Tech frustrated as H-1B visas likely to be scooped up in days

Companies that want a temporary work visa for potential foreign hires will today begin applying to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

The demand for the 85,000 available slots will likely be high, if previous years are any indication. The agency expects they will reach that number of requests in five business days, Politico’s Morning Tech reported.

The annual April 1 deadline underlines, again, tech industry advocates’ frustrations with the prospect for immigration reform. Silicon Valley had hoped that President Obama’s executive changes to immigration rules, announced last November, would include releasing unused H-1B visas. That didn’t happen, although tech applauded the change of giving spouses of H-1B workers the ability to work, as U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker wrote in Inc.

For most companies and startups, the fixes don’t address their greater needs. Many are supporting Sen. Orrin Hatch’s “I-Squared” bill would raise the cap to 115,000.

In a TechCrunch op-ed, Max Levchin, co-founder of PayPal and CEO of Affirm who emigrated to the U.S. in 1991, called on congressional leaders to pass Hatch’s bill:

The H-1B visa lottery leaves to chance what we should want to guarantee for our economy: that the best and the brightest innovators contribute to our country’s success, instead of being forced out and likely given little choice but to go create jobs for our global competitors. At nearly every company I’ve been a part of, there has been at least one heartbreaking story of a hardworking immigrant being sent back to his or her home country.

Advocates for reform have launched a “Let PJ Stay” campaign to keep Pierre-Jean “PJ” Cobut, a Belgium entrepreneur and co-founder of Echo Labs, stay in the country. His visa expires June 15, and he has said he plans to move, with his Palo Alto-based wearables firm, to Canada.

But labor and others have argued that raising the cap would hurt American workers.

Michael Wasser, a senior policy analyst with Jobs With Justice, a labor group, argued in an op-ed in The Hill that employers have used the visa program to lay off employees and hire contract labor. Any change to the current visa program needs to come with worker protections, he said.

H-1B workers are not responsible for the loss of U.S. jobs or lowering of labor standards. That responsibility rests solely with employers who use the H-1B program’s inherently coercive conditions to drive down labor costs, even if that means replacing American workers.


At top: Photo from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service



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  • John Miano

    Funny no mention here of the 500 or so Americans that got replaced by H-1B workers at Southern California Edison, or those replaced by H-1B workers earlier this year at Walt Disney World, or those replaced by H-1B workers at Cargill, or those replaced by H-1B workers at Northeast Utilities (aka Eversource). But it does say “H-1B workers are not responsible for the loss of U.S. jobs”.

    They must hand at reality deprivation pills at the Mercury News.

    • Léo Hung

      Cheaper to import than pay local workers who are already immersed in the culture and that think of themselves as special snow flakes. 🙂

      Overseas workers are desperate and will work harder for less. But eventually they will become special snowflakes as well.

  • Dave

    How disgusting is an industry that can’t even create American jobs?

    • Léo Hung

      Cheaper to import Indians to do the job without paying more for it. 🙂


      • Dave

        We can’t blame capitalism itself. Greed and psychopathy are better culprits.

        • Léo Hung

          Greed is the root of all that is wrong with today’s society. Economic models are just ways to organize thoughts and practices 😀

          I agree with you. It’s just that in a model that goals are to reduce costs and maximize profits, people tend to show their worst side.

          • Dave

            It’s like they’re trying to prove everything that can go wrong with a free-ish market when you let psychopaths take charge.

          • Léo Hung

            I think it has more to do with “How do we, who control the game, get richer?”. They do not care, as long as their pockets get fatter. Sad truth.

          • Dave

            That’s psychopathy.

  • Balogna

    They could always hire U.S. CITIZENS!

    There are millions of unemployed American engineers and those who hate Americans complain that they cannot replace them fast enough.

    Disgusting. Hang the traitors!

  • Okay then, let’s lose the lottery and make H-1B selection based upon competitive bidding for the visa — oh yeah, that solution fell on deaf ears a long time ago — competition seems to be a dirty word.

    BTW: H-1B is the only visa program I know of where application fees are refunded if the applicant doesn’t win the lottery. The intending employer risks virtually nothing and USCIS examines about 100,000 applications for free.

    Talk about corporate welfare.

    • wronginformatin

      They dont examine the apps. All those received in first five days are alloted serial numbers and only those numbers on lottery are opened and others are returned.

      • Understood, but the 175,000 (latest figure kicked around) cap subject applicants, that make it in the five day window, are evaluated and adjudicated. So, with a cap of 85,000 there would be 90,000 adjudicated for free once those application fees are refunded.

        Additionally, there are instances of denied applicants attempting to recover filing fees that they illegally gave to their “employer.” So thousands of these applications (supposedly evidence of a labor shortage) may be merely a get rich scheme for unscrupulous employers who know how to work the system.

        • Melissa

          The 90,000 applications are not adjudicated for free. They’re not even looked at. They’re simply returned to the applicant, completely untouched.

          • Not the point, offshore outsourcers are gaming the system and the number of applications is used as proxy to imply a labor-shortage. If there is no financial risk, the offshore outsourcers like Infosys can continue to file 23,759 LCA applications as they did in 2014.

            Now, if those fund were not returned, at $2000.00 each, it would cost Infosys $47,518,000.00 to game the system.

            The outsourcers (H-1B dependent, so they don’t have to name their candidate) are simply hoping to get lucky, and provide the candidate to a legitimate employer who did not win the lottery.

  • kxs5020

    I think our law makers and corporations should be patriotic and not greedy. They should think about job creation of US workers and not for foreign workers. They build this country and now being replaced. Too bad.

    • StopTheLies

      No, not “too bad”. This will end badly for these plutocrats — and soon.

      “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” — Thomas Jefferson

  • Daisy Watch

    The following is from an H-1B forum called Trackitt. A bodyshopping employer is not paying the employee as there is no current project, which is an employer violation. The employee sought to illegally concoct a plan with the employer, where the employee would illegally pay the employer to “run payroll,” thereby keeping the employee “in status.” This is fraud, willful violation, human trafficking, money laundering, and anything else you can think of.

    POST TITLE: Do i need to file WH4 to save my status h1-b

    Posted by newport (30) 3 hours 36 minutes ago #1

    i am on h1-b with employer A(EVC model) from oct 2014, my project ended with client on feb 28. my employer paid me till feb 28 on march 4 2015 and pay stub was generated on march 16 2015.

    i got another offer from employer B(EVC model)with start date of 30 march and submitted to USCIS on march 31. as per employer A payroll policy, i was to get paid on april 01 2015. i did not got pay as i think they will not be paying since i am on bench.LCA is for $66500 and for 5 months i was paid $32000 till feb 28 2015. if i file Wh4 with DOL, will i be able to transfer my h1 with COS without any issues. i dont have h1-b stamping as of now.

    Posted by newport (30) 3 hours 11 minutes ago#4

    is it illegal/ crime: I have requested my employer to run my payroll and I will pay for it? my employer declined my request. will this request be made use against me ?

  • wronginformatin

    NO use hating those poor Indian “so called” techies mostly from JNTU on h1b who come to USA with minimal english skills and an American dream. Hate the scamsters nandan Nilekani, Lingam raju, and other bosses who run NASSCOM that pays millions to some republican congressmen to block any immigration bill.
    s 744 would have raised the minimal pay required, and would have made it much hard for this fraudster companies,, infosys, tcs, satyam etc who commit 99 percent of h1b fraud. Chuck grassly himself is a doing some double speak. S. 744 does more than what he is asking for. then why he is against it. bcuz he wants to have the cake and eat it too.

  • Mad Rag

    I think everyone is missing the point here, H1B visas are only 85,000 per year . And the employers of a H1B holder have a minimum wage set by the US govt and they have to pay that. The “So called techies” are not paid any less by these companies . The real problem is the 98 billion dollar software export that India does today. That is where all the American jobs have gone. If the jobs have to come back, No point in pondering over the H1B issue, the root cause is Off Shoring . That has to stop . Companies can get 4 employees in India for 60K , while they have to pay 100K here . That is what beating up American engineers . While the CEO and CTO of these organization get a fat paycheck , and why would they care ? The govt has to come forward and say, Every job outsourced and american employee is cut, The company has to pay double tax to the govt or they have to say only 25% of the job can be off shored. Why wont the govt do it ?