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back to article House passes, Obama disses 55,000 visas for educated immigrants

The US House of Representatives has passed a bill to provide 55,000 visas per year to non-citizens who graduate from US universities with advanced degrees in STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The legislation, however, is opposed by President Obama and has a snowball's chance in hell of being …

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Anonymous Coward

Of course migrant workers don't take away american jobs in the long run.

Because that's how 99% of people became americans, by migrating there to work & staying.

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Re: Of course migrant workers don't take away american jobs in the long run.

That's because their treatment of non-Americans living and working there isn't very nice

A friend, who was head of dept at (probably) the USA's top physics dept, went to a conference at CERN and was arrested on returning to the USA.

Apparently it's an offence to leave the country while your citizenship application is being processed !

Fortunately the university has a lot of friends in Washington (aswell as access to nuclear weapons) so it was all cleared up in only a dozen or so visits to the INS office, lawyers, police etc

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Facepalm

Re: Of course migrant workers don't take away american jobs in the long run.

Of course they take jobs from (existing) Americans. The reason these visas exist is because business is unwilling to pay what an American worker demands for that job so they sponsor a visa for someone willing to work for less in exchange for US citizenship. In effect, making citizenship part of the benefits package. That's no good to someone who is already a citizen so they miss out.

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Re: Of course migrant workers don't take away american jobs in the long run.

The conservatives in America are more basic than that. Now that they have busted the labor unions and have artificially kept wages low for the working class, they are only trying to flood the market with these highly educated workers in hopes of driving their wages lower.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Of course migrant workers don't take away american jobs in the long run.

Unless of course if they are Mexican they remain illegal.

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@Nicho: Bullshit

I happen to know first hand that certain visas require that the visa holder has to be guaranteed a version higher level of pay than an American would receive. You're talking about farmers employing undocumented fruit pickers, not highly skilled immigrants.

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FAIL

Re: Of course migrant workers don't take away american jobs in the long run.

".......Apparently it's an offence to leave the country while your citizenship application is being processed !....." So, smart enough to work in nuke physics, just not smart enough to understand the basic immigration rules which are explained to every applicant? Or are you saying he expected (and got) special help because of his role? One of the reasons the rule is in place is to stop rich foreigners just buying citizenship by buying an US firm and then not actually taking up residence, just using the citizenship to dodge the laws in their home countries. So you're complaining about a rule that stops rich people abusing the process?

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FAIL

Re: Re: Of course migrant workers don't take away american jobs in the long run.

"The conservatives in America are more basic than that. Now that they have busted the labor unions and have artificially kept wages low for the working class, they are only trying to flood the market with these highly educated workers in hopes of driving their wages lower." LOL! So if they don't support immigration of foreigners then they're just racists, but if they support immigration of employable foreigners that won't be a burden to the States then they're just anti-unionists? Loosen up the tinfoil, otherwise there's a good chance you'll convince yourself breathing is just a Conservative plot to keep you alive and paying taxes.

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Re: Of course migrant workers don't take away american jobs in the long run.

Just a datapoint, I'm from the UK, I'm working in Europe, paid in sterling a good rate for back home, there is no way I'm cheaper than a local with exactly the same experience and professional background.

So there must be a reason they went overseas to find people, maybe, just maybe that reason wasn't money.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @Nicho: Bullshit

and of course there's no way to game that system and that part of the law is rigorously enforced....

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @Nicho: Bullshit

@keep refrierated. References please

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Gimp

Re: Of course migrant workers don't take away american jobs in the long run.

Free education, access to public assistance and preferential treatment for employment are not enough?

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Re: Of course migrant workers don't take away american jobs in the long run.

Nicho

you're wrong "The reason these visas exist is because business is unwilling to pay what an American worker demands for that job so they sponsor a visa for someone willing to work for less in exchange for US citizenship."

All vistas have the "going rate for the job" to para-phrase, condition; so migrant workers are not paid less but sometimes more. BTW Vista's are a pathway to citizenship not a right.

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Re: Of course migrant workers don't take away american jobs in the long run.

They don't, however, explain to the family members in the applicant's country of origin that they should refrain from falling ill or dying or undergoing any other significant life event that might require the applicant's attendance at short notice. The "rule" is mostly a test to check prospective citizens are sufficiently passive they'll accept this kind of shit.

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Stop

Re: Of course migrant workers don't take away american jobs in the long run.

Facts, or never happened.

It's not apparently an offence, it's a well known fact to people applying for citizenship that they either stay in the US, or leave the US for the length of the citizenship application.

Connections don't get you out of this bind. Maybe a good immigration lawyer does.

University with access to nuclear weapons? Did you mean they can see one, or do they have a launch button?

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Holmes

Re: @Nicho: Bullshit

Just a quick Google on your part would be enough...

http://www.dol.gov/compliance/guide/h1b.htm

Of course, yes, systems can be gamed, but that's not what your jingoistic assertion implied.

Let the down voting commence... I'm in favour of pre-war open borders and genetic diversity but I understand that modern medicine is very good now at fixing hair lips and lazy eyes so why not keep marrying your cousins?

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Stop

I don't mean to be rude, but...

Is it at all possible you're an idiot? This type of thinking is what gets the U.S. into the position it is. It is counterproductive and spreads conspiratorial nonsense around making unemployed workers believe their "misfortune" is the result of easily identifiable groups as opposed to accepting responsibility for their own inadequacies. Of course, I'll assume you're one of the inadequate, so for your sake, I'll say it obviously someone else's fault.

Foreigners willing to leave house, home and country behind to work their asses off to prove themselves while risking everything are simply more attractive than workers who are simply sitting on their asses waiting for the jobs to come to their home towns. Pack the bags, risk it all and move and you too can be part of the employed as well. I did and it pays off... I make far more than if I lived in America because the companies I work with can feel that I eminate motivation.

Or you can sit on your ass and bitch about how far more motivated people are stealing jobs from your lazy ass!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Of course migrant workers don't take away american jobs in the long run.

<sigh> the 'going rate for the job' is lower due to the existence of these programs. Without them, companies would need to compete for local skills,, driving up the 'going rate'

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @Nicho: Bullshit

@keep refrgerated. Yes but I needed to know what sort of visa you were talking about. Here's how the H1-B works. You find someone you want who's not a US citizen. To get them an H1-B you need to show that there's no local skills available. The way you do this (at least in IT) is to advertise a job description taiilored to the indvidual. Use a combination of skills/certifications/experience that fits like a jigsaw. Then you use this to justify the H1-B. how do I know all this ? It's the way I became a US citizen. Now while I'm grateful that it all worked out this way I am under no illusions that I didn't get this opportunity at the expense of someone local. If you honestly think this isn't rife then you simply don't understand capitalism.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I don't mean to be rude, but...

@cheesy. On the offchance you're referring to me, it is possible I'm an idiot but not because of this thread. There's a world of difference between arguing that immigration does or does not take jobs from Americans and arguing whether immigration is desirable or not. Two different questions ( oh and I'm doing you the courtesy of assuming you aren't an idiot for not recognising this. Heat of the moment post I wager)

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Re: @Nicho: Bullshit

Well it's a shame you didn't value your skills highly enough and accepted a lower rate of pay than you identify as being worth.

Some of us aren't prepared to do that and have it good, but I understand if you felt you have to compromise. Personally I can't say much as I might be identifiable by my situation but I'm fortunate enough to be in a niche market at the moment with my skills being in high demand - particularly in the US. I however, have no interest in taking pay cuts and jumping through their arbitrary hoops to go all the way. I'm much more focused on gaining citizenship in a more welcoming territory at the moment - but as I said too many personal details leads to identification.

I'm curious though as to why anyone would want to become an American citizen for less pay and less health assurances?

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Re: Of course migrant workers don't take away american jobs in the long run.

That's crap. He did something wrong. When my wife was going through the citizenship process we left the country several times to visit family in South America. No problems or concerns. There's not even a special box to check on the forms coming back into the country. Besides they don't arrest you. They just don't let you into the country if you are not a permanent resident, worker with a visa or a citizen. Issues are cleared up a the U.S. consulate in your home country, not the INS.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @Nicho: Bullshit

Ah, I didn't accept less than I was worth (OK I did but only because there isn't enoughmoney in the world to pay me what I'm worth), I accepted a package that included US citizenship. That, at least to me, is worth quite a bit, none of it monetary.

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Mushroom

@Refrigerated: Ever hear of loopholes?

I'm tangentially associated with a project (tangentially because in testing I found so many errors in three days that my employer switched me to other projects) which was outsourced to a company of four people - which hires H1-B employees from India knowing nothing of the processes to conduct the JADs, JSDs, PM work, and programming... which resulted in a "modern Java server-based system" operating not as well as the "clunky Bull mainframe COBOL system" it replaced. Although I've not seen the code, I suspect they managed to write Java spaghetti code, because they get all the maintenance contracts (no one else can figure out their code.)

Oh, and on salary: the work is being done in NJ, for the state government of NJ. However, the company is incorporated in WV, and the loophole is that prevailing wage can be the state of incorporation - much lower in WV than in NJ, which is the only way this company can be 'competitive' bringing in workers under H1-B.

The reason people can't be found in NJ? New Jerseyans can't SURVIVE on West Virginia wages. The cost of living is too high in NJ for WV wages.

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@Refrigerated: Re: @Nicho: Bullshit

"why not keep marrying your cousins?"

When you have to resort to ad hominems, most people on the 'net know you have no argument at all. Give it up already.

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Megaphone

Skills gap?

This means republican business owners can STFU about the skills gap myth. They don't want to pay people what they're worth. THAT is why there is a lack of highly technical workers currently employed. There was one engineer who brought up this point to Obama several months ago. Obama asked for his resume so he could show it whenever another CEO like Otellini complained that they just couldn't find qualified people to work. This man is still unemployed last I heard. I personally know a few people who had nice positions in NASA. Now they are doing things like lawn maintenance & consulting.

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Unhappy

So I guess immigration into the U.S. is only OK...

If you're here illegally and will become a reliable Democratic party voting bloc upon completing your "path to citizenship"?

(And no, I am not a Republican and I do not think we have "full employment" in the domestic IT labor pool. I just hate holier-than-thou hypocrisy on one form of immigration vs. another.)

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Facepalm

Re: So I guess immigration into the U.S. is only OK...

Gosh, you wouldn't be trying to suggest there could be a reason for the Dems wanting to keep or grow the 47% who will never vote Republican are you?

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Anonymous Coward

Not to be pedantic but ..

"what the right dubs illegal aliens ..." Ah, illegal alien is actually a legal definition not a right wing marketing gimmick.

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I'm a STEM graduate migrant worker in the US that's trying to hire people...

... and the existing quota limits are extraordinarily problematic. Not only are we having problems finding employees at all but we're having seriously to overpay.

There's a bit of a vicious circle at play here — the number of visas on offer per year is capped at far too low a number. Hence if you intend to hire a foreign worker then you need to make sure that the application your company submits in order to helper the worker obtain a visa goes through safely, first time. If it's rejected then it's very probable that there aren't any slots left by the time you get modified paperwork in.

To avoid any suspicion that the application is in any way dodgy you pretty much have to offer the new recruit the average salary. But that then turns the average salary into more like the minimum salary during that year's round of immigration as people already here realise what other employees are getting and what other employers have psychologically adapted to paying.

So the inflation rate on STEM salaries here is ridiculous; it'd be a natural effect of full employment in any normal sector but the only reason we're at full employment is that most of the world's talent is legally unavailable.

Stupidly, once you're already here the criteria changes for advancing to a green card. If your job is actively advertised and nobody else can genuinely be found to take it then you just have to go through the [severely backlogged] array of paperwork for a few years.

What the US needs is to apply similar criteria to temporary visas as to green cards — the test needs to be worker availability with no threshold. Introduce a new visa that makes it easier to remove people's authorisation if there's a crash if economics are a problem. To admit that there's full employment (ie, no further workers available) but then prevent anyone new from being brought is tantamount to deliberate sabotage of the industry.

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Holmes

Re: I'm a STEM graduate migrant worker in the US that's trying to hire people...

> but we're having to seriously overpay

Er, capitalism!

Market clearing prices?

There's no such thing as overpaying.

You're like the whiners (whingers) who complain when gasoline (petrol) stations gouge after a hurricane.

If you're a Republican, you should understand this. If you're a Democrat you think think this is good for the workers, who are getting paid current market rates.

(I dunno, in the last 20 years, my wages have only gone up 200%. In the mean time prices have gone up 300%. Fortunately my mortgage is my largest expense and it's only gone up -50%.)

I don't see a problem. What exactly do you think the problem is?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I'm a STEM graduate migrant worker in the US that's trying to hire people...

Is that you Thom from OSNews?

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Re: I'm a STEM graduate migrant worker in the US that's trying to hire people... (@Blake)

On the contrary; if I were a Republican I'd believe that a free market would set appropriate wage levels. I wouldn't invest my faith in a market so artificially hobbled by immigration caps that both sides of the aisle agree that reform is necessary. If I were a Democrat I'd probably be concerned about the growing wage gap between those with a skill the immigration system does recognise and those without, created entirely by an artificial cap on availability of the former. If I were simply an American I'd be concerned that there's an area of the economy that could be more productive — producing more tax and benefitting everyone — but doesn't have enough labour to grow.

In practice I'm none of those things so to sum up the problem for you: an artifificial government measure has created a distorted market. The market itself doesn't want the measure and I can't see why anybody else would either.

I don't agree with your reply because I don't agree that the market is functioning.

(@AC: no, but having had a look I do seem to agree with him on a lot of things)

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Re: I'm a STEM graduate migrant worker in the US that's trying to hire people...

I've got some great HR contacts if you'd like. You're obviously going through the hiring process incorrectly.

What companies, especially startups don't want do is pay reasonable salaries for the insane demands they place on staff. i got lucky and the startup I worked with did make a lot of money and so did I. Now though I just prefer to do my job and get paid enough to make my house payments, feed my family and take an occasional vacation. The idea of "do it once" is ruining the jobs market for everyone.

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Re: I'm a STEM graduate migrant worker in the US that's trying to hire people... (@Don Jefe)

My opinions come from the sum of not just my own experience but that of many other people I've spoken to. Naturally I accept that an aggregate anecdote is still just an anecdote and I'm likely running a biased and self-selecting survey — I'm sure the comments I'm making in social arrangements are highly leading — but it's not just me. Per the article "Since the government defines full employment as being an unemployment rate of 4 per cent [...] US-citizen STEM workers are essentially fully employed, and more STEM folks are needed."; so I'm not just imagining a paucity of available talent.

I also appreciate it's proven easy to score some kneejerk points at my expense so I'll be explicit: the effect of the market is that I'm being paid too much. The work I do doesn't justify the salary I receive. A reformed system would likely lower my salary. I'm in favour of reform.

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Re: I'm a STEM graduate migrant worker in the US that's trying to hire people... (@Don Jefe)

I get paid too much as well, if you happen to be working in the U.S. you'll get paid FAR too much, even if you are a grocery bagger.

That being said (not looking to piss anyone off here), everything in the U.S. costs too much. Even the grocery baggers need a decent wage so they can participate in the advertising/virtual service world that the U.S. has become.

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Bronze badge

STEM is discriminatory and a boondoggle

Why only "highly educated" ? Or, is there a program for "uneducated, but gifted, galented, and most-likely-to-succeed entrepreneurially"?

I realize that education, advanced education, and good connections help immensely, but sometimes, I feel that the system is rigged so much to keep out poor people (perceived as dregs or low-end migrants) that it undercuts many countries' chances to pick up some occasional winners.

Why is there not a screening program to import or immigrate non-grads and those who have no mentionable college credits but who have ideas or well-thought-out business plans and clear projections of taxable revenue contributions to their dream countries? Such a program would need to respect intellectual property and escrow its decisions to ensure that officials do not cherry pick and broker these people's ideas to "preferred" grads and MBA types who might be inclined to do or pay ANYthing to get in.

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Headmaster

Hmm??

"uneducated, but gifted, galented, and most-likely-to-succeed entrepreneurially"

I'm just curious about what those two are? :P I know I'm not the best at spelling when I've had a few (read that as ALOT) to drink and/or when the pain killers are kicking in big time but had to ask :) Sorry just had to use this to remind the management over at ElReg of a point I made a month or so back.

I still wish that we had that edit feature for posts DrewC. . . . .

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Facepalm

Re: Hmm??

GOD DAMNIT......

Forgot that the edit function was only for the silver and golds....still think thats kinda lame :P As for the 5 minute rule I have to point something out on this one here. I have had a couple posts take as long as several hours in the last couple months to appear. How would 5 minutes help us if the forum server is on vacation at that point in time?

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This is unlikely to pass

It's unlikely this bill will pass and that's a good thing. In the very terrible economic conditions that exist in many parts of the world today, the U.S. doesn't need more foreigners taking their jobs nor does the UK. Certainly a few very qualified people per year would be a reasonable exception but until the U.S. can stem the flow of illegals, they can't afford any more loss of jobs.

With CEOs like Tim Cook exporting tens of thousands of jobs to Chinese slave camps such as Foxconn, so that he can rake in hundreds of millions in personal compensation yearly, U.S. and UK jobs are decreasing steadily. One day many people will wake up and wonder why they are unemployed.

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Re: This is unlikely to pass

If, as you point out, the alternative to employing loads of Chinese people in the USA is employing loads of Chinese people in China, then isn't it better to have them move the USA and spend their wages in the American economy?

In his biography, Steve Jobs says that Apple indirectly employs around 100,000 production engineers in China. They don't have to be particularly brilliant engineers, just have a good high school education and a bog standard production engineering degree, but nevertheless, you just can't find engineers in those sorts of numbers in the USA.

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The Big Lie - We Can't Find Skilled Americans

The STEM Jobs Bill of 2012 that passed the House today grants 55,000 green cards to foreign STEM students in US colleges – and simultaneously eliminates the Diversity Visa Program and 55,000 Green Cards for immigrants from underrepresented countries.

The bill discriminates against Americans and immigrants from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. It deprives Americans and non-India immigrants an equal opportunity to achieve their own American Dream. It reduces classroom seats, dorm space, financial aid for students, and a fair chance for American citizens to compete for jobs in our own country.

The mythical skills shortage is the big lie. There is NO shortage of American talent more than ready, willing, and able to fill these jobs and take our country forward.

Why can’t Silcon Valley and Microsoft find skilled talent? Because they don’t want to.

Since Microsoft bought the high tech immigration visa law (H-1b), they (and other high tech companies) are not legally required to ever consider Americans for American jobs.

If there’s a tech skills shortage, then WHY.

• Did Microsoft layoff 5,000 Americans, and hire 5000+ foreign guest worker replacements?

• Why won't MS call recruit the employees they laid off BEFORE hiring more foreign visa workers?

Make no mistake, this high tech company strategy has nothing to do with a mythical labor shortage and everything to do with corporate greed and labor arbitrage.

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WTF?

Re: The Big Lie - We Can't Find Skilled Americans

"are not legally required to ever consider Americans for American jobs"

Having come to the US on an H1B visa, I can confidently say that you have absolutely NO IDEA of what you are talking about. One of the major requirements for H1B is to prove (through advertising the job and interviews) that the company can't find American workers for the job.

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Um, no.

There is no requirement for advertising. And precious little requirement to "prove" anything: only a few percent of H1B visa recipients are actually checked to see whether the employers are cheating. And the rules are so fuzzy that employers often get away with cheating even when they're caught.

Over 80% of applications specify a salary in the bottom quintile of the federal government's range for the job classification (which is, itself, widely claimed to be below the actual market range. I haven't researched this myself, though).

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Holmes

Re: The Big Lie - We Can't Find Skilled Americans

I'm guessing that holding the ability to kick a person out of the country is a pretty powerful motivator to hiring a foreign employee. "You like living here right? Then I need you to come in on Sunday."

Unless the unemployment rate is ZERO, there should be only a small (1000) number of H1B allowed in, and those should be the Teslas, Musks, and Kamens not just the holder of a Net+ cert., and they should only be allowed in if they are planning on becoming a citizen.

This has always been such a crock of shite, there has to be some other reason for not hiring a qualified American other than "can't find one". If it truly is a matter of "can't find one", then modify the current unemployment offices to be better liaisons between businesses and professionals, and better connect colleges (with a lot of fresh graduates) to those unemployment offices. Don't just bring people in because they have better paperwork.

It's like losing your keys, but instead of looking for them, you just buy a new car instead.

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Re: The Big Lie - We Can't Find Skilled Americans

Chapter 1.

I was once invited to interview with a firm that as soon as I arrived began telling me how horrible the job was. They were interviewing people in my line of work so they could prove to the Department of Labor they'd interviewed enough US workers to be get a hardship exemption -- and hire the Japanese engineer they wanted all along.

As I now understand the Kabuki, it wasn't about money; a Japanese firm selling rolling stock here apparently refused to work with any but Japanese engineers.

Chapter 2:

It is not uncommon to see advertised what are described as entry level positions but require five years of previous employment and and specific experience with CAD suites or database systems. This is in large part (IMO) due to the short-sighted practice of laying off the older, more experienced ( and higher paid) staff to boost the bottom line. When loss of this much institutional knowledge affects quality and deliveries, there follows a scramble to find experienced people who'll work for peanuts. Cue the foreigners, Don.

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PT

Re: The Big Lie - We Can't Find Skilled Americans

For a definitive answer as to why we need more immigrant techies, let us review the immortal words of Alan Greenspan. Quoting from his memoirs, as excerpted in Newsweek, he wrote:

"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. ... 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 higher earning employees, thus driving down their wages."

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Devil

There is no shortage of labor, only skills

If greedy capitalists had not been able to offshore American Jobs, there would have been no economic downturn. The only reason why these bastards offshore jobs is because they can get cheaper labor outside the US.

The result that we screwed ourseleves and noone has the balls to stop the bleeding.

If you make offshoring illegal and tax the bastards for the real cost of a lost job for all the previous lost jobs then the deficeit problem is solved.

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Bronze badge

Not ALL educated or visa immigrants "take American" jobs...

I would have to imagine that at least 10% of them have some interesting thesis or proposition that, in the name of innovation and anti-plagiarism, warrant being outeight hired. It truly is the scourge of innovation when interviewers or countries mind rape innovators of their knowledge, domestic or foreign. I know of foreigners in countries other than their own, and they truly feel they have much to contribute, but are mired or obstructed by outdated, pesky, fire-hurdle hoops.

At least one has worked up several business plans along with taking great effort to preload the estimated taxes on anticipated wages in order to determine more sensibly how much headcount can be accommodated vs how much must be had vs wages and salaries. This would give a more reasonable number the country could expect to add to productive payrolls. And, that is more valuable than how much research money can be finagled by a grad not interested in adding payrolls. I am sure there are plenty of grads who aim higher than zero-payroll research jobs, but nations should foster growth by seeking talent from degree holders as well as older, non-degree-holding adults who have experience or knowledge adapable to quicker hiring. As much money as many governments waste on questionable activities and schmoozing, some of it could be spent installing shepherds or taxpayer-investment-guarding advisors in some of the startups.

But, what do I know?

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The British Solution

So the problem the Americans have is that they have a foreign student finishing a PhD in chip design at MIT are immediately kicked out of the country when they are done - so they can go to Korea and compete rather than working for Intel.

The obvious way to stop this is to cut down on the number of foreign students they allow into STEM masters/PhD programs - just like Britain is doing.

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