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Congress Will Consider Proposal To Raise H-1B Minimum Wage To $100,000 (arstechnica.com) 540

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: President-elect Donald Trump is just a week away from taking office. From the start of his campaign, he has promised big changes to the US immigration system. For both Trump's advisers and members of Congress, the H-1B visa program, which allows many foreign workers to fill technology jobs, is a particular focus. One major change to that system is already under discussion: making it harder for companies to use H-1B workers to replace Americans by simply giving the foreign workers a raise. The "Protect and Grow American Jobs Act," introduced last week by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif. and Scott Peters, D-Calif., would significantly raise the wages of workers who get H-1B visas. If the bill becomes law, the minimum wage paid to H-1B workers would rise to at least $100,000 annually, and be adjusted it for inflation. Right now, the minimum is $60,000. The sponsors say that would go a long way toward fixing some of the abuses of the H-1B program, which critics say is currently used to simply replace American workers with cheaper, foreign workers. In 2013, the top nine companies acquiring H-1B visas were technology outsourcing firms, according to an analysis by a critic of the H-1B program. (The 10th is Microsoft.) The thinking goes that if minimum H-1B salaries are brought closer to what high-skilled tech employment really pays, the economic incentive to use it as a worker-replacement program will drop off. "We need to ensure we can retain the world's best and brightest talent," said Issa in a statement about the bill. "At the same time, we also need to make sure programs are not abused to allow companies to outsource and hire cheap foreign labor from abroad to replace American workers." The H-1B program offers 65,000 visas each fiscal year, with an additional 20,000 reserved for foreign workers who have advanced degrees from US colleges and universities. The visas are awarded by lottery each year. Last year, the government received more than 236,000 applications for those visas.
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Congress Will Consider Proposal To Raise H-1B Minimum Wage To $100,000

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  • by ShooterNeo ( 555040 ) on Friday January 13, 2017 @11:33PM (#53665229)

    I'm not a big fan of Trump, but if he actually delivers on this campaign promise (even if it's just scrawling his signature on the bill and then taking all the credit in speeches) that will be a good thing for me and most employed people on slashdot.

    Is there any way this is a bad thing? H1B was supposed to be for bringing in essential foreign talent. If a company isn't willing to pay $100k per year plus the various expenses, whoever they are bringing it must not have been all that talented.

    • Good post (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Okian Warrior ( 537106 ) on Saturday January 14, 2017 @12:25AM (#53665531) Homepage Journal

      I'm not a big fan of Trump, but if he actually delivers on this campaign promise (even if it's just scrawling his signature on the bill and then taking all the credit in speeches) that will be a good thing for me and most employed people on slashdot.

      Is there any way this is a bad thing? H1B was supposed to be for bringing in essential foreign talent. If a company isn't willing to pay $100k per year plus the various expenses, whoever they are bringing it must not have been all that talented.

      Good post.

      We have to get back in the mode where we can say "the other side did this" without assigning blame and descending into name calling.

      It's been argued for the last 2 decades (-ish) here on this site that the main problem with American governance is corruption by big business. Regardless of the left or right position we need to start doing things that are good for the people, even if such actions are narrowly bad for business.

      This is a good start, it was indeed one of his campaign promises, and that part doesn't matter one bit.

      (I'm very curious to see who votes for/against the bill, or if it gets killed in committee.)

    • by Kagato ( 116051 )

      This has nothing to do with Trump. This is the exact same bill Issa introduced last session. GOP leadership wouldn't put it up for a vote then and they aren't going to put it up for a vote this time. The bill they are interested in removes all HB1 caps. Trump has said he wants to go to a market based bid system for visas.

    • It is

      I maybe about to be modded -1 but if you ask any IT director or HR manager they will tell you good talent is very hard to find. No, I am not talking about a senior level position with a Jr level paid below market value.

      I am talking about a freaking developer or System Administrator who is competent in NoSQL, Erlang, or any mobile platform development working for ANY WAGE. Sure one could argue that is a 100K job. I would argue some are most are not. A good Unix System Administrator where I am in Houston

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by dbIII ( 701233 )
        It's because they want people previously trained in their internal company procedures by magic instead of actually training people.
        They either find none of those magical creatures or they get bullshit artists instead.
        What they do not understand is that with either a bit of training or merely just time on the job a large number of those applicants that do not come up to scratch with the unrealistic yardsticks are going to be just as good or far better than the bullshit artists that claimed they met the yards
      • by swb ( 14022 ) on Saturday January 14, 2017 @09:31AM (#53666829)

        MY brother works for a successful company which I won't name. It is fortune 250. HE goes to India because he too can't find anyone qualified. THe salaries he uses from HR are from his local Department of Labor. No he DOES NOT CHEAP out. He can't find anyone willing to work at least 25% over the market average in his area. He has no choice

        If your brother has data that says the market average wage is X and he finds that he is unable to hire anyone for less than X+25%, doesn't that mean that your brother's data is incorrect, and that the actual market wage IS X+25%? Isn't the most accurate market pricing what you would actually have to pay into the market to obtain the goods or services you're looking for? Any "data" which suggests otherwise is out of date or inaccurate.

        What I see in this situation is businesses using data to insist on a wage ceiling, probably because they have a business model designed to function only below a specific and arbitrary wage ceiling. The larger problem is probably a total compensation number, including executive compensation, that can't grow to accommodate market wage demands without influencing product pricing in a way that hurts sales.

        I would suggest that the real problem is excessive executive compensation and that reducing executive compensation to pay actual market wages for necessary labor to keep total compensation in line with the product pricing is the best solution. Meeting market wage demands will in theory bring more labor into the market, increasing its supply and ultimately slowing or even reducing wage growth.

        I also think there are powerful class dynamics at work here as well, where certain labor positions are seen as inherently less worthy than others and regardless of actual market prices, firms want to impose compensation caps on certain types of labor because it disrupts the class dynamics. Some classes of workers are seen as inherently more valuable than others and should *always* be paid more than others. When the market prices suggest that these lower classed workers need to be paid more to attract and retain them, you have the higher classed workers attempting to cap wages for the lower classes, because the alternatives are paying the market wages and losing their class status.

        What's interesting is that nobody suggests that the paying the lower class of labor a higher wage than the higher class of worker doesn't have to mean that the higher class of worker (ie, managers) also loses their power and authority, only that they are paid less. Even average professional athletes make more money than most coaching staff, but this doesn't diminish the power of the coaching staff to control the players and regulate their labor activities.

  • An even better solution - move to a points system and no guest workers.

    • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Friday January 13, 2017 @11:42PM (#53665295)

      An even better solution - move to a points system and no guest workers.

      Here's another even better solution: Set a fixed limit, and then auction off the visas to the highest bidder, with the proceeds going to the US Treasury. Currently, they are free (other than a processing fee) and issued to whomever is first in the queue. An auction would ensure they go to the companies that value them the most, and have a real need to import critical skills, rather than just looking for cheap labor.

      • First come first serve? No. H1-B is a lottery system.

      • Here's another even better solution: Set a fixed limit, and then auction off the visas to the highest bidder, with the proceeds going to the US Treasury. Currently, they are free (other than a processing fee) and issued to whomever is first in the queue. An auction would ensure they go to the companies that value them the most, and have a real need to import critical skills, rather than just looking for cheap labor.

        Hmm... 65,000 visas auctioned off for $1000 each would net about $65 million, possibly more.

        That's actually enough to pay for some of the smaller services, and it's a great idea.

        What's been going on with Slashdot? There's been, like, 4 insightful posts in the last 24 hours.

        • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Saturday January 14, 2017 @12:42AM (#53665611)

          Hmm... 65,000 visas auctioned off for $1000 each would net about $65 million, possibly more.

          I think it would net WAY more than that. My company paid a lawyer $10k to do the H1-B paperwork for an important employee from a site we were closing in Europe. It turned out that we didn't even get the visa. If we could have just bid instead, I think we would have been willing to pay at least $50k, and likely a lot more, to guarantee a quota.

          • Hmm... 65,000 visas auctioned off for $1000 each would net about $65 million, possibly more.

            I think it would net WAY more than that. My company paid a lawyer $10k to do the H1-B paperwork for an important employee from a site we were closing in Europe. It turned out that we didn't even get the visa. If we could have just bid instead, I think we would have been willing to pay at least $50k, and likely a lot more, to guarantee a quota.

            I agree completely, I was just hesitant to speculate that much on the value.

            We're now talking about a billion dollars in revenue, which for comparison purposes is a sizeable percentage of the $18b NASA budget or the $6b NOAA budget.

            With that amount of money, over 20 years you could rebuild a lot of infrastructure.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by alvinrod ( 889928 )
        Also, give holders more flexibility in changing jobs without losing the visa, make the system a path to citizenship, and prevent new visas from being created if previous holders are unemployed. Essentially prevent jobs from using the visa to control workers while suppressing wages or constantly churning through new candidates.
      • by Dorianny ( 1847922 ) on Saturday January 14, 2017 @01:13AM (#53665735) Journal

        An even better solution - move to a points system and no guest workers.

        Here's another even better solution: Set a fixed limit, and then auction off the visas to the highest bidder, with the proceeds going to the US Treasury. Currently, they are free (other than a processing fee) and issued to whomever is first in the queue. An auction would ensure they go to the companies that value them the most, and have a real need to import critical skills, rather than just looking for cheap labor.

        Seriously? Like the Tech Giants don't already have enough unfair advantages over smaller rivals and especially Startups which are the companies most likely to need to look offshore for people with uncommon skills

      • by Billly Gates ( 198444 ) on Saturday January 14, 2017 @01:26AM (#53665785) Journal

        The problem is all the big companies shit on the small and medium sized ones. Gee with the rampant corruption and unlimited campaign contributions just who do you think will get those lovely cheap workers?

        Also many are Doctors and Engineering professionals and not just helpdesk sweatshops.

        How the can smaller guy compete with the big houses then for projects at companies when they can offer the same service for 1/2 the price due to cheaper labor?

        The solution is to charge 25% above the average market value by county which keeps statistics for job titles. Let's say that Sr Unix admin is worth $125,000 a year in San Jose? The H1B1 visa holder can do the job but by law has to pay $156,260. A Sr. Unix Admin in rural Texas is worth $70,000 a year? Hire an H1B1 Visa for $87,500.

        The doctors can still come here with no limit. Since they are specialists mostly they already charge $250,000 a year so the extra cost won't prohibit hospitals from hiring these doctors which America desperately needs which I think most slashdotters agree is what the Visa program was originally for

        • Ok, let's say I'm a business hiring an H1-B. How do you prevent me from using a lower salary title that only really describes part of the person's job description? Outside of govt and large corporations, job titles are less meaningful and job descriptions are very fluid.

          • They need to match. For example if you lie on your taxes you can get in big trouble. By law corporations have to fill out the paperwork titles showing they tried but can get away by using fake job ads etc. My solution is get rid of the fake ads.

            Charge a particular title and the department of labor ensures your company that you follow the description exactly and pay the extra money accordingly. This way we can hire people when a REAL shortage is in. Today they just use a contacting company as a loophole. I c

            • You didn't really answer my question. You basically just said: companies won't be allowed to do that. That is not practical.

        • job titles are to easy to game now an COL based mini wage for H-1b's say rangeing from 90K-150K+ Is nice.

          And it's easier to stop people from gameing the location.

  • âAnd, here, tech folks admit that increasing the minimum wage leads to less employmentâ.

  • Tipping point (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Citizen of Earth ( 569446 ) on Friday January 13, 2017 @11:38PM (#53665267)
    How many companies will see this as the tipping point to it making more sense to move the company to where the H-1B workers are instead of continuing to do the work inside the USA?
    • They can and will be replaced with companies that don't see US citizens (of all skill levels) as a problem.

    • You can bet your sweet ass companies are going to do what's best for their revenue stream.

      If H1-B is pricing itself out of the market, so be it.

      There is a risk of embarrassment. I predict ... ... well, first I predict this will never fly, but ... ... that companies will simply pay the penalty because American workers just don't have the skills.

      The school system is a fucked up goddam mess for producing college material.

      Foreigners see the value in preparing for US schools and then excelling in university.

    • by Kohath ( 38547 )

      If they wanted to do that, why wouldn't they already be doing it?

      And how many companies do you really think have a business model that depends on importing H-1Bs and paying them $65k? Lots of people would welcome those companies to go offshore in order to free up H-1B slots for higher-paid people and to preserve some middle-income jobs for the people who are already here.

  • If the goal is the best and brightest, why deny anyone based on luck?

    Leave the work of determining who to bring in to the H1-b sponsors. If they want to pay $50,000 to get their guy in, and another company wants to pay $60,000 for their guy, then it's pretty obvious who we should let in.
    • A too, am a fan of "Race to the bottom" economics. Fuck those plebeians who want a livable wage when some drug addict will work for a couple of hits of heroin.

  • by Kohath ( 38547 ) on Friday January 13, 2017 @11:46PM (#53665323)

    I would restrict H-1Bs to only areas of the country where residential rents (per sq. foot) are in the lower 50 percentile. If Google or Facebook wants to hire someone on an H-1B, open an office in Idaho or Mississippi or Fresno and hire them there. High skilled immigration is supposed to help the US, not just San Jose.

    Or, alternately, if you want to hire $1 worth of H-1B payroll in a high rent area, then move $3 in payroll to a lower rent area.

    This would help immigrants learn about America and Americans learn about immigrants. And it would help encourage tech companies to open facilities somewhere where people go to live rather than somewhere people go only to work.

    • by ccguy ( 1116865 )
      Yes, like top talent is going to want to move to the US to live in a shitty city. You are delusional. You will only get workers from places that are even shittier, but forget about hiring anyone (I'd say, good or not) from Europe, Australia, etc. H1B itself is not a great visa, you know. Your spouse can't work, you can get deported if you are fired and don't find an instant job, etc. So who do you think is going to want to come to the US to live in Idaho under those conditions?
      • by Kohath ( 38547 )

        Yes, like top talent is going to want to move to the US to live in a shitty city.

        If they are prejudiced against those places in America then they are welcome to stay home.

        You will only get workers from places that are even shittier,

        San Jose isn't exactly a paradise, you know.

        So who do you think is going to want to come to the US to live in Idaho under those conditions?

        What's wrong with Idaho? You can own a great big house on a middle-class income. There's skiing and hunting and fishing. It's a very American place. If you find Americanism objectionable, then (obviously) don't come here to live.

    • Great. Just what we need. Yet another means tested program.

    • High skilled immigration is supposed to help the US, not just San Jose.

      Make those states not fucking suck and people will want to live there and start companies there.

      The reason everyone and everything moves to California is that it's better. The climate is superior to any other state in the union for the support of human life. We have a concentration of educated people here. While I live in bumfuck where there is nothing, we have loads of communications infrastructure here. The only other state with as much culture is New York, and the interesting parts of it smell a lot more

  • Good. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by generic_screenname ( 2927777 ) on Friday January 13, 2017 @11:46PM (#53665331)
    The goal of the H1B program is supposedly to bring talent to this country that simply cannot be had otherwise. Talent like that should be rare and paid accordingly.
    • by gosand ( 234100 ) on Saturday January 14, 2017 @11:13AM (#53667117)

      I have spent the last several months hiring two QA engineers. I got about two dozen resumes that had been pre-screened by the corporate recruiter. All of them were somewhat qualified. I phone interviewed about half of those, and had about 8-10 people come in for interviews.

      Most of them were on some kind of work program. I only saw resumes for three men, and one came in for an interview. He was from an African country. I think the other two may have been Americans, but I didn't phone interview them and am only guessing by their names.

      All the rest of the resumes were women, and only 1 was American.

      So while I understand the sentiment that the H1B program is being used to "replace American workers" - which I am sure it is - I personally don't see it. I did not get any qualified Americans applying for the position. There was nothing wrong with the salary or the market we are in, and nothing specialized about the positions. Now I do know that Big Corporations are able to use-and-abuse the visa program because I have seen it firsthand. But there is also some good that comes out of the program as well.

      I guess this what we've been reduced to though, you have to choose one end of the spectrum, there's no in-between on anything.

  • Still too low (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Orgasmatron ( 8103 ) on Friday January 13, 2017 @11:54PM (#53665379)

    $100,000 is still too low. I'd say $300,000, but I'm open to an auction system too. The auction method would need a quota, and the other could safely be open ended.

    • Re:Still too low (Score:5, Insightful)

      by DiSKiLLeR ( 17651 ) on Friday January 13, 2017 @11:58PM (#53665407) Homepage Journal

      Yeah, $100k is definitely still too low.

      $150k to $200k ideally.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Osgeld ( 1900440 )

      outside a few small spots of the USA, a 100,000$ a year salary is like hitting the lottery, try visiting places in the country

    • You know there are some positions (not helpdesk sweatshops) that require under 100k a year? Your local system administrator, help desk tier II/III, and doctors, and college interns for those studying abroad.

      A physician does not make more than 100K a year until well after residency which is 2 years long. These are jobs we need.

      I favor a 25% salary increase over the average market value for the said position. This way it is scalable and if someone really can not find talent truly and are not just cheaping out

  • by SumDog ( 466607 ) on Friday January 13, 2017 @11:56PM (#53665387) Homepage Journal

    Something feels off about this. I want to make it clear I hated both Hillary and Trump and think they're equally dangerous.

    This won't increase the minimum wage for existing tech workers. In places like Redmond and the Bay Area, wages are already way over $100k. I don't think this will really change things for the best.

    The only people who will be able to afford H1-B people are the big companies. I have a feeling this will starve the rest of the IT sector, consolidate jobs in Seattle/SF/NYC, and only allow the very large companies to even hire immigrants. This will push less qualified workers out of these high income areas and into 100k/year jobs in rural areas. Amazon/Microsoft/Google/Whoever will be able to hire the best US and on-US workers.

  • by BigBuckHunter ( 722855 ) on Saturday January 14, 2017 @12:18AM (#53665491)
    Sucker: It's the Indian's... They're taking all our jobs for half the salary.
    Groucho: Well give them more money then!
    Rim Shot.
  • by RoscoeChicken ( 73509 ) on Saturday January 14, 2017 @12:24AM (#53665525)

    My graduate program is chock full of unqualified "fresher" Indians looking to exploit the Masters degree loophole.

    Best and the brightest? Don't make me laugh.

  • There are a lot of sharp foreign people out there. Will this ploy backfire in their faces?
  • In the Portland Oregon area, housing prices rose 20% last year. The poor and disabled in Beaverton and Hillsboro are getting squeezed out of the housing market. I have seen a HCL employee work 5 months on a L2 visa, then goes back to India for a month, come back to work for an other 5 months on a L2 visa.
  • I've spent a lot of time fixing other people's code.
    I've spent too much time throwing out off shored code. Just worthless.
    I've had offshore teams coding for me. Asia fails. China, India, never got it right.
    I had a team in Hungry, they were good. Not great, I said don't and one did it anyway. Language issues ...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mattwarden ( 699984 )

      Easiest mistake to make is misunderstanding that offshoring is NOT a apples for apples replacement and it does require unique skills and new expense to make it work.

      There are plenty of offshore firms who have successful relationships with US companies. Select one of these firms and try them out. If it fails, it's probably you.

  • To be so bad at your job that you're terrified of 80,000 non-native English speakers (out of a workforce of 160m) who generally tend to work in growth industries. If you can't beat out an Indian making 60k, maybe the problem isn't them, it's you.
  • Kill it with fire (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Gavrielkay ( 1819320 ) on Saturday January 14, 2017 @03:30AM (#53666159)
    The only real solution to the H1-B problem is to eliminate it entirely. If somehow it's true that finding talent is so hard that we need to import it, then institute a proper accelerated green card program for properly qualified folks and let them compete with Americans on equal legal footing. The H1-B program creates indentured servants who risk getting tossed out on their ear if they don't stay in line. That is the edge they have over American workers who are free to leave oppressive conditions. I think that is what companies want out of it, not the talent. Just look at who is actually hiring these folks for proof.

    So no, raising the minimum H1-B wage is just theater. Kill the program and replace it with something far more fair for everyone involved. Well, except the greedy companies sucking the job out of life.

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