Misconceptions dominate the immigration debate - (Grant Sovern is an immigration attorney and partner in the Madison office of Quarles & Brady, LLP)
The most widely held misconception is that H-1B workers drive down U.S. salaries. However, in order to get an H-1B, employers must show the Department of Labor they are paying H-1B workers either the prevailing wage or the actual wage (the same as other employees at the same company). The prevailing wage is the weighted average wage for a specific position in a specific geographic area.
FACT: The "prevailing wage" for the purposes of H-1b is about the 17th percentile of what average-skilled Americans are being paid in the same job classifications. (See documentation here.)
The problem, one that apparently we all agree on, is that the U.S. is not producing enough homegrown talent in the areas of math, computer science, and engineering.
FACT: The Programmers Guild disagrees. The problem is that employers have become spoiled into demanding 5+ years experience in the precise laundry list of skills they desire, rather than hiring degreed American professionals with a wide range of skills and willingness to learn on the job. Intel and HP are purging top U.S. workers at the same time they lobby for more H-1b.
The H-1B program has other built-in safeguards. Employers who use a lot of H-1Bs first must try to find U.S. workers before they can hire an H-1B.
FACT: As long as these "best and brightest" are either paid at least $60,000 OR have an MS degree, the employer can have 100% of their staff on H-1b and never be required to recruit or consider qualified Americans. (Keep in mind the at MSc degree in India is roughly the equivalent of a BS degree in the U.S.) (Reference: PDF p.14, footnote 34)
Recently imposed restrictions on H1B visas, the type foreigners need to hold a job that requires a Bachelor’s degree, have put pressure on Harvard’s international seniors. In order to enter the lottery for such a visa, seniors need documentation from University Hall asserting they hold or will soon hold their degrees.
FACT: No new restrictions have been "recently imposed."
This year, the US government had to run a computer-generated random selection process or a lottery for H1B visas since applications far exceeded the number of visas available.
FACT: USCIS had the legal right to give preference to the higher-paying positions - which presumably represented the most experienced or specialized workers. But USCIS chose to hold a random lottery.
The H-1B visa quota for high skilled immigrants is filled early every year. Companies then have to out-source their work, or worse, not be able to start new projects or do research and development. Some of these jobs don’t require college degrees, but they do require bright young people who are educated in high school math and science and can be trained in the high tech jobs.
AGE DISCRIMINATION: Why do companies only require "bright YOUNG people"? Most Congressmen, Judges, and CEOs are over age 40. If people over age 40 can run this country, they should still be qualified to work in the IT field.
RESTON, Va., May 2 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The current U.S. cap on the number of skilled-worker visas (H-1B) severely handicaps the ability of U.S. universities, science and technology-related companies and research facilities in their ongoing missions to develop new technologies, medicines and other innovative products that put the country on the leading edge of the global economy, according to the Association of University Research Parks (AURP).
FACT: Universities and non-profit research centers are exempt from the H-1b cap, and there are still available slots for foreign graduates of U.S. colleges with a masters degree or higher.
Congress temporarily raised the ceiling to 195,000 for fiscal 2001 through 2003,
only to let it relapse out of neglect.
FACT: The cap did not lapse "out of neglect." The total number of IT jobs in the U.S. declined between 2001 and 2003. Combined with a record number of H-1b flooding in, in November 2003 DOL's Bureau of Labor Statistics personnel acknowledged that upwards of 20% of U.S. computer programmers were either unemployed or had been displaced from the profession, and that actual unemployment could have exceeded 30%!