back to article Trump's visa plan leaks: American techies first

President Trump's immigration reforms are set to open a divide between Silicon Valley bosses and their technology workers – much as Brexit did. Unlike many of Trump's policies, this one will find favour with Congress and strike a chord with American technology and engineering graduates, who have seen wages stagnate as Big Tech …

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  1. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Go

    Good!

    The worst abuses are situations like Disney and Southern California Edison, where you can demonstrably point out that X number of American tech workers were fired and X number of tech workers were brought in from overseas to replace them.

    India won't be happy (they were going to take last years increase in H1B permit fees to the WTO), but frankly I don't think they have much of a leg to stand on either legally or morally.

    1. Schultz
      Stop

      "India won't be happy"

      But maybe India will be happy in the near future, as most bread-and-butter internet/apps administration moves to India, based on the significantly cheaper operation cost. Let's face it, the US relies on cheap(ish) foreign labor to fill the pipeline in a lot of science and tech areas. I am a scientist, and I can attest to the large number of foreign grad students and postdocs at the major US Universities. Keep them out and you'll loose the output they generate.

      I won't dare to make any statement whether the migration of young skilled people is good or bad for the US. But I'd claim that this is good for the larger world, because it increases the international exchange of knowledge .The US gets the fresh international blood and the rest of the world gets the returning Expats and their networking effect.

      1. Eduard Coli

        Re: "India won't be happy"

        No, the US taxpayers gets to pay to train and house unqualified, low skill labor and everyone else gets access to stolen US IP.

  2. Whitter
    Mushroom

    "SV companies ... weren't willing to offer adequate compensation"

    Sounds like every tech company in the UK then. Tech salaries lag well behind similarly qualified posts in other disciplines (finance, marketing, legal etc.).

    Thus the "we need more scientists" waffle we hear in the press every year. No you don't. You need to pay technical posts inline with the non-tech alternatives that STEMI folks are qualified to do.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: "SV companies ... weren't willing to offer adequate compensation"

      Thus the "we need more scientists" waffle we hear in the press every year.

      That actually translates to "we want more scientists". The more who are trained the easer it is to keep the pay rates down. It was just as true 50+ years ago.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "SV companies ... weren't willing to offer adequate compensation"

        We need to form a professional body, with certification independent of this university degree crap.

        Dress OOP and template meta programming in Latin, or another opaque language (Eiffel?), phraseology to create barrier to access to all non certified.

        Snootily dismiss and refuse to listen to anyone who doesn't use the language dismissing them

        as an amateur.

        Mark words, in 100 years, IT will be a profession just like the rest. Of course, the wig wearers

        will be AI machines, and the other professions will have been replaced with AI.

      2. ChrisBedford

        Re: "SV companies ... weren't willing to offer adequate compensation"

        That actually translates to "we want more scientists". The more who are trained the easer it is to keep the pay rates down. It was just as true 50+ years ago

        Well apparently pay rates are already down, so actually you need fewer scientists, don't you?

        In any event, equating "scientists" with "tech jobs" is like saying engineers and mechanics are the same - a mistake the press makes all the time, where I live and probably in the UK too.

    2. ratfox Silver badge

      Re: "SV companies ... weren't willing to offer adequate compensation"

      This is very unlike the UK. Compensations in Silicon Valley are way over the $100k limit — you can almost double the amount — so I doubt that the Googles and Facebooks are concerned about this new rule, or their employees.

      It's the start-ups that are going to lose under this scheme.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "SV companies ... weren't willing to offer adequate compensation"

        It's the start-ups that are going to lose under this scheme.

        Not really. Start-ups don't tend to have much in the way of HR or legal departments to hire H1B visa holders in the first place.

        1. oicur0t

          Re: "SV companies ... weren't willing to offer adequate compensation"

          That's not true. I joined a startup on a H1B. I know a colleague who joined a different startup on another. There's a culture of startup hopping in Silicon Valley. Many people spend a year or two at different startups and move around to get the best stock options. Wages are sky high in the area and you cannot find good talent. Hiring H1Bs is a requirement to succeed.

          1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
            WTF?

            Re: "SV companies ... weren't willing to offer adequate compensation"

            Hiring H1Bs is a requirement to succeed.

            Yes, because they're willing to live 6 to a room.

            The reason you can't find US tech hires in SV, is that there's no affordable housing. And US techies have college loans that need to be paid off. There are plenty out there, you just have to make it attractive for them to live and work in SV.

            1. Eduard Coli

              Re: "SV companies ... weren't willing to offer adequate compensation"

              The you can't find US citizen/techs is that SV will not hire them. There is a discrimination suit bouncing around against Google and others. SV gets a tax incentive to hire unskilled labor from outside of the US.

          2. Noneyabusiness

            Re: "SV companies ... weren't willing to offer adequate compensation"

            "Wages are sky high in the area and you cannot find good talent. Hiring H1Bs is a requirement to succeed."

            Oh, like the time the University of California system laid off their IT staff to bring in H1B workers? If a California university just "can't find anyone with the talent", then either their IT degrees aren't worth the paper they're printed on...

            ...Or more likely? They're LYING, and only care about getting the most labor they can for the cheapest price they can.

            Your gravy train is up, Silicon Valley, and thank god. No more exploiting immigrants and screwing over Americans for the sake of "being competitive". Time to start hiring and training Americans for these high paying jobs you say you "just can't find anyone to do". There's plenty of talent available here in the US, you all just don't want to pay people what they're worth.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: "SV companies ... weren't willing to offer adequate compensation"

              Well, (much) higher wages also mean higher costs for developing the products/software, which means that for MOST companies (and I'm not talking about MS or Apple or Amazon or so which make billions of profits) the price of their goods needs to be raised.

              Which might mean that they don't get as much sold, and especially not outside the US anymore.

              And companies outside the US can now benefit from cheap labour, and they can provide the same products/services for a much lower price, perhaps even lower than the internal US prices after they paid import taxes.

              Are you aware of many highly skilled tech-guys or girls then, that aren't able to find a job? Really?

              The ones I know already got a job while they still were at school, and have hundreds of job offers to choose from, so....I don't think that there are plenty candidates to choose from.

              So probably you'll get a whole lot more of jobhoppers and wages will increase dramatically, or some companies might leave US if that is more profitable for them, and I'm thinking of the big players here.

              But hey, you won't hear me complain if I would get double salary....

            2. crazyfool69

              Re: "SV companies ... weren't willing to offer adequate compensation"

              Hear, hear, I agree.

            3. smacky
              Linux

              Re: "SV companies ... weren't willing to offer adequate compensation"

              The pro Trump IT crowd?

          3. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
            WTF?

            Re: "SV companies ... weren't willing to offer adequate compensation"

            No, H1B's are NOT crucial to succeed.

            What they ARE, is crucial to large companies' bottom lines.

            There are plenty of laid off US techies, their jobs outsourced to H1B subcontractors like Tata, Wipro, Infosys, and their ilk.

            What needs to happen, is audits by the Federal Government: for each and every H1B hired, companies are suppopsed to be able to demonstrate that they attempted to hire a US citizen for the job, but were unable to. Let's see some enforcement. We can start with IBM and Disney -- those laid off IT guys, who were told their severance pay depended on their training of their "highly qualified" imported replacements.

          4. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "SV companies ... weren't willing to offer adequate compensation"

            In your experience how typical is it for a startup to obtain H-1B's?

            Would you agree that the statement "Hiring H1Bs is a requirement to succeed." is self-serving?

            Are you so sure you are smarter than the average US citizen?

        2. Eduard Coli

          Re: "SV companies ... weren't willing to offer adequate compensation"

          They have access to foreign government backed services that will place a job maggot and help them get a visa.

      2. fidodogbreath Silver badge

        Re: "SV companies ... weren't willing to offer adequate compensation"

        Compensations in Silicon Valley are way over the $100k limit

        Not really a fair example, since the SV cost of living is so high. $150K in the Bay Area is like $80K in Sacramento, or $60K in Houston.

      3. Eduard Coli

        Re: "SV companies ... weren't willing to offer adequate compensation"

        If not then why dump all of that lobby money into fighting legislation like this while at the same time look like a bunch of evil bastards (which for the most part they are...).

    3. Infernoz Bronze badge
      Flame

      Re: "SV companies ... weren't willing to offer adequate compensation"

      The Managerial class (corpocracy) are quite simply a rabid dinosaur of the industrial revolution and needs to be put down, because their predatory parasitism is slowly destroying our civilisation, including their cynical support for insane Marxist Feminism to increase _short-term_ profits. Humans, including the two sexes, were/are never equal or interchangeable robot 'resources'; it's about fracking time that this was accepted.

      A lot of jobs in finance, marketing, legal and HR are frankly worse than useless, so should really be paid a lot less than genuinely productive jobs and eventually minimised or phased out!

      1. cd

        Re: "SV companies ... weren't willing to offer adequate compensation"

        Just make sure we have enough telephone cleaners!

        1. wayward4now
          Trollface

          Re: "SV companies ... weren't willing to offer adequate compensation"

          I thought they were called "Telephone Sanitation Engineers"?

    4. jason 7

      Re: "SV companies ... weren't willing to offer adequate compensation"

      You have to remember if your IT job even remotely involves using the internet beyond social media then you should work for free or next to nothing.

      On a side not I had some guy ask me to reinstall Windows on his laptop last week. He asked what the price would be and I told him. He felt that was too much as it was just a 'case of slapping Windows back on!"

      I might have wavered had he not just spent the past three minutes telling me how difficult it had been for him and a mate to do it and that every way they tried had failed.

      I simply handed him the laptop back and said "By all means find someone else!"

      Most satisfying. Little twerp.

      I don't just 'slap Windows back on'. It gets fully updated, tweaked, checked over and fully setup ready to go. If you want it 'just slapped on' go to PC World or similar and pay twice as much for the privilege.

      1. robin48gx

        Re: "SV companies ... weren't willing to offer adequate compensation"

        did it have USB3? some versions of windoze don’t know about those drivers (even though the bios seems ok with it) and you have to make your own install image on a USB stick...

    5. Schultz
      Pirate

      Re: "SV companies ... weren't willing to offer adequate compensation"

      Let's face it, those tech guys are just bad at fighting for their compensation. The manager types know how to maximize their returns, it's their day job. The tech guys have their heads in the cloud (pun intended) and believe in the fairy world of just compensation. Some century ago, there was a solution to this issue called a union, but for some reason this became unfashionable.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: a union

        When joined the company I work at now, 12 years ago I asked about unions on my first day only to be told that no one was in one. I couldn't believe it, didn't even think to ask in the interview.

        In the UK software development is pretty much middle class. Since I've been there we've gone though 3 TUPE (some more depending on what project they worked on) and 5 redundancy exercises. Each one has been hard and involved a lot of hard work and brave people sticking their heads above their monitor to raise their voices. Mention a union who would stand up for us and you are looked at with complete be-wilderness.

  3. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    As long as the H1B visa has the present restrictions, it needs to be cut

    The current H1B visa is specifically and directly targeted at low qualified labor. Changing the visa wage floor does not change the visa nature - it still targets low qualified labor from outside the developed world.

    The key restriction in H1B is not the wage floor - it is the mandate that the spouse spends the next 4 years under "house arrest" looking after kids forfeiting any career aspirations.

    THAT is the actual exclusion clause which stops mid-career qualified labor from developed countries even looking at H1B. If the applicant is past his PhD, he (or she) is probably married and have picked a wife (or husband) while they were at the university or in one of the first jobs. The likelihood that she is a highly qualified professional in her own right is 50%+. Try telling a European woman professional that she is to "put a hijab" (figuratively speaking) for 4 years and spend these years cooking, because that is "proper place for a woman" (I would not sell you health insurance if you intend to do that).

    Raising the floor to 100, or 200 or 300 or whatever does not change the nature of the visa. It will cause some short term salary floor raise in the valley and we will back to square one in a few years (just with even more ridiculous house prices). Now, combining the floor raise with making any family applicants clear the same education and work visa reqs - that will change things quite a bit.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: As long as the H1B visa has the present restrictions, it needs to be cut

      Total BS.

      What the provision means is that a Visa for one spouse does not automatically turn into two Visas because they are married.

      Nice try on twisting this tho.

      1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

        Re: As long as the H1B visa has the present restrictions, it needs to be cut

        Total BS.

        No. H1B precludes the spouse from applying for a job visa status. L - does not. M - afaik does not, need to check what is the latest state. E - depends on when - there were points where it did, points where it did not.

        By the way - Aussies actually have done it exactly that way - their point system has bonuses if you bring in a spouse applicant which hits the right notes. The end result is that they bring in significantly more qualified labor on immigration visas than US or UK.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: As long as the H1B visa has the present restrictions, it needs to be cut

          There is one thing that many people don't understand about the conditions that many Indian IT workers have to endure.

          Many have to pay their employer a bond to ensure that they don't get another job during their contract.

          Indentured Labour. One I used to manage had to pay the equivalent of 3 months salary before he could get a job with one of the big Indian body shoppers.

          The sad point is that IT people in currently living in India and wanting to get to the UK/USA don't see this as wrong.

          1. CommodorePet

            Re: As long as the H1B visa has the present restrictions, it needs to be cut

            You may be right about workers pay to play, but H1B (and L1) visas are valid only for the employer that sponsered it. If you quit, the visa is immediately invalid and your become an illegal alien.

            Source : I was L1, now GC.

            1. jdoe.700101

              Re: As long as the H1B visa has the present restrictions, it needs to be cut

              If the employer was decoupled from the visa except upon renewal, then the visa holder would be free to find a better paying job once they realised that they were being exploited. In theory this would naturally raise the salary floor and make such visa less attractive.

            2. oicur0t

              Re: As long as the H1B visa has the present restrictions, it needs to be cut

              Nope. I was made redundant and transferred my H1B to a new position I got. H1B transfers are common. I just hired one.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: As long as the H1B visa has the present restrictions, it needs to be cut

          No. H1B precludes the spouse from applying for a job visa status. L - does not. M - afaik does not, need to check what is the latest state. E - depends on when - there were points where it did, points where it did not.

          Total BS - as of May 26, 2015.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: As long as the H1B visa has the present restrictions, it needs to be cut

            Actually,

            H4 Visa holders can only get an EAD (work authorization) once the H1 visa holder has passed the first part of the green card process (I-140 approval). For most lower level workers that is going to take several years (because of the DOL PERM requirements, and slow processing times).

            So for an H4 to get work authorization, the H1 holder has to persuade their employer to sponsor them for a green card, then go through a long process to get the first part of the authorization. Then the H4 holder can submit a request for EAD, then after three months or so, they get work authorization.

            If the employee is not going for the international manager green card category, and they are from India then they face a wait of c. 7-8 years before they get a green card. H1b is a tough proposition for a family from India.

            Mind you, I'm all for H1b reform. Maybe make a limit on the total % H1b workforce any organization can have. That would kill the body shop outfits who are the biggest abusers.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: As long as the H1B visa has the present restrictions, it needs to be cut

      The current H1B visa is specifically and directly targeted at low qualified labor.

      ?? That sounds like corporate shill nonsense.

      The regulations define a "specialty occupation" as requiring theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge in a field of human endeavor including but not limited to biotechnology, chemistry, architecture, engineering, mathematics, physical sciences, social sciences, medicine and health, education, law, accounting, business specialties, theology, and the arts, and requiring the attainment of a bachelor's degree or its equivalent as a minimum [models excepted]

      We're talking about IT workers, not strawberry pickers here.

      If you're saying that well, H1B workers are not experienced, and can only fill entry-level jobs - then I have another group who can fill those job for you - recent US college graduates - who actually need jobs.....

      Raising the floor to 100, or 200 or 300 or whatever does not change the nature of the visa. It will cause some short term salary floor raise in the valley and we will back to square one in a few years

      How would it go back? Raising the entry level wage should cause all IT wages to increase - that's the whole point here - to not allow foreign workers to undercut wages paid to US workers.

      Now, combining the floor raise with making any family applicants clear the same education and work visa reqs - that will change things quite a bit.

      Wait, the kids have to have Bachelor's degrees too?

      Or do you mean that an H1B holder and spouse both have to have the same qualification?

      If so, then you've just killed the H1B program.

    3. John 104

      Re: As long as the H1B visa has the present restrictions, it needs to be cut

      @Voland

      I'm sorry, but no one is forcing these people to take jobs out of their country. If their own country can't support the field of study they have chosen, perhaps they should have studied something else? Either way, I have no sympathy for the scenario whatsoever. Don't like the requirements? Don't do it.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: As long as the H1B visa has the present restrictions, it needs to be cut

      Let's shine some light on the ignorant. If you feel offended, I can offer to explain in several ways, but I cannot guarantee that you'll understand. Here is first hand knowledge of one H1B's history. You tell me if you think that this was fun or if you'd have the gonads and dedication to do it as a migrant. Further still, I'm guessing that you believe in a meritocracy, right? Yes? Alright! Compete!

      F1 for 6 years. Wife had F2 for the last 2 (if you think that H4 is restrictive, try F2), before that, she was still overseas finishing up her degree. Yep, long distance for 4 years.

      F1 OPT for 1 year. Wife still on F2

      H1B for 6 years. Wife on H4

      Finally got GC and wife finally got authorization to work and after 13 years of not working still landed a job as a scientist at a lab in under 4 months.

      After 5 years as GCs both eligible for Citizenship. Original H1B is a now Director of R&D at a tech company in Atlanta. Wife does research for a government agency. What are their degrees? Math and Biology. What level? Both graduate.

      So... You think that having these people here is bad for the country? Can you and your partner pull something like that off? And don't come with BS about they being motivated by the horrible conditions in their home country. Both sets of their parents are upper middle class professionals, so they might have had a higher standard of living if they had not reset to zero their social capital by coming to the US.

      How do I know? I went to school with him and we're still close friends.

    5. Schultz
      Alert

      Protect indigenous workers? very unAmerican!

      I think that setting a lower salary limit may be a sensible act of immigration control (for good or bad), but the requirement to "show they couldn't fill the post with an American resident" sounds like a pointless paper shuffling exercise. What's a sensible burden of proof? What kind of extra cost or performance hit should be acceptable for the indigenous worker? (I hope you like the use of indigenous here.)

  4. Warm Braw Silver badge

    Calls for more selective, skilled immigration controls winning the day

    Unfortunately, the effect so far seems to have been to deter those with more skills while leaving the need for lower-skilled labour potentially unmet. Perhaps that might change over time, but policy change doesn't always have the intended result.

    While employers are basically taking the piss with the H-1B scheme, it helps keep down the absurdly high - and constantly-rising - cost of operating out of the Valley. Getting rid of the cheap labour might just, paradoxically, reinstate the full effect of financial gravity.

  5. Syntax Error

    Immigrants

    Immigrants are easy to exploit. Firms get more for their buck from immigrants especially if the employer has control of the issuing of the visa.

    1. Commswonk Silver badge

      Re: Immigrants

      Immigrants are easy to exploit.

      Quite; once upon a time they were called "slaves". If the matter wasn't so serious it would be funny to recall that the US had a civil war to rid itself of slavery (other factors may also have been in play) and having abolished slavery in the south it is now the north that is so heavily dependent on them.

      Perhaps calling them "Slave Visas" might awaken people to the truth. For the avoidance of doubt it seems likely that the UK is just as guilty, if not in the IT field as much as the vegetable one. Of course being in the EU makes visas unnecesary, but that's a totaly separate argument...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Slaves and the Civil War

        It is a common misconception and often repeated -- but the truth is that by the time the American Civil War started, most slaveholding states had already withdrawn from the union. Only four slaveholding states remained in the United States of America, and slavery in those states wasn't abolished until after the Civil War.

        As such, the claim of "eliminating slavery" falls flat. The war was over land and power, specifically, the North wanted the agricultural land and southern seacoast of the South, and was willing to kill for it. The South was willing to kill to defend their homes and farms.

        The North had the population and industrial base, while the South had little heavy industry and a smaller population -- as well as having the misfortune of being the battleground as the North invaded. Once the Union fully committed their forces, the South never had a chance.

        Yes, the Emancipation Proclamation freed slaves -- but only in concurred territory. The purpose was not so much to end slavery, but to create an insurgent force to undermine the Confederacy. Racism was just as strong in the North as it was in the South, and more free black men fought under Confederate flags than did under Union standards.

        1. pugnaciousfool

          Re: Slaves and the Civil War

          Let me guess -- You're from the South?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Slaves and the Civil War

            Actually not. I'm a northern Yankee through and through, but I'm also a student of American history. I don't condemn the North for the decisions that they made, or the South for the decisions that they made when the North put their backs against the wall - but I do condemn the revisionists trying to change history to match their current political views. History should be viewed objectively, and if we don't make an attempt to understand the point of view of both sides of any conflict then we don't learn anything.

            Was slavery wrong? Of course. The Confederate constitution even forbid the importation of slaves. They didn't want more slaves, they just didn't know how to get rid of the ones that they inherited from their predecessors without destroying their economy. But was it the reason that the North invaded the South? No. Like most wars, it was over land and power.

            When America revolted from England, were they wrong? Was England wrong to try to retain their colonies? Both sides had valid issues. Both sides were willing to fight and die. That doesn't mean you can pick out one issue such as Taxation and claim it was the primary reason. If anything, Liberty would have been the primary issue -- just as Liberty was the primary issue for the southern states in the American civil war. Of course, the meaning of "Liberty for All" was quite a bit different then than now - and if you don't understand the difference then you don't understand the war, and you learn nothing from the country's previous mistakes - condemning us to repeat them until the lessons are learned.

    2. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      Re: Immigrants

      I was moved to the US on an H1-B in the mid 70's - I was paid $8k a year just outside Washington, DC - I thought it was a great deal because the UK was under a wage freeze at the time. After I arrived I discovered that it's a bit more expensive to live in the US than the UK, plus no company car any longer.

      Sure, I got screwed but I was working for a British company and was told that I needed to be patriotic about it and anyway, they were paying my national insurance in the UK ... I left after I discovered that "an accounting error" meant that they weren't doing a damn thing.

  6. TRT Silver badge

    They could set a limit to the number of new visas issued each year in that class...

    and auction them off to the highest bidder, using the revenue raised to promote STEMI in the domestic education market.

    Just tossing ideas out here.

    1. imanidiot Silver badge

      Re: They could set a limit to the number of new visas issued each year in that class...

      The problem with that sort of auction is that it can still be easily dominated by large corporations buying up all available visa's, leaving the smaller companies that REALLY need that one smart guy from Germany who knows a particular process inside-out SOL.

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