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DHS Best-and-Brightest STEM Program Under Fire 108

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the degree-mill-poaching dept.
theodp writes "In mid-May, the Department of Homeland Security quietly expanded a program that allows foreign science, technology, engineering and math grads to work in the U.S. for 29 months without a work visa. 'Attracting the best and brightest international talent to our colleges and universities and enabling them to contribute to their professional growth is an important part of our nation's economic, scientific and technological competitiveness,' explained DHS Chief Janet Napolitano. But last week, Senator Chuck Grassley called on the GAO to 'fully investigate' the student visa program, citing reports of abuse and other concerns in his letter. Now, Computerworld reports that the DHS STEM Visa Extension Program continues to be dominated by Stratford University and the University of Bridgeport (as it was in 2010), prompting some tongues to wag. It is 'obvious to any reasonable person that the schools producing most of the OPT students are not prestigious research universities,' quipped policy analyst Daniel Costa, 'which means that many of the OPT students across the country are not in fact the "best and brightest."' While conceding that top students can come from lesser-known schools, 'those will be the exception to the rule,' argued Costa, who suggested the government should include performance metrics in the OPT program, such as grades and university rankings."
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DHS Best-and-Brightest STEM Program Under Fire

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  • by Sponge Bath (413667) on Tuesday June 05, 2012 @08:27AM (#40218047)

    A major expansion of the program occurred in 2008 under Bush and is now expanded again by Obama. Over 400000 OPT Visas from 2006-2010, so this is the same scale at H1B. The DHS press release has the usual, if questionable, justification: this is only for the best of the best of the best and there are no US workers with these skills.

    Lies and quiet scheming have replaced honest discussion with US citizens.

  • by Gr8Apes (679165) on Tuesday June 05, 2012 @08:46AM (#40218159)
    Sadly, the linked articles support this:

    For instance, OPT employers aren't subject to the same rules governing H-1B workers, who must be paid the prevailing wage.

    The U.S. has approved about 35,274 OPT extensions and denied only 613 since the program was started.

  • Who Benefits? (Score:5, Informative)

    by sociocapitalist (2471722) on Tuesday June 05, 2012 @08:47AM (#40218173)

    American companies complaining they can't hire resources in these fields (without mentioning that they want to pay jack shit) perhaps?

    Strikes me as a bit of an H1B dodge...

  • by NickGnome (1073080) on Tuesday June 05, 2012 @03:15PM (#40223421)
    Most H-1Bs and green card sponsorees are ordinary people doing ordinary work, NOT "the best and the brightest".

    "Computer-related H-1Bs have a median age of 27.4; 52% have less than 2 years of experience, and another 41% have 2-5 years."

    Only 3% of a typical MSFT H-1B visa intake are US DoL level-four workers -- i.e., do work that requires independent judgment. Most H-1b use "level one" which is 17th percentile of U.S. wages -- $10k to $15k below what average-skilled Americans get paid. The 75th percentile for pay of new H-1B computing professionals was just $60K, below the median, in FY2005. Phiroz Vandrevala admitted that "Our wage per employee is 20%-25% lesser than US wage for a similar employee."

    DoL PERM data show that the average H-1B worker sponsored for a green card is paid a tiny fraction of one percent above the median wage for the industry (Matloff found 109%, whle Perelman claimed 121% for the same prominent firm), not the 150% or 200% or 300% one would expect the very "best and brightest" to deserve. DoL is required by law to reject any H-1B or green card application that lists a salary below prevailing wage, so the ratios of actual to prevailing wage should never be below 1.00. Even "Einstein" workers on O-1 visas at MSFT were paid only 140.4% of the median.

    Half of the 52,352 H-1B computing professionals admitted in FY2005 earned less than entry-level wages. 56% of the H-1B applications for computing jobs were for the lowest skill level, 'Level 1'.

    The "prevailing wage" requirement is a fraud, since the name gives the impression that it requires paying the actual, previously existing market compensation for the same work, done by someone with the same talent, knowledge, credentials, experience, etc., while, in actuality, it allows the guest-worker to be paid significantly less. Census data, the INS/USCIS H-1B data, and the DoL green card (PERM) data all show a pattern of paying the H-1B grantees less than comparable American STEM workers.

    "STEM foreign students at U.S. universities tend to be at the less-selective universities [and] Most foreign workers work at or near entry level, described by the Department of Labor in terms akin to apprenticeship."

    When Industry wants more cheap H-1B labor these are "highly skilled" workers. When it comes to determining how much they have to pay, they suddenly become "low skilled". DoL ETA has shown several times that it has perverse notion of "state-of-the-art" "highly skilled occupations".

    The 3 most-needed reforms to the E-3, H-1B, J, L, and even O visa programs are (1) put in place some reasonable minimal competence/skill standards which applicants need to meet, (2) reduce the numbers of such visas, and (3) run reasonable and proper background investigations on every visa applicant.

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