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Backlash Stirs in U.S. Against Foreign Worker Visas

Backlash Stirs in U.S. Against Foreign Worker Visas
By Paul Wiseman

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Workers in the U.S. are claiming discrimination with the hiring of foreigners on skilled worker visas. Some say the H-1B visa program has been hijacked by staffing companies that import cheaper, lower-level workers to replace more expensive U.S. employees -- or keep them from getting hired. Critics say there is no shortage of American tech workers.
 


Kelly Parker was thrilled when she landed her dream job in 2012 providing tech support for Harley-Davidson's Tomahawk, Wisconsin, plants. The divorced mother of three hoped it was the beginning of a new career with the motorcycle company.

The dream didn't last long. Parker claims she was laid off one year later after she trained her replacement, a newly arrived worker from India. Now she has joined a federal lawsuit alleging the global staffing firm that ran Harley-Davidson's tech support discriminated against American workers -- in part by replacing them with temporary workers from South Asia.

The firm, India-based Infosys Ltd., denies wrongdoing and contends, as many companies do, that it has faced a shortage of talent and specialized skill sets in the U.S. Like other firms, Infosys wants Congress to allow even more of these temporary workers.

But amid calls for expanding the nation's so-called H-1B visa program, there is growing pushback from Americans who argue the program has been hijacked by staffing companies that import cheaper, lower-level workers to replace more expensive U.S. employees -- or keep them from getting hired in the first place.

"It's getting pretty frustrating when you can't compete on salary for a skilled job," said Rich Hajinlian, a veteran computer programmer from the Boston area. "You hear references all the time that these big companies ... can't find skilled workers. I am a skilled worker."

Hajinlian, 56, who develops his own web applications on the side, said he applied for a job in April through a headhunter and that the potential client appeared interested, scheduling a longer interview. Then, said Hajinlian, the headhunter called back and said the client had gone with an H-1B worker whose annual salary was about $10,000 less.

"I didn't even get a chance to negotiate down," he said.

The H-1B program allows employers to temporarily hire workers in specialty occupations. The government issues up to 85,000 H-1B visas to businesses every year, and recipients can stay up to six years. Although no one tracks exactly how many H-1B holders are in the U.S., experts estimate there are at least 600,000 at any one time. Skilled guest workers can also come in on other types of visas.

An immigration bill passed in the U.S. Senate last year would have increased the number of annually available H-1B visas to 180,000 while raising fees and increasing oversight, although language was removed that would have required all companies to consider qualified U.S. workers before foreign workers are hired. (continued...)

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© 2014 Associated Press under contract with NewsEdge. All rights reserved.
 

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evillittleshrew:

Posted: 2014-07-30 @ 8:11am PT
What a bunch of fact-less whining about nothing. Do you know what the national unemployment rate for programmers is in the United States? Less than 1%. And HELLO wages ARE going up at an average rate of 6.5% per year because THERE IS A SHORTAGE! That's double inflation rate if you're a programmer or DBA or the like. I barely touch my linkedin account and yet still receive a good 5 - 10 recruiters a week emailing me / calling me. My last job switch came with a 30% pay increase. If I left my current company now, I'd receive another 30% pay increase - I never got a chance to finish college. I only have 8 years experience and am already making over a 6 figure salary with 6 weeks vacation and free health care. There are a 100 other new jobs a week in my medium sized city that would do the same or better and NO I don't live in CA.


Sure, go ahead, import more foreign workers. No one cares or will even notice. The worst that will happen is a lot of companies will get fair/poor programmers who can't speak English and don't really understand the business they are working in. They will always be junior / middle programmers getting bottom of the barrel jobs that the skilled people pass up. And when the layoffs come, who goes first? This literally just happened at my company. Laid off 100s of people in one day and guess what nationality 50% of them were? Guess what nationality 6 months later are still looking for jobs? Do you really want these bottom of the barrel jobs where you aren't expected to really communicate, have mediocre skill sets, mediocre pay and will be the first to get laid off at a company that is doing OK limping along with a work force that has no skill or direction?


And since when does a college degree in CS mean much of anything in the field? Let me see... not since about 1999. College does very little to prepare you and unless you are dead-set on working for one of the huge mega corps being just a small cog in the giant wheel and can be let go at any time (IBM, Oracle, MS etc.), a college degree means very little compared to your experience. Unless you want to program in fortran, cobalt, python or other mostly un-used languages, most colleges won't teach you how to do anything useful. I get that maybe we import more H1B workers than we used to. Maybe the golden age of fortune and glory being an English speaking software engineer will soon come to end. But the article speaks as if it's already happening and takes a few examples of people barely making anything in the industry and always getting laid off (I skimmed, but say a $40k salary quote in there somewhere - wtf?). The people in these examples must be really terrible at what they do. Terrible journalism. Factless ranting. Why am I even responding. I should get back to work... got lots of software to write.

Undisclosed:

Posted: 2014-07-25 @ 10:55am PT
12 years at Microsoft developing Windows. Have all the latest skills.

I work for an Indian now that sells to US firms and sends all the money and jobs back to India.

Sad when today the only job I could find is a VP role training Indians and sending all our technical know-how to Mohali.

Bill Gates is a Traitor:

Posted: 2014-07-22 @ 7:37pm PT
End the Indian unqualified H1-B visa scam ruining U.S. Corporations technological edge now! Write your Congress reps to kill this fraudulent racket destroying American middle class jobs for short term reckless exec greed!

Paul:

Posted: 2014-07-17 @ 12:03pm PT
Towards the end of my IT career at Motorola, the majority of the people that I was working with were employees of companies like Tata and Infosys and were presumably on H-1B visas

ALincoln:

Posted: 2014-07-14 @ 4:17pm PT
The H1B Visa Program is destroying the American middle class.

john80224:

Posted: 2014-07-14 @ 11:38am PT
"A company spokeswoman said Infosys has about 17,000 employees in the U.S., about 25 percent U.S. hires."

NASSCOM produced a report a couple years ago touting that 1/3 of their onshore staff is not on visa. What they did not speak to was breakdown by 1) job role nor 2) remaining percentage of the 1/3 that were on GC vs. citizen.

Anecdotally, from personal observation and a great many accounts from others, I'd be surprised if InfoSys or NASSCOM in general has 10% of their core technical staff who were born in the US.



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