back to article US Congress members push Gates's line on visas

Bill Gates's call for US Congress to up the H-1B visa quota sparked two proposed bills by the close of last week. Two members of the House of Representatives have introduced bills to address the tech workers shortfall that the Microsoft chairman again bemoaned on his trip to Washington last Wednesday. Late last week a Democrat …

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What A Load

There are plenty of unemployed Tech workers in the US. No need to import any. There are plenty of people in the US that need jobs, instead of importing cheap tech labor, why don't they/we put some effort/cash behind training what you/we need. Take care of your own first, everyone else can wait in line.

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Alert

Yeah, but the Problem is they are not very good!

The thing is Mike, we have plenty of unemployed people in the UK as well - but there's no point in training them up as IT staff, because we don't need any more lazy unmotivated lack lustre IT Staff - we need good ones!!

Given how incredibly easy it is for every Pole coming across to find work, do you not find yourself starting to think that the unemployed people are unemployed because they are, well, you know... a bit crap?

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Gates Horns

sheesh... what utter cod...

start sponsoring bright students through college and you won't have to import the "bright" ones...

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Anonymous Coward

Only Interested in Students?

I heard a radio interview with Mr Gates the other night. He was only talking about making sure that foreign students continue to work in the US so that Microsoft can hire them.

He is simply not interested in any of the tech workers who are already in the States. As Mike points out above, there are a few of those around. It's almost as if Billy Boy doesn't think he can get them to work for him?

I know I wouldn't.

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Go

RE: What A Load

I'm guessing Microsoft et al want GOOD tech workers rather than the multitude of self-qualified "tech workers" that are out of work for good reason. Note that under H1B rules the employer has to pay the equivalent salary as a US worker.

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Pirate

Passion Plays........ for the Very Best in Beta Applications

It aint cheap tech labour that they're looking for, Mike, it is leading edge pioneers and they can be easily paid to go anywhere but they aint cheap. Fortunately though they are still available for practically nothing with paper money, which I suppose is a contradiction but that is the nature of the Enigma Game and ITs Players/Professional Lovers/Truly XXXXPerienced Amateurs.

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Paris Hilton

Equivalent salary to what?

> Note that under H1B rules the employer has to pay the equivalent salary as a US worker.

Oh, you mean the ones that he can't find to hire? Might that be because he is not offering enough $$$?

But in exchange for a visa, lots and lots of people will work for much less, what a happy coincidence for Mr. Bill.

Even she can figure this one out.

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More chances to flout federal law?

I've been told that for a foreign worker to legally land a job in the U.S., that the sponsoring employer must swear that a U.S. worker absolutely, positively, cannot be found to be employed in the job. Sorry to say, that just isn't the case. I have seen multiple instances (practically a rule) that American workers are getting the short end of the stick. I have repeatedly seen foreign workers who could not type, possesed poor OS knowledge, and could not even hook up a KVM be hired while competent American workers were sent packing. Then the group can't get things done, and the managers bemoan the "lack" of qualified workers.

There is no shortage of tech workers. There is a shortage of good managers.

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Not quite so clear-cut

Can we, first, scotch the idea that the H1B proposals are to ensure a source of 'cheap labour'? As has been previously stated, H1B visa holders are paid the same salary as an equivalent US employee and, typically, the kind of manpower Gates is talking about isn't at the burger-flipping end of the market.

Next, the myth that "there are (insert inflated number here) of American techies looking for work". Possibly there are. There may be many thousands of RPGII programmers on the breadline and a million or so CICS experts just wasting away. Not relevant. Oh, and before we get the inevitable, "Well why doesn't Bill Gates pay to retrain them?" let's remember that keeping skills current is the individual's responsibility.

But, finally, all of this might be moot. While I appreciate BG's taking the long view to keep his Redmond code mill working, the present state of the US economy is acting against him. I really don't see Lamar Smith's constituents singing his praises for allowing in a whole bunch of 'furriners' when the Texas unemployment figures start to act like the price of oil. (or 'orl' as they say in the Lone Star).

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Gates Horns

RE: RE: What a load

"Note that under H1B rules the employer has to pay the equivalent salary as a US worker."

This may be the law but it is not enforced or followed.

Many a loophole legal and otherwise ensures that this abuse continues to happen in the US.

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there is anbother problem

We (including me) here in the west are so stuck up and full of it ...

We only want to work 8 hours , want top pay , no taxes and everything should be free. Add on top of that (in europe) a social system that favors lazy bums and you have a complete winner.

People who come from outside this 'protected' hand-over-the-head want to work hard to build themselves a future. Gates has i right. These people come to the US to study and work hard to make a life for themselves. They are truly motivated. In such they are ideal workforce.

Besides if you send them back they will only become competition for the US. ( and europe ) The sun dawns in the East you now , it sets in the west .... and it's setting fast !

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As one of the aforementioned

I was recruited by MS 4 years ago, came down from Canada. The most striking thing about MS's employee base is how varied they are - from basically everywhere in the world. Salaries and salary ranges are Known Quantities - everyone knows what their peers make, and how their salary compares. I make the same as the homegrown people around me. It's asinine to think that _any_ tech worker would be productive when they were making less than their domestic coworkers.

With how much it costs (moving, lawyers for visa and citizenship) MS _does_ try to recruit from here first. The less cynical types (ie: people who don't read the Reg) get to go on recruiting trips to their home US schools regularly.

People hassle me and ask why their kid doesn't have a job at MS. I tell them MS is too big a company to only scout local talent. What I don't tell them is that their kid just isn't smart enough. Many of my domestic coworkers have never used a command line OS, not *nix, not even DOS. I cut my teeth on HPUX, Solaris, and Linux at the U of A.

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Cheap Labour Required

What Microsoft wants is cheap labour, that is why it is pursuing the student line. I saw this in EDS as well, the number of internal vacancies that circulated with "suitable for grad" on them... newly qualified students are (a) cheap and (b) more likely to work all the hours god sends without getting additional income. The fact that they have no experience and will often do a bad job as a result is not the point. They are cheap to emply and help the company keep staffing costs down, and that is all that counts with the big US employers. Start at the bottom line and work from there...

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RE: Not quite so clear-cut

First, US companies do pay the H1B visa employees that same that they would pay US citizens for the position, if they can find US citizens willing to get paid an annual salary that is less than they paid to go to college.

Second, if it is the responsibility of the individual to keep their skills current, then the employer better expect constant turnover as they continuously upgrade to the newer technology. It is more cost effective for the employer to keep their workforce “skilled” – and there is plenty of evidence to prove that.

Finally, the only “constituents” Smith (or any other US politician) is worried about are their district’s business owners. They will pass the law spite of any public outcry, because as the economy weakens, businesses will look to cut costs any way they can.

Let’s face it, H1B visas are there to save US companies money. Not so they can turn around and pass that savings on to the consumer, but so they can pay their executives the multi-million dollar salaries they come to expect.

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Go

There's also the possibility...

that a large number of the good engineering students going through US universities now ARE foreigners.

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@Brian

Brian, while I truly, deeply feel for the unemployed who would rather whine about the crappy wages (and remain unemployed) than start a job and work their way to better pay, I'm also aware of some of the realities of doing business in the global market. I pay you $X per year to write code, Gupta pays his programmer $X-Y per year to write the same code. Who gets to sell their product more cheaply.

As to your comment about turnover, again, that's a cost of doing business. Cite your "plenty of evidence" to prove otherwise, else stop yakking about rumour and myth.

The part of your excellent, humorous post regarding Lamar Smith's constituents is - as far as I can tell - a statement that simply says, "I'm a cynic, humour me". I don't care and I won't.

As for the motivation for US companies to advocate H1B visas, well, d-uh! (And, might I add, if it weren't for the capitalist system you seem to disdain, you wouldn't have this forum on which to respond to me. Oh, and do please respond.)

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This news makes me sad

With ALL the time, resources and money Bill Gates is tossing at this VISA issue, he could use to train more techs to actually BE good technicians and or programmers, which ever one that is needed. The fact that he consistently pushes for the VISA proves that he wants to pay the individuals that come from outside of the country less money. Shameful way to keep that money a rolling into his and Microsoft's pockets.

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Anonymous Coward

@Brian

"I've been told that for a foreign worker to legally land a job in the U.S., that the sponsoring employer must swear that a U.S. worker absolutely, positively, cannot be found to be employed in the job." - That's true for most immigrant visas (green cards), but not for H-1Bs - for temporary workers it's enough to show that you'll pay at least the prevailing wage.

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We should discontinue all H1B visas for a year

and see what happens. I think you'll find there are plenty of skilled/qualified workers who can fill those jobs.

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Gates Horns

Doesn't pass the sniff test

Considering that the last time I checked the U.S. was a market economy and that IT salaries have been barely increasing against inflation the last few years (much less the post-dotcom bust period of 2001-2003) I would have to say that there is no real shortage of IT workers, otherwise it would be reflected in more rapidly escalating IT wages.

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DJ
Gates Horns

That explains a lot

WARNING: Cheap shot follows...

Do you suppose Vista's lack of performance could be due to rookie developers? Maybe Bill & Co. should try hiring some *experienced* developers instead of students... (I told you it was a cheap shot)

More seriously, Gates testimony supports the theory that greed makes you stupid to the point you begin believing every one else is so dumb they can't see through your sophistry.

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good engineering students foreigners

> There's also the possibility...that a large number of the good engineering students going through US universities now ARE foreigners.

There is no doubt that this is true. So how do you get more domestic engineering students?

Here's Bill's idea: Allow US companies to hire more foreign grads!

What can kill an incoming college student's desire to become an engineer more than the knowledge that he'll be competing against a boatload of foreign grads who are desperate to stay in the states?

How about let the good ol' market force the US companies to hire US citizens? Demand will go up, and students will want to be engineers in order to get a good job upon graduation. Nah, US companies only like the free market when they make a killing from it, not when it might hurt them a little.

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two issues

There are companies looking for top people, and willing to pay for them. For these companies, there just aren't enough applicants. I feel sorry for these guys.

Then there are companies looking for code monkeys to write login pages and data edit screens. They hate to pay the $60k a new US grad gets. They'd like to pay, say, $30k. I would venture to say that there is, indeed, a shortage of US tech workers who want to give up half their wage to do boring work in a sweatshop.

Microsoft is interesting in the debate because it has both problems. Microsoft has the additional issue that they like to hire new grads who don't have a life yet, and work them 60 hr/week (paying for only 40 of course) so that workers never have time to aquire a life and its attendant distractions.

A modest Proposal

What if H-1b visas were portable, so that once the visa was granted, the foreign worker could work for any employer for a period of time. The grateful worker would tend to stay with the company who sponsored the visa, but only if they paid a market-clearing wage. Scarce top talent could enter the US in unlimited numbers, without unduly damaging the labor market. And nobody gets to pretend they are the first kind of company when they are really the second kind. Bwah-ha-ha!

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@Brian

"Second, if it is the responsibility of the individual to keep their skills current, then the employer better expect constant turnover as they continuously upgrade to the newer technology. It is more cost effective for the employer to keep their workforce “skilled” – and there is plenty of evidence to prove that."

What a load of the proverbial. Current skills only happen when one is trained in them. Training for the "current" skillset never exists in universities. They're always behind the curve. And in case you are too young/stupid to remember, almost every company back in the day actually trained their new recruits and had a commitment to upskilling them as time went on. Now by and large people just think of coders as disposal commodities that are to be had cheaply and dumped when they get too good/pricey.

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IT Angle is Irrelevant

...to this American.

If we assume that many, many visa holders will eventually stay in the US permanently, it is incumbent upon us to acknowledge that H-1B immigration is still immigration, and that there are implications beyond "what will this do to the prevailing wage for C++ coders" questions.

What kind of immigration policy the US has is, I think, a little too important to be answered with "whatever BillG thinks is appropriate".

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Linux

I'm sick of losing my job!

These Asians will work for far less because they don't have a mortgage and don't have $50,000 in credit card debt from living between layoffs. I'm living on the brink of ending up on the streets. Who would have thought engineers would be living this way back in the 1970's? Gates can go to hell as far as I'm concerned, along with the rest of his ilk.

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Stop

This is being tested right now.

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1714614/posts

http://www.kavitachhibber.com/main/main.jsp?id=legal-Nov2005

Wilco is using temporary visas to bring in Indian labour at reduced costs to replace the Americans who train them. It's not a myth, it's absolute fact. I know Sona personally and she's as able and hardworking as they come. This is not a lazy American thing, it's a cut cost boost profits thing.

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Flame

Get the facts straight....

I like the post of the ex-Microsoft employee from Canada. (All workers were paid the same) Sure. Low balled.

The truth is that because the H1B is "captured" they are paid at a discount to US citizens or those with a green card.

Many times the companies will post a job opening at a low rate as to limit takers and then complain that they couldn't find any one to fill thus they need to bring in an H1B.

Its a game played by corporate HR and senior management.

As another poster mentioned see what will happen if you don't have any H1B visas in the US for a year. You'll see the rates/salaries increase.

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H1-B experience

Speaking as a non-USA IT person who did a work-stint in the USA 10 years ago under one of those visas, I can guarantee you that the company was very likely paying me an hourly rate which was more than the average USA IT pay; in the order of US$102K per annum for cutting code.

And yes, I am somewhat good at my line of work. ^_^

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Paris Hilton

@ Anonymous Coward

<< I'm guessing Microsoft et al want GOOD tech workers rather than the multitude of self-qualified "tech workers" that are out of work for good reason. Note that under H1B rules the employer has to pay the equivalent salary as a US worker. >>

And just who determines that "equivalent salary" except Billy Boy and friends... They set the salary for the H1B positions they want to fill so low that nobody in their right minds (i.e., wants to have a roof over their head and food in the fridge) will take the job. If they could pay federal minimum wage and get a live body, they would do so in an instant.

I have friends with CompSci degrees and significant experience who can't get a decent job in Silicon Valley, where McDonald's has to pay $12-14 an hour just to get someone to flip hamburgers because of the cost of housing. Their last job was oursourced to India or Thailand or someplace where Billy Boy can pay the flunkies there $20 a day or less.

Paris, 'cos I know she couldn't work for Billy

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PT

Thus spoke Alan Greenspan

Doesn't anybody read these days? Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the Fed, explained the H1B program succinctly in his recent memoir.

"As awesomely productive as market capitalism has proved to be, its Achilles' heel is a growing perception that its rewards, increasingly skewed to the skilled, are not distributed justly. ... A dysfunctional US ... education system has failed to ... prevent a shortage of skilled workers and a surfeit of lesser skilled ones, expanding the pay gap between the two groups. Unless America's education system can raise skill levels as quickly as technology requires, skilled workers will continue to earn greater wage increases, leading to ever more disturbing extremes of income concentration. ... we need to address increasing income equality now. ... BY OPENING OUR BORDERS TO LARGE NUMBERS OF HIGHLY SKILLED IMMIGRANT WORKERS WE WOULD ... PROVIDE A NEW SOURCE OF COMPETITION FOR HIGHLY EARNING EMPLOYEES, THUS DRIVING DOWN THEIR WAGES".

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