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New Data On H-1B Visas Prove That IT Outsourcers Hire a Lot But Pay Very Little (qz.com) 233

New submitter FerociousFerret shares a report from Quartz: Hard numbers have been released by the U.S. government agency that screens visas for high-skilled foreign workers, and they are not pretty. Data made available by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for the first time show that the widely made complaint about the visa program is true: a small number of IT outsourcing companies get a disproportionately high number of H-1B visas and pay below-average wages to their workers. The new data also gives a more accurate picture of salaries of H-1B workers by employer. The top IT outsourcing companies on average paid much lower salaries to their workers. The wage divide is largely a result of different education requirements of H-1B positions. H-1B visas are issued to workers with specialized skills which generally requires a Bachelor's degree or higher. More than 98% of approved H-1B visa positions were awarded to workers with either a Bachelor's or a Master's degree in fiscal year 2016. A closer look at the educations held by H-1B workers at companies like Google, Amazon and Intel -- places with in-house tech staffs -- show that more than 60% had Masters degrees. For most IT outsourcing companies, the majority of H-1B visa holders only had a Bachelor's.
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New Data On H-1B Visas Prove That IT Outsourcers Hire a Lot But Pay Very Little

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  • by turkeydance ( 1266624 ) on Tuesday August 01, 2017 @08:30PM (#54923101)
    beauty is in the eye of the employer
    • Since when are IT employees hired for their looks?
      • Since when are IT employees hired for their looks?

        Let me guess, all that practise reading the various Cisco switch manuals in German front-to-back came in handy at your job interview.

      • by rmdingler ( 1955220 ) on Tuesday August 01, 2017 @09:28PM (#54923295) Journal

        Since when are IT employees hired for their looks?

        Since, well, this prospect looks like he'll work more hours for less pay... beauty.

  • Seriously? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by technomom ( 444378 ) on Tuesday August 01, 2017 @08:32PM (#54923109)
    This is news? Companies wouldn't bother to even do H-1B visas unless they paid less than homegrown employees.
    • Re:Seriously? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by AHuxley ( 892839 ) on Tuesday August 01, 2017 @08:40PM (#54923149) Journal
      Has 3 great wins in the USA.
      Removes unions.
      Staff have to work under threat of not been able to stay in the USA.
      Low costs.
      One person with needed legal standing in US can have a lot of new low cost workers working US services.
    • Re:Seriously? (Score:5, Informative)

      by whoever57 ( 658626 ) on Tuesday August 01, 2017 @08:44PM (#54923169) Journal

      As a former H1B holder who was paid far more than the equivalent homegrown employees, I can tell you that you missed the point of the article.

      The point is that US companies that directly employ H1B holders pay more than the companies whose business is outsourcing.

      • Re:Seriously? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 01, 2017 @09:02PM (#54923219)

        While simultaneously replacing jobs that U.S. citizens might take.. after a computer-focused IT education provides them what they thought was the means to a career....

        Yet you fail to understand the "argument" that the United States is failing to provide qualified tech workers... even with years of STEM programs.

        So if they don't get the overworked-underpaid H1B temp employees they want and they for some reason can't find local talent... its time to ship jobs beyond our shores!

        Wait.. do I hear an echo from Disney-world?

        https://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/04/us/last-task-after-layoff-at-disney-train-foreign-replacements.html

        California dreaming!

        http://www.computerworld.com/article/3117602/it-outsourcing/university-of-california-to-send-some-it-jobs-to-india.html

        This is corporate greed funded by legislation.. and nothing more.

        • by arth1 ( 260657 )

          This is corporate greed funded by legislation.. and nothing more.

          No, there are exceptions, where a person really is hired because there truly aren't anyone on the native market with the skill set. Those are few and far-between, but examples can include new technologies that haven't been introduced to the US before, so there is no local expertise, or old technologies where those who knew it are either already hired or dead. Try finding a competent Fortran programmer or certified horologist these days. Chances are you have to shop abroad.

          • Or you could just find a competent programmer who's willing to learn Fortran. Seriously, people get way too hung up on language experience. I guess it's a way to pigeonhole people and keep pay rates low.

            But seriously, any decent programmer can pick up a new language in a few weeks. And probably only half of the decent programmers have been pushed out of the industry So there's still a big pool of domestic labor to exploit.

            • it is easy to skill up in a language, it takes many months or years to be proficient with all the ins and outs of the language to get the best from it. When you are dealing with something critical the last thing you want is someone that has only just picked up the language.
        • While simultaneously replacing jobs that U.S. citizens might take.. after a computer-focused IT education provides them what they thought was the means to a career....

          Yet you fail to understand the "argument" that the United States is failing to provide qualified tech workers... even with years of STEM programs.

          So if they don't get the overworked-underpaid H1B temp employees they want and they for some reason can't find local talent... its time to ship jobs beyond our shores!

          Wait.. do I hear an echo from Disney-world?

          https://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/04/us/last-task-after-layoff-at-disney-train-foreign-replacements.html

          California dreaming!

          http://www.computerworld.com/article/3117602/it-outsourcing/university-of-california-to-send-some-it-jobs-to-india.html

          This is corporate greed funded by legislation.. and nothing more.

          And you confirmed the GP point -- abuse of the program. Those companies that hire H1Bs in order to import them into this country are to be blamed (they keep 2 books similar to accounting). Those employers that outsource their work to a company which hires H1Bs are to be blamed. How hard is it to see that the program is not really the culprit, but companies that intend to cut their cost in order to make more profits are? Most of them [wikipedia.org] are Indian companies, but one Australian based company caught on the loopho

        • Why shouldn't an employer hire someone cheaper? Isn't that the point of business? Raise profits and cut expenses is what creates jobs and an economy.

          Who is the real greedy one?

      • Re:Seriously? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 01, 2017 @09:08PM (#54923233)

        Precisely.

        H1-B visas should only be granted to companies that are hiring the holder directly - no contracting companies should be allowed to sponsor H1-B holders.

        If the employer of the H1-B candidate had to treat them as an employee, we would see the higher wages. But since they are employed by contract houses, they get less money, the corporations get cheap foreign labor, and wages stay low.

        • The eerie irony of this is that the companies using contractors are often paying a higher hourly rate than they would for a permanent employee at the same time as the contractor himself is paid less than the normal wage. I think what is needed is something like a minimum wage scheme, graded after the profession - something like the average pay for that category minus a small percentage. Yes, I do realise it would put many contracting agencies out of business - that is sort of the point.

      • by zifn4b ( 1040588 )

        The point is that US companies that directly employ H1B holders pay more than the companies whose business is outsourcing.

        Wow, what an insightful comment. This is like seriously posing a question such as: Which of the two turds is better?

      • You mean this point:

        "Top 10 H-1B employers are all IT offshore outsourcing firms, costing U.S. workers tens of thousands of jobs " http://www.epi.org/blog/top-10... [epi.org]

        You might want to read the article.
    • Which companies? Dedicated outsources, no doubt. But I'm a hiring manager in a tech company, and about 3/20 of my people are H1Bs. They get paid the same as the rest of my people (software engineers, in the $300K+ range). We don't look for H1Bs because we pay less.
    • It is when Tech Companies go before Congress claiming they need more H-1B visas and claim H-1B visas don't cost jobs and don't depress wages. Having facts to refute those arguments is handy.
      • It is when Tech Companies go before Congress claiming they need more H-1B visas and claim H-1B visas don't cost jobs and don't depress wages. Having facts to refute those arguments is handy.

        Congress has never let facts get in the way of listening to lobbyists. When it comes to special interests vs. the good of the public, they know which side their bread is buttered on. Otherwise, everyone would be covered by Medicare already.

  • by mhkohne ( 3854 ) on Tuesday August 01, 2017 @08:34PM (#54923125) Homepage

    That corporations would do the most economically sensible thing, given the conditions at hand.

    In other words: Duh. Now that we have the evidence, can we PLEASE do something about this?

    I have serious problems with a visa that's designed for the worker to have to go home again later (I know that a fair number of H1B holders do convert to green card holders, but that's deliberately NOT the point of an H1B).

    H1B should be a fairly rare thing - if the US is so short of workers that you have to go oversees, then we should be giving out green cards and encouraging citizenship, not paying crap wages, depressing pay scales for US workers, and then sending them home.

    Take the number of H1B visas issued, and put that number into the green card program instead. I want people who are going to stay and be my neighbor, not temps from oversees!

    • (I know that a fair number of H1B holders do convert to green card holders, but that's deliberately NOT the point of an H1B).

      Wrong. H1B visas are "dual-intent" -- this means that it is expected that the holder will apply for a green card.

    • No, we can't (Score:3, Interesting)

      by rsilvergun ( 571051 )
      because it's not an issue that brings anyone to the polls. You've got guns, abortion, Obamacare and coal jobs (mostly because it's a swing state issue). But H1-Bs? Nope. Nobody votes on it. If you wanna end H1-B abuses you need to start voting in your primaries and tossing the incumbents out when then vote against it. But good luck, I doubt you could get the herd of cats that is IT people to vote as a block. Besides, we're all convinced we're the irreplaceable guy...
      • As real average wages (adjusted for cost of living) continue to drop, and the last of the independent consultants are starved out, maybe we programmers can finally grow up, stop acting like man-children, and show some solidarity.

        Or maybe we'll become like immediate post-USSR Russia. A huge pool of highly skilled programmers, with near zero job prospects. Nany of whom will turn to illicit activity.

      • Ok. Name one politician to vote for who cares? Trump and Hillary are both pro h1b1 visa.

    • In fact, we need to get rid of all H1Bs.
      In addition, divide the number of green cards by 10, and use that.
      The reason is that majority of H1B is being used to replace Americans, not supplement us, AND, Green Cards will stay while about 50% of H1Bs convert.
  • The real money (Score:4, Informative)

    by bobstreo ( 1320787 ) on Tuesday August 01, 2017 @08:43PM (#54923161)

    The IT outsourcing companies make a ton of other money in the process.

        From a percentage of the pay their H-1B contracts receive, to the flop houses they store their programmers in while they're not at work, it's all pure profit.

  • by zerofoo ( 262795 ) on Tuesday August 01, 2017 @08:46PM (#54923175)

    Data here [uscis.gov]

    Is it any wonder that middle class wages have stagnated and young workers are under employed?

    And some people still can't figure out why Hillary lost....

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Has Trump done something about it yet?
      Other than Boost the Number of Visas for Low skilled workers?

      Trump Lies Better than Hillary?

      • by CrankyFool ( 680025 ) on Tuesday August 01, 2017 @09:33PM (#54923313)
        [ Just to be clear: I'm a virulent anti-Trump liberal. I'm not trying to shill for the guy. I think he's awful ] On this front, there've been two developments you can attribute to Trump: 1. USCIS has suspended priority processing of H1Bs, which reduces some mobility of H1B workers; 2. The general travel ban and xenophobia of his administration has had a chilling effect on non-US residents' desire or willingness to come to the US to work. This also includes people who are in the US today who have started considering leaving. If you're against more foreign workers, I'd say he (well, his administration) actually has some accomplishments to point to.
      • by Afty0r ( 263037 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2017 @05:03AM (#54924341) Homepage

        Has Trump done something about it yet?

        Yes, I am a Brit trying to get into the US on the H1B program because my girlfriend is there. It is now significantly harder to get companies to even talk to me since they defunded priority applications. My best shot is to apply in April, for a visa that *may* start in October. My chances of getting it are very slim though.

        Note that I'm in software, in London, earn a very good salary and have 20 years of experience - I'm a model candidate - and I've been told by some people over there that I may as well not bother and to "explore other options"...

        • Note that I'm in software, in London, earn a very good salary and have 20 years of experience - I'm a model candidate - and I've been told by some people over there that I may as well not bother and to "explore other options"...

          You are the perfect candidate for what the H1-B program "should" be for. The H1-B program has been twisted to lower the average wages of all employees, in which case, you are ideally the WRONG candidate.

          I wonder what they are doing with all of that extra money they are "saving"? Surely there are only so many castles and personal servants a person could own. I do not see the money going into new and innovative businesses nor improving infrastructure, nor, most importantly, increasing our understanding and ab

        • by m00sh ( 2538182 )

          Has Trump done something about it yet?

          Yes, I am a Brit trying to get into the US on the H1B program because my girlfriend is there. It is now significantly harder to get companies to even talk to me since they defunded priority applications. My best shot is to apply in April, for a visa that *may* start in October. My chances of getting it are very slim though. Note that I'm in software, in London, earn a very good salary and have 20 years of experience - I'm a model candidate - and I've been told by some people over there that I may as well not bother and to "explore other options"...

          Absolute hogwash.

          Priority processing has nothing to do with this. Even with priority processing, you still apply in April and come in October. It's just that you'll know in June instead of July if you're coming or not.

          If you have a company that is genuinely interested in you then it is possible to do EB2 green card. It takes about 6 months before you can get your work permit and green card about 5-8 months afterwards. It is more complicated and more burden on the employer to file 4 stages of paperwork t

    • Younger workers are have been under employed since I was a kid -- long before H1B visas were an issue (30 years). Many workers in any field are just not worth employing -- especially in the tech industry where productivity of the top worker is often a rather high multiple of the lowest worker.

      Protectionism that blocks foreign skilled talent will only hurt American businesses which will have a further knock on when it comes to secondary employment, taxation etc. If the foreign worker is in demand and ye
      • I'm solidly a free trader...but your working from a bad premise. I'm a consultant that works with companies of all types, including the big tech companies, and my experience is that overall fewer than 2 in 10 H1b workers are "highly skilled". It's really unbelievable how bad the situation is.

    •       and how many of those degrees are from degree mills over there?

  • Why is it not a requirement to pay above average wages for H1-B holders? The only reason they have the visa is because there is no local worker with the required skill, right?

  • Seriously, rather than doing H1Bs, it should be green cards and should based on corporate needs.
    Also, the hire should be required to ONLY work INSIDE of that company. IOW, they can not be contracted out.
    Finally, the green card holder should not be allowed to contract for the first 5 years that they are here.
  • Here in Sweden, we have had an outsourcing problem for many years too, this isn't unique to the U.S. in any way, shape or form - it's just got more attention because "USA".

    People want a big salary, they've become accustomed to high salaries and do not want to change their lifestyle. What about electronics? We're living in times were you can purchase a huge 50 inch flat screen TV for 300 bucks or less, electronics gadgets are almost ludicrously cheap - and salaries at an all time high. Our standard of living

    • If you were earning $500/mo in the States, you would NOT have a house of your own and plenty of food. You would be living in a cardboard box under a bridge and eating out of dumpsters. Get real, broham.

      • >>If you were earning $500/mo in the States, you would NOT have a house of your own and plenty of food. You would be living in a cardboard box under a bridge and eating out of dumpsters. Get real, broham.

        That's an uneducated utterance, simply because you cannot dictate how I live, nor can you know it, all you can do is assume that what I inform you of is either untrue or true.

        Here's an example. (the very truth, in my case): I own the house, my property taxes are roughly 300$ a year, thats less than 30

  • Don't tie the visa to a specific company. Make it easy for the workers to switch jobs. H1B workers are damn near indentured servants because it's so damn hard to switch jobs. The result is they have to put up with crap that a regular worker wouldn't tolerate, e.g. longer hours (at a fixed salary), no bonuses, shorter or no vacations, etc. It's not just about the salary. It's the ability to completely control the workers.

    • by Craig Cruden ( 3592465 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2017 @04:21AM (#54924277)
      There are two issues with the process. The H1B is the only visa that allows for dual purpose/intent - temporary worker while allowing for the person to have the intent to work permanently in the United States. It is often used while a company is sponsoring the individual for a green card. H1B is a maximum of 2 3yr visas, and sponsoring for a green card typically takes almost 6 years to process. During this time a worker cannot change employers or they have to start over on the green card application -- basically turning them into indentured servants with little or no ability to negotiate on pay.

      The H1B tech worker program should be changed into a temporary work permit given to the employee (not the employer) while the green card application is underway. The green card application once started should have the ability to "transfer sponsors". H1B visas should require a minimum salary at or above the prevailing wage. Data on salaries of local hires and H1Bs should be reported annually, and if a company is abusing the visa then they should be banned from sponsoring them for a period of 5 years.
      • by m00sh ( 2538182 )

        There are two issues with the process. The H1B is the only visa that allows for dual purpose/intent - temporary worker while allowing for the person to have the intent to work permanently in the United States. It is often used while a company is sponsoring the individual for a green card. H1B is a maximum of 2 3yr visas, and sponsoring for a green card typically takes almost 6 years to process. During this time a worker cannot change employers or they have to start over on the green card application -- basically turning them into indentured servants with little or no ability to negotiate on pay. The H1B tech worker program should be changed into a temporary work permit given to the employee (not the employer) while the green card application is underway. The green card application once started should have the ability to "transfer sponsors". H1B visas should require a minimum salary at or above the prevailing wage. Data on salaries of local hires and H1Bs should be reported annually, and if a company is abusing the visa then they should be banned from sponsoring them for a period of 5 years.

        There are already stuff like this.

        Main problem is that most H1Bs are from India and because of the diversity quotas (one country cannot send more than 10% of the total immigrants per year), the backlog is decades long.

        However, a lot of stuff like 140 and priority dates are transferable.

        However, the whole green card process was never indented to be a 2 year process. It was 3-4 months process and stuff that made sense for a 3-4 month process doesn't make sense for 2 year process. For example, considerin

    • by m00sh ( 2538182 )

      Don't tie the visa to a specific company. Make it easy for the workers to switch jobs. H1B workers are damn near indentured servants because it's so damn hard to switch jobs. The result is they have to put up with crap that a regular worker wouldn't tolerate, e.g. longer hours (at a fixed salary), no bonuses, shorter or no vacations, etc. It's not just about the salary. It's the ability to completely control the workers.

      This was fixed 15-20 years ago.

      H1Bs can easily switch jobs. It does cost the company legal fees and USCIS fees (around $4000 or so) but it is pretty straightforward to switch.

  • Does a CCIE require a Masters degree?

    Can I sit for the MCSE exam with a high-school diploma?

    Does Oracle require a Bachelors degree to become a DBA?

    We need to drop this bullshit argument within the IT sector. 98% of the time, you're paying for the specialized skills.A perfect example of this is the utter lack of a degree requirement when hiring a technical consultant or contractor. Not everyone in IT is going to become a CxO, and most don't want to. Obtaining and keeping specialized skills honed is far mo

  • If they had to pay the going rate they wouldn't bother in the first place.

  • Market Value 101 !! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ripvlan ( 2609033 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2017 @08:48AM (#54925187)

    My father always told me "don't get good at something you don't like to do" --- years later I'd learn that it was true, and B) don't ever get good at something that isn't valued (or can be automated).

    The low wages for these IT jobs is simply the Value That Companies Put on the Work. They need a semi-skilled laborer to write 'em some dumb code. Or push buttons for a manual testing effort. The cost of "now" vs "automate it" -- usually "now" wins. Regardless of how bad you may feel about somebody doing the same job for less -- realize this -- it's all the employer is willing to pay to get the job done.

    Don't get good at those jobs.

  • greater contributions from companies that rely on H1Bs
  • See the comment's subject. No further comment needed.

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