I often speak here of “the Intels and the Infosyses,” the former meaning mainstream tech firms (large or small) and the latter referring to the largely Indian and Indian-American rent-a-programmer firms. I always write in dismay of the unwarranted focus on the Infosyses in discussions of the H-1B visa program, because (a) the Intels are just as abusive as the Infosyses and (b) I have feared that any reform on H-1B will actually result in a net INCREASE in the number of foreign tech workers in the U.S. , by instituting a Staple a Green Card program. (And by the way, I am just as fearful in (b) today as in the past, as Donald Trump indicated several times during the election campaign that he supports Staple.)
For these reasons, I usually avoid commenting here on articles involving the Infosyses. But this one compels my, and your, attention, as it vividly illustrates some points I’ve been hammering away at for years.
The gist of the article is that Infosys, worried that the Trump administration will tighten up on H-1B policy, is preparing to increase hiring of American “freshers” — Indian English for new grads — to make up for a possible shortfall in foreign workers. There are two major implications of this.
First, it is a perfect illustration of my frequent comment that the standard threat of tech industry lobbyists — “If we can’t get H-1Bs, we will have to move the work offshore!” — is for the most part empty. The industry claim that reducing H-1B will not result in more jobs for Americans is false, as Infosys’ own comments in the article show.
Second, there is of course the age issue. One of my most frequent points in this blog and elsewhere has been that H-1B is largely about AGE: Younger workers are cheaper, so H-1B expands the young labor pool, enabling employers to hire young H-1Bs in lieu of older (age 35+) Americans. And, young H-1Bs are even cheaper than young Americans. But the major savings comes from the age aspect.
I like this article especially because I have struggled to get folks, even the critics of H-1B, to grasp the fundamental role age plays in H-1B, including with the Infosyses, in fact particularly for that segment of the H-1B employer space.
I have seen so many times, in the press and in statements by critics of H-1B, that the reason the Infosyses can hire H-1Bs on the cheap is due to loopholes relating to the Infosyses. While it is certainly true that the law on H-1B and employer-sponsored green cards is chock full of loopholes, it is NOT true that there a special cheap-labor loophole for the Infosyses.
EVERY employer of H-1Bs, both among Intels and Infosyses, is required to pay at least the legal wage floor, the prevailing wage. That wage floor is too low, generally well below market value for the given worker, but both the Intels and Infosyses are subject to the SAME prevailing wage requirement.
Don’t be confused by the fact that the Infosyses must pay H-1Bs at least $65K per year. They are still subject to the prevailing wage requirement, generally much higher than $65K and the SAME as for the Intels.
That doesn’t mean that the Infosyses don’t use the H-1B program for cheap labor. They do! But they use it in the same way the Intels do, which is to use the program to expand the pool of YOUNG workers. And the article cited here shows Infosys itself showing that.