back to article Two out of five Silicon Valley techies complain Trump's H-1B crackdown has hit 'em hard

Restrictions placed on US work visas by the Trump administration are upsetting employees in one of America's most profitable industries: technology. That's according to a survey of 10,000-plus staff toiling away within the safe spaces of Silicon Valley's giants, from Apple to VMware: just under 40 per cent of respondents in …

  1. Dabbb Bronze badge

    Great news

    So employees will have to pay more to get talent that is already in USA.

    Great news.

    Influx of anti-Trumpers explaining that higher salaries for US professionals is bad for economy because <reasons> in 1...2...3..

    1. 2+2=5 Silver badge
      Angel

      Re: Great news

      > So employees will have to pay more to get talent that is already in USA.

      Although, the way some companies perceive themselves, they may well think that employees should pay for the honour of working for them.

      [Icon == potential new corporate logo]

      1. Dabbb Bronze badge
        Unhappy

        Re: Great news

        Duh

    2. Joe W

      Re: Great news

      I am all for that move. It might strengthen high tech companies in other countries who hopefully now can hire the people they want to - not what is left over after the silly valleys had their pick. Folks can get a nice job elsewhere and not be afraid to be forced out of the country (I especially liked the part with the renewals...)

      1. big_D Silver badge

        Re: Great news

        Pay them less? I would want a darned sight more money to have to work in the USA.

    3. Michael Hoffmann
      Thumb Up

      Re: Great news

      Can't believe I'm agreeing with Trump, but the abuse of H1-B (and 457s in Australia) had gotten ridiculous.

      Disclaimer: I myself had benefited from the H1-B program back in the 90s. Back then it still worked as intended: the hoops my employer and I had to jump through to prove that I was required and could not be found on the local market (which was true back then) was mind-boggling. Especially also proving that I indeed made greater or equal than other employees due to my skillset. I witnessed the change first hand as it became ludicrously easy to ship low-paid "IT experts" in by the bucket load. Yes, I know what they made. Yes, they replaces US workers. Yes, I witnessed coworkers or friends/family losing their jobs after training their replacements. No, I no longer live in the US, thank goodness.

      1. martinusher Silver badge

        Re: Great news

        I first came to the US on an H-1 visa, that's back when to get one you needed postgraduate qualifications and work experience -- "persons of outstanding merit in the arts or sciences". This category seems to be now taken over by the 'O' visa leaving the H1B as something that's used to bring plane loads of low wage IT workers in on to replace higher cost local talent. So I'm not overly impressed by the crocodile tears shed by these companies; tech work is portable except for serious specialists and, anyway, given the rather hostile attitude to immigrants in the present climate you'd be crazy (or desperate) to want to try your hand at immigrating using an H1B, especially as the renewal uses the lottery (and if you lose, you're out). I wouldn't have bothered coming here if I was just starting out, there are plenty of other places that offer opportunities for talent and most welcome your contribution.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Great news

          >there are plenty of other places that offer opportunities for talent and most welcome your contribution.

          Serious question: where do you recommend?

    4. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Great news

      Well there's two sets of rules... one is that you have jump through hopes, proper papers, etc. The other is you hire undocumented workers. I'll leave it as an exercise for the reader to figure out who hires undocumented workers.

      1. wayne 8

        Re: Great news

        No publicly held company hires undocumented tech workers. Great security is and liability. They need documentation that the company followed accepted background check protocols.

        What they are looking for is foreigners who are used to being treated as slaves by management. Tech skill is secondary to servitude.

        If American Tech work was done under German work rules, American companies would not be going through the trouble to hire foreigners.

        1. W.S.Gosset Bronze badge
          Headmaster

          Re: Great news

          > What they are looking for is foreigners who are used to being treated as slaves by management. Tech skill is secondary to servitude.

          "Dam' straight. Deez gahdam yankee slaves done got uppity.

          Now theez'ere FURRIN slaves, waal now, they still good -- they still got Tha Pheer."

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Great news

      I could not care less about the salary aspect. The cultural aspect is more important.

      H1B rules could have been written by the Taleban. They are extremely specific that the righteous place of the wife is in the kitchen and she is supposed to be under "house arrest" for 5 years until her hubby works as a slave to get his green card. She is not allowed to work under any conditions - there is no way for her to apply for a work permit.

      Gives you the correct perspective of what is the exact position of the Great USA on gender equality and ensures that the majority of the applicants will be from places where this is the normal social practice.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Great news

        The opposite is also true, my wife (and me) decided not to accept a position in the US on account that if I'd followed her, I'd be home-sitting for the foreseeable future....

  2. Snowy Silver badge
    Facepalm

    What a loaded question.

    Ask a negative question and the result is going to be negative!

    Only 10,544 out of 50,0000 respond or about 21.1%. So of the those 50K sent a survey only 4027 or 8% where negative affected enough to respond to the survey.

    Now if it also also asked if they had been positively affected the survey could be considered to be a little more balanced.

    1. A. Coatsworth Silver badge

      Re: What a loaded question.

      I enjoy some good Trump-bashing as much as any other devil worshipping, illegal immigrant hugging, filthy commie... But yeah, the "method" used in this survey and the cold numbers spewed by it simply don't mean jack.

      1. W.S.Gosset Bronze badge
        Holmes

        Re: What a loaded question.

        > But yeah, the "method" used in this survey and the cold numbers spewed by it simply don't mean jack.

        Well, actually, they could but in a Complementary-Set/Dog-Didn't-Bark kinda way.

        .

        Specifically, the rather disturbing implication from the survey results is :

        * ~40% of the tech.people wasting employers' time festering on bitchy tech.gossip sites, are on H1B visas.

        .

        This in turn could imply either or both of :

        * ~40% of Silicon Valley staff are on H1B visas.

        * H1B visa people are one or more of : less-skilled, less-motivated, or less-loyal.

        .

        Just looking at the numbers and the logic: so high a ratio implies either US techs are startlingly incompetent or else some sort of systemic rort is going on.

        1. W.S.Gosset Bronze badge

          Re: What a loaded question.

          (assuming no bias arising from the survey self-selection problem)

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    H1-B abuse

    Employers have been abusing the H1-B visa process for years - I came to the US from the UK on a temporary visa and got an H1-B in the 70's after my employer ran a couple of adverts in the local paper looking for a repair tech with specific detailed knowledge of their UK-made products. Nobody applied so my H1-B paperwork sailed through ...

    1. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      Re: H1-B abuse

      The H1-B requirements are easy to game. Part of the problem is companies do not want to retain older workers (see Itsy Bitsy Moron) who cost more salary. So they try to game the job opening with idiotic requirements that no one in the world can meet to show they cannot find US talent. Then they go hire an H1-B visa slave on the cheap and fire the older workers. Silly Valley is the worst for this behavior and they wonder way they getting a backlash. If it walks like a duck, quakes like a duck, it is a duck, bloody frauds.

      1. Eddy Ito Silver badge

        Re: H1-B abuse

        Add to that it looks like the "skills gap" was all part of the gaming as Vox explains some current research.

        1. Cyril

          Re: H1-B abuse

          Good article Eddy Ito.

      2. Bruce Hoult

        Re: H1-B abuse

        I’m 56, have a job offer from a hot Silicon Valley startup for … well … a lot more than it costs to live there (not to mention of course more than the proposed future $130k minimum salary), and I’m waiting nine months and counting for them to even look at my application. Good thing I’m working for them as a remote contractor in the meantime, from wherever I want, which so far has included Moscow, Paihia NZ, Queensland Australia, and currently Fiji.

      3. jelabarre59 Silver badge

        Re: H1-B abuse

        So they try to game the job opening with idiotic requirements that no one in the world can meet to show they cannot find US talent.

        That, and they send their inquiries to "prospects" on the opposite side of the country, or to people who are not qualified in the particular skills needed. By carefully approaching people they know won't apply, they can skew their numbers to make it look like there are no qualified candidates. There *ARE* qualified candidates, but *they* were only approached for jobs that *they* didn't have experience in. And around and around it goes.

        Makes me wonder who the poor unfortunate MCSE in Los Angeles is that is getting all those job offers for Linux work in the Northeast US.

  4. Marketing Hack Silver badge

    Big deal.

    You can get 40% of Silicon Valley workers to oppose anything that has Donald Trump's name on it. And there is the issue of self-selection and whether or not the sample on this employee website is in any way representative.

    The fact is that the abuse of these H1-B visas has allowed companies to outsource jobs held by Americans to crews brought in from overseas. El Reg itself has documented the replacement of many of Disney World's U.S. datacenter employees with H1-Bs, and the replacement of Southern California Edision's IT employees in Rosemead, California with more H1-Bs, and then there was that incident that El Reg covered a couple years back where a Silicon Valley company brought over 6-7 H1-Bs for a project and worked them so much that they ended up getting less than federal minimum wage, once you incorporated mandatory overtime into their pay.

    H1-Bs should be used to supplement existing workforces, at existing market rates. They shouldn't be used to replace American tech workers at below-market rates. When that is accomplished, then we can talk about easing up on H1-B restrictions.

  5. Cyril

    H1-B visas have been a tool used to depress wages. I've seen the job requirements and the H1-B visa holders they brought in to fill the position. There was no way they actually met the qualifications. And they were getting paid much less than the job requirements called for.

    When looking for work, every time you see a job that has excessive requirements you should apply. Even if you don't want the job. It makes it harder to bring in an H1-B worker. And if offered the position, ask for the high end of what the requirements should pay. Because if they made an offer, you met the requirements by default. If they don't want to pay that much and hire am H1-B worker they have broken the law and if caught they are screwed.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Not in the US but I applied for a job that was so specific only the shoe size was not listed. And I had everything they required. Now that was one job interview I will not forget: we were sitting there for hours on end, where the interviewer was getting increasingly desperate trying to find one single angle he could use to dump me.

    2. Dave Hilling

      We had overseas outsourced employees who were magically qualified in everything we needed so exactly so that they were the "only possible" candidate...until we hired them and actually asked them to do it....they couldn't we re-did everything they touched cause in reality that had zero skill in any of those areas and when it came time for the company to save money...they got rid of the people re-doing all the foreign work...6 months later they were desperate for those expensive US guys to come back...we all told them to F*ck off.... supposedly they were in quite a state for several years. I would tell you it got better but later on everyone I knew who was still there also got outsourced.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Or to put it another way...

    ... 62% of tech industry workers have been positively impacted.

    Also, how many of the people polled are currently on H-1B visas are are upset at the changes ?!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Or to put it another way...

      I can't speak for current H1-B holders, but I held an H1 30 years ago. The whole program is a fraud and should be abolished immediately.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Can still get into the US if you want to.

    Just marry your daughter to a potential presidential candidate and wait.

    Or work for a company for a year outside the US and then get an L1.

    Whichever works best for you.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Can still get into the US if you want to.

      My company tends to let people work in a foreign subsidiary and then after one year do an internal transfer to bring the worker in the US. For large companies that have foreign subsidiaries, it seems that there is no limit on doing this?

      1. Rupert Fiennes Bronze badge

        Re: Can still get into the US if you want to.

        Yup, the L1 seems to be the new hotness, and has been for a while. H1B's seem to be reserved for the companies who want people working in Silicon Valley for starvation rates.

        Please tell me The Register can actually do reporting rather than ill-informed Trump bashing based on anonymous "surveys"...

        1. Dabbb Bronze badge

          Re: Can still get into the US if you want to.

          They do but, not the San Francisco team.

  8. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    President Flip-Flop

    Saw him last week talking up (legal) immigration for tech companies so I guess it's only a matter of time until this is "walked back". Trump doesn't care about immigration – he's employed lots of illegal workers on his building sites over the years – but he loves the adulation he gets at rallies when he talks tough.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wish they had the same rules and present restrictions in the UK

    Actually wish they had them 10+ years ago before the UK IT industry was wrecked by the chase to replace UK workers with dirt cheap slaves, primarily Indian techs working for Indian wages and 'living expenses' (which still means many are below statutory minimum). Supposedly we've a minimum salary level before they can get a work visa but it seems companies have many ways round that.

    Anonymous as I'm one of the last Brits at a UK company, now working for an Indian titan, with a few hundred Indian nationals at the same UK base site I work at.

  10. zebm

    Turned down the opportunity

    Took redundancy for Christmas 2000 rather than move to Detroit for what looked like 2/3 of the rate that an American would get.

  11. RLWatkins

    Wait... what? It's employers who don't like it, employees on the whole are pleased.

    This is a pretty small sample size, and I'm kind of puzzled whence it came.

    Being on the front lines of this business, both as a contract and a salaried programmer for 40 years, and being in management for 5 years (I hated it and returned to the trenches of my own volition), taught me something very important:

    Any government policy which helps depress the salaries of highly skilled professional employees will be unpopular with production employees, who work their asses off to maintain proficiency, and popular with managers who work their asses off to secure funding from executives.

    So something tells me that this sample was derived almost entirely from a pool of managers and foreign workers, perhaps with an executive or two thrown in as ringers.

    In this case Trumplestilskin, like the proverbial stopped clock, got it right for once. A policy which puts a bit more money into the pockets of citizens at the expense of mostly giant companies which don't pay taxes, or buy cars, houses or groceries, is Good For America.

    Oh, and the survey was worded in proper English. "Impact" is not a verb; the proper term is "affect".

  12. -tim
    Facepalm

    They just want slaves

    I've been approached by many head hunters trying to get me to work in the US on an H1-B. The employer never seems to be interested once they learn that I'm a citizen and don't need a visa to work there.

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