Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board




Good News for American Programmers???

Reuters:

"U.S. to sharply cut number of high-tech visas

"WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- The United States is about to cut the number of employment visas it offers to highly qualified foreign workers from 195,000 to 65,000, immigration experts said Monday. "

http://www.cnn.com/2003/US/09/22/immigration.h1b.reut/index.html

anon
Tuesday, September 23, 2003

I couldn't help but notice that 195,000 doesn't fit in a 16 bit unsigned integer, whereas  65,000 does fit.

Useless
Tuesday, September 23, 2003

The number of H1s is way down because of the
economy so the impact is small.

compile error
Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Kill all the L-1 visas.  H-1B will have little impact.

GiorgioG
Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Bad news for the free market.

Mark
Tuesday, September 23, 2003

>Bad news for the free market.

Care to make am economic justification for that statement?  Currently there's low(er) demand for IT workers and high unemployment in U.S. IT.  Lowering H-1Bs will not affect the free market because H1-B's are an artificial way of getting resources which are otherwise unavailable.  We currently have a sh*tload of guys that are looking for work.  So, net effect on the free market is not negative, it's positive.  Lets do some hypothetical math.  There are 200,000 unemployed techies out there. 

Scenerio 1) Company ABC brings in an H-1B from India.  Net effect: 200,000 people still unemployed (and hopefully - for them - collecting unemployment)

Scenerio 2) Company ABC hires a local guy.  Net effect: 199,999 people still unemployed. 

Unfortunately in the end it doesn't matter because there's far fewer H-1B's being sought anyway.  Lowering the H-1B limit is just a way for the politicians to say "hey, we're doing something for you guys." when practically the effect will be unnoticeable unless we have another IT boom (yeah right)

GiorgioG
Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Does anybody think that lowering the visa quotas will actually result in more locals actually being hired?

My opinion is that, once the quotas (H1-B, L-1, or other) are lowered, a lot of the larger companies will ship the work overseas rather than hire local people.

Looking for comments on this.

Sgt. Sausage
Tuesday, September 23, 2003

GeorgioG, you should read up on "Rent-Seeking" if you want to understand how and why this kind of behavior is damaging to the free market.  On the other hand it was never a free market situation to begin with so I can hardly agree with the original statement, either.

the lackey
Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Sgt. Sausage,

When it comes to shipping work overseas the decision is hardly based on the difference in wages between H1s and Locals consider for example (probably hyperbolized in your favor but) an H1- 40K year vs Local 80K year vs India 15K a year. The decision isn't going to be based on 40K vs. 80K but on how much it would cost in overhead/additional communications lag to make the 15K guy as productive as the 40K guy!

Daniel Shchyokin
Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Only senseless boobs will make a statement that we have a free market in the US.  People that have read more political textbooks than actually ran a business.

   
Tuesday, September 23, 2003

H-1Bs have no great effect on the free market today.  At least not based on price/wages.  H1-Bs are "supposedly" paid the same salary as a local guy...  All lowering the limit does is lower the amount of already abundant resources available to big companies so that they take local folk first.  Plain and simple.

GiorgioG
Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Sgt. Sausage: evidently the jobs will go overseas.

The H1B (and immigration) opponents forget few facts:
- There are 4 million Americans working overseas. If one decides to send H1Bs packing  and by the same token recalls all American expats, the job shortage will be even worse
- The H1Bs pay taxes here instead to pay them somewhere else
- The H1Bs (plus all other immigrants) keep the GDP growing at a healthy rate. (For instance Canada’s growth projection is based on immigrants. If I am not mistaken, I read somewhere that the Canadian government projects 1% GDP growth for each 100.000 immigrants).
- The H1Bs tilt the innovation and creativity balance towards US companies (and other immigration countries like Canada)
- Who is going to pay the pensions and keep the house market healthy?

19th floor
Tuesday, September 23, 2003

I don't really see how this changes anything.

The growing trend is to outsource jobs overseas anyway. Lowering the number of H1-Bs doesn't reduce this and could possibly increase the flow of jobs that are moved overseas.

Mark Hoffman
Tuesday, September 23, 2003

If I were from India ...

I wouldn't bother with an H-1B. First, I would buy a one-way plane ticket to Canada, then come across the border to the US.  Second, I would change my name to something Hispanic. Third, I would live in NYC (where Bloomberg has ordered a "don't ask - don't tell" illegal immigrant policy) or California (where you even get a driver's license as an illegal alien).

If you want to immigrate to this country legally, there are loads of hurdles in your way. But you can come into this country illegally with little or no consequences. So, why should anyone bother with the H-1B and L1 hassles. Just come on in.  The borders are open.

Nick
Tuesday, September 23, 2003

"Just come on in.  The borders are open."

Thanks for advertising.  :-/

bpd
Tuesday, September 23, 2003

"Thanks for advertising.  :-/"

Yeah, I thought of that, but I figured it was kind of like saying "Hey, did you hear? There's a hamburger joint called McDonald's."

Nick
Tuesday, September 23, 2003

About the free market and does it exist here. Well gosh in the abstract no. Not only have I had businesses in the U.S. but I've had a few in 2 separate countries (Asia, and SA) and I can tell you that the U.S. approaches that abstract more so than those 2 countries and any of the other 20 or so countries I've travelled to.

me
Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Isn't that sort of like comparing black to very dark gray, and saying that in the abstract, the very dark gray is most white?

Brad Wilson (dotnetguy.techieswithcats.com)
Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Now what, you wanna put the blame on Canada? Get a grip folks!

Throw away this hollier than thou attitude. Your economy is a mess because YOU did that to yourself, IMHO.

me_in_the_corner
Tuesday, September 23, 2003

+++Now what, you wanna put the blame on Canada?+++

To whom are you speaking? I like poutine and molson.

rick

ps: linux sucks. I wrote book!

rick chapman
Tuesday, September 23, 2003

me_in_the_corner - get a grip on what?!?

Who "blamed" Canada for anything? Not me. Not 19th floor.

A little touchy today?

Nick
Tuesday, September 23, 2003

The most ridiculous statement in the referenced CNN article was the one from the Intel attorney saying: "...we cannot find enough U.S. workers...".

Most readers of JOS are aware of the record high unemployment rate for software developers and engineers.  It wouldn't be all that difficult to find enough US workers.  But even at the height of the high tech bubble, there were workers available for companies that really wanted them.

The basic problem lies in the company culture that considers any kind of technical work as short term skilled labor  rather than a lifelong career.  It is a whole lot easier for Intel to lobby Congress for a bigger H1B limit than to change their company culture.

mackinac
Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Also keep in mind that H1B visas are not exclusively for IT workers. In the recent newsletter Shusterman (an immigration attorney) quoted the government statistics. According to that stats far greater numbers of registered nurses and teachers entered the US on H1 visa. Now if you cut back the number of H1's issued each year that's gonna affect those categories as well and as far as I know despite the bad economic situation the California hospitals still have the shortage of registered nurses.

Passater
Tuesday, September 23, 2003

I'm an H1-B, been working in the U.S. under various visas for the last 6 years.  I don't know where people get the idea that we're cheaper than local workers.  My salary has been in the top 1-2 (out of 20 developers) at the last 2 companies I've worked for here.  And that's not including the additional $$$ in lawyer fees and application fees that the company shells out each year.

h1b'er
Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Actually it is quite laughable to watch the politicians discuss that H1 subject. Prior to early 90s (1992 ??) there were no quotas at all and nobody was concerned. Guess what? I believe the inflow of foreign workers is just negligible and cannot really affect the job market, yet it is so simple to blame the rising unemployment on that. As I said not every H1 visa was issued for an IT worker, and it was a common practice to file several H1s for a single person.

The whole issue is blown out of proportion.

Passater
Tuesday, September 23, 2003

To second h1b'er I can tell to the american fellows that prior to file the papers with the INS the employer should get the labor certification where he states the salary and that salary cannot be less than average wage paid to people of the same occupation in the area where the prospective employee is going to work.

So, stop reiterating the myth that oh how the foreigh workers undermine the pay rate for locals and how they displace local people for being willing to work for less.

Passater
Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Passater,
actually, it works this way:

(1) Intel says they can't find enough qualified workers in the U.S.
(2) They get an H1B Indian, and, yes, they do pay him above average.
(3) After giving him some training, they send him back to India to help build up this new technology center in Bangalore.
(4) There they attract local talent and start giving them training in English.
(5) Once those local workers have signed long-term contracts, they are being sent to the U.S. as trainees, but with the old offshore salaries. If those Indians do not accept, they loose their jobs.

Think about it.

Johnny Bravo
Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Do I have to mention that training in the U.S. for offshore Indians lasts for 10 years?

Johnny Bravo
Tuesday, September 23, 2003

I would not blame Intel, Microsoft or any other hi-tech company for hiring H1Bs.

Unfortunately and I know this is politically incorrect, people are not equal. Some are brighter than others. Some are much brighter than others. It just so happens that bright people are statistically equally distributed over the entire globe. It just so happens US is very hi-tech society and it requires bright people almost in every field much more than most societies around the world. It just so happens that bright people are scarce. And it just so happens that US can and has the capacity to attract bright people to its own advantage.

19th floor
Tuesday, September 23, 2003

>>> I don't know where people get the idea that [H1B's are] cheaper than local workers. <<<

A couple of issues are getting confounded here.

Consider the basic economic issue of supply and demand.  Immigrants, whether on H1B visa or something else, increases the supply of technical workers.  Other things being equal, the price (i.e., salary) will decline, even if H1B's and locals are paid the same.

Another issue to consider is the employment conditions for H1B.  There is some requirement (I don't know specific requirement), for the H1B holder to have a sponsoring employer.  That limits the H1B holder's competitiveness in the job market and thus the salary that can be demanded.  Some people who object to the H1B visa do so because of this factor and don't object to immigration for employment in general.

These are general principles and the true effects could only be determined by some statistical sampling.  The fact that h1b'er is highly paid is only one instance and isn't statistically meaningful.

mackinac
Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Johnny, as far as I know one cannot enter the US as a trainee on H1. So if you want to go after the kind of schema you explained targeting H1 is actually wrong.

Passater
Tuesday, September 23, 2003

mackinac, H1 holders must be paid _at least_ average for the area. Many good specialists that I know earn much more.

Passater
Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Passater,

I was not talking about H1B's or L1's at all. I was merely responding to "stop reiterating the myth that oh how the foreigh workers undermine the pay rate for locals and how they displace local people for being willing to work for less."

And I still stick to what I've written above, that foreign workers undermine the pay rate for locals, but in a different sense than most people think. It's not the workers fault, nor is the problem solved by prohibiting H1B's, but rather it's greedy managers of all flavors (Intel was just an example) who already found creative ways to exploit young talents.

Johnny Bravo
Tuesday, September 23, 2003

"The basic problem lies in the company culture that considers any kind of technical work as short term skilled labor  rather than a lifelong career."

The basic problem lies in the employee/victim culture that views technical work as a lifelong career rather than short-term skilled labor.

Whoops, did I  just say that? I'm sure someone in every industry says that those damned foreigners can't do the job as well as we can.

"from 195,000 to 65,000"

How many programmers are unemployed? Let's say these all of these 130,000 jobs return straight to US programmers, what % impact is that on the total number of unemployed programmers?

Mark T A W .com
Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Another perspective:

Allowing immigrant workers in the US actually raises US salaries.

This happens because employers in India have to compete on workers against US employers paying US salries, therefore raising salaries and decreasing the incentive to relocate the business to India.

Daniel
Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Dream on. India has more than 900.000.000 inhabitants. Do you really believe an Indian employer cares about some of them leaving for the US? Also, don't you think chances are better for an Indian programmer to get a job in India rather than looking for a job in the US?

Johnny Bravo
Tuesday, September 23, 2003

>>>The basic problem lies in the employee/victim culture that views technical work as a lifelong career rather than short-term skilled labor.<<<

Opposing view points can be interesting, but I do not see what your point is here.

>>>Whoops, did I  just say that? I'm sure someone in every industry says that those damned foreigners can't do the job as well as we can.<<<

This is a non-sequitur.

"from 195,000 to 65,000"

>>> How many programmers are unemployed? Let's say these all of these 130,000 jobs return straight to US programmers, what % impact is that on the total number of unemployed programmers? <<<

http://www.ieeeusa.org/releases/2003/042803pr.html estimates the number of unemployed high tech professionals at 172,000.

mackinac
Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Several sources show that h1b's in general are paid about 30 percent less than equivalent Americans. The requirement that they be paid the prevailing wage is easily circumvented because there's no definition of prevailing wage.


Tuesday, September 23, 2003

>>> Dream on. India has more than 900.000.000 inhabitants. Do you really believe an Indian employer cares about some of them leaving for the US? <<<

Offcourse I do, these are the best and brightest, a few of those make a software company successful. Software companies without them produce abominations like lotus notes.

Who cares about the 900,000,000 ihabitants, most of them are farmers (60%). I only care about those who recieve good technical education which is probably significantly lower percent than the US (numbers ?)

>>> Also, don't you think chances are better for an Indian programmer to get a job in India rather than looking for a job in the US? <<<

I'm sure his chances are much better to get a job in India - the US artificially lowers his chances by imposing visa quotas.

To be honest I'm not sure whether I'm right about it, this will require porper economic and statistical research. However, immigrations is what made America great.

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me.
I lift my lamp beside the golden door."

Daniel
Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Mr lackey, when you refer to "rent-seeking," it's not clear which side of the debate you're accusing. However from my point of view the rent-seeking has clearly been by employers. The massive access to workers outside normal immigration arrangements has clearly been a subsidy to big business.


Tuesday, September 23, 2003

> Opposing view points can be interesting, but I do not see what your point is here. <

A programmer will see programming as a career. A corporation will see it as skilled labor.

Prior to off-shoring we were complaining about "Bob three cubicles away" and his shoddy programming.

When you were fired and Bob wasn't you said that the Corporation didn't know what it was doing. Now that Bob has been fired and someone in India is doing all the programming, Bob is your friend, and India is the one producing shoddy programming. The corporation, it seems still doesn't know what it's doing.

So whose right? Are you really the only one who can program, or is it possible that "lifelong career" programmers aren't the only ones who can program? Or maybe there are "lifelong career" programmers in India that are being exploited right now, and will be spit out as soon as they become more expensive than programmers somewhere else?

When the "Indian programmers 10-1/2 time zones away" are spit out, will they also become your friends like Bob now is? And you'll both trade stories about how those 9 year old Chinese programmers chained to the terminal all day aren't producing code nearly as good as the code you guys wrote.

That same corporation, it seems still doesn't know what it's doing... yet all of you are out of work and the corporation still exists.

> This is a non-sequitur. <

Prior to April 2000 I'd heard these stories of corporations "taking away" jobs to other nations, especially after various kinds of legislation were passed that made it possible. The same "programs written in India aren't as good as programs written in the US" mentality could have been seen in various other industries... automotive, garment, cab driving, etc. in prior decades.

Maybe it's a non sequiter for this thread, but it's still relevant to the topic of off shoring.

> http://www.ieeeusa.org/releases/2003/042803pr.html estimates the number of unemployed high tech professionals at 172,000. <

Neat. Thanks. Though I guess all those visas didn't go to programmers.

Mark T A W .com
Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Johnny, I admit, my sentense was a little bit strong. By foreign workers I meant lawfully employed (in whatever status).

Passater
Tuesday, September 23, 2003

>>>Maybe it's a non sequiter for this thread, but it's still relevant to the topic of off shoring.<<<

You are trying to counter arguments that no one is making.  That makes it difficult to understand what your point is.

>>>Neat. Thanks. Though I guess all those visas didn't go to programmers. <<<

http://www.immigration.gov/graphics/services/visas.htm

H1B visas are issued to "Specialty Occupations, DOD workers, fashion models", not just programmers.

mackinac
Tuesday, September 23, 2003

"H1B visas are issued to "Specialty Occupations, DOD workers, fashion models", not just programmers."

Fashion Models???  OK, that's the last straw!  It's bad enough that immigrants are taking our technical jobs, but now they're taking the jobs of our models too???  It's an outrage!  How are all of those young, attractive, skinny ladies going to fend for themselves???

It must stop now!!!

Jim Rankin
Tuesday, September 23, 2003

The lowering of the H1B cap isn't going to make a difference.  Even though the quota is at 195,000 this year, usage is on pace to finish at less than half of that.  Without the quota being reduced, visa usage would probably drop down below the 65,000 anyway.

T. Norman
Tuesday, September 23, 2003

> You are trying to counter arguments that no one is making.  That makes it difficult to understand what your point is. <

mackinac, you yourself said:

  "The basic problem lies in the company culture that
  considers any kind of technical work as short term skilled
  labor  rather than a lifelong career."

So I said:

  "The basic problem lies in the employee/victim culture that
  views technical work as a lifelong career rather than short-
  term skilled labor." And, "I'm sure someone in every
  industry says that those damned foreigners can't do the
  job as well as we can."

I just don't think it's so hard to follow. In a thread about non-American workers displacing American workers you blame the problem on the companies who treat techinical work as short-term skilled labor.

I replied by saying you have a problem with technical work being displaced, the corporations don't seem to have a problem with it. I followed up by saying that anyone who has had their job displaced launches similar attacks at the people who removed their jobs, and the people who replaced them.

Both statements were relevant to what you said, and both countered directly what you were saying. I even used the same wording as you.

One more time, if you still don't understand.

"The basic problem" doesn't belong to the corporations, it belongs to you. The corporations are maximizing their profits by cutting down on their expenses. You are an expense. When you lose your job, it's not the corporation's problem, it's your problem.

When you blame the corporation for your problem you're creating a scapegoat. They're doing what they do, and what they've always done. The problem actually lies with you and the belief that Corporate America SHOULD employ you because you're an American "lifelong" programmer.*

This behaviour has been seen before in other industries. When someone's job is displaced, they tend to blame either the corporations who moved overseas, or malign the foreign workers who replaced them. Both the corporation's behaviour and your response to it is predictable.

My comments were neither non-sequiter, nor opposing an argument that doesn't exist. I'm sorry if you find them hard to follow, I hope I've clearly made my point this time.

Mark T A W .com
Wednesday, September 24, 2003

I forget the exact figures but programming and similar high tech jobs comprise the majority of H1-B visas, and there was a massive increase in that proportion around the late 1990's.

So the issue isn't that models and others are being offshored; they aren't. Most professions have protections against this sort of thing. Business discovered programmers were so dumb they had nothing to stop this, so business embarked on an orgy of it, with the results we see now.

analyst
Wednesday, September 24, 2003

AWESOME! Programmers are dumber than Models. HA HA HA.

Mark T A W .com
Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Mark, you're misinterpreting the issue when you imply that criticism of offshoring is not aware that offshoring is about maximising profits, or pretending to, anyway.

The issues are that those profits depend on a lot of other factors and, indeed, the generous H1-B provisions can be seen as a subsidy to corporations and management.

Also, profit is not in itself an answer to anything. Tobacco companies try to make a profit too. It doesn't mean they're not lying criminals who need to be policed.

analyst
Wednesday, September 24, 2003

> AWESOME! Programmers are dumber than Models. HA HA HA.

Yes, I wouldn't dispute this, in terms of representing their own interests.

analyst
Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Analyst, if I'm reading you correctly, you're saying that the government should be doing it's best to protect the intrests of American workers, as well as the American people vis-a-vis regulations on the tobacco industry.

What I'm saying is that the government probably passed the legislation that made offshoring possible, and if they did, it was because the corporations told them to do it.

The majority of Free Trade is actually Intra-Company not Inter-Company. That is, Ford ships parts down to Mexico to be assembled, and then ships them back to the US to be put into cars. So a Ford will push for something like NAFTA the same way another corporation will push for legislation that allows American companies to hire someone in India to work either in India or in America.

This has a few benefits. One is that they can ship jobs overseas where labor is less expensive. Two is that American workers will accept lower salaries because the job market is tighter, and they're afraid their jobs will be taken away and sent elsewhere.

So when I say that corporations are profit motivated, and that by shipping jobs overseas they're hoping to cut costs, I'm not misrepresenting the issue, my version of the story includes government participation.

Mark T A W .com
Wednesday, September 24, 2003

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home