Reforming H-1B and Related Visas: What Needs to be Done

Last night’s blog post was titled, “You Can’t Fix It If You Don’t Understand It,” in which I showed that the industry lobbyists are so deft at presenting a misleading view of the H-1B work visa, and policymakers and worker advocates are so uninformed, that effective reform is impossible. In response, one reader suggested that I write a blog post showing, in one convenient document, what needs to be done. Good idea.

Before I begin, please note carefully the centrally important terms. I will use the term “H-1B” to include not only that visa program, but also L-1, OPT, employer-sponsored green cards, and so on. Also, the term “American/U.S.” refers to U.S. citizens and permanent residents. The “Infosyses” are firms that hire H-1Bs and rent them out to other companies, while the “Intels” means firms that hire H-1Bs directly, especially foreign students at U.S. universities, which is a very wide range, including such firms as the Bay Area chain, Bank of the West.

Here we go:

Understanding the problem:

Again, understanding the problem is crucial to developing an effective solution. President-Elect Trump has stated that he will direct AG Sessions to investigate the situation, but again, unless Sessions understands what to look for — and knows how to keep the industry lobbyists at bay — his efforts will be wasted. These points in particular are absolutely key:

  • Hiring H-1Bs instead of Americans is just as harmful as hiring H-1Bs to replace Americans. Isn’t that obvious?
  • The Intels (who hire “instead of”) are thus just as culpable as the Infosyses (who replace).
  • Age plays a CENTRAL role in the hiring of H-1Bs. Younger workers are cheaper (and young H-1Bs are even cheaper than young Americans), so employers hire young H-1Bs in lieu of older Americans.
  • What percentage of hires of H-1Bs, OPTs and so on are genuinely due to a lack of qualified Americans? I believe it is no more than 20%, probably less, even among the Intels.
  • What occupations — IF ANY — have a labor shortage? What does “shortage” even mean? It should NOT mean, “After we automatically filter out all applicants over age 35, we didn’t have enough applicants.”

Suggested executive actions regarding understanding the problem:

The Labor Condition Application (LCA), which employers submit for permission to hire an H-1B, should be extended with some survey questions, such as “State the mean age among STEM workers at your firm,” “State the percentage of new and recent graduates among your STEM hires this year,” “State the percentage of American applicants for STEM positions who were interviewed, and the percentage of those who were extended offers,” “State the percentage increase, if any, in the wage you are paying today in this occupation relative to that of one, two and three years ago,” and so on. The LCA should also have the employer state whether a graduate degree (MS/PhD) is really necessary for the job in question, and if so, why. These answers would not be used as grounds for denying the LCA (but should be subject to perjury laws), just used as data collection relevant to the H-1B program.

In his investigation as directed by Trump, the AG should be especially wary of taking the industry at their word in terms of claiming labor shortages. For instance, the industry lobbyists cite a “shortage” of new computer science graduates, a highly misleading claim, since about 80% of, for example, software engineers do not have a CS degree. And again, often when they say “shortage,” they mean “shortage of young applicants.” The investigators should also be wary of artificial job requirements, such as listing an alphabet soup of computer acronyms that may not really be required. The investigators should make big use of two very valuable resources, the OES data (DOL) and the NACE (National Association of Colleges and Employers) data, both of which show flat wages, counter to shortage claims.

As part of the investigation, the AG should have teams do site visits to HR Departments at a few firms that use a substantial number of H-1Bs, say over 10% of their STEM labor force, in various locales and industry sectors, to determine how/why American job applicants are rejected, especially those over 35. Again, this is for information gathering rather than grounds for denial of visas.

Many H-1Bs, especially those at the Intels, are hired as foreign students from college and university campuses. Currently many U.S. graduate programs have well over half their enrollment as foreign students, in some cases even 90%. This presumably is an unhealthy situation, and the investigation team should particularly note the issues here.

The investigation should consult with the foreign worker advocacy group, Immigration Voice, especially concerning exploitation of foreign workers who are immobile due to waiting for a green card. This  immobility makes foreign workers enormously attractive to employers; a prominent immigration attorney (and former chief architect of Texas Instruments’ immigration policy) even pitches this point to employers on his Web page, urging employers to hire foreign students instead of Americans.

The President should require that every academic institution that offers Master’s/PhD degrees and receives federal research funds submit a yearly report stating the percentages of American students in each STEM graduate program. Those with low percentages should be required to describe what efforts, if any, the institution has made to recruit more American students. These programs should include “professional Master’s degrees,” which seem to be aimed at attracting foreign students as “cash cows.”

The President should direct the Government Accountability Office to study the negative impact on STEM wages due to the large numbers of foreign students who enter the U.S. labor market. The GAO should also quantify the negative impact on older American workers due to this YOUNG foreign influx. A 1989 NSF report forecast that this suppression of wage growth would make graduate study far less attractive to American students; the GAO should quantify this. Note that the foreign influx also keeps down wages of graduate assistants, thus further making graduate study unappealing to American students.

All of this should be carefully taken into account before proposing a Staple a Green Card to Their Diplomas program (i.e. automatic green cards for STEM foreign students), a proprosal that, unfortunately, both Trump and IEEE-USA have endorsed. The GAO should also estimate the further erosion in STEM wage growth due to Staple. While it is true that Staple would remove or ameliorate the immobility problem, it would have a terrible impact on Americans.

The AG’s report must clearly delineate the role of age in the entire H-1B issue. Consider discussions of prevailing wage, for instance. On the one hand, even strong supporters of bringing large numbers of foreign workers to the U.S. (via whatever route), such as Rep. Zoe Lofgren and IEEE-USA lobbyist Bruce Morrison, admit that often H-1B workers are making only half the wage of Americans. True, but what they are not disclosing is that gap is due not only to a lax general definition of prevailing wage but also due to a comparison of young H-1Bs to older Americans.

DHS should make every effort to allow a worker who is waiting for a green card to receive raises and promotions without jeopardizing the green card application.

As I have stated many times, the U.S. should make strong efforts to facilitate the immigration of the genuine “best and brightest.” The criteria for the O-1 work visa, and EB-1 and National Interest Waiver green cards, should be liberalized somewhat.

In conducting the investigation, the AG should watch for undue influence from industry lobbyists, and should make sure that advocates for American workers be closely consulted. (Note that I would count IEEE-USA as industry advocates, not worker advocates.) Similarly, the AG team should discount the work of any academic who has received money from the industry and its allies.

Executive actions for policy change:

As I have shown before, e.g. with Facebook and Intel, often the big tech companies have job ads earmarked for new/recent graduates. This is likely illegal under federal law, and thus arguably grounds for denying the application. A section in the LCA should have the employer attest to not having any so-earmarked jobs, as a requirement for granting permission for the hire.

H-1B using firms with low mean STEM worker age (regardless of American or foreign) should be subject to an automatic investigation by the Dept. of Justice

A number of people, including myself, have suggested over the years that the visas be doled out in order of wage offered, highest first, then second-highest and so on until the cap is reached. I’m pleased to see that IEEE-USA now has endorsed the idea. Nice, but again the age issue is crucial. Currently the DOL method for determining legally-required prevailing wage for an H-1B worker is broken down into four experience levels, proxies for age. My guess is that the industry lobbyists (and, I suspect, IEEE-USA as well) would push for doing the wage ranking within each experience level, rather than overall without regard to experience. Indeed, Rep. Lofgren’s proposal would take that approach. Needless to say, this would largely defeat the purpose of awarding visas by wage ranking. This is a perfect example of how a good proposal can be ruined by plausible but misleading arguments made by lobbyists.

The Optional Practical Training portion of the F-1 student visa should be abolished, or at the very least rolled back to its original 12-month duration. As Ron Hira has pointed out, the notion that a foreign worker with a Master’s or higher needs a 3-year internship is patently absurd. DHS has openly stated that it isn’t using the program for that purpose, but rather as a holding pattern for foreign students waiting for an H-1B visa. The fact is that if the H-1B system were properly reformed, there would be zero wait for the visa, as the demand would never even come close to reaching the cap.

Congressional actions for policy change:

The top priority here should be fixing the badly broken prevailing wage system. I’ve noted above that the four-tier wage system is tantamount to the federal government bestowing its blessing on age discrimination, but the problems go even deeper than that.

Currently prevailing wage is defined to be the average wage (for the given occupation, region and experience level). The use of the average is fundamentally at odds with the industry’s claim that that it is hiring H-1Bs either because they are “the best and the brightest” and/or because they possess rare skill sets. On the open market, both of these qualities command a hefty wage premium; such workers are decidedly NOT paid average wages. So why is the prevailing wage defined in terms of averages? I agree with DPE President Paul Almeida that Congress should revise the definition of prevailing wage to be the 75th percentile for the given occupation and region (and NOT bringing experience level into consideration).

The L-1 intracompany transfer visa needs to have a prevailing wage requirement (and reformed as above), and the current 1-year requirement for time in the company should be increased to 5 years.

Those in line for green cards should be allowed freedom of movement in the labor market as soon as the employer’s petition is filed. Of course, if the petition is eventually denied, the worker would lose her access to the market.

General remarks on reform:

As noted, both the executive and legislative branches must resist the entreaties of lobbyists in the reform process. These lobbyists are the best in the business, highly skilled at making plausible arguments for what actually is very bad policy.

The importance of a coordinated, integrated solution cannot be overemphasized. As with health care policy, we have what I call the “pillow theorem”: Pounding down on one side of a fluffy pillow causes the other side to fluff up. For instance, I say to those who sincerely want to help American workers, “Ignore the age issue at your own peril!”, as it enters into almost any policy proposal made so far. The same comment holds for the Intels Good, Infosyses Bad fallacy. A proposal, such as that made by Rep. Lofgren a years ago, to institute a wage ranking system for H-1B but ALSO adding a Staple program, should raise alarm bells.

We the concerned public should be vigilant too. We should insist that the investigation be fully public, including all the data, and that there are people whom the Ordinary Joe can contact to give input. We must make sure we are fully informed of the structural problems in H-1B (see above!). And if Jeff Sessions, in presenting the results of his investigation to a press conference, uses the word “replace” within the first 30 seconds, we should collectively groan.



50 thoughts on “Reforming H-1B and Related Visas: What Needs to be Done

  1. Terrific guide. Regarding survey questions for the Labor Condition Application, it would also be good for employers to state the qualifications and backgrounds of the hiring panels that assess candidates. This would help establish whether the employer actually had the skills to determine whether a candidate could do the job.

    On the age issue, it would be good to get some data on the responsibility of the job that’s being filled, and whether the age or experience of the selected candidate represents a deskilling of the role. Systems outages can have broad social costs, so there should be public scrutiny of these changes.


  2. Professor Matloff,

    I think you would be the ideal person to help AG Sessions (and every other Cabinet member) understand the underlying problems of H-1B and other temporary work visas. I don’t suggest this lightly because I understand the kind of commitment it would require, but would you consider serving in the Trump administration? If you are not aware, the Trump transition team is actively encouraging “outsiders” to apply for positions in the “Trump-Pence Transition, Executive Office of the President, or a Federal Department, Agency or Commission.” [1]


    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ah, Norm, a lot of good material, but you completely bury the lede, which is that “H-1B program is about denying Americans jobs and lowering the wages of Americans who do find work.” All the rest is detail.

    You say:
    >The criteria for the O-1 work visa, and EB-1 and National Interest Waiver green cards,
    >should be liberalized somewhat.

    You have not established any basis for that, and I disagree with it sharply.

    Of course H-1B has become a self-fulfilling prophecy, by pushing Americans out of the sector there may *be* a shortage, to some degree, at this point. Equally, the US consuming so many H-1Bs has effectively diminished any competition from outside! A beneficial side effect – but remember, it did so by chasing millions of Americans out of the low-paid field.

    Also, I don’t think AG Sessions needs any lessons, I believe he understands things clearly. We’ll see what that comes to in actions, if any, but at least he should have Trump’s ear.


    • By making a statement like “H-1B was established for the purpose of obtaining cheap labor,” I would lose many potential readers immediately. Remember, these people have been brainwashed, thinking H-1B’s purpose is to bring in geniuses.

      Concerning O-1 etc., I’ve seen some very good people get rejected. This is my basis for proposing a liberalization.

      I don’t think we have a shortage, even having driven people out of the field.

      I’m sure that Sessions is very sharp, but as I said, this is a very complex topic. And there will be lots of people in the White House who think H-1B is great.


    • >> I don’t think AG Sessions needs any lessons, I believe he understands things clearly. We’ll see what that comes to in actions, if any, but at least he should have Trump’s ear

      As I see it, Mr.Sessions moving to Admin should be a very welcome move by chamber-lobbyist-attorney cartel. While we can thump our chests that ‘our guy’ will enforce the law, what no one seems to realize it that the ‘law’ itself could be changed by the cartel with Sessions out of ‘law making body’, leaving him with very little to ‘enforce’..

      I’d not be surprised if CIR or the DREAMERS act or many different flavors in between would be pushed through congress and signed into law. Which then would mean Sessions may just have to squat flies and he can have all the ears of the President if he’d so like. Can he wield so much influence as to get the president to veto the bill(s), we shall see.


  4. In a true capitalist society a scarce resource commands higher pay.

    If the industry claims skills shortage in the US, they should pay premium for such skills.

    Thus, the “best and the brightest” should be paid not the “prevailing wage”, but something significantly higher – say 25 to 50 percent. This is only logical. This would make companies more selective in applying for workers with these H-1B visas and encourage American workers to learn new skills.

    What we have today is essentially a system when corporations paying their foreign workers with access to the United States. They underpay their H-1B labor with the dollars, but compensate with ability to live, work, and, potentially, stay in the USA.


    • Let’s say Mike is working as a iOS Application developer. And the company he works for want to hire more people like Mike, but they can not find anyone in US. Then they find ABHILASHA from India. Do you think ABHILASHA should earn 25% more than Mike? How does Mike feel if ABHILASHA made more than him?

      The fair way to do is pay ABHILASHA the same as Mike.

      I do not argue that If US stop immigrant program. 0 immigration from today. But the market to determine the least you’ll pay.

      In US, Citizen have advantages than immigrant. They are born here, have connections, have family and friends who can support them. But the immigrant got nothing but themselves. If a people can not compete with others that means they are weak. If the immigrant can accept lower salary, why can not the US citizen? If the immigrant can accept work during the weekend, why can not the US citizen?

      If a company will to hire people who do less job and make more salary, the company will become weak when compete with other companies that hire people who do more job and make less salary.

      The world is changing, but I think it is to a more reasonable way. People who work harder, will get more.


      • U.S. immigration law bars people with tuberculosis from coming to the U.S. Same for those with criminal records. These laws are aimed at protecting people who are already in the U.S. Protecting those already in the U.S. economically is just as valid, the laws regarding employment immigration explicitly state this as their goal. What I do is explain that that goal is currently not being met, and state ways under which it can be met.


      • I will try to address each issues you raise:

        1. You assume that all programmers make the same money. They are not. “iOS Mike” should be paid 25℅ more than “batch maintainence Mike” and on the average they will make a “prevailing wage”.

        The point of my suggestion is to address the genuine need for talent that some companies may have – they just need to pay for it. If it is a 25℅ tax on H-1B salary, that would work as well.

        2. You exactly described the race to the bottom. So what if foreign workers agree to work for lower pay, live five in a room, and still believe it is better since in India they even don’t have a toilet in their home? Why do Americans have to get accustomed to such conditions?


      • Currently, due to US tax and regulation, by default ABHILASHA is cheaper, even at identical wage as Mike. Employer does not have to pay employment taxes, such as unemployment insurance. Add a) visa indentured, b) no voting rights and c) less likely to take up illegal employment terms like wage theft, unsafe work conditions, etc., and H1B is highly advantaged hire over citizen/legal resident.
        Ultra low wage and employment restricted options: the F1s and OPTs.
        It’s about money.
        Additionally, foreign nations are pushing to be relieved of their excess population in exchange for foreign investment and remittances.
        It’s about money.
        GAT said 65K visas, 1 renewal for 2 years only, no exception.
        300,000 H1Bs in 1999 alone, so much for the 65K cap (page 23)

        Click to access cattaneo_nielson-USA-movement-service-providers2002.pdf

        Does it work for H1Bs? No.
        H1B abuse, no funding to check for abuse
        pg 22, underpaid, over $2M, within 4.5 years, by 2000

        Click to access he00157.pdf

        Why is this a bad thing:


          • GATT/GATS has no provision for a second 3 year H-1B extension, nor dual intent provisions and I believe one side of the layoff provisions were six months rather than 90 days. With all of the lobbyist set asides (AC21 and extensions), they have turned an 185,000 (3yr) allowance into 1.5 million in-country workers. Under the GATS agreement, the US is free to define which occupations are open to H-1B, which is probably why the Specialty Occupations List, isn’t a defined list at all.

            IMHO, if an occupation receives no domestic growth in the prior year, it should be removed from the Specialty Occupations to allow a grace period for US resident candidates after recessions. (Employers would be motivated to keep employment levels up with this provision, to keep the occupation from becoming “ineligible” the following year.)

            The competitive bidding concept also has a flaw, only the highest paying occupations will win the visa, so the oversubscription in STEM will only get worse. Competitive bidding should occur withing each eligible occupation where there is an application. Much like a sports draft, each occupation should receive one visa before any occupation can receive a second H-1B visa.


          • There are well-defined occupation codes, and they are taken into account currently. No reason why they couldn’t be used in a competitive bidding process.


      • @g2-685daa0dae05f6ae60b353ccc81dc71d,

        Not all US citizens have the advantages you claim. (At least) some do not have connections. (At least) some have families or friends who cannot support them due to lack of money, lack of knowledge of their circumstances, etc. Arguably, US citizens who are unemployed have the advantage of their citizenship; even if they become unemployed, even homeless, they are not required to leave the US.

        However, I do agree that US citizens need to be prepared to accept lower wages and/or work more. Yet, US citizens are not (to my knowledge) given the opportunity to compete fairly for their jobs when they are asked to train their H-1B replacements. As was the case in the Disney layoffs and now the UCSF layoffs, the issue is cost savings, not quality of work or lack of available workers.


  5. > Similarly, the AG team should discount the work of any academic who has received money from the industry and its allies.

    Agreed. Also, I think that the AG team should discount the work of any academic who does not fully source their work in a way that allows all of their conclusions to be easily reproduced. It should not be acceptable to simply say that the source is “Census data” and describe some of the operations that were done on it. The academic should describe the source exactly and link to it if possible. Then they should provide a file with all of the required source data in it and provide the program that uses that data to calculate the conclusions. This would likely do much to discourage “creative analysis”. And in the case where such analysis is still done, it would make it much easier and more likely that it is discovered. Finally, even in the case of good analysis, it would make it much easier for another researcher to make reasonable changes to some of the assumptions to see the effect on the results.


  6. Racist sites such as help H-1Bs and other foreign workers game the OPT system – so that they can stay no matter what the conditions. Gaming the system is big business among the “Indian diaspora” and Indian immigration law firms and sites such as immigrationvoice.

    How did it come to pass that “TEMPORARY Y2K WORKERS” have grown to such large numbers that they now form lobbies and influence the US gov’t more than the US Citizenry.

    Not to mention foreign lobbies such as USIN-PAC – another foreign group influencing the US gov’t which is supposed to represent US Citizens.


  7. @matloff:

    >> The criteria for the O-1 work visa, and EB-1 and National Interest Waiver green cards, should be liberalized somewhat

    >> Concerning O-1 etc., I’ve seen some very good people get rejected. This is my basis for proposing a liberalization

    Numbers from DOS (unless they are fudged) say otherwise. A quick glance reveals that we have more “Einsteins” coming in via EB-1 (are they really Einsteins?) than other categories:

    FY 15:

    And I am fully aware of your intent when you say ‘somewhat liberalization for few categories’, imagine how it gets translated by the lobbyists into “congressional intent” !


  8. The auction by wage is a poor idea because it still means you are at the whim of a cap which ultimately will be expanded no matter what the original number is and at that point we will be told we aren’t allowed to complain since we got what we wanted.

    I am a big fan of the requirement for employers and especially academic institutions to report more data. Some large academic institutions publish program demographics, most don’t though and I think if they did it would be obvious what is going on.

    Ultimately there is no such thing as a labor shortage, not in this instance and not in any sort of supply and demand based reality. I think the H1B system should be removed, OPT significantly curbed, O-1 should be preferred with more oversight and with stricter requirements with a significant financial burden on the employer and an automatic green card, no matter country of origin after say 6 months or 1 year of good behavior. O-1 has become the preferred cheap labor source of some silicon valley firms since the H1B is such a mess and that is purely due to the brain dead approval process the O-1 has and I think it needs to be fixed before we start championing it.


  9. Good suggestions mostly. However, one key suggestion is omitted.

    There are many reasons why foreign workers are hired. Our government should not provide tax incentives to hire foreign workers. The OPT program is one that does. You do not pay certain taxes, amounting to almost 10% of the salary. This is similar to the J-1 program.

    No foreign worker visa should give an advantage in terms of taxes. There should a special tax to catch these visas up and make them neutral in tax terms.


  10. Another point that might help sell reform is that all these cheap imported and outsourced workers are producing cheap junk. If we want to “make America great again,” we have to be willing to foot the bill for better workers in the form of higher wages and benefits. If we want to attract the best and brightest into technology, we have to make it worth their while, or else they’ll become doctors, lawyers, accountants, electricians, or plumbers. We also have to keep them from becoming unemployable the day they turn 35 or 40. Who wants to be unemployed or underemployed right around the time he’s trying to raise a family? Will the unemployed CS graduate be thinking about paying for his own children’s education, or will he just say, “Go get a union card and learn a trade?” We aren’t going to make America great again on the cheap or with barbarian labor practices.


  11. I have a problem collaborating with Immigration Voice.

    They permit the advertising of the sale of illegal documents in their forum. While similar ads appear in other forums, they are quickly removed. One recent post is still there 9 days later.

    I personally have reservations regarding foreign nationals interjecting themselves in the US legislative and regulatory process. IV’s lobbying of our elected representatives is done by foreign nationals. I cannot imagine that US citizens would be welcome injecting themselves into India’s or China’s labor policies; why should individuals from these and other countries be allowed to so so in the US.

    Their observations certainly show that the current US guest worker policies can be detrimental to the guest workers; but their solutions are detrimental to US citizens.

    What their forums also demonstrate is that foreign nationals are willing to engage in illegal or questionable activities in order to gain access to the the H-1B visa program. What I have learned over the last 10 years of following immigration issues makes me distrust the system and, by extension, those using it.

    While IV is interested in work visas and employment based green cards, the problem is much larger.

    There are other issues that concern me as well. I personally know people who have entered in marriages for an immigration benefit. The requirements for spousal benefits on guest worker visas are far less than for spouses of legal permanent residents and US citizens. Spouses of guest workers are not vetted like those of US citizens and permanent residents.The new spouse of a guest worker is granted immediate entrance into the US while the new spouse of a US citizen has nearly a year’s wait and that of a permanent resident even longer. Similar inconsistencies apply to children. Why should the spouses and children of guest workers not need to fulfill the length of relationship requirements that apply to US residents.

    As another example, I was told by an associate of my husband that he maintained his student visa status so that he would not have to comply with his country’s mandatory military service requirement. He would visit his family in a third country. He was not a refugee; his only interest was to avoid compulsory military service. He later went on to obtain a work visa and green card. He did not set foot, by his own admission to me, into his home country until he was too old to be required to serve. He has visited many times since then. His visa status meant he aged out of the need to register with the Selective Service. Our visa programs – including for students and guest workers – should not be a means to avoid an individual’s responsibilities elsewhere. No work visa (CPT, CPT, H-1B, L-1, J-1, …) should be granted to someone who has not fulfilled his obligations to his home country.


    • It is my understanding that the big boon is green card/have parents get green cards, for Medicare. Keep in mind in Asia, children are their parents retirement plan, and having the US pick up the tab for 4 elderly parents’ medical is quite attractive.
      I was under the impression the 6 month visit was due to extended family being close, but was informed it was due to green card residency requirement, 6 months present annually.
      All rolled up, I’ve yet to hear total bill for hiring H1B, to unemployed, to federal benefits. Keep in mind, a lot of H1Bs are ditched by companies once they acquire a green card and employer no longer gets tax exemptions for “temporary” hire.


      • Medicare is only part of it. The biggest benefit those immigrants are seeking for their elderly parents is cash payments in the form of SSI, then Medicare, then government-subsidized senior housing. It is standard — and legal — for Chinese- and Indian-immigrant highly-paid engineers to put their elderly parents on welfare, with the U.S. taxpayers picking up the tab.


        • Green Card holders cannot bring in their parents. One has to be a US citizen to do this (and over 21 years of age.) The child is the sponsor and must sign an Affidavit of Support (AoS) that can be legally enforced. If you observe enforcement is weak, bring this under the attention of your Congress-person.

          Green Card holders have only a right to MediCare after living for five years in the US and must pay the whole premium (A+B) themselves. Only those who have worked the total of ten years and amassed 40 points in the S.S. system, have a right to premium-free MediCare A.

          If one leaves the country regularly for six months this can lead to a revoke of this person’s Green Card. Again, if you observe this is not properly enforced by CBP/DHS/USCIS, alert your Congress-person.

          I am still puzzled what tax exemptions employers get when they hire H-1B’s ? As far as I know, these do not exist.

          What can be an issue is that under ACA everyone who is in the US legally has a right to subsidized health insurance right-away. Again, the sponsor(s) who signed the AoS should be financially responsible for the whole amount.

          Furthermore, I looked at the rules for SSI payment to non-citizens, and it is not as easy as you make it seem. The rules became more strict in the 1996 Changes to INA.


    • The procedure for a non-immigrant visa is different from the immigrant visa procedure. This is because the N-I’s are meant to leave after a limited number of years.
      Also, the majority of spouses (read: women) only has the right to be in the US, they are not allowed to build a life as they cannot work or start a business. We give up just about everything that is important – if that is not “proof of love” I have no idea what is.

      There are no “length of relationship” requirements for immigration by Immediate Relatives/Family Members. There is a requirement that the relationship must be for real.
      The wait happens because procedures take time (CR’s/IR’s) and because of the quota per category/country (when it comes to other family).

      I agree with you that a medical exam, background check, military service check, etc. – same as for immigrant visa – should also be mandatory for a non-immigrant visa (except B-1/2 and short-term J, F, M).


  12. @Cathy:

    >>> I personally have reservations regarding foreign nationals interjecting themselves in the US legislative and regulatory process

    Are you sure about that? From what I hear, there are ‘Americans’ and ‘Immigrants’ (aka greencard holders) at grass-roots level lobbying with congress for it as well. As for the foreign nationals interjecting, they must be stretching the ‘taxation without representation’ paradigm a bit too far, in my opinion. Well, on the bright side, they are atleast lobbying at grassroots level without relying on the cartel to highlight the issues from their standpoint. Just like an american worker can highlight/bring out issues in the system from their vantage point (discrimination), they are doing things from their view point (exploitation). In fact, I’d see these as complementary and not exclusive.

    Regardless of who does the advocacy and where, money speaks in DC – Employer-Lobbyist-Attorney cartel is the most powerful cartel that actually runs the town. Proof ? In my other post, Mr Grassley talks on how EB5 (the ‘add-to-trade-deficit’ aka ‘job-creator’ visa, with no replace/instead-of ailments that other alphabet visa types have) is controlled by Chamber of Commerce and that it is obstructing to any reform possible.

    >> I cannot imagine that US citizens would be welcome injecting themselves into India’s or China’s labor policies

    Agreed and its because our country allows that to happen whereas other countries do not, no? If enough of this think that external voices need to muted (or ignored) in our law making/regulatory/what not process, don’t see why it can’t happen here. But the question is, do *enough* of us think that way?

    >> but their solutions are detrimental to US citizens.

    Curious to know how those solutions are detrimental to US citizens and/or green card holders. In my reading of those solutions they do not seem to be detrimental, but that could be my naivete.

    Bottom line, it’s interesting how the whole issue is always pitted as american worker vs indian worker (do NOT want to be politically correct by saying foreign worker), when it should be the employers (aka marketplace) through their cartel is writing laws to their favor and exploiting indian worker by discriminating against american worker.

    I am all for banning any and all alphabet visa — Yet to see a bill introduced by *anyone* out there. I will also ‘settle’ for enforcement (section 1182 as another reader points out). Until then, status quo it is !!!


      • >> I totally agree with Cathy. Citizenship has its privileges.

        So do I – And let’s work to get the policies reflect that change is all what I was saying. Until that happens, we have to live with the system we got.


      • @matloff,

        >> Citizenship has its privileges

        Wells said – and in the current context, the “privilege” for citizenship is “discrimination-by-exploitation”


    • The US gov’t is supposed to represent the *** AMERICAN *** people, not foreign interests.

      All foreign lobbying and media manipulation must be outlawed. Groups such as USIN-PAC, and ImmigrationVoice must be outlawed. Foreigners should not be allowed to walk into USA and influence the US gov’t against the interests of the American people.

      Same goes for immigration law firms.

      In Japan for example, there are laws which say no more than 5% of media control can be in foreign hands.

      We need the same laws in USA, and we need all foreign lobbying outlawed.


      • Harder than ever to banish foreign lobbying. Given candidates instruct banks to not verify credit card origin location, (Citizens United) PAC money, corporate donations (who says the shareholders are American, with first amendment rights?).


  13. Professor Matloff,

    I believe there’s a simpler solution for the H-1B visa that will maintain it for its intended purpose, but reduce or eliminate the rampant abuse: Simply raise the visa fee from $4000 to ~$50,000 to $75,000 per year. This would restrict the use of H-1B visas to their intended recipients — those foreign workers with truly unique knowledge, skills, or expertise. For a truly unique employee, that fee will be far lower than their annual salary, and a “drop in the bucket” relative to the earnings they can generate for their employer. If any employer determines that the fee is too much for them, then they can opt to hire a candidate who has a legal right to work, and pay them accordingly.

    The fees for other types of work visas should be increased similarly.

    With the higher fees, employers will have a greater incentive to hire American / U.S. citizen workers, and to train workers who have some, but not all, of the necessary skills to do any given job.

    One of the most damaging aspects of the H-1B visa abuse is the erosion of marketplace incentives. Real STEM compensation — especially on an hourly basis — has been stagnant or declining in recent years, making STEM occupations far less attractive to students. With two sons in their late teens, I’ve had to tell them that they’re better off learning welding, machining, plumbing, or getting a good union job where 1) they get paid to train & learn, and; 2) they don’t start their career with a six-figure debt.

    The other incentive that has been destroyed is the incentive for U.S. corporations to pay their taxes, and fund our public education system. Easy access to thousands of economically desperate skilled workers has given employers an excuse de-fund public education; it’s no longer necessary for them, because so many of their skilled employees get their K-12 and/or university education overseas. Dramatically reducing the availability of visas for foreign workers is a critically important part of the rebuilding of public education in the U.S. It’s the only way to link the health and effectiveness of our education system to the training and preparation of our workforce. When U.S. corporations have a greater incentive to improve public education, it will improve.

    Furthermore, we are immersed in a society that has forgotten how economies work. In a consumer economy, from where does the money come that purchases goods & services? It comes from Wages & Salaries. In short,

    Wages & Salaries = Demand

    When employers push to reduce Wages & Salaries, they are reducing Aggregate Demand. This, in turn, decreases corporate revenues, forcing employers to cut Wages & Salaries again in order to remain profitable. Clearly, this mode of operation is unsustainable.

    This has nothing to do with race. The tragedy of the current policy, and the abuse of it, is that it unnecessarily pits American Workers against foreign visa-holders. In reality, both are victims of the corporations for whom they work (or worked). Increasing the fees for foreign work visas will reduce the oversupply of Workers, and increase Wages & Salaries for American citizens, green card holders, and visa-holders alike.


      • ????
        Maybe I didn’t explain myself clearly.

        I don’t “blame the schools.”

        I don’t believe we have a tech/STEM shortage. All the evidence that I see indicates an oversupply of tech/STEM workers.

        Everything of yours that I’ve read, I agree with!

        I also want to thank you for addressing this important issue, and for sharing your research.

        I ask that you take another look at my previous post, and let me know if you think that increasing foreign worker visa fees would be effective in reducing the STEM/tech labor oversupply.

        Thanks in advance for your time.


  14. >> The criteria for the O-1 work visa, and EB-1 and National Interest Waiver green cards, should be liberalized somewhat.

    Not too long ago, I replied on this post how the cartel will catch up and exploit the hitherto less known O-1.

    With no changes made administratively thus far, it’s ‘gainining populartiy’ apparently —

    O-1 is the new H-1 and more greencard “backlogs” for Indians. Needless to say, any more ‘liberalization’ of this category will create a secondary feeder system to the LPR backlogs, especially it being ‘cap-free’ and no LCA requirement.


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