise-excellent article, I must comment on this passage:

In Ohio, roughly 1,200 foreign post-graduate students are working in prestigious white-collar jobs, via the ‘Optional Practical Training’ visa. Without that visa program, most of those jobs would have gone to new graduates born in Ohio.

The correct statement would have been “Without the visa program, most of those jobs would have gone to Americans, both new graduates and established professionals. Again, a key point about H-1B is that it is typically used to hire young foreign workers instead of older Americans. It is definitely true that young H-1Bs are also hired in lieu of young Americans, but that is far from the whole picture.

A final comment, not on the article: A number of people have asked me about the recently-released National Academic of Science report on immigration, specifically its findings on high-skilled immigration. I haven’t commented here in the blog yet, because frankly, I would need a dozen blog posts to comment in full. I had been expecting a biased report in the sense that it would have an “Intels good, Infosyses bad” theme, but it turned out to be far worse than that, extremely one-sided. It baffles me that such a prestigious instituation as NAS would produce such an awful report, the presence of some “usual suspects” on the committee notwithstanding. I may make a single post, focusing just on the innovation claims made by the report, at some point in the next few days.



22 thoughts on “McVisas

  1. As usual, understates the problem, very glibly recites “reducing the wages of natives in competition with immigrants by an estimated $402 billion a year, while increasing profits or the incomes of users of immigrants by an estimated $437 billion” without considering what that means. Let’s see, about $15t in personal income in 2015, let’s say that $10t was earned income for the 99%, then the direct impact of foreign workers is to reduce native’s wages by about 4%. But, you say, perhaps they reduce the cost of items by at least 4% as well. Perhaps. Unfortunately that begs the question of just exactly how this hurts. Maybe “only” a million people are thrown onto welfare, nobody else is affected, and that aggregates out to 4%. Well, 4% doesn’t sound so bad, but a million people who want to work thrown on welfare, that’s not so good, is it. Of course the entire situation is more complex, but it has many more HUGE impacts like this that are hidden by these big aggregates.


  2. But why should the bias of the National Academy of Science be a surprise?

    As noted years ago (by Weinstein? Greenberg?) NSF’s Director Erich Bloch (who may reasonably be called the father of H-1B) organized the Government, University, and Industry Research (GUIR) Roundtables in the mid to late 1980s under the auspices of the NAS since NSF has a rule requiring that the proceedings be recorded whereas the NAS has the opposite rule (that the proceedings NOT be published), which were instrumental in promoting and (in 1990) creating the H-1B visa to solve the alleged shortage (er, cumulative “shortfall” as they would say when it was noted that the shortage hadn’t materialized, though of course it eventually will because the H-1B program drives Americans out of STEM).

    NAS has a long history of supporting the myth that we’re not educating enough STEM workers, including these titles: The Gathering Storm; Rising Above the Gathering Storm; Rising Above the Gathering Storm, Revisited.


  3. So true on caterpillar especially.

    I have added caterpillar to the Wall of Shame map.

    What does this mean to you?

    Say you are meeting with a journalist or your local politician.
    They ask for proof.

    You can now click on the Wall of Shame link and immediately click on Caterpillar and see the latest news regarding caterpillar, H-1b, layoff, outsourcing, etc. by clicking on one link.

    And if they want proof, you can click on the Fiscal Year 2016 and Fiscal Year 2014 link and immediately show them all of the H-1B Hunting License Applications that Caterpillar bought and paid for so that they could hunt your job using non-immigrant guest workers as ammunition.

    Why do I not have Fiscal year 2015 out there?
    I keep getting some kind of GDI error when I try to upload the spreadsheet into SQL Server, but I’m working on it in between fighting depression (yep, I’m unemployed again) and trying to figure out where to make my next penny so I can keep my land.

    The goal with the Wall of Shame is to put everything we can on each of these companies, and even our politicians in one place where anybody can use it as ammunition to hunt the people who are hunting our jobs using our legal system as ammunition so that we can put an end to this nightmare.

    I try to add a few more companies every day so if you see one that I missed, please let me know at


  4. Come on Norm, the NAS and NSF, co-Godfathers of the Federal Science Mafia, have a long history of failing the public. These organizations are there to serve themselves and those who do science research, not the public and that is what they do and have done for many years. These are little more than special interest lobbying groups pretending to serve the public. As you are well aware, NAS likes H1Bs because these serve as a magnet to attract foreign students to pursue graduate degrees in the physical sciences, computer science and engineering (not the social sciences) at US universities. The cycle is as follows: 1. A university professor (highly likely a former immigrant) gets a research grant from the federal government that uses taxes paid by the public. 2. The university professor needs graduate students to not only do the work, the prof needs the students to work 60-80 hours per week. For that the graduate student receives free tuition and a small grant for living expenses (both paid by the USA taxpayer); the prof and the university get the remainder; the tax-paying, older worker gets pushed out of the workforce to create an opening for this prof’s last graduate and the taxpayer gets nothing. The larger the pool of graduate students the higher the likelihood the prof can find his/her indentured servant. Without the H1B to serve as a magnet, the size of the graduate student pool declines. Please do not underestimate the role of federal institutions and federally funded institutions in perpetuating this public fleecing.

    Paul Huray and I published a 1998 paper in Research.Technology Management pointing out the winners and losers in the H1B scheme. All you will hear about from NAS and NSF are stories about the winners.


    • The 2001 NAS report on the tech labor force was pretty even-handed, not perfect, but mostly very good. I’ve cited it many times in support of my statements. The NSF is awful, as I’ve said many times.


    • Don’t forget that the faculty members frequently use grant funds to travel internationally to recruit students and post docs. The fact that some agencies limit foreign travel to conferences seems to mean nothing to these profs.


      • There is a cottage industry of international college recruiting agencies. “Colleges increasingly rely on these international recruiters who earn 10 to 15 percent of the first year’s tuition of students who enrolled.”


  5. I would like to add that many restaurants use H-2B guest workers. H-2B guest workers are used for many low-wage jobs because, according to employers, Americans are lazy and are not willing to do hard work. H-2B restaurant workers are being employed for under $8 per hour in Manhattan!

    According to an article, “Despite the significant impact that the H-2B visa program has on American workers, the program receives scant media coverage compared to other guest worker categories. Issues surrounding the issuance of H-1B visas, for example, tend to receive far more media scrutiny because the beneficiaries and the victims are highly educated and often fall within the same social circles as journalists, and the topic of higher-paying skilled jobs is perceived to be more relevant to the kind of readership and viewership that advertisers desire.”


    • I can add also the J-1 visa, which is similarly not covered, but brings in 300,000 seasonal workers to do jobs that American kids actually want to – camp counselor, national park worker, ski patrol. These workers pay for the privilege of going to the US, and pay an agency a fee. The US employer get A FUCKING TAX BREAK to hire these workers, which allows them to pay 10% under the minimum wage, plus there is wage theft.


  6. I’m not trying to defend systematic H-1B abuse. But is it fair to say: “Most H-1B hiring, including by universities, represents abuses of the visa program, in both direct and indirect ways.”? Is there data to indicate that university H-1B hires are paid any less that their American counterparts? Has it been your experience that H-1B faculty hires at UC Davis are less qualified/ experienced (lower citation count?) than your American colleagues?


    • Thanks for asking the question, a very important one.

      First, let’s discuss my phrase, “directly and indirectly.” Back in 1989, an NSF internal position paper advocated bringing in large numbers of foreign students in STEM, with the explicit goal of holding down PhD salaries, via the swelling of the labor market. It also stated that this would cause the numbers of domestic students pursuing PhD programs to shrink a lot, due to the stagnant salaries. As we all know, this is what happened in the intervening years, so that today more than 50% of CS PhDs, for instance, are granted to foreign students. The situation at the Master’s level is similar.

      So, this is an indirect, but extremely important, result of the H-1B program and related things like employer-sponsored green cards.

      What about the more direct impacts? I’ve been a member of four departments on my campus, and have been closely involved with others in various ways. So what I am about to say does not necessarily apply to my present department, but yes, discrimination in favor of H-1Bs is very common. It’s typically not a matter of saving on salary costs, but an issue of existing faculty wanting to hire people who share their own national origin.

      For the record, there are at least two immigrant faculty colleagues who would not have been hired if not for my actively pushing existing colleagues to vote to hire them.


      • I’d appreciate if you can provide a reference to the NSF internal position paper you’re talking about.

        Less than 10% of H-1B petitions approved (GAO report for 2015 have a PhD degree. A majority of PhD is CS land up in industry. Are you suggesting such a tiny percentage of foreign-born PhD holders are leading to wage stagnation?

        Also, the number of doctorates in S&E fields awarded to temporary visa holders grew to 13,739 in 2014, a 2% increase since 2013. The number of S&E doctorates awarded to U.S. citizens and permanent residents also grew in 2014 at a comparable rate—a 42% increase since 2004 and 2% growth since 2013.


          • Thanks for the reference.

            “There is an overall market for PhDs …” Are you suggesting that the influx of some 10,000 or so highly-skilled non-immigrants (per year) is causing wage depression in the entire US PhD market? This is not borne-out by data. Consider this; an overwhelming majority of H1B non-immigrants with doctoral degrees have PhDs in EE & CS. However, the low growth rate of PhD salaries is not confined to EE or CS. It is universal across STEM and non-STEM fields. Take the example of Psychology or Agricultural Sciences. These fields have also experienced salary growth of about 3 – 3.5% ( Would you attribute this to H1B as well?

            “The changes between 2013 and 2014 are irrelevant, aren’t they?” This is true. For the 10 year period ending in 2014, S&E doctorates awarded to U.S. citizens and foreign-born students grew at comparable rates (45% and 42 % respectively). (source:

            “May I ask why you use the term “foreign-born” …” No specific reason. You can read it as “H1B non-immigrants with doctoral degrees”


          • I did specify 30 years. Your 10-year period includes the great recession. But that is a minor point.

            Most important, PhD salaries in CS has gone up way more than in other fields. So your comparison is invalid. Furthermore, you are wrong in saying the overwhelming majority of H-1Bs with PhDs are in CS/EE; actually, they are in the minority. You mention agriculture in your comparison to CS/EE; well, just look at the any agriculture department at a university (I just looked at Agronomy at my school), and you will see lots of faculty who fit the profile — BS degree in a foreign country, PhD in the U.S.

            I would get exact numbers for you, but see no point to it given your intransigence. We have a presumably competent economic analyst at NSF saying that the large influx of foreigners would suppress salary growth, with the effect that the American students would not pursue doctorates. This is common sense, and the part of about the domestic students is quite visible.

            Most foreign-born STEM people in the U.S. were never H-1Bs or foreign students. So the term foreign-born is inaccurate and unnatural. The ones who use this term are the industry lobbyists and their allies. When I see someone like you using this term, I suspect that they are reading from a list of industry talking points, rather than engaging in serious discussion.


          • “Most important, PhD salaries in CS has gone up way more than in other fields.” – Doesn’t this contradict your earlier claim that about large number of H-1B non-immigrants holding down PhD salaries?

            “(I just looked at Agronomy at my school)” That is an anecdote and the plural of anecdote is not data.
            Part of the reason we take your blog so seriously is the statistical validation accompanying your claims.

            ” the American students would not pursue doctorates.” Again, I draw your attention to the data: 42% increase in PhDs awarded to U.S. citizens between 2004 and 2014.

            Once again, I do not mean to defend the H-1B program as a whole. I’m actively meeting local congressman to demand reform in the H-1B program. I simply find your statement “Most H-1B hiring, including by universities, represents abuses of the visa program, in both direct and indirect ways.”” not borne-out by data.

            Here’s the “ground reality” from my experience recruiting and interviewing for my team. I work for a reputable semiconductor company based out of San Diego. My team has been struggling to hire experienced cybersecurity professionals for over a year. When I look at the pool of applicants; over 70% are non-U.S. citizens and will require us to sponsor an H-1B. What would you do in my situation: (1) hire the best and the brightest from the candidate pool (some of whom are bound to need an H-1B) (2) hire only qualified U.S. citizens even if it means some positions don’t get filled.


          • Your view that I am contradicting myself regarding CS PhD salaries is disturbing. You need to rethink it. Same for your 42% figure. Neither the NSF nor I said that NO domestic students would pursue PhDs; instead, the point was that the percentage of domestic students would go down, which it did, as seen for instance in the CRA data.

            In the hiring situation you describe, I would look again. First, it is likely that HR filtered out a lot of qualified applicants, especially older ones. Second, in your shoes I would recruit on my own. Your Facebook page, if I recall correctly, says you work in QA. You can’t find any Americans to work in QA??????????? REALLY?

            Thank you for the input you contributed to this forum.


    • If you will click on the following link and enter california in the box and press enter, you will get a list of universities in california.

      Click on the view map column for any of them and then click on the marker where I show the prevailing wage, the wage they will be paid and the mean and median wages that are paid to Americans for the same occupational category.

      You will find that the majority are substantially underpaid.

      You can also google BLS OES and look at the national tables and the occupational code that showed up on the map marker to double check the figures I have supplied via the map.


  7. Why doesn’t anybody ever think about building a team.

    The military takes raw recruits with ZERO experience and trains them using a mentoring type system.

    I was a QA engineer in 1984 to 1988 doing milspec testing when we didn’t even have software to test with and we had to use o’scopes, chart recorders and data loggers and write our code in gw-basic or whatever it was called back then.

    Hate to say it, but you aren’t even trying to fill those positions.

    You simply want to build a group of prima donnas


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