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H-1B Rush Sparks Broader Debate

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services division holds computerized lottery to distribute visas in random fashion. IT talent shortage debate continues.

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The technology business is back, if H-1B visas are any indicator. There was a rush for the specialty long-term visa this year, and on Friday the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services division said H-1B petitions exceeded the number of visas available.

The division held a computerized lottery on Sunday to distribute the visas in random fashion.

There are 65,000 H-1B visas available each year, and an additional 20,000 available to students from overseas who have received an advanced degree at a U.S. university. The USCIS said it received 124,000 petitions between April 1 and April 5, and that the cap was exceeded for both the general and advanced degree categories. Applicants for the advanced degree exemption who did not receive one were put into the general lottery.

[ CIOs need to do more than chase H-1B visas. Read CIOs Must Innovate Or Go Home. ]

The H-1B cap was reached in a single day in 2008. But since then they have not filled this rapidly. The quota was not filled at all in especially lean years like 2002 and 2003. Last year the cap was not reached until June.

"It responds to demand. It's also an indicator of [economic] confidence," said Stuart Anderson, executive director of the National Foundation for American Policy. Anderson said at least some of the demand had built up since last June, as companies looked to expand and hire new talent.

The H-1B petitions are used to bring in specialized talent from overseas, and applies to any job that requires at least a bachelor's degree. They've become synonymous with importing high-tech talent, and computer-related occupations make up about 40% of the list; occupations in architecture, engineering and surveying are next, followed closely by education. (See page 16 of this report.) More than half of recent H-1B visas have gone to Indian nationals. The list of H-1B petitioners is dominated by Indian outsourcers like Tata and Wipro, and U.S.-based technology firms like Microsoft, IBM and Amazon.com.

In a time of near-stagnant hiring in the U.S., when even recent engineering and computer science graduates seem to have trouble finding jobs, the H-1B is a source of political controversy. There are groups that think there should be more of them, as was temporarily the case in 2000, 2001 and 2002, when Congress approved an additional 110,000 visas.

The Partnership for a New American Economy, a bipartisan immigration reform lobbying group of U.S. mayors and business leaders, including Steve Ballmer of Microsoft, issued a release highlighting Canada's new Start-up Visa program that encourages foreign-born innovators to come to Canada. Jeremy Robbins, director of the PNAP, issued a statement calling for immigration reform saying "the urgency to reform our laws has never been greater."

Kim Berry, president of the Programmers Guild, also wants reform. "They shouldn't be doing the lottery," Berry said. Instead, the USCIS should accept applications for 60 days and then award visas to the most skilled applicants. "H1-Bs are going to $12-an-hour pharmacy techs and dental techs," Berry said. "We've been proposing the solution and it's very clear that industry is opposed because they don't want the best and brightest."

He says the H-1B program prevents young Americans with science, technology, engineering and math degrees from getting jobs, which instead go to immigrants who are here at the whim of their employer, facing a kind of modern indentured servitude.

Anderson acknowledged that H-1B visas do offer companies a guarantee that they will have an employee for several years, longer if the employee wants to get a green card. But he said that "in a practical sense it's often the only way to hire a foreign national to work long-term for a company," he said. That includes hiring graduate students trained at American universities.

Phil Fersht, CEO of HfS Research in Boston, sees the rush for H-1Bs as a sign of the decline of the U.S. technology economy. "The reason H1-Bs are becoming used so quickly is the Indian economy has developed a factory for IT talent. They're very, very good at it."

The U.S. is no longer as good at developing technology workers, he said. "I talk to CIOs all the time and their number one complaint is that the talent they've got isn't good enough. Even those that have never outsourced now say it's the only way they can get the talent they need."

But U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Chuck Grassley (D-Iowa) have long argued that the H-1B system is rife with abuse by companies seeking lower-cost labor. H-1B reform is part of the broader immigration debate under way on Capitol Hill this month. The IEEE-USA endorsed Grassley's recent H-1B and L-1 Visa Reform Act of 2013. Among that bill's aims are ensuring H-1B workers receive comparable wages to U.S. citizens with the same jobs, and barring employers from advertising jobs only to H-1B holders.

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User Rank: Apprentice
4/9/2013 | 6:51:37 PM
re: H-1B Rush Sparks Broader Debate
the shortage of talent started as a lie and it's still a lie. is not that "The U.S. is not as good at developing technology workers" it's The U.S. is not as good at developing cheap workers
User Rank: Apprentice
4/9/2013 | 6:59:13 PM
re: H-1B Rush Sparks Broader Debate
Totally agree. Was always a matter of economics and hiring people who can afford to accept a lower base salary, higher than what they would get in own country. There should be a surcharge for companies that utilize then visa, much like Baseball luxury taxes.
User Rank: Apprentice
4/10/2013 | 1:51:37 AM
re: H-1B Rush Sparks Broader Debate
There is NO LACK of engineering talent. Those of us who have worked hard to put ourselves through the best engineering schools and have worked hard for years are being replaced with cheap, inexperienced workers. What will it take to wake up the wider public? Your pacemaker crashing? Someone hacking your car and stealing it? Rampant identity theft? or worse, your bank account cleared out? A plane crashing because the software fails? Some of these things have already happened. The work I have to clean up when it returns from India - the apologies I have to make to customers - every day is an insult.
User Rank: Apprentice
4/10/2013 | 2:56:14 PM
re: H-1B Rush Sparks Broader Debate
what a load of hor$esh!t, Companies go after H1b's for two reasons and two reasons alone: the want to depress wages, AND they badly want indentured serf workers that can't negotiate for raises or better working conditions...that's it, period. As far as CIO's "not being able to find talent", what do CIO's know about the technical heavy lifting that goes on down below their ranks, when was the last time a CIO got involved with that type of work, they don't know crap about what's involved with that - and study after study has shown that H1b's are not the "best and brightest" by any stretch. Outsourcing and Onshoring companies love H1b's, primarily because they are cheap and can be marked up to the client. H1b is fraudulent and toxic to our economy, and needs to be ended right now, enough with all of these pro-H1b propaganda deceptive articles..
User Rank: Apprentice
4/10/2013 | 6:22:48 PM
re: H-1B Rush Sparks Broader Debate
There is no shortage of IT talent. There is a shortage of people who are willing to work for substandard wages. Business wants cheap labor, and they want to hold down salaries and billable rates. There is no shortage of people at reasonable rates. There is a shortage of people willing to work for minimum wage, live in a closet, and eat oatmeal.
User Rank: Apprentice
4/10/2013 | 6:30:22 PM
re: H-1B Rush Sparks Broader Debate
As a recruiter, this whole "shortage" of IT talent is a joke. It is solely an excuse to hold down pay rates, and even that isn't working since the companies that hold the visa are contracting the worker out and adding their overhead, and many of the people I have interviewed have no more skills than recent college graduates that have had an internship or two. Oh by the way, THEY CAN"T SPEAK ENGLISH! When I started in IT many companies had development programs to help "raw" talent, fresh out of college, transition to the real world - an company executives had the backbone to make project managers and first line managers take these newbies onto their teams so that they could develop.
User Rank: Ninja
4/10/2013 | 6:35:24 PM
re: H-1B Rush Sparks Broader Debate
When we have a shortage of nurses do we go to H-1B visas? When we have a shortage of teachers did we go to H-1B visas? When we have a shortage of any work place talent other than technology do we go to H-1B visas? Its time to end the H-1B visas.
User Rank: Apprentice
4/10/2013 | 6:44:43 PM
re: H-1B Rush Sparks Broader Debate
Infosys senior level meetings : "We will dump 6 million Indians in US and capture their entire IT market and no American will ever come to know about this. We will throw these Americans out of their own country. They don't know what we are doing over here."

Stuart Anderson is a known former immigration lawyer. Of course he's going to favor more flooding of USA with cheap foreign labor.

We can't trust anything these people say or anything the gov't tries to ram down our throats.
User Rank: Apprentice
4/10/2013 | 6:45:46 PM
re: H-1B Rush Sparks Broader Debate
Companies ruined or almost ruined by imported Indian labor

Adaptec - Indian CEO Subramanian Sundaresh fired.
AIG (signed outsourcing deal in 2007 in Europe with Accenture Indian frauds, collapsed in 2009)
AirBus (Qantas plane plunged 650 feet injuring passengers when its computer system written by India disengaged the auto-pilot).
Apple - R&D CLOSED in India in 2006.
Australia's National Australia Bank (Outsourced jobs to India in 2007, nationwide ATM and account failure in late 2010).
Bell Labs (Arun Netravalli took over, closed, turned into a shopping mall)
Boeing Dreamliner ES software (written by HCL, banned by FAA)
Bristol-Myers-Squibb (Trade Secrets and documents stolen in U.S. by Indian national guest worker)
Caymas - Startup run by Indian CEO, French director of dev, Chinese tech lead. Closed after 5 years of sucking VC out of America.
Caterpillar misses earnings a mere 4 months after outsourcing to India, Inc.
Circuit City - Outsourced all IT to Indian-run IBM and went bankrupt shortly thereafter.
ComAir crew system run by 100% Indian IT workers caused the 12/25/05 U.S. airport shutdown when they used a short int instead of a long int
Computer Associates - Former CEO Sanjay Kumar, an Indian national, sentenced to 12 years in federal prison for accounting fraud.
Deloitte - 2010 - this Indian-packed consulting company is being sued under RICO fraud charges by Marin Country, California for a failed solution.
Dell - call center (closed in India)
Delta call centers (closed in India)
Fannie Mae - Hired large numbers of Indians, had to be bailed out. Indian logic bomb creator found guilty and sent to prison.
GM - Was booming in 2006, signed $300 million outsourcing deal with Wipro that same year, went bankrupt 3 years later
HP - Got out of the PC hardware business in 2011 and can't compete with Apple's tablets. HP was taken over by Indians and Chinese in 2001. So much for 'Asian' talent!
HSBC ATMs (software taken over by Indians, failed in 2006)
Intel Whitefield processor project (cancelled, Indian staff canned)
JetStar Airways computer failure brings down Christchurch airport on 9/17/11. JetStar is owned by Quantas - which is know to have outsourced to India, Inc.
Lehman (Spectramind software bought by Wipro, ruined, trashed by Indian programmers)
Medicare - Defrauded by Indian national doctor Arun Sharma & wife in the U.S.
Microsoft - Employs over 35,000 H-1Bs. Stock used to be $100. Today it's lucky to be over $25. Not to mention that Vista thing.
MIT Media Lab Asia (canceled)
MyNines - A startup founded and run by Indian national Apar Kothari went belly up after throwing millions of America's VC $ down the drain.
PeopleSoft (Taken over by Indians in 2000, collapsed).
PepsiCo - Slides from #1 to #3 during Indian CEO Indra Nooyi' watch.
Polycom - Former senior executive Sunil Bhalla charged with insider trading.
Qantas - See AirBus above
Quark (Alukah Kamar CEO, fired, lost 60% of its customers to Adobe because Indian-written QuarkExpress 6 was a failure)
Rolls Royce (Sent aircraft engine work to India in 2006, engines delayed for Boeing 787, and failed on at least 2 Quantas planes in 2010, cost Rolls $500m).
SAP - Same as Deloitte above in 2010.
Singapore airlines (IT functions taken over in 2009 by TCS, website trashed in August, 2011)
Skype (Madhu Yarlagadda fired)
State of Indiana $867 million FAILED IBM project, IBM being sued
State of Texas failed IBM project.
Sun Micro (Taken over by Indian and Chinese workers in 2001, collapsed, had to be sold off to Oracle).
UK's NHS outsourced numerous jobs including health records to India in mid-2000 resulting in $26 billion over budget.
Union Bank of California - Cancelled Finacle project run by India's InfoSys in 2011.
United - call center (closed in India)
Victorian Order of Nurses, Canada (Payroll system screwed up by SAP/IBM in mid-2011)
Virgin Atlantic (software written in India caused cloud IT failure)
World Bank (Indian fraudsters BANNED for 3 years because they stole data).

I could post the whole list here but I don't want to crash any servers.
User Rank: Apprentice
4/10/2013 | 6:46:29 PM
re: H-1B Rush Sparks Broader Debate
Can anyone name the operating system made in India or China anyone uses?

Didn't think so. These people are industrial spies here to steal our tech.
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