back to article Shocking no one, not enough foreigners applied for H-1B visas this year so US govt ran a second lottery

Too few H-1B hopefuls applied for employment visas this year that the US government has held an unprecedented second lottery to reach its annual quota. By April, a record-breaking 275,000 people entered this year's H-1B lottery, hoping to be selected to apply for the highly prized visa, which allows people in tech and other …

  1. J27 Bronze badge

    Why would Trump ban H-1B holders entry? The USA is the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    1. IGotOut Silver badge

      So he can blame the migrants.

    2. EagleZ28

      The H1B and Covid things are seperate, although there's a bit of overlap.

  2. ecofeco Silver badge

    Oh NOSSSSSS!

    They might have to *GASP* hire Americans for real wages!

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Oh NOSSSSSS!

      They'd have to educate them first!

      1. ecofeco Silver badge

        Re: Oh NOSSSSSS!

        Hard to become educated when you can't afford it.

        And I've met many of the H1-Bs. Hundreds in fact. They bring nothing superior to the table, only the willingness to accept lower wages.

        1. gerdesj Silver badge
          Thumb Down

          Re: Oh NOSSSSSS!

          Your comment is virtually a dictionary definition example of racism.

          Piss off.

          1. Art Jannicelli

            Re: Oh NOSSSSSS!

            Makes US companies prove it.. Go from a lottery to a blind auction.

            I consult and have been to well over 100 American IT departments big and small. The vast majority of H1B's are mistreated & underpaid who could be replaced by highly compensated Americans.

            If companies had to pay a premium for a H1B allotment they would only use them as intended (for extraordinarily rare skill sets) and would value the people they hired on H1B's.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Oh NOSSSSSS!

              The vast majority of H1B's are mistreated & underpaid...

              I'm sure that's true. But as long as we're posting anecdotes, let's not tar every company with the same brush.

              My company posts the jobs that have been filled by people with H1Bs, and lists the salary; AFAICT it's a reasonable salary for the location and position, and is – AFAIK – in the range for the job. I'm pretty sure nobody knows, or cares, what visa they're here on.

              There are good companies out there. Figuring out which ones they are though is hard.

              (And I'm glad that I don't need a visa to work here.)

          2. Hollerithevo Silver badge

            Re: Oh NOSSSSSS!

            Racism? My understanding is that H-1B applicants covered everything from Estonians to Indonesians. The comment is sneering, yes, but against the disadvantaged who come from poor countries and who have to accept insultingly low wages in order to get work.

            1. EagleZ28

              Re: Oh NOSSSSSS!

              Hollerithevo - Yes, "H1-B applicants" runs the gamut of probably EVERY race and most nationalities.

              The H1-B visa program is intended to allow companies to "import" workers who have skills that CAN'T be found within our own borders. It was NEVER intended as a source of "cheaper labor".

              It was also intended to allow the immigration of extraordinary talent... ex., Albert Einstein...

              and 'special talent' such as The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Anthony Hopkins, etc... short term to do concert tours and movies, etc., as well as "visiting academics" to teach a semester or two at a Uni.

              This latter case, movie stars, is probably a big part of the DROP in the H1-B applications, with movie theaters and studios and concerts being cancelled/postponed due to Covid.

            2. EagleZ28

              Re: Oh NOSSSSSS!

              Hollerithevo -

              I think that any 'sneering' in the original comment was intended towards the COMPANIES who hire/import foreign workers, rather than those workers.

          3. EagleZ28

            Re: Oh NOSSSSSS!

            Gerdesj - I'm not sure which of the comments you intended this as a reply to, but...

            H1-B applicants come from (almost?) every race, and most nations... so "racist" doesn't apply to any perceived criticism of them as an entire group. Indeed, that post didn't criticize H1-B applicants except to say that they weren't any BETTER.

            Americans, likewise, come from just about every race, so, again, saying "American" isn't a racist comment, not even by a sloppy definition, much less a "dictionary definition".

      2. AK565

        Re: Oh NOSSSSSS!

        Perfectly logical so I upvoted you. However many companies aren't willing to pay competitive wages to those workers who are educated and there are some. So while your point is certainly valid, the situation exists separately from the issues discussed here.

    2. AK565

      Re: Oh NOSSSSSS!

      If you define "real wages" as total compensation including such things as health insurance, vacation, sick days, retirement/pension options, etc., then the answer is a resounding "NO".

      Gross hourly pay may be going up, but when you factor in the above items, total compensation is going down. More and more jobs are "1099" (named for the tax form) meaning they provide zero benefits. If (like an increasing % of Americans) you hold down two or more such 'gigs' to equal one full time job your travel time between gigs is esentially unpaid work time.

      If companies were willing to pay real wages for Americans we wouldn't have the present gig economy, the need for foreign workers, etc.

  3. Kabukiwookie Silver badge

    Why would they do that? Last time I was in NY, there were 5 people standing at the hotel door opening the door, most probably working for minimum wage. Rutger Bregman calls these 'bullshit' jobs and he's right.

    70% of the US population lives paycheck to paycheck and cannot afford a $400 emergency.

    There's almost no one who can still afford to participate in the real economy, so nobody will invest in making more goods nobody will buy.

    There's a record amount of people being evicted with no job and no healthcare.

    The only things that seem to be expanding is military expenditure and stock prices. The latter because large corps are using bailout money to buy back their own stock as it's the only way to still make a profit.

    1. mrobaer

      There's a lot of growth in the construction industry here in the United States. Most of the fastest growing industries are construction related right now. If that many people can afford to build homes, remodel homes, etc, I would think they are doing OK in the economy.

      Where I live, the cost of living is a bit below the national average. There are hundreds of unfilled jobs here that pay over the median income for this county. A huge problem lately is the 'incentive' to remain unemployed and collect additional income. There's been about 1400 cases of COVID-19* here since the onset of this pandemic, despite much of the industry here being deemed essential and having continued operations at 100%. Of course, this is Small Town, USA, population ~150,000. This country is vast and the economies can vary greatly from place to place.

      * The Department of Health for this state had come under fire for reporting numbers higher than health care providers had submitted. They also had to redact/correct the number of deaths, they were inflating the numbers again. The county coroners are responsible for autopsies on all people who die of an infectious disease that is a public health risk (COVID-19, right?). However, the DoH was listing cause of death as COVID-19 and not submitting the deceased for testing. As it turns out, they had reported about 3x as many deaths from COVID-19 than actually occurred.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Found the Cult45 Member...

        How about employers 'incentivize' workers to return by paying living wages.

        1. mrobaer

          Me? Cult45? I did not vote for Mr. Trump. I work in a skilled labor position and make a very livable wage.

      2. AK565

        I can tell you that in metro NYC that unemployment insurance WITH the recently ended $600/week bonus does NOT provide incentive to remain unemployed.

        1. mrobaer

          I don't imagine it would. The cost of living there is through the roof compared to where I live. Most of the people around here weren't collecting $600 a week on unemployment, so that $600 extra more than doubled their benefit. Believe it or not, if you were bringing $600 home after taxes here, every week, you would not be struggling to live comfortably (provided you were not in debt up to your eyeballs).

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Last time I was in NY, there were 5 people standing at the hotel door opening the door,...

      Is it ironic that the last time I was in Bangalore, there were five people standing at the hotel door, opening the door. Why should NYC be any different really?

      Just sayin'

      1. Kabukiwookie Silver badge

        So you're comparing the US to India?

        I would completely agree with that assessment.

        There is llitte difference regarding the economic system. Both countries work on the same economical principal: Rugged individualistic capitalism for the poor, not sure if they also do corporate socialism for the rich though.

        Now. Go to a real first world nation, Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Finland and check how many people are waiting at the door. One at most and then only if the hotel is very upclass.

        The larger the wealth inequality in a country, the more 'bullshit jobs' are created.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Now. Go to a real first world nation, ...

          Thanks. I've been. And your point is?

          The larger the wealth inequality in a country, the more 'bullshit jobs' are created.

          Well, at least you seem to have gotten my point.

    4. AK565

      I could quibble over a few details, but your overall point is dead center correct, IMO.

      Regarding US workers being 'uneducated': I do agree that an ever increasing % of people successfully holding down intellectually demanding jobs become completely flummoxed by the slightest derivation of the routine. If you take them out of their zone/world their IQ seems to drop by 20 points. No argument from me.

      My point is that even if you ARE a person who can handle changes in routine and who meets your standard of 'educated', you are just as likely to be in the aforementioned 70% than those who are 'uneducated'. Being 'educated' doesn't provide nearly as much a safeguard as it used to to avoid living paycheck to paycheck.

      It's a constant refrain among white-collar workers of all types in the US: How is it the numbers on my paycheck keep going up yet I have to keep cutting back to make ends meet?

  4. martinusher Silver badge

    You'd have to be mad -- or desperate -- to come here on an H1B

    Covid aside the job market in the US sucks. Its been going downhill for the last decade or two and there are always bright spots here and there but overall you'll be coming into an environment where wages are mediocre, cost of living is through the roof and job security is non-existent. As a non-immigrant you're at the bottom of the heap with the omnipresent threat of going 'out of status' if you lose your job. Renewal of the visa isn't automatic any more and for many countries converting to a Green Card is effectively impossible -- the line is just too long, it will take lieterally decades for your number to come up.

    There's now another twist if you happen to be Chinese. The Federal government now regards you as 'the enemy' and you may be subject to investigation and arrest as a spy for seemingly trivial reasons. Even if you're not in the business of passing state secrets you'll be accused of passing commercial secrets which in today's climate is the same thing. Even if there's no evidence they'll have you for 'lying on a Federal form'.

    It wasn't always like this. I came to the US on an H-1 35 years ago, in a different world, a different time and a different America. I'm now a citizen so relatively safe from the Feds and I'm stuck here because thanks to Brexit I don't have anywhere else to go apart from the UK. Which, unfortuantely, still tries to be an ersatz version of the US. (Yes, you can tell I thought that Brexit was a bit dumb but then what do I know?)

    1. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: You'd have to be mad -- or desperate -- to come here on an H1B

      I'm now a citizen

      I presume that in theory you could get a NAFTA work permit for Canada, but age gets to be as big a constraint as politics at some point.

      1. AK565

        Re: You'd have to be mad -- or desperate -- to come here on an H1B

        Generally speaking, getting a work visa depends on one's education/skill set/credentials vs need in given areas. If one's a widget painter and areas A,B, & C in Canada have a shortage of widget painter it's supposedly easy to get a work visa if you agree to go to one of those areas and work there for a specified time period. If one's dead set on moving to non-shortage area, it is decidedly more difficult. The website made quite clear that if one first moves to shortage area A and hates it, one is free to move to shortage area B without restriction.

        Strangely, in spite of all the emphasis on this, there seemed to be no way to type in one's credentials and get a list of current shortage areas. Go figure.

    2. Wellyboot Silver badge

      Re: You'd have to be mad -- or desperate -- to come here on an H1B

      So what your saying is the USA is back into the "Red Menace" mentaility it had between 1920 and 1990 (with a small hiatus '41-'45)?

      1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        Re: You'd have to be mad -- or desperate -- to come here on an H1B

        The mentality is the same, but is now the "Yellow Menace".

        1. Scroticus Canis

          Re: You'd have to be mad -- or desperate -- to come here on an H1B

          I'm old enough to remember the Vietnam war and I believe the term was "Yellow Peril" and the Russian cold war version was "Reds Under the Bed".

          1. Jonathan Richards 1

            Re: You'd have to be mad -- or desperate -- to come here on an H1B

            "Yellow Peril", a term which is just as racist as other designations that are now beyond the pale, is much older than the Vietnam War. It appeared in a book title in 1911 and is apparently a translation into English of an original German neologism.

            Ref: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yellow_Peril#cite_note-13

            1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

              Re: You'd have to be mad -- or desperate -- to come here on an H1B

              I initially read (On a jukebox) Phil Lynott's Yellow Pearl as Yellow Peril (I'd also mis-keyed it in favour of what I was aiming to play) back in the very early 80's & before it was adopted as the TOTP theme.

              We are now living in a situation

              Where that self same situation depends on the Yellow Pearl

              Attack, attack, attack, attack, attack, attack, attack

              Is what we lack

              We will arise

              They will arise

              We will control

              They will control

              We will command

              They shall command

              We will patrol

              They will patrol

              Arise

              Yellow Pearl's upon us now

            2. Tom 38 Silver badge

              Re: You'd have to be mad -- or desperate -- to come here on an H1B

              "Yellow Peril", a term which is just as racist as other designations that are now beyond the pale

              Ironically, "beyond the pale" is also an ethnic slur of sorts, it meant going outside the British controlled zone around Dublin and into the wilds of the savage Gaelic Irish where anything might happen.

              1. AK565

                Re: You'd have to be mad -- or desperate -- to come here on an H1B

                And those of us of a certain age and from certain parts of the English-speaking world will recall there was a time when the phrase "mentally retarded" was the Politically Correct way to refer to a person with cognitive disabilities.

                1. Kabukiwookie Silver badge

                  Re: You'd have to be mad -- or desperate -- to come here on an H1B

                  That term is now mostly reserved for politicians.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: You'd have to be mad -- or desperate -- to come here on an H1B

      “ I'm stuck here because thanks to Brexit I don't have anywhere else to go apart from the UK”

      I guess you have uk citizenship and are complaining that you can’t just go to any other EU country and work after 2020, AND you don’t want to come back to the UK for some unspecified reason preferring to be stuck in your adopted nation despite its problems you’ve explained.

      It’s great you’ve had choices to make. Sadly non immigrant Americans don’t have your choices!!!!

      1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

        Re: You'd have to be mad -- or desperate -- to come here on an H1B

        UK immigration laws are as bad a America's, since he's been in the US for 35 years he will have problems returning to the UK and getting permission to live in the country of birth. Sure, it's easy to visit again but the paperwork to "Remain" is a nightmare.

        1. Scroticus Canis
          Unhappy

          Re: You'd have to be mad -- or desperate -- to come here on an H1B

          Nope a UK born UK citizen (of UK descent) can't have their citizenship revoked. UK tried it with a convicted paedophile naturalised Australian citizen of UK descent. The Aussies sent him back anyway.

          Looks like even that Daesh/ISIL 'bride' is getting back in.

          1. AndyFl

            Re: You'd have to be mad -- or desperate -- to come here on an H1B

            A bit off-topic but I am strongly in favour of the UK sorting out its own mess rather than pulling UK nationality under dubious circumstances and expecting Bangladesh to pick up the bits even though she had never in her life had anything to do with the country.

            It is like throwing your unwanted sofa over the fence to the neighbour to dispose of because you had kept it on the side of your living room nearest them and therefore they had therefore incurred some sort of an obligation.

            1. Rich 11 Silver badge

              Re: You'd have to be mad -- or desperate -- to come here on an H1B

              I am definitely going to steal that analogy! And the sofa too, if it's still available.

          2. Version 1.0 Silver badge

            Re: You'd have to be mad -- or desperate -- to come here on an H1B

            Sure, you still have citizenship if you were born in the UK but there's a lot of paperwork to complete - here's the latest government information - gov.uk web site

        2. TheMeerkat Bronze badge

          Re: You'd have to be mad -- or desperate -- to come here on an H1B

          If he has a current British passport, why would he have any problems?

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: You'd have to be mad -- or desperate -- to come here on an H1B

      I'm stuck here because thanks to Brexit I don't have anywhere else to go apart from the UK

      Bollocks. If you can do the paperwork to move to the US, moving elsewhere in Europe won't be an issue. I did it, in pre-EU days.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: You'd have to be mad -- or desperate -- to come here on an H1B

        After Brexit, and what is currently going on the USA, maybe EU countries won't want immigrants from either? Least of all someone likely fast approaching retirement age. Depending on finances, one of the British Overseas Territories or Dependencies might be an option though. Malta, Gibraltar, one of the Caribbean islands etc. Having said that, he'd need to revoke his US citizenship or be forever subject to the IRS and US tax laws.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: You'd have to be mad -- or desperate -- to come here on an H1B

        Interesting. You make a direct comparison between immigration into European countries pre-1993 (if your "pre-EU" is accurate), and post-2020, stating that moving elsewhere in Europe (i.e. from the UK to the EU) "won't be an issue". Yet the negotiations on this, as on so much else post-Brexit, are not yet concluded.

        Do you have insider information on how the negotiations are going, and what treaties will be reached that you can share with us? Or any other evidence to support your assertion?

  5. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge
    Windows

    'Murica first!

    What would one do when the visa is terminated? Be kicked out of the US and not allowed back in to the homeland after working with a cesspit of science deniers and freedom breathers?

    Many parts of the tech industry are fully remote employment now. I imagine there's going to be an exodus from overcrowded Silicon Valley once remote working settles in as the norm. It's a nice place to live, but maybe not worth the $3000 per month living expenses. And that $3000/month assumes you're sharing costs with others.

    1. AK565

      Re: 'Murica first!

      Not only there. I've heard from friends and colleagues that the same is happening in other major cities. Offices currently renting 30,000 sq. ft. are renewing their leases for 10,000 as many white collar workers are doing some or all their work remotely.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is the land of the free to do unto others still attractive?

    I think the Orange One has done a great job of turning the US into Biff Tannen's Pleasure Paradise Casino & Hotel.

    1. Pascal

      Re: Is the land of the free to do unto others still attractive?

      Well the writer for Back to the Future 2 did base that version of Biff Tannen on him after all.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    H1B

    Who in their right mind would want to go to such a Shit Hole country?

  8. IT's getting kinda boring

    Hmm.

    I am happy to be corrected, but this sounds like a numbers game?

    The lines:

    "Too few H-1B hopefuls applied for employment visas this year that the US government has held an unprecedented second lottery to reach its annual quota."

    and

    "By April, a record-breaking 275,000 people entered this year's H-1B lottery, hoping to be selected to apply for the highly prized visa, which allows people in tech and other specialist roles to live and work in the United States."

    just says to me that the USG is complaining they didn't import enough bodies as opposed to whether or not those roles could be filled by a US citizen? If there are enough skilled workers in the USA, who gives a shit if "not enough foreign workers come over" according to Uncle Sam? Is the USG *really* saying that they are so short of technically skilled people that they *have* to import such numbers?

    I am genuinely curious....

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Is the USG *really* saying that they are so short of technically skilled people that they *have* to import such numbers?

      Not really, they are just short of technically skilled people willing to work for substandard wages with morally bankrupt employers.

      1. ecofeco Silver badge

        Exactly.

      2. IT's getting kinda boring

        So you have morally corrupt employers lobbying a government that, on the one hand is advocating "making America great again", yet on the other feeding the very monster its trying to tame?

        In the UK, we dropped most of our manufacturing base back in the 80's to concentrate more on services. Now we face being squeezed out of that by fat-cat bosses who prefer profit over quality and customer satisfaction.

        We live in some very 'interesting' times indeed.

  9. Xamol

    Pay *should* be equal...

    By law, "Employers must attest to the Department of Labor that they will pay wages to the H-1B nonimmigrant workers that are at least equal to the actual wage paid by the employer to other workers with similar experience and qualifications for the job in question, or the prevailing wage for the occupation in the area of intended employment – whichever is greater."

    Just sayin'... https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/immigration/h1b

    1. First Light Bronze badge

      Re: Pay *should* be equal...

      Some of these jobs are in places that no one wants to live in like, Nebraska or somewhere. Also the US government itself doesn't pay so well. A relative who worked at the Federal Reserve told me they would have practically no one to do the work if they didn't use immigrants.

      1. AK565

        Re: Pay *should* be equal...

        "Some of these jobs are in places that no one wants to live in like, Nebraska or somewhere."

        This is another issue on top of everthing else. It's been going on for years but has hit the media as a result of Covid. Many white collar workers in both tech and non-tech fields have no interest in living in areas where science (aka reality) is treated as a liberal conspiracy and schools teach that cave men and dinosaurs coexisted in a world that is only 6,000 years old. No, it's not happening, no matter how much money a company might offer. Full stop.

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