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US Senators Question Indian Firms Over H-1Bs 415

xzvf sends us a link to a BusinessWeek report on the campaign of two US senators to get answers to how H-1B work visas are actually being used. Yesterday Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Richard Durbin (D-IL) sent a letter (PDF) to nine Indian outsourcing firms that, among them, snapped up 30% of the H-1B visas issued last year. The senators want to know, among other things, whether the H-1B program is being used to enable the offshoring of American jobs. "Critics say outsourcing firms, including Infosys Technologies and Wipro, are using the visas to replace US employees with foreign workers, often cycling overseas staff through US training programs before sending them back into jobs at home."
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US Senators Question Indian Firms Over H-1Bs

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  • Yes... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @06:24PM (#19138111)
    Every time I've seen a company get a H-1B worker, someone else got the pink slip.

    H-1B visas are a boon for employers. They not just have the power of a job, but the power to send people packing back to their homeland, so of course, H-1B people end up very docile shills, as they have a lot to lose.
    • Re:Yes... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Axe ( 11122 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @06:28PM (#19138169)
      The same can be said about outsourced project - both domestic and overseas.

      Legitimate H1B - not from the contractor sweat shops are not taking any jobs aways. Tried hiring anybody decent recently?

    • I've seen some outsourcing in which the company that I was working just didn't have the man power and couldn't ramp up the man power to fulfill the need. Considering that it was either that or have huge amount of employees that only worked temporarily worked on unimportant stuff and was just churned out. In this case the outsourcing was done in addition to a 20 percent increase in this company's work force, they just didn't have enough manpower to do it otherwise.

      However let's consider the other options w
      • by AuMatar ( 183847 )
        Simple- don't allow companies to move. Companies exist because they are chartered to exist by a state government. If they start ignoring their charter, or refuse to pay taxes as the state their charter is in requires, freeze all their US bank accounts and physical assets.
        • Re:Yes... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by karmatic ( 776420 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @07:37PM (#19139023)
          Simple- don't allow companies to move.

          It's not nearly as "simple" as you might think. It's fairly trivial to start sending business to a foreign subsidiary. So, we ban that. What's to stop the company from then having an "affiliate" company that gets 95% royalties on whatever they sell. Ok, ban that too. Companies can then "license" their technology to a foreign company cheaply, and operate the other company instead. Or, they can enter into business deals with the foreign company that cost a great deal of money, allowing them to funnel the money in the company to the foreign one. Finally, they have the option of just closing up shop, and when approached about business, say "we're not in business; however, we recommend the services of [foreign company] instead".

          Legislating away all the ways one can move overseas would require such stringent legislation that nobody would want to do business here at all. It would take laws regulating (among other things) who you could do business with, require certain profit margins on all deals, impose requirements regarding ownership of multiple companies (remember that stocks convey ownership), regulate who you could recommend for services, and a number of other things which would greatly increase the size of government, decrease freedom for individuals and companies, cost a lot of money, and make the US a (even more) difficult place to do business.

          I run a business in the United States, and I would like to continue to do so. We have a Hungarian engineer, not because he's cheap (he's not - he makes more than me), but because there isn't anyone better at what he does that we know of. We outsource to India on occasion because of the simple fact that for some jobs, we cannot compete at American wages. Which is better for America - an American company, paying American taxes, and hiring a few Indians as needed, or an Indian Company, paying Indian taxes, hiring only Indians?

          If America started to take the steps to make it impossible to (effectively) move business overseas, regardless of the collateral damage, I would move. America is no longer the "shining beacon of liberty" it once was - we willingly, gladly trade real liberty for imagined security. Don't believe me? How is a Metal Detector going to stop a suicide bomber with some dynamite, a fuse, and a book of matches? George Bush has done more harm to this country's freedoms than any other person in history, congress and the police ignore the constitution at every occasion, we're turning into a police state, and we lose more life waiting in the airport security line every year than was lost on 9/11.

          We squander money like it's going out of style, and our economy is doomed [housingdoom.com]. Housing prices are way overinflated, we have no savings, and the FDIC doesn't have enough cash to make more than a token gesture at fixing things when the inevitable crash happens.

          So, if this country is so bad, why don't I leave? Well, it's (at the moment) a favorable environment for business, and I have family here. I also think that it may be possible to save our freedoms, and that an economic crash may help wake people up, and will be good in the long run (affordable housing, smaller government from lack of funding, etc.). So I stay, run my business, and work to make the country a better place. Take away my business, or threaten it, and I will lose much of my reason for staying. Companies aren't the only ones who can move.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by vijayiyer ( 728590 )
          And then you get none of the foreign investment that allows you to continue the American lifestyle. Freezing assets because you don't like something is thuggish at best.
      • Re:Yes... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Vicissidude ( 878310 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @07:31PM (#19138971)
        However let's consider the other options we might have instead of outsourcing? IBM moving all their employees out of America? Why have a company in America when you can get cheaper work in India?

        Because there are advantages to hiring developers from the same culture as the intended customer market. Because intellectual property laws in third world countries are a joke. Because for some work, particularly defense work, it is actually illegal to use foreign developers. Because even though managers are happy hiring workers from overseas, those same managers don't want to move to the third world themselves, and there are certain advantages to having your development staff close to management and marketing instead of half a world away.

        Most of the work that could go overseas is already overseas because it is so much cheaper. The jobs that are now left in the US is work that is harder or impossible to ship overseas. We can decide to fill those positions with US workers or foreign workers. If we decide to fill the jobs with foreign workers, then we are training our future foreign competition while telling US college students not to enter CS or IT. If we decide to fill the jobs with US workers, then we are going to keep high-paying jobs here in the US while telling US college students that they will have a bright future in either CS or IT.
    • by EmbeddedJanitor ( 597831 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @07:31PM (#19138973)
      That pair of shoes made in the Phillipines could have been made in USA too. So could that ipod, phone etc made in China. Every time you buy a foreign made product you're helping write a US factory worker's pink slip.

      It's easy to bitch when you're losing out, but look at the bugger picture. Why should highly paid tech workers feel they should have protection yet are willing to let factory workers get screwed so that they can enjoy low-cost products?

      • Because we were always told that losing the low-end jobs was no big deal because we'd create more high-end jobs with increased trade. Americans would move up, not out. Turns out that's a big lie, but they keep trying to sell it to us: "Go get more education!" It's like our politicians and trade negotiators never knew there were educated people in other countries too.
        • are not just limited to the politicains and trade negotiators. Half the engineers in USA fall into that trap too. A good percentage of the responses here are of the form Indian work is cheap and crap. Sorry, I don't but that. Indians, Chinese, whatever are as capable as anyone else and to say otherwise is self-deluding and offensive.

          There's the "We got to the moon first, so we must be better" argument. But that ignores the fact that 99.9% of engineers in the USA had nothing to do with that.

      • Mod parent up. People whining about the H1Bs seem to always want no competition for their job but turn around and demand guaranteed higher wages and job security. If you're as good as you claim to be, I hear Google can't hire fast enough and they pay really well.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @07:34PM (#19138995)
      I agree.

      On a positive note though, over 100,000 visa holders are going home this year, and another 100,000+ in each of the next two years.

      There were 190,000 visas issued in each of the years 2001, 2002, 2003, before the limit went back down to 65,000. THIS is the single reason why all of the H1-B visas were used up in one single day.

      300,000+ H1-Bs is a VERY significant number of the IT unemployed. So this might look good, unless Congress changes things.

      Unfortunately, Congress is debating RIGHT NOW on increasing this limit. The current proposals are to bump the number back up to 195,000; either directly, or indirectly through a new quota system.

      If you don't want to repeat the years after the dot-com bust, you need to fax or write (preferrably not email) your representatives in Congress RIGHT NOW. That means this week. Otherwise, there's a very good chance that this limit will change upwards, as there's a lot of money driving the issue.

      Also, the people driving the lobbying efforts have stated that if they don't get this passed this year, it won't get changed next year, as that's a major election year.
      • by Copid ( 137416 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @09:00PM (#19139755)
        A while ago somebody here proposed auctioning off the visas. I think that's a fascinating idea, as it would guarantee that nobody was hired simply because they were available below market rates. The auction process would immediately make the median wage equal to or greater than the market wage. At that point, the companies do battle over how special their special talent is.

        Another positive effect would be that the people who actually are most valuable will get the visas rather than the people who got lucky in the lottery. Imagine a brilliant person whose employer would gladly pay $500K to sponsor getting sent home because some other average schmuck got the visa. Kind of sucks for everybody but the schmuck. That's not exactly what we were hoping for when the program was instituted.
      • by Axe ( 11122 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @10:29PM (#19140401)
        There were 190,000 visas issued in each of the years 2001, 2002, 2003, before the limit went back down to 65,000. THIS is the single reason why all of the H1-B visas were used up in one single day.

        Actually it was 130,700 in 2001, 79,100 in 2002 and 105,314 in 2003. But do not let poor facts get in the way of a good argument.

        More interesting fact is that 50% goes to Indians, and 30+% to the Indian body shops. Put a nationality limit of 7% per country, and outlaw contracting on H1B, and most of the problems will be solved.

    • H-1B visas are a boon for employers. They not just have the power of a job, but the power to send people packing back to their homeland, so of course, H-1B people end up very docile shills, as they have a lot to lose.

      They're not nearly so docile now that H1 transfers are _relatively_ easy to do. Many startup employers here in Silicon Valley don't want to deal with H-1B's anymore because the legal expenses/hassles really add up, but will still hire them for difficult to fill positions. I personally have hired for permanent positions about 10 H-1Bs over the past 10 years--always at competitive wages and never to replace a current employee (it is very hard to find highly skilled embedded/networking software engineers)

  • Hopefully you IT people can clarify this -- the outsource firms are bringing workers here on HB-1's and then *who* trains them? They do, or American companies do? Either way, I don't see how this makes sense instead of training the workers in India.
    • The key is creating relationships between key employees in India (and other countries) and the United States. 90% of the time associated with programming a large project is communication between programmers and others. Bringing somebody here for a year or two gives them lots of opportunities to get to know other people (not just at work, but over lunches, dinners, etc). Those relationships pay off when the employee returns home and has ways to exercise what, in Organizational Communication, is called Fay
    • > the outsource firms are bringing workers here on HB-1's and then *who* trains them? They do, or American companies do?

      On the comments on Cringely's two recent IBM stories http://pbs.org/cringely [pbs.org], it was American IBMers training the very same Indians who were to take over their jobs. The Indians went back to India, and the Americans were fired (except of course, IBM's generously compensated CEO).

    • Often the US employees who are about to get laid off train their replacements, and often it's a condition for receiving severance pay. That situation really is as crappy as it sounds. If it was me and I had another job lined up, I'd tell them to stuff it. More often though, people don't have another job lined up and need money to pay the bills.
  • I'm sure that Indian outsourcing firms are the only companies that do this. IBM, Microsoft, and other U.S. high tech companies that cycle their overseas employees through the U.S. for training wouldn't do this too, would they? Nah. No need to ask the same questions of U.S. companies.
  • who's surprised? (Score:2, Interesting)

    Honestly, who is? So these firms exploit both, the Indian workers by taking a substantial part of their pay, and the american workers who might be a better fit for the jobs...
    • Would the Indian workers be better off in their old jobs? If not, then how are they being exploited?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @06:32PM (#19138223)
    The solution to keeping jobs in the USA is to keep the best of the foreign talent here in the USA. We should be pinning a green card to anybody with an engineering, medical, or CS degree and encouraging them to stay, and bring their families, and start many JOB GENERATING BUSINESSES *here*. Reduce the incentives to go home. Reduce incentives to hire offshore (like onerous medical insurance costs, ahem), and in 10 years, you'll have a nice technopoly in the USA instead of India, China, Russia, etc.
    • We should be pinning a green card to anybody with an engineering, medical, or CS degree and encouraging them to stay, and bring their families, and start many JOB GENERATING BUSINESSES *here*.

      For the most part bringing in foreign workers results in a greater amount of workers; Immigrants who come on their own are more likely to start their own companies. Creating businesses requires risk taking, not a college degree.
      US culture may not promote technical excellence, but it does promote entrepreneurship.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by icsEater ( 1093717 )

        Actually you can already see this trend in many (if not most) universities. Just go to any of the graduate programs around the nation and you will see that the vast majority of students are foreign students. Many of them stay and pursue teaching or research positions. That is why an ever increasing number of faculty are European, Indian or Chinese (at least in the sciences and engineering). The academic world requires a certain personality to succeed -- one that seems unappealing compared to the glitzy life

        • The GP's idea of the counter-intuitive notion of encouraging immigration to help the economy is nothing new. That's what America has been doing ever since it was founded.

          I totally agree that an open immigration policy can help generate many new economic opportunities. My disagreement with the GGP is that a "pull" approach of immigration doesn't necessarily attract the type of risk takers who create business opportunties. An open Immigration policy provides the potential of new ideas and skills; but most i

    • by damista ( 1020989 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @07:14PM (#19138767)
      Well, this is kind of how the system was intended isn't it?

      Instead of complaining that foreigners take American jobs, you (not you personally but "you" as in the US) got to ask yourself, where the US would be today, if it wasn't for the immigrants. Not every foreigner is an idiot, just like not every American is the best choice for a certain job. Some immigrants will fail miserably and others will succeed and maybe even start their own, successful business and create new, American jobs. Those who fail will be replaced, be it by Americans or new immigrants.

      Btw. US companies exploit workers from other countries as well and take jobs from others. I don't want to know how many companies have been bought by US based businesses and then closed down, since the only interest the US companies had, were the product portfolios and the customer base. So why should Indian companies care about US jobs, if the US couldn't care less about other peoples jobs?

      What the US must never forget is that they need the rest of the world just as much as the rest of the world needs the US.
    • by ecuador_gr ( 944749 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @07:39PM (#19139041) Homepage
      Exactly my feeling and situation. After an MS in CS at a decent US University (my European BS is in Physics), I started working as an H1-b at a US firm. After two years, I am one of the most valuable members of my group and my employer definitely wants to keep me here in NY, however my fiancee is from Europe and cannot work legally here (even if I marry her). It is kind of harder for her to get an H1-b visa (her BA is in Classics, plus H1-b's are snatched instantly). The company lawyer told me that it is highly unlikely for me to get a Green card in the foreseeable future, no matter how indispensable my employer thinks I am, since according to the rules, I cannot use my experience in the current company as part of my qualifications to justify the Green card. And of course the fact that you might be exceptionally good does not matter in the application for a Green Card (unless you have made headlines - there is provision for Nobel price winners etc). So, I am kind of thinking of heading back home, of course I do make enough for a family here but my fiancee hates not being able to work and I can't blame her...
      You don't have to say the US will loose if I myself leave (you don't know me to judge if it is the case), but I am sure there are many talented people out there in such a situation.
  • Fair trade (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bangwhistle ( 971272 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @06:32PM (#19138227)
    How about this- if a company wants to hire from country X, then they can have one H-1B visa for each corresponding visa that country X issues to allow a US citizen to work in country X. Of course that visa MUST be used. The "prevailing wage" issue might be a sticky wicket, the wage in country X might be too low to attract interest. But if country X is not willing to hire non-citizens because their own people are looking for work, why should the US?
  • by Brad_sk ( 919670 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @06:42PM (#19138327)
    I am an Indian citizen and I absolutely support this inquiry. The companies mentioned here (WIPRO, Infosys, TCS etc) definitely exploit H1b. They apply H1b for their employees assuming they MAY have to send them to US and not based on existing work, at least thats how its is for around 2/3 of their cases. Also, these companies treat sending their employees to US (client base) as an incentive and send only 1 or 2 person in a group and rotate them so as to give a "chance" to all. But since H1b is not transferable, they would have applied for H1b for everyone in the group at the beginning of H1b fiscal year. Every WIPRO/Infosys employee knows this - Just ask around to validate

    I really wish there was a limit of how many H1bs these companies can get...
  • by morari ( 1080535 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @06:42PM (#19138341) Journal
    I don't have anything against India or its citizens, but I do so hate having to call some place up with a problem only to struggle to communicate with some guy because; a) He probably doesn't speak English very well and can't truly understand a lot of what I say. b) Everything he knows comes from a script. c) His accent is so fucking thick that I can't understand a lot of what he says. I'd rather speak with a machine in most cases, so long as it's not voice activated...
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Why is his post marked "Troll"? He's talking about a very serious problem. It doesn't matter who these people are, where they're from, or what they look like. The basic truth is that it's damn near impossible to communicate with these people. And when they're in a job that requires a high degree of communication, we will have nothing but problems! It's especially bothersome when I'm paying a North American company damn good money for tech support, only to have them shuttle my problems off to somebody who my
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by CherniyVolk ( 513591 )

      I demand that morari gets +5 and "Insightful".

      Get off your stupid socio-moralistic high-horse. Just because you point out a problem with a group of people doesn't make you any sort of ist. Racist, sexist, nationalist... nor, is it truthfully a bad thing; for if the thoughts of others really bother you that much, a psychologist can help you and if not, there's the psychiatrist and shock therapy.

      Indians do NOT speak English well enough for ANY kind of phone support. This isn't an American grudge, but as I
    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by Tuoqui ( 1091447 )
      Mod Parent Up! This is not really a troll.

      Also this is not only a problem with technical support in the computer sector but it is a problem with most big companies today. The lack of LOCALIZED phone support for things is a big problem, if I'm calling a company's 1-800 number I want to speak to someone who understands and speaks the language that I know with at least enough fluency to understand them, I dont really care about accents so much as long as I can understand them. I can imagine that if the situati
    • by Shemmie ( 909181 )
      And a third call to mod the GP Insightful.

      What a load of politically correct bullshit it is when speaking the truth, whether it hurts or not, is deemed a troll. If I lived in India, and I called and got support from Indian call centres, I would be happy. Living in the UK, it's an absolute pain to have to talk to people who barely understand English - I don't care if they're Indian, Nigerian, French, German, whatever.

      What's really funny is that companies in the UK generally avoid putting people with stron
  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @06:43PM (#19138353)
    Aside of the abuse to create cheap offshoring opportunities that hurt both, the US population and the US taxes, this creates a problem: H1Bs ain't a goodwill thing of the US, "generously" granting people from other countries the opportunity to live in the US. H1Bs are first and foremost to enable companies to hire good, qualified people from abroad. No company would go through the hassle of an H1B app to get a new janitor. What they try to hire is simply someone with a qualification or experience that you can't find in the US, or at the very least, not in enough quantity.

    In other words, by leeching those H1Bs from the pool, those companies harm the US economy by creating a shortage of qualified workers. And I do see this as grounds for investigation and, if they're guilty of such a practice, applicable fines and punishments.
    • by NewbieProgrammerMan ( 558327 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @07:13PM (#19138761)

      What they try to hire is simply someone with a qualification or experience that you can't find in the US, or at the very least, not in enough quantity.
      ...or at a low enough salary. While there may be some shortage of US citizens willing to learn to do "difficult" things like science, math, engineering and good programming, I think the desire of many companies to pay (much) less for such talent is at least as big a factor as any shortage.
      • ...or at a low enough salary. While there may be some shortage of US citizens willing to learn to do "difficult" things like science, math, engineering and good programming, I think the desire of many companies to pay (much) less for such talent is at least as big a factor as any shortage.

        This is definitely the case, at least in my area. I recently went through a bout of unemployment after getting laid off from my first Jr. Developer role. I applied for everything from phone support to mid-level developer

      • Five years ago, when the IT sector really sucked, I would have agreed with you 100%. Thing is that a lot of companies already took a ride around the outsourcing / H1B wheel back then, and / or cut way too deep when they did their layoffs, and now understand that you *never* get the same quality you do with your own staff of native English-speaking folks who are full employees of the company. Too many projects never got done, or the quality sucked, or too many customers complained, etc. That type of cost-

      • ...or at a low enough salary.

        it seems to me that new generation i.t. workers in the u.s. have expected the initially skyrocketing pay rates of the early 70s and 80s to be valid for their own generations too, DESPITE the increasing supply of i.t. workers from WITHIN the united states. hence, their wage expectancy have remained high, instead of adjusting to the high supply situation, disproportionate with their qualifications.

        hence when an american company seeks someone for a position from within the u.s., they find candidates th

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Herkum01 ( 592704 )

      I was talking with a recruiter the other week who worked in as a recruiter in the area I was moving too for a couple of years. About 3 years companies started demanding Java programming skills, however there were not a lot of Java programmers in the area, and the ones that were there only had 1 or 2 years of experience. The companies said, "not enough experience" so those potential Java programmers moved out of the area.

      Fast forward to today, the recruiter said there is a huge demand for, you guessed it,

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Opportunist ( 166417 )
        It actually boils down to companies wanting programmers with at least 10 years of professional experience, not over 25 and at a max wage of 2000 bucks.
  • by PPH ( 736903 )
    Why question the Indian firms?

    Every (American) company that I've ever seen employing H-1B workers would never stand for them being cycled through jobs and replaced this frequently. Typically, the Indian tech firms provide people who are vetted by the employer and then remain for the duration of their contract and/or their visa. There is no (sane) employer who would accept having contract employees swapped out frequently. Look at the cost of training they would stand to lose.

    Unless of course, the American co

  • by thinkingpen ( 1031996 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @07:06PM (#19138643)

    I worked at one of these firms in India before. The common practice there is to file for a H-1B visa in anticipation of future onsite trips. Many hundreds go unused. A number of my collegues got their visas stamped, but never travelled. Some were never intended to be used at all. The project manager told me they are just a backup in case of emergency situations (e.g., an onsite contractor might have to go back to India within short notice etc.) I think this is the main reason behind the recent inflation in number of H1-B applicants. This is certainly abuse of the H1-B program!

    These companies should not be granted so many visas. If you want to increase competitiveness grant more visas to foreign students from top universities in the US. Giving out visas to these companies will only get you mediocre people who know nothing about computer science (yeah well, they know a lot about time sheets, status reports and how not to manage a team) - ofcourse there will be exceptions, but the largely the crowd that comes here aren't any super skilled programmers. They would just know a bit of their client's business and a few programs in some subsystem that is written in COBOL.

    I am happy to have left that sweat shop in pursuit of my masters degree a couple of years ago. Never wanna go back to them! they do not do anything related to computer science there! it's all plain business. You are not allowed to fix ugly code if you feel like it - the client should be ready to pay for that too !! no smart ideas here please .. every solution to every possible problem is documented (hey we're a CMM level 5 company!) and no process that wassn't used before should ever be encouraged.

    Trust me, tis nothing like cutting edge. Far from it. I laugh when Bangalore is called the silicon valley of the East!

    • by The Cydonian ( 603441 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @10:58PM (#19140639) Homepage Journal

      I think this is the main reason behind the recent inflation in number of H1-B applicants.

      This is insightful.

      This is certainly abuse of the H1-B program!

      This isn't.

      I work at an IT consultancy firm (not Indian; it is headquartered in Seattle, if you're tracking all this), and am based out of Singapore. I am required to, at times, fly in and out of some neighbouring countries at a very short notice. Now travelling in South East Asia (even for Indian passport-holders) is outrageously simple; you pack your bags, show up at the airport, fly in to, say, Bangkok or Hong Kong, and... that's it. All visas are processed on-arrival, you can stay for a month, and then fly out. It's a similar thing in Europe as well; the Schengen area covers some 17-odd countries, and it's very very easy to travel across countries in these globalized times.

      For a variety of reasons (911, huge immigration numbers etc), US is not one of those countries where you can slip in and out quickly. While Wipro etc applying for H1-B's en masse is definitely a loophole, I'd still argue that they're doing it for a very valid reason; it is important for professionals to travel across the world without too much hassle.

      You are not allowed to fix ugly code if you feel like it - the client should be ready to pay for that too !!

      This isn't really a problem with IT alone; any profession where you charge by the hour ('man-hours') suffers from the same problem. Consultant work is more time-bound, than delivery-based, for very good reasons.

      Trust me, tis nothing like cutting edge.

      I think you've had a bit of an expectations mismatch. IT consultancy was never about using the best and brightest technology out there; it's about understanding a customer's requirements, both said and unsaid, and about thinking what's the best thing the customers shouldn't do. In that sense, contemporary IT consultancy is closer to M&O from, say, 1980's, than it is to, say, implementing AJAX in that intranet application for that big-shot bank. You really shouldn't be expecting an Accenture or an IBM Global Services or HP Consulting to be in the forefront of technology development, because that is not their job.

      I laugh when Bangalore is called the silicon valley of the East!

      Yes, Bangalore isn't a 'valley'; it's a plateau that's 1000m above sea-level, so calling it a Silicon Valley isn't really correct. Besides, very few of the companies in Bangalore use silicon chips the way the first wave of tech companies in the San Jose- Sunnyvale area did. So in that sense, you're right; extremely misleading to call Bangalore a valley, much less a silicon valley at that.

      However, don't, for a moment, presume that there is no product-development (as opposed to project development, which is what TCS/Wipro/etc specialize in) going on in India. As I see it, that's the next big wave in Indian IT, and for the same reason that starting-up in the (real) Silicon Valley makes sense; proximity to potential customers, closer cultural ties and so on. In any case, Bangalore, I think, is in a much better position than of the other cities in the East are, both in terms of access to talent and markets. Much worse than starting-up in Fresno, if you will, but despite increasing land-prices and a rickety infrastructure, still better than Manila or Ho Chi Minh City.

      Now, it would definitely have helped if our universities had that startup-ambience that American universities have, and for sure, it'd have been greatly beneficial if we were able to retain at least _some_ of that graduate population leaving the shores, but yeah, we're getting there.

  • by PeeAitchPee ( 712652 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @07:06PM (#19138651)

    These overseas folks are here principally because of a lack of skilled US citizens in critical areas. The ire being posted on this thread is largely misplaced. Instead of ranting about foreigners suckling "your" jobs out of this country, perhaps we should have better funded engineering education programs and engineering-related incentives for prospective college students so we have enough Americans to do the work? Banning the H1Bs will only make it harder to fill these vacancies, which helps no one.

    Honestly, I've never understood the sense of entitlement some have about their IT jobs. If you're half as good as you say you are, you should have no problem landing your next gig.

    • I'll be the fist one. I could not agree more. As somebody who deals with vendors and their techies on a daily basis I am simply outraged that some people are still employed in IT. I don't care if you speak Russian, German or Spanish. If you have what it takes, come here and let's compete.
    • American educational systems have many issues, and often times I see new hires recieving training on the job that should have been a prerequisite for hire.

      That being said, there is a tremendous disadvantage for experienced American IT workers in the marketplace. The reason I see newbies getting trained on the job for things they should have known beforehand is because so many companies pass over quality applicants for cheaper hires.

      Case in point: One of my employers cut costs by laying off almost all inter
    • by Qzukk ( 229616 )
      These overseas folks are here principally because of a lack of skilled US citizens in critical areas.

      Says who, the companies who claim there is a shortage in a market that fairly clearly shows that no such thing is occurring?

      perhaps we should have better funded engineering education programs and engineering-related incentives for prospective college students

      Why should everyone else have to spend their time and money on your problem? Maybe the companies crying about this should have set up some medium-turno
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Xonstantine ( 947614 )
      The problem with your pet little theory is that engineers aren't stupid. Engineer might be cool but it's also hard and demanding. The same mental acuity which translates into a $80,000 a year job in a declining job market like computer engineering can be transfered to say, pre-med or pre-law where it's more difficult to outsource. The only "incentives" we need is for American businesses to continue to hire American employees. Whats the point of government giving incentives to American students for jobs
  • H1B's do depress wages. If the H1B's were not available, companies would pay more for skills in short supply, students would have more incentive to gain those skills, and the imbalance would be corrected. Using foreign labor to fill the gap allows companies to pay less (because supply is increased) and creates larger skill shortages in the future.

    The government uses surveys to determine what "fair market wages" are for H1B's and enforces a salary floor. This has the effect of setting a ceiling for local wor
  • most applicants of h1-b visa are indians. the indian companies are better equipped in searching and sorting out the right candidates needed for the job. they also provide extensive in-house training when they can't find a suitable candidate. the end result is that they can find suitable h1-b people while american companies cannot. e.g. infosys has 100k employees in india and has one of the world's largest training center. thus if they have a job requirement in USA, they can easily find a candidate from Indi
  • What about L-1B? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Dillenger69 ( 84599 )
    I've lost more jobs to L-1B visa workers over the years than I have H-1B.
    L-1B workers are paid far lower wages even though they are doing the same work as their H-1B counterparts.
    To my knowledge there is also no cap on the number of L-1B visas like there is on H-1B.

    Personally, I don't really worry about it either way. I survived before IT, I've survived a few outsourcing layoffs, and I'll survive if IT completely goes away.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @07:12PM (#19138753)
    I first came to the US in 2000 on a H1-B, I got a green card about a year ago, and now run a software company that employs a number of US citizens as software engineers, we are also bringing over a few people from other countries on H1-B visas. We aren't paying those people any less than their US counterparts, we are bringing them over simply because we can't find people with the specialized skills we need in the US.

    Unfortunately due to the H1-B quota being hit on the first day, only two of our three H1-B applications were accepted. This doesn't help anyone, it means that the remaining person has to work remotely for at least a year (and therefore their taxes go to a foreign government), and its a PITA for us and them. Who wins here?

    Frankly, any US software engineer that is having trouble finding a job in this economic environment should look in the mirror to see what their likely problem is, rather than trying to blame the H1-B visa program.

  • The truth is that the entire H1-B visa program is intentionally used to provide cheap labor from overseas.

    This is less true of L-1 and L-2 visas, except for firms engaged in active outsourcing.

    If they would just make it easy (as in FAST, 6 months max time) to have people with legitimate Ph.D's move here - without any right of having their "family" move here, other than a spouse - the program might work.
  • that senators need to write and ask an OUTSOURCING COMPANY if they are using the US visas they applied for to outsource US jobs.
    It seems the brain drain has already happened in the senate.
  • ... The problem is with outsourcing - thats where most of our jobs are going, NOT H1-Bs. And there's a big difference. H1B visas are the primary method for skilled workers to MOVE to the USA for good. This means that they come here to raise a family - they bring their knowledge and use it towards making America, their newly chosen homeland better. Then they take their savings and spend it IN America - which helps keep our internal economy running. Now outsourcing on the other hand, takes money out of Amer
    • Had you bothered to RTFA, you'd see that while you are right about the intended use of H1-B visas, the investigation is because senators (probably correctly) believe that is NOT how the visas are being used. They believe instead that contracting firms are bringing workers over on H1-B visas temporarily, frequently for lower pay than an american will do the same job, then sending them back to the homeland with their new skills, training, and experience.
  • by NewIntellectual ( 444520 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @07:51PM (#19139159)
    Unless you're an American Indian, the 300 million+ inhabitants of the U.S. are immigrants or had immigrant parents. It's the country of immigrants and they came because they were freer to make a life in the U.S. than the countries they left. Anybody who's driven across the U.S. knows that it's still relatively empty. True statistic: if half of the entire population of the rest of the world immigrated to the U.S., the population density would still be less than England (which itself still has a lot of countryside.) Anti-immigration policy is massively stupid and leads directly to outsourcing; it helps to keep out the best minds, who will boost some other country's economy, while doing little to stop the influx of the least educated from Mexico. (They too should be able to become citizens, but not at the expense of programmers and PhDs in the hard sciences.)
  • If US corporations really wanted the best talent of the world, they would be supporting GREEN CARD applicants and trying to find the best foreign students to cultivate. Or they would US students directly by scholarships and grants. No, they do not want US citizens. Full citizens have too many rights and demands. They want disposable workers which is what an H1-B is for them. Eventually they get to send the person home and ARE NOT OBLIGATED BY A PENSION. It's all about destroying the entire concept of

  • There is always the story of some company needing a "critical" position filled and no one in America can fill it; and this is used to justify why they outsource.

    There are a couple of problems with this assertion. One, 99% of all cases of outsourcing are for positions that any country have plenty of qualified people for the positions. Phone support cheifly, but even more intense jobs like software development. Most of the time, the outsourcing is for something that you know for a fact there's tons of peop
  • hmmmm I seem to have lost my job 3 years ago to WIPRO. They came in and were going to just do a little software development for some older no longer supported apps. Then came some WIPRO Unix administrators then some ORACLE DBA's. next thing you know massive layoffs and many jobs are being done overseas. Although the company swears that they had to lay off everyone because of lack of funds and that WIPRO was the only answer to survive. Worked out well for them!! 3 years later the Unix admins are back a
  • by dannannan ( 470647 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @09:17PM (#19139873)
    I am a US citizen and a former Microsoft employee. I am very glad to see that these senators are investigating the H-1B visa program. Microsoft makes use of this program and is always very vocal about increasing its role. I hope they will have a chance to investigate how Microsoft uses the H-1B and L visa programs and what sort of work environment that creates here in the US.

    I worked at Microsoft from January 2001 until May 2007 as a software design engineer at the corporate headquarters in Redmond, WA. Most of Microsoft's products, such as Windows, Office, Exchange, and SQL Server are developed here in Redmond. If you walk through the halls where the programmers are working, you will see that the majority of the workers are not from the US.

    While at Microsoft, I interviewed job candidates for programming positions. Microsoft HR provided screened resumes, and my team interviewed and made hiring decisions. Microsoft HR publicly states that they make "diverse hiring" a goal. Race and nationality never are and never have been factors in my hiring decisions, but I was very rarely presented with American candidates, which is strange given that we are in America. Almost every candidate was a foreign worker. The positions we were trying to fill are not very unique that we needed to look outside the US - these were typical programming and testing positions. Microsoft has thousands of such positions, and the job functions performed by foreign programmers do not differ from those of American programmers.

    In some of Microsoft's product development divisions, including one that I worked in for 5 years, foreign workers also participate in the hiring process as interviewers. Some teams are comprised almost entirely of foreign workers, mostly from India or China, from the bottom up through several levels of management. It is to a point now that many foreign workers are the ones conducting the job interviews and making the hiring decisions here in Redmond.

    Being an American on a team with mostly H-1B visaholders is discouraging at times. As an American you want to live your life, work hard, and make your workplace the best it can be. Your coworkers are more concerned about navigating their way through the immigration system and ensuring that they keep their visa sponsor happy.

    I don't have any ill-will towards H-1B workers, rather I feel sorry for them because of the leverage that their employer has over their lives as their visa sponsor. My gut feeling is that employers like Microsoft are either directly abusing the H-1B program or indirectly benefiting from its abuse. The program allows them to hire thousands of employees and relocate them to a place where they have no citizenship and can have their sponsorship revoked at any time. This naturally makes them more attractive to hire than an American who is already here and trying to get a job. Without the sponsorship component of the visa, this would not be possible.
  • My H-1B study (Score:3, Interesting)

    by PUecon ( 1102757 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @10:14PM (#19140273)
    Last year, I took an undergraduate Labor Economics seminar and wrote a paper on H-1B program's impact on domestic labor force. You can find it here:

    http://panic.berkeley.edu/~akopps/paper/paper.pdf [berkeley.edu]

    I looked at the correlation between the relative supply of H-1B workers and the wages of IT workers. Surprisingly, I found no significant correlation between the presence of H-1B workers and labor market outcomes. However, surprisingly, if you look at the impact at the impact on the wages of only male workers, then there is a slight but a very clear (statistically significant) 'impact' on their earnings. Even more surprisingly, if you also look at the correlation between the earnings of female domestic workers and the relative supply of H-1B workers, then there is a POSITIVE impact on their earnings.

    Of course, I concede that there could be a A LOT of problems with the methodology I used and with the data employed in this study. My methodology was basically constrained by whatever data I had access to. However, if we assume for a moment that the data and methodology were more or less reliable, then I suspect that what's happening is that the IT labor market is somewhat segregated by genders (someone needs to test this hypothesis). E.g. the female workers tend to be employed in occupations that are complimentary to occupations that are dominated by male workers (e.g. QA, testing, etc). If this assumption is correct, then the H-1B workers (who are predominantly male) might indeed depress the earnings of male domestic workers a little bit, but at the same time the increase supply of male workers boots the demand for occupations that tend to employ female IT workers. So, if you look at the overall effect on earnings, there is no relationship, but there is clearly something going on once you break down the earnings data by genders.
  • by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Wednesday May 16, 2007 @02:07AM (#19141817) Journal
    sent a letter (PDF) to nine Indian outsourcing firms...The senators want to know, among other things, whether the H-1B program is being used to enable the offshoring of American jobs.

    If they give an honest answer, I'll pour curry onto my balls, and bite them off for YouTube.

"my terminal is a lethal teaspoon." -- Patricia O Tuama