back to article Trump tries one more time to limit H-1B work visas with new minimum salary requirements

The Trump Administration has tried yet again to change the fine print around H-1B work visas, with the Department of Labor issuing a new rule on Tuesday that it said would “help protect the wages and job opportunities of American workers.” The new requirement [PDF] takes a similar approach to a rule change introduced last year …

  1. jeff_w87

    Good idea

    As much as I despise Donald Trump, I don't think this is necessarily a bad idea (full disclosure: I work in the IT field). If you're going to be bringing in a VISA applicant they should be paid the same as an equivalent American worker. Same pay for the same work. Companies go for cheap labor at the expense of the American labor force (profit and investors before country).

    1. just_some_dude

      Re: Good idea

      I share your sentiment, but cynic in me reads this line to mean that all it will take is a few well-placed campaign contributions for big companies to get exemptions: "The DoL says it will decide what those wage levels are"

      1. Adelio Bronze badge

        Re: Good idea

        I am also in IT and i have sympathy with the changes BUT does this mean that companies will try to offshore more work.

        Note, I have never believed that offshoring work is a "win" for companies long term.

        Give a unknown developer a spec and hopign they will do the work correctly is fantacy unless the spec is VERY tight and the people are supervised by onshore people.

        Whenever i received a spec the first thing i would do is read it and try and make sure i understood the requirements and also make sure they actually make sense.

        I have had many specs where the person writing them does not have full knowledge of the actual system which means assumptions can be wrong.

        giving contractors/offshore people specs probably means that many of them will just take the spec as read and not question assumptions, which can lead to terrible results if not caught early enough.

        I always want to know as much as possible about any system i am working on, the better to understand how it works and to identify possible issues or improvements.

        Software is so complicated and so large now that few. if any people understand it fully. it is NOT the same thing a giving someone the spec to make a screw....

        1. Down not across Silver badge

          Re: Good idea

          I have had many specs where the person writing them does not have full knowledge of the actual system which means assumptions can be wrong.

          giving contractors/offshore people specs probably means that many of them will just take the spec as read and not question assumptions, which can lead to terrible results if not caught early enough.

          When it comes to offshoring, those terrible results may be somewhat intentional. It was written to spec. So pay up, any changes are additionally chargeable work.

          1. HausWolf

            Re: Good idea

            So much this, you want to have your work done overseas, at least know what you want. I've worked in the US for bosses who had no idea what they wanted and then complained about the end results, even when you gave then what they had said they wanted. You want the big bux making decisions, then make the instructions concise and to the point. I've seen it happen far too many times that leaving these grey areas open has been just a way to blame someone else for manglements failings.

          2. murrby

            Re: Good idea

            You're confusing off-shoring with out-sourcing. Different things. With out-sourcing the people are your company's employees so if they're not doing the job it's their manager's fault.

            (Full disclosure - I manage an off-shore team in India.)

        2. overunder Silver badge

          Re: Good idea

          "... BUT does this mean that companies will try to offshore more work.

          The word "more" can't be used, as the core of the problem is that they are already "offshoring" as much as they legally can at all time.

          "Software is so complicated and so large now that few. if any people understand it fully.

          It's really easier than ever, it's just that the qualifications for being "the person who draws the specs" has reached an all time low due to everyone now thinking they're an IT expert because they "read that article on _____", thus causing MASSIVE delays and confusion. I find that if you know C and/or C++ as well as LISP (yes, LISP) and/or Haskell you can do any programming and are able to step down to the machine or up to scripting with no problem, but nobody will believe you until you have that certification in "Re-re-re-writing that old thing again with Javascript and Python for IoT and AI".

        3. very angry man
          Paris Hilton

          Re: Good idea

          Please re-issue the spec for screwing i don't understand?

    2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Good idea

      Yes but is just a highest bidder war the optimal way to do this?

      You are a startup, you need an expert on CRISPR or Z-ray crystallography from outside the USA - you have to pay more than Wall St pays for high frequency trading or Google pays for self-driving car devs?

      You can use the 'American salary for this role' but that's what has been abused for years. Or do you set a minimum salary differently for finance/medical/web? Or do you exempt small companies from the limit.

      All the approaches have problems - but a president making executive orders to appeal to "They took our jobs!" crowd is possibly non-optimal.

      1. notathome

        Re: Good idea

        I dont think it is about "They took our jobs!" but setting some guidance around wages and employ people at home first.

        Downside to silicon valley, they are greedy billionaires wanting your time and skill for minimal outlay.

        They did no become rich from being socialists.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Good idea

          It's generally not the Apple/Google/Tesla evil silicon valley billionaires that are miss-using H1B so much as the consultancy body-shops, the TATA's and HPEs and IBMs.

          At the high tech startup end of the industry our main problem is immigrants leaving - we lost a bunch of engineers to China who are willing to match US salaries somewhere with a lower cost of living.

          1. Danny Boyd

            Re: Good idea

            Interestingly, it's not TATA or HPE or IBM that lobby against H1B limitations most fervently. It's Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft et al. Minimal wages limitation will rob these companies of that part of the profit that comes from importing cheap Indian pseudo-graduates to replace experienced American workers. Yes, American, whatever their extraction is, because by now (being experienced) they are Americans.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Good idea

              The IBM mantra is to offshore the work if at all possible. They will not look to bring people in on H1Bs unless they really, really have to.

          2. Version 1.0 Silver badge

            Re: Good idea

            Maybe we'll see programmers appearing in Louisiana and Mississippi, home of the Blues and Jazz - wages there are far lower than the rest of the US although the food is a heck of a lot tastier.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Good idea

        "You are a startup, you need an expert "

        Wrong order. Should be:

        1. Be an expert

        2. Set up your startup based on what you know

      3. DevOpsTimothyC

        Re: Good idea

        > You are a startup, you need an expert on CRISPR or Z-ray crystallography from outside the USA - you have to pay more than Wall St pays for high frequency trading or Google pays for self-driving car devs?

        "from outside the USA" should have no place in that in that statement. If you need an expert in a field you should always look at local markets. Only if you cannot get one in the local market then look abroad. Too many businesses want an expert but they are unwilling to pay local market rates.

    3. NeilPost Silver badge

      Re: Good idea

      A broken (analogue) Clock is right twice a day.

    4. anothercynic Silver badge

      Re: Good idea

      Oh absolutely. Given El Reg has documented on them thar hallowed pages (*points at the Search function*) some companies actually having been caught abusing the H1-B system, I think a good review of the visa system is a good thing. If only the same could be said for the UK one...

    5. Brad Ackerman
      Childcatcher

      Re: Good idea

      There's a simple fix that would make lowballing H-1B salaries a lot riskier: eliminate all restrictions limiting the recipient to a specific employer for everything but diplomatic and internal transfer visas, and eliminate all the waiting for a green card after five years (or whatever the number is supposed to be) of residency - apply, State does a NACI, green card in a week or less.

      A competent Republican would easily have been able to get some sort of H-1B reform through Congress with overwhelming support, but Trump just wasn't interested in doing anything other than grifting and golfing.

  2. smudge
    Unhappy

    We beat you to it!

    However, the Trump Administration’s effort to reform the program have come across as punitive and xenophobic – fed by the president’s fierce anti-immigrant rhetoric – rather than good management.

    Here in the UK, we have had, since 1st January, a new immigration system whose minimum wage requirements are set at a level higher than the average worker in the health and care sectors receives. Those sectors are heavily dependent on foreign workers, not just from our neighbouring EU countries with which there is no longer free movement, but also from countries further afield, such as the middle and far East.

    Cutting off a large part of our supply of health and care workers is just what we don't need at any time, but especially not in the middle of a pandemic.

    "Punitive and xenophobic" and "fierce anti-immigrant rhetoric" are words which could well be used to describe some events and politics in the UK over the past 5 years.

    1. Adelio Bronze badge

      Re: We beat you to it!

      But wait, we have had many years to work out what rules we need not we are "brexited". But oh yes, politians struggle to think more that a few weeks ahead or to the next election..

      after all about the obly thing said about brexit was £35 million to the NHS/

      Funny, i never did get anything concrete about the ACTUAL benefits to leaving the EU. just "It will be great", trust me I know what I am talking about. Even now we are floundering with a new set of regulations that we only finalised 5 days before they came into force. Well planned chaps.

      1. Down not across Silver badge

        Re: We beat you to it!

        Even now we are floundering with a new set of regulations that we only finalised 5 days before they came into force. Well planned chaps.

        What do you mean? It was easiest deal ever. Oven ready!

        1. nijam

          Re: We beat you to it!

          > Oven ready!

          That means raw, doesn't it?

      2. Claverhouse Silver badge

        Re: We beat you to it!

        Brexit has unleashed the fiery hitherto untapped genius of the British People, before restrained by pettifogging red tape from jealous unelected Brussels Bureaucrats, which will lead to many great things at which we will be world-beating. And now we govern ourselves, with the profound ancient wisdom of our elected members

        Marvellous, wonderful things !

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: We beat you to it!

          British Red Tape is so much better than EU Red Tape - of course all exports and imports now need to comply with both British Red Tape and EU Red Tape.

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: We beat you to it!

          "the profound ancient wisdom of our elected members"

          Ah, yes. Members. It's good to be reminded of its multiple meanings.

      3. anothercynic Silver badge

        Re: We beat you to it!

        Minor nit (a magnitude factor): It was 350 million, not 35 million. :-)

        But yes... There were only nebulous benefits that were meant to neutralise the growing 'Project Fear' predictions that have come to pass in the last 12 or so months. The whole 'they confiscated my ham sandwich at the Dutch side'/'Welcome to Brexit' trope that got so much air time in the last two days is standard for anyone travelling to the US, or from Africa to Europe, or from anywhere to Australia and New Zealand.

        Except, Australia and New Zealand even slap you with massive fines... the Dutch let that bloke off easy!

        There's a Twitter account called 'RemainerNow' that's run by and highlights a lot of Brexiteers who changed their mind after they either realised what it really meant or were affected by it directly. I can just imagine that this will continue.

        1. Brad Ackerman
          Alert

          Re: We beat you to it!

          I'm sure the EU can slap you with massive fines and won't hesitate to do so if they think you knew it was illegal and did it anyhow, which is definitely the way the US operates.

          (On the gripping hand, smuggling Kinder Eggs is almost the US's national sport, or was pre-pandemic.)

    2. DevOpsTimothyC

      Re: We beat you to it!

      Part of the issue is that the UK one is just an amount rather than a percentile of similar jobs.

    3. Cederic Silver badge

      Re: We beat you to it!

      So you're saying that before bringing in cheap labour from overseas, health and care sector employers are now incentivised to pay a higher wage to local people?

      And that if they fail nonetheless to attract the needed number of employees, they can still bring in foreign workers, but those foreigners will be paid more than they would be just a couple of weeks before?

      That sounds terribly xenophobic, actually daring to still allow foreign workers but demanding that they get better pay. Very punitive. I don't know how the people responsible can sleep at night.

  3. JWLong

    Please

    Would someone please delete Trump!

  4. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge
    Facepalm

    culmination of many hours of extensive research and thought

    Wow. Many hours, huh? Well I'm sure that will calm all the concerned organisations who would normally be consulted on such matters. I'm just blown away by how much effort they've put into this, given the vast potential ramifications.

    Not many days, weeks or months, which could reasonably be expected for such an important and contentious topic. No no no... hours. And just how much is many, anyway? One up from several? In other words maybe a day's thought went into this, max. Minus coffee breaks and a nice long relaxing lunch...

    1. Justin Clements

      Re: culmination of many hours of extensive research and thought

      Probably because it doesn't need days or weeks to think about some of this stuff.

      You cannot have a program designed to bring in people to fill the skill gap in a company whilst at the same time the company laying off the exact same Americans who have the skills, and re-employing a foreigner for less.

      Does it really take long to think through? Only for a bureaucrat.

      Having been through the US immigration system, for what it's worth, it is utterly abused. If the day I was at the US Embassy for my paperwork was anything to go by, there were 300-400 people leaving the UK for the US on non immigrant visas on any single day. As opposed to 12-14 of us on immigrant visas.

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