back to article Trump H-1B visa crackdown hit with legal double whammy: Tech giants, Chamber of Commerce challenge rules

The battle between the tech industry and the Trump administration over work visas continues apace, with no less than 46 tech companies challenging new rules in court, while the US Chamber of Commerce has accused the government of ignoring an injunction against an earlier set of changes. Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Google, …

  1. six_tymes

    create jobs in the US you twits. you are US companies. Other countries do it. how dumb can the "tech giants" be.

    1. ThomH Silver badge

      The jobs are in the US, the dispute is over who gets to do them; the US companies are arguing that there'll be fewer jobs in the US if these rules are implemented: (i) they were using H-1Bs to fill these positions, which means formally declaring that sufficient local talent could not be found; and (ii) with these rules they won't be able to use foreign talent either.

      There are companies that abuse the H-1B system and poison the well, but I don't think any of the big tech companies do so.

      1. overunder Silver badge

        "the US companies are arguing that there'll be fewer jobs in the US if these rules are implemented"

        Correct. It's clearly a lie to say a job doesn't exist because they refuse to fill it. I think this disillusioned part is fueled by greed (what else?) and is very overlooked and bleeds into all parts of industry.

    2. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      By abusing the H-1B system they have made certain fields less attractive to US talent. Most of their 'complaints' are self-serving BS and the liars know it. The original intent of the H-1B system was to be able to hire world class talent and bring them to the US more easily not to hire a batch of recent uni graduates as essentially overglorified slaves.

    3. Drew Scriver

      The tech companies could do it, but they prefer compliant workers who don't complain, never ask for a raise and can't look for jobs elsewhere.

      H1-B is a the best thing since the days that entire villages were built and owned by the company.

      1. overunder Silver badge

        "H1-B is a the best thing since the days that entire villages were built and owned by the company.

        So... you're living in the future?

      2. Paul

        movie recommendation about indentured servitude in corporate america

        you might enjoy this movie, about indentured servitude in corporate america

        https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5688932/

  2. Erik4872

    Just get rid of the second-class labor force

    Although I'm sure the tech companies abuse the H-1B as well, getting super-expensive experts for way less than they'd have to pay domestically, my major concern is the "labor replacement" use of H-1B slots. These are the ones snapped up by IBM, Tata, Infosys, Accenture, Cognizant, Wipro, etc. and used to fill on-site positions. These body shops use their H-1B slots for one of two things:

    1. Placing a staff-replacing person for a customer who absolutely demands someone on site instead of offshore. (I.e. swap a customer-employed DBA for a cheap outsourcing firm-employed DBA)

    2. Rotating "train your replacement" staff between outsourcing customers - these are the people that collect all the procedures and credential from IT department workers before they're fired and replaced with the faceless 1000 person call center admins.

    Especially in expensive markets like the Bay Area and NYC, the H-1B is an easy way for companies to pay way less than they would have to for a way more exploitable worker. Even if the visa is somewhat portable, companies know the holder needs to find a new company to sponsor them in 30 days. They also know that it's extremely easy to game the "labor certification" process and get an insanely good deal. That's what the focus of any reform should be...there's no reason companies should be allowed to have a second-class labor force.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Just get rid of the second-class labor force

      This point really is worth stressing. Most of the big bay area/nyc companies are already compliant with the new rules. They won't be hit directly by the salary hikes because total compensation numbers in SF and NYC are so off the charts they smash through the new limits by default. They'll be hit by the (deliberate) slowdown of visa renewals, but that's a different kettle of fish.

      Right now something like 35% of all H-1Bs are awarded to people who end up working in an office other than their employer's office. That means they are almost certainly by definition in an outsourced role. That's on top of the significant fraction who are getting H-1Bs and working in a similar role but working from their "employer's" office (even if that happens to be just across the road..).

      The system is rotten and it is the workers who lose out. H-1B's main contribution to the economy is to let outsourcing companies invent jobs and staff them at below-market rates from overseas with fresh college graduates.

  3. Daedalus Silver badge

    Manglers in training

    That pretty much describes the average tech person in the USA. I get that companies would like to cherry-pick the best from wherever, but I also get that they should properly use the best from the domestic crop first. Instead the mangler-wannabees create so much chaos and confusion that the companies believe that there is no local talent to be had. Such talent as does exist spends most of the time cleaning up after the incompetents.

    1. Schultz
      Go

      "cherry-pick the best from wherever"

      The US ran a long experiment on capitalism with open borders. Hiring ambitious, smart and committed people from all around the world was part of that experiment. This seems to come towards an end as the US turns increasingly xenophobic. So maybe in the next years we'll get to see how much of the economic success was tied to the open borders.

      I, personally, believe it takes magic dust and not ambitious people to build a succesful economy. But who knows, maybe I am wrong.

  4. Someone Else Silver badge

    Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and dozens of other leading fat-ass tech companies have submitted a joint amicus brief [PDF] against new rules that would increase the minimum wage requirement for H-1B visas to above market levels, effectively blocking immigrant talent from working in America leveling the playing field and making it more likely said fat-ass companies will (finally) start hiring American workers.

    There, FTFY.

    Those of you who follow my posts know I'm no fan of the Orange-utan. But here, I seem to recal an old saying; something about a blind squirrel and a nut....

    1. ThomH Silver badge

      I used to work at one of the companies you list, in the US, and as a rule there was so much money sloshing around that they'd make an offer to absolutely anybody who passed the interviews. Foreign workers weren't taking the place of US workers, they were strictly augmenting them.

      So I think the firms petitioning here aren't the problem. I'm not saying there isn't a problem.

      1. James Anderson Silver badge

        I admire your judgment so much l would like to offer you this excellent bridge over the Thames for a specially reduced price.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Oooh! Bridge for sale!

          Tower, London or Garden?

          1. James Anderson Silver badge

            Re: Oooh! Bridge for sale!

            The pretty garden one -- much more portable.

        2. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

          Over here we try to sell them the Brooklyn Bridge at a special price.

  5. tekHedd

    "Market Rates"

    Maybe the only reason they will be "... forced to fire workers for not being paid tens of thousands of dollars more than market rates" is that the market rates are being dragged down by dirt cheap "bussed-in" overseas labor?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Politicians and corporate weasels

    Decades ago, the US Chamber of Commerce was a reputable organization, but now it is a cheerleader for outsourcing and obscene CEO largesse.

    One of the lies often said about H-1B visa candidates is that they are "highly skilled" or "high-skilled," when in fact they only possess a B.S. degree from Ninth State Community College, Outer Bumfuck, India. Politicians and corporate weasels use these terms to confuse people, trying to make them think that all H-1B candidates have M.S. or PhD degrees, when only 20,000 out of 85,000 are required to possess these advanced degrees.

  7. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

    In 2005, my job got "outsourced" to a Cairo, Egypt. With my pay, they can hire four CCNA candidates they said. And they did.

    So they sat me down and they took down my day-to-day duties.

    And then they looked up the accounts I was responsible for and went, "Uh-oh" and then offered me my job back (1 year contract) with a pay hike.

  8. James Anderson Silver badge

    I had an H1B once.

    While I absolutely enjoyed my time in the USA (it was possible 35 years ago! ) I was definitely cheap Labour, paid well below less skilled locals and billed out for more.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I had an H1B once.

      Yup, A UK friend did a stint in the US at a similar time and was told to lie on his visa application as 'Nobody will believe you earn that little'

  9. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    Elephant in the room?

    One has to wonder what kind of person would be crazy enough to WANT to move to the USA to work.

    1. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: Elephant in the room?

      Partly, I suppose it depends where you're moving from...

      I know several IT people who've moved from the UK to the US. It would appear to me that their quality of life is significantly worse, but the trappings are undoubtedly much more impressive.

      1. Buzzword

        Re: Elephant in the room?

        The weather is nicer. That's enough for a lot of people.

        Also, unless you're working in London / southeast, your pay is likely to be considerably higher in the USA.

    2. martinusher Silver badge

      Re: Elephant in the room?

      Back when I were a young 'un (1984) I had the opportunity to take up a job in the US. Althugh the company was distinctly fly by night and the pay was, by local standards, laughable I moved from a dampworld where "If it wasn't nailed down it was nicked" with few employment opportunities to an upscale part of Southern California where the sun always shone and there was always something interesting happening. My first reaction was "its a crock" and was anxious to get back to sanity. Unfortunatley I was married to a Latent Californian -- the missus proved to be a Californian who just had the misfortune to be born in Birmingham. So we stuck it out and thiry odd years later we're now 'merkans stuck in the xenophobic world of The Donald (because thank's to Brexit the only alternative is the xenophobic world of The Donaldlet) but being relatively well off, retired and so on we're OK, Living The American Dream. (This isn't the world for many, though -- I've been working the polls recently, rubbing shoulders with fellow Americans who are for glad to get that $17.50 an hour and some of the tales you hear are hearbreaking -- they're not sob stories becuase most Americans are stoic and hardworking people who are resilient in the face of adversity but its still painful to hear the stories of carreers and lifestyles truncated and the lengths people are having to go to in order to try to keep things togeter.) Anyway, given that the opportunity and optimism that did characterize the place 30 odd years ago has largely evaporated, there is no -- repeat, No, Zilch, Nada -- job security, the health system makes even a dysfunctional NHS look marvellous, there's no social safety net to speak of -- you'd have to be either crazy or desperate to work here. The streets may be paved with gold in the Bay Area but its a transient situation, it won't last (I've been through three cycles so far). Normal salaries are a lot lower and now companies have figured out that they really can function without a prestige office in an expensive location expect rapid and permanent change. Remeber, the Bean Counters always win in the end.

      If you are recruited to an interesting job that requires serious skills then you also need to beware of another trap. In the old days you'd work, contribute, learn and maybe see an oportunity to do something for yourself. This enreprenturial activirty spawned generations of companies, it was like a family tree with some branches successful, many not, and its what made us what we are. Unfortunately these days this sort of thing is now regarded by the FBI as espioage. As a result, if you sail a bit close to the wind with that new enterprise you may find yourself in jail rather than just being sued.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    YES YESY YES NO!

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    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: YES YESY YES NO!

      You are so write. Jo Biden is literally a copse.

      1. James Anderson Silver badge

        Re: YES YESY YES NO!

        I admit he is a bit wooden -- but hes a long way away from being a small group of trees. Anyway they have already had a two bushes so a copse is bigger and better.

    2. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

      Re: YES YESY YES NO!

      Donald, is that you? Calm down, Donald.

      Now is not the time to lose whatever marbles you have left.

  11. Cynic_999 Silver badge

    NASA

    It's all very well to say that companies should hire from the domestic pool rather than wooing foreign talent, but where would the USA space program be today had it not been permitted to bring in foreign expertise (from e.g. Germany). Hiring the most talented or experienced regardless of nationality will always be the best way forward for a company.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Been There, Got the Resource Action to prove it...

    Downunder we have the 457 scam... scheme to bring 'highly skilled' staff over from India.

    Client said there weren't enough 'locals' working on the account, the company (3 letters) interviewed locals for positions. Skill set interviews were Windows System administrators with VMWare certification, Citrix Certification, CCNA etc. then offered salaries for a base level Windows Admin. Naturally no one locally with the certs asked and interviewed for, took the jobs. The company then went to the government and said they couldn't fill the positions locally, got the visa approvals and then brought over base level Windows admins and charged the customer for a 'local' rate. The guys brought over got serviced apartments, per diem and travel paid for while still being paid by XXX India while the locals got the task of upskilling the offshore team. We even had people managers brought over as 'technical specialists' when they didn't have any technical skills.

    Once they had been trained up to the level where they could do the job and us locals had missed out on all the DevOps, Agile training to update our skill sets we got the flick.

    The multinationals know how to rort these government schemes and while I don't doubt that there is a need to bring skilled labour in, the vast majority I have seen have been to keep the wages bill down and not from any need to bring in skills they couldn't obtain locally (if they paid the going rate.)

  13. Paul

    good for the UK/EU

    I think actually that jacking up the price of immigrant workers in the US is a good thing, it'll mean jobs moving to the UK and elsewhere to get cheaper labour.

    In fact, one SanFran company tried to recruit me only a month ago, to work for them.. only snag was they wanted me to work in the US timezone, started at 1600 and finishing 0000. I live in the UK, and I wouldn't have liked that.

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