In the past when the topic has come up of H1B visa workers displacing American workers, there have always been those who claimed that the workers who were invited in on H1B visas were not displacing American workers, but were doing jobs that Americans were too stupid and ignorant to do. (They didn’t use exactly those terms, but that was the gist of it.)
(For the uninitiated, H1B visas are non-immigrant visas allowing employers to invite in workers who have specialty skills (read: high-tech, generally) that are needed by the company. That’s where the claim of incompetence by American workers comes in, you see.
Basically, several companies, including Disney, have laid off their IT workers wholesale and replaced them with younger, cheaper foreign workers using the H1B Visa program. What’s more, companies that did this have included in their severance agreement a “non-disparagement clause” that keeps the laid-off workers from speaking publicly about what’s going on. So the H1B visa program is being used to directly replace American workers with foreign workers, and corporations are using severance agreements to silence the workers so they can’t tell the general public what’s going on.
This is what I always SUSPECTED was going on with H1B visas: it was a scam to import cheap foreign labor into high-tech jobs. But I never had that one thing I needed until now: proof.
So, come on ahead and do that song and dance about H1B visas being used only to fill jobs that lazy, stupid, ignorant American workers can’t do. This time it will be different. This time it will be funny to watch someone without a leg to stand on try to dance.
A person without a job is not going to be willing to risk going against Disney or other big companies and at the least having his severance taken back. The article notes that the Congressional hearing had to make do with anonymous written comments because laid off IT workers were afraid to testify.
People think that H1Bs are used by Microsoft and Google to hire workers in short supply - and that does happen. But the vast majority of the visas get gobbled up by Tata and other companies of that ilk who use them to replace American workers by undercutting wages.
Disney is not unique in screwing workers - they got publicity because they are a big name and can’t claim that if they don’t cut costs they’ll go broke. The letter of the law is actually pretty good - it just never gets enforced. Maybe $100 million fine for H1B law violations paid by the companies pulling this crap would help.
Anyone who works in IT in a big company has likely seen hordes of H1B visa contractors doing very basic jobs like testing or simple coding. Back in the 90’s that was going on all over the place. It’s a joke to say that companies can’t find qualified people to do those jobs. A basic college grad could do it. But they won’t work for the cheap prices they pay the H1B contractors.
They should make it a law that the H1B worker needs to get paid 25-50% more than the going rate for the job. Right now the company can come up with a somewhat arbitrarily low going rate for the job in their application for the H1B visa. But if they had to actually pay a premium for the H1B worker, they would be more likely to raise the rate to get a US worker and not deal with the H1B overhead.
The H1B visa should be used for bringing over geniuses that offer great value. I have worked with some really sharp people from other countries who did advanced work and I could believe it was difficult to find someone locally for the same skill. But it’s a joke to bring over a college grad on an H1B visa from some economically depressed country to follow a pre-written test plan.
Whenever somebody says “immigrants do jobs Americans don’t want to do,” you need to mentally add on “at the wages we want to pay.” Because at least 90% of the time (probably 95+%) the point of using H1B workers is because they’ll work cheaply. The H1B guy who just got off the plane from Bangladesh is probably going to be living in a slum apartment with 6 other guys while he sends most of his pay back home, not trying to raise a family here or live a reasonably comfortable life.
As for the “non-disparagement clause,” even if it’s probably unconscionable and/or unenforceable, how willing would you be to risk getting sued by a large corporation just to be the test case?
I agree, corporations may be people, but as people they are soulless psychopaths who have no interests outside of making a buck and will happily do any evil thing they can if it makes more profits for shareholders. Thanks for pointing that out!
I know enough about the H-1B Visa program to know that in these fraud cases, somewhere along the line, some manager perjured himself. IANAL, but I would think that would be a crime, not just a tort. And, again not a lawyer, but I’d think a civil suit premised on “you promised not to disclose my crimes” would pretty much be laughed out of court. So I’m not sure we need an anti-non-disparagement law, but some enforcement of the safeguards in the H-1B program would be beneficial to everyone.
In my experience with hiring H-1B immigrants, it wasn’t guys from Bangladesh doing low level work before going home to their six-person, one-room hovel. It was highly-skilled, well-paid work. The general estimate was that one-time hiring costs for an H-1B was somewhere between 50000-100000 more than a comparable American, to handle legal paperwork, sponsorship fees, and international relocation. And we still reliably hit the national, annual H-1B cap right away. So, we’d open offices in Canada and stash some of the international hires there. Once they were there for a year, they could come over on an intra-company transfer visa (I forget the code), which unlike H-1B isn’t green card track. But in practice, we hardly ever did that.
Why just $50,000? The federal government could offer the limited H1B visas via a Dutch auction, with the price per visa starting at $10 million or so, and lowering the number slowly until bids are received.
The way it can get abused is that a contracting company applies for a bunch of H1B visas and then exploits those workers. The contracting company can create very competitive bids for work because they pay their the H1B workers so low. That’s what happened when we had all H1B workers running our testcases. My company bid out the work for testers and the contracting company who staffed it used all H1B workers. Even thought the H1B visa cost was high, the contracting company knew they’d make the money back treating the workers like indentured servants for years.
Another way to make the H1B visa more reasonable is to set a minimum salary for the worker to something like $100k. There’s no sense in getting H1B visas for people who can barely write a simple “Hello World” program. It should be that an H1B visa is really for someone with exceptional talent in a hard to fill position. If all you need is someone to push buttons on the front of a server, figure out a way to use local workers.
I remembered debates I’ve encountered on the topic from a year or three ago where certain Dopers held that H1B visas were harmless and there was no concrete counters to them. That’s why I brought this up. Here we have proof that they are being used to displace American workers.
Hell, back in the 80’s, Lambda Technology (the contract house) had the required “Local Advertisement of Open Position” taped to the inside of the kitchen room door.
That door was ALWAYS propped open so the back was against the wall.
But then, at that time, the H1B’s all had British accents, so were not as conspicuous as the later groups.
Mervyn’s of California had an office full of Indian nationals in their Hayward CA IT department (SF Bay).
Which was kind of odd: by that time, there were Indian Shops in India which would do the development for 1/4 - 1/2 price. No need to bring them to the US.
Intra-company transfers are L-1 visas. And that is a closely related issue.
A hypothetical company, say International Tech Sourcing, bids on a contract with a major US company, Weasel Corp. They submit a lowball bid because they plan on having almost all the work done overseas.
Weasel Corp doesn’t directly hire the overseas workers so they don’t need any H1-b visas.
International Tech Sourcing has its home office and the large majority of its workers in India. But, importantly, they have a small US office.
ITS applies for L-1 visas to transfer employees to their US office. Those employees go to the job sites of Weasel Corp and meticulously follow around the employees with the soon-to-be-outsourced jobs and take notes on how every little thing is done.
Once the ITS employees have all the notes they get transferred back to India. Weasel Corp lays off all (or most of) its IT staff. ITS provides service remotely.
ITS bids on the next job and rotates in a new batch of employees. Wash. Rinse. repeat.
And why go with an L-1 visa?
[ul][li]There is no quota cap on L-1 visas, unlike on H-1B.[/li][li]There is no prevailing wage requirement on L-1 visas.[/li][li]The spouse of an L-1 visa holder enters on an L-2 visa and can legally work, unlike most* H-4 visas holders (dependents of H1-B visa holders).[/li][li]L-1 visa holders can apply for a green card, just like H-1B visa holders. Dual intent applies to both.[/li][li]No authorization needed from the Department of Labor for an L-1 visa.[/li][li]No college degree required for an L-1 visa.[/li][/ul]
*Changes announced in May 2015 allowed some H-4 visa holders who are dependent spouses of H1-B visas holders to obtain employment authorization.
They should also define what the going rate is and deal with how to “translate” jobs from another country to the US. An L1 requires the worker to have worked for the company’s foreign branch for at least two years, and one of the tricks being employed to lower salaries is playing games with “position translation”.
When I had an L1, my rate was calculated in such a fucked up way that I was getting paid about 40% less what it should have been. Oh, it was all straight on paper!
My level in Spain: 5.
Position level in the US: 9-12, but there was an internal policy stating someone could not be promoted more than 2 levels in one jump.
Problem: maximum levels in Spain (by actual country law), 12 and that would be the CEO. CEO level in the US 16. We’re not working on the same scale here.
US level of the position I had in Spain: 7-9… heeeey…
In Spain, salary levels do not have ranges. If your salary is “on payscale” (rather than by individual contract), everybody who is level N gets the same salary and anything above that is a bonus. I had a performance bonus (what its name says) and a seniority bonus (automatic, time in position).
In the US, salary levels do have ranges and those two bonuses do not exist.
My Spanish income was counted as being on the lowest limit of the level 5 range, therefore I got the lowest limit of the level 7 range.