The H-1B visa program helps US firms outsource jobs and keep qualified US tech workers unemployed. How H-1B Visas Are Screwing Tech Workers

Essentially US students in science, technology, engineering, and math are headed for unemployment either immediately or as soon as they have experience. Foreign tech workers are indentured into lower paying US jobs with almost no chance for permanence residence. The only ones to benefit are the corporations.

Established in 1990, the federal H-1B visa program allows employers to import up to 65,000 foreign workers each year to fill jobs that require "highly specialized knowledge." The Senate's bipartisan Immigration Innovation Act of 2013, or "I-Squared Act," would increase that cap to as many as 300,000 foreign workers. "The smartest, hardest-working, most talented people on this planet, we should want them to come here," Sen. Marco Rubio, (R-Fla.) said upon introducing the bill last month. "I, for one, have no fear that this country is going to be overrun by Ph.D.s."

But in reality, most of today's H-1B workers don't stick around to become the next Albert Einstein or Sergey Brin. ComputerWorld revealed last week that the top 10 users of H-1B visas last year were all offshore outsourcing firms such as Tata and Infosys. Together these firms hired nearly half of all H-1B workers, and less than 3 percent of them applied to become permanent residents. "The H-1B worker learns the job and then rotates back to the home country and takes the work with him," explains Ron Hira, an immigration expert who teaches at the Rochester Institute of Technology. None other than India's former commerce secretary once dubbed the H-1B the "outsourcing visa."

More than 80 percent of H-1B visa holders are approved to be hired at wages below those paid to American-born workers for comparable positions, according to EPI. Experts who track labor conditions in the technology sector say that older, more expensive workers are particularly vulnerable to being undercut by their foreign counterparts. "You can be an exact match and never even get a phone call because you are too expensive," says Norman Matloff, a computer science professor at the University of California-Davis. "The minute that they see you've got 10 or 15 years of experience, they don't want you." A 2007 study by the Urban Institute concluded that America was producing plenty of students with majors in science, technology, engineering, and math (the "STEM" professions)—many more than necessary to fill entry-level jobs. [emphasis mine]

Tags: H-1B visas, outsourcing

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Replies to This Discussion

Believe me; I've noticed.

I wish they wouldn't outsource jobs - people need jobs here.

Yeah, but the corporations don't give a damn, and particularly with the Citizens United decision, the corporations are more powerful than they've been in 100 years.  If we can't get a constitutional amendment to deal with that soon, the place is going to go completely to hell in another 20 years.

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