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Senators Seek H-1B Cap That Can Reach 300,000 605

Posted by Soulskill
from the come-to-america-and-let-our-robots-replace-you dept.
dcblogs writes "A bipartisan group of Senators is planning to introduce a bill that allows the H-1B visa cap to rise automatically with demand to a maximum of 300,000 visas annually. This 20-page bill, called the Immigration Innovation Act of 2013 or the 'I-Squared Act of 2013,' is being developed by Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and Chris Coons (D-Del.). It may be introduced next week. Presently, the U.S. has an H-1B visa cap of 65,000. There are another 20,000 H-1B visas set aside for advanced degree gradates of U.S. universities, for 85,000 in total. Under the new bill, the base H-1B cap would increase from 65,000 to 115,000. But the cap would be allowed to rise automatically with demand, according to a draft of the legislation."
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Senators Seek H-1B Cap That Can Reach 300,000

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  • by tibit (1762298) on Friday January 25, 2013 @02:14PM (#42693165)

    It's political lingo for removing the cap. You see, politicans know full well that people will buy whatever as long as the packaging is right. Thus the cap is, in reality, removed, but in words it remains.

    I wish they did that to green card caps, though.

  • by im_thatoneguy (819432) on Friday January 25, 2013 @02:18PM (#42693233)

    Agreed. Seriously reduce H1Bs and offer them citizenship if they agree to stick around for 10 years.

  • by globaljustin (574257) <justinglobal@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Friday January 25, 2013 @02:20PM (#42693243) Homepage Journal

    Trying to weigh all the parts of the bill, I think I would oppose it.

    I think foreign workers in all jobs are good, but increasing the number of visas granted is bad in an economy like ours. We need our jobs to rebuild our individual financial infrastructure. Younger workers need to be able to pay off those credit cards.

    Google, Yahoo, IBM, etc *should* be forced to hire more US workers. First it would force companies to start giving people with a criminal record a chance. Felons at age 26 with marketable skills in IT, web design, or coding/software engineering are still Felons...they never make it past HR...

    Just look at any thread on /. about getting hired...Human Resources is a difficult barrier even with a spotless record.

    A second reason to oppose more H1-B visas is that it would force Americans to go back to college or get marketable skills another way. State university systems are economical and could be adapted to be essentially profit-neutral and give 100% financial aid to all who are accepted.

    So yes, Americans do need to get off their asses, get some skillz and get to work...adding more *non-US* workers than we already allow is dumb right now

  • by 1s44c (552956) on Friday January 25, 2013 @02:34PM (#42693447)

    With unemployment so high in the US as it is....they'd better sign off that EVERY US citizen potential employee is hired first....then start letting outsiders in.

    That's just silly. You are saying you would not import one single programmer until every single American who has no aptitude at programming has a programming job.

  • by undeadbill (2490070) on Friday January 25, 2013 @02:46PM (#42693623)

    I think I'd like to see this bill at least tied to the following:

    1. No more questions about prior felony convictions. It is too easy to get popped with a felony, a class of crime that used to be limited to serious criminal offenses.
    2. Tie this to an additional H1-B payroll tax, with the revenue going to online certification training (much like the ACM offers as part of their membership), as well as vouchers for a certain amount of tests.
    3. Make it more desirable to hire and promote junior staff. H1-B is attractive because they have fewer workplace protections, and have to take a bigger gamble to come to the US to work. Fix some of those restrictions (such as severe limitations in job-hopping), and institute measures that promote hiring interns and junior IT people.

    Right now, it is harder than heck to find qualified IT staff, and HR departments are all asking for 3-5 years of experience in whatever they are hiring for. The problem isn't in the lack of willing senior staff who want to train and mentor people. It isn't in the lack of available training for the unemployed. It is in the lack of will on the part of C level execs who don't want it, and can't see the labor shortage coming up on them, or what that can mean in the long term (in my view, out past 5 years. In the view of a CEO, the long view is not more than 5 years).

  • by sjbe (173966) on Friday January 25, 2013 @03:01PM (#42693841)

    I think foreign workers in all jobs are good, but increasing the number of visas granted is bad in an economy like ours.

    So you don't want to sound xenophobic but you really are. Foreign workers contribute to the economy, pay taxes, and bring specific talents that are badly needed by companies but you think we should hire Americans just because they are Americans?

    Google, Yahoo, IBM, etc *should* be forced to hire more US workers.

    You've never tried to run a business have you? Forcing a company to hire substandard talent is literally counterproductive. Companies need to and should hire the best talent they can get regardless of where the person is from. If that happens to be people from the US that is terrific. Companies need specific skills and those skills don't have anything to do with national boundaries. If the US workers are the best available option then I guarantee you that companies will hire them. If they aren't the best then they don't really deserve the jobs now do they?

    A second reason to oppose more H1-B visas is that it would force Americans to go back to college or get marketable skills another way.

    So less competition for jobs is somehow supposed to push Americans to get more training? Curious logic since generally less competition has exactly the opposite effect. If I don't have to compete for my job, I'm going to have zero motivation to spend money or time on additional education.

  • by MattW (97290) <matt@ender.com> on Friday January 25, 2013 @03:20PM (#42694123) Homepage

    Realistically, I view an ability to bring in highly skilled workers as a huge boon for us. Tax revenues, technological innovation, business agility - etc. People who are really driving technology and innovation create way more value than they capture and they become the rising tide that lift all boats.

    But how can you identify them? We all know companies that want to import workers for less skilled jobs carefully tailor the job descriptions to avoid any domestic competition, don't publicize the jobs widely, etc.

    Salary is the answer. We should prioritize H1-B visa imports by salary. The more you are paying the worker you import, the higher on the list they get to be. Any increase in the cap requires a certain number of workers at the top of the salary curve; if your salary would put you in the top 1% of workers in any science or technology field, then come on in; I don't care how high the "cap" goes. As you move toward the middle of the bell curve, the total number of workers we'll import declines. We shouldn't import even one worker below the median salary. I don't think we should move an inch over the current cap unless everyone over the cap is at least in the top 20%.

  • H-2B or not 2B (Score:5, Interesting)

    by smugfunt (8972) on Friday January 25, 2013 @03:40PM (#42694379)

    I noted with interest a recent advert in one of the newspapers here in Belize. It was offering Belizeans jobs in New Jersey driving ice-cream trucks for $8.50 an hour. On a six-month H-2B visa.
    I realize $8.50 is not a whole lot but can they really find no Americans to do it? Incidentally, a laborer in Belize makes about a quarter of that and a hot meal costs about $2.00.

  • by doubledown00 (2767069) on Friday January 25, 2013 @03:50PM (#42694483)
    It seems to me that a more "open" workforce market can only be a good thing if it breaks down the barriers that allow companies in India, China, wherever to offer work for a pittance, when those workers can just go to another country and get a better living wage.

    ----

    1) Why should I care about the "barriers" and wages of other countries when there are people unemployed and starving here?

    2) Why should we help these other countries reform their own labor practices at our expense?



    The H1-B is suppose to assist companies in filling gaps when the local labor pool cannot provide. It was *intended* to be an "America First" solution. Instead it has been co-opted as a way to keep labor costs down rather than paying IT talent what the market demands.
  • by GoogleShill (2732413) on Friday January 25, 2013 @03:53PM (#42694513)

    ...they won't do shit about the scumbag companies that will hire Paco for $3 an hour...

    I truly believe that cracking down on this alone will solve 90% of the immigration problem. If it becomes too risky for companies to hire illegals, there is less incentive to come here illegally and more jobs go to tax-paying Americans. Instead of spending billions on a wall, we could just send feds out to every construction site and fine the living shit out any company who is taking advantage of the system by hiring illegals. The system would pay for itself in short time.

  • by Kelbear (870538) on Friday January 25, 2013 @03:59PM (#42694601)

    My co-worker came here from the phillipines on a work visa. The money she made here was decent, but great considering that it's getting sent home to her family where a dollar has more mileage. Got diagnosed with terminal lung cancer at 27 (she didn't even smoke).

    She didn't even say anything to anybody. I almost complimented her on managing to stay so trim. Needless to say I was pretty surprised when she suddenly died over the weekend at age 29. d

    That's a crazy kind of work ethic, not even taking a day off from work for TERMINAL CANCER. I don't even know what my point is here, I'm just a bit daunted by the concept of working to death.

  • by khallow (566160) on Friday January 25, 2013 @04:02PM (#42694635)

    because the US was a Christian nation and the Soviets were atheist.

    Not at all. They surrendered to the US because they were the less scary choice. The Communists were always a rival to the Nazis in the Wiemar Republic and were blamed in large part for the downfall of Germany during the First World War. So there was some hate going in to the invasion of Russia.

    Then toss in all the bad blood created between Germany and Russia thereafter, Joseph Stalin as a remarkably scary leader even by Nazi standards, and that Von Braun and various members of his group may have been partly responsible for the deaths of Russian soldiers (I read that prisoners of war were enslaved at Mittelwerk (and died there) and the largest portion of such in Nazi Germany would have been Soviet).

  • by Vicarius (1093097) on Friday January 25, 2013 @04:14PM (#42694773)

    I worked under H1B and have switched several employers over time - it is doable, but it is not as easy as you think. If you find another employer before you are fired, and if that employer agrees to file the paperwork for H1B, then yes, you can "easily" switch jobs. I was working as a contractor for a company that wanted to hire me directly and even made me an offer, but it was too bad for them, since neither they nor their lawyer knew what to do and I ended up going somewhere else.

    Also, you have 10 days to get out of the country after you are fired. However, these 10 days will still be counted as a gap in your legal status and in most cases you will have to leave the country to get a new H1B, i.e. you will be a the mercy of the immigration officer in your own country and even then officer at the border can refuse you the entry w/o an explanation.

    As a Green Card holder or a Citizen, you can go to your boss and say "give me a raise or I quit", but as an H1B worker you are pretty much stuck with whatever pay was given to you. There are also legal tricks to make sure that you don't get the salary that company promised the government they will pay you.

    After a while H1B holder would want to get a Green Card, but that is a long process that requires you to stick with your employer once documents are submitted. This creates another opportunity for employers to impose their will on you.

    Current laws help companies to find cheaper labor at expense of Americans. Instead of raising caps, they should change laws, so that it is more costly to hire H1B workers, i.e. tax companies for each and every H1B and if they really need these workers they will have no problem paying the tax.

  • by tibit (1762298) on Friday January 25, 2013 @04:21PM (#42694855)

    I'm not a citizen and yet I not only work, but I pay taxes and, oh horror of horrors, I invest all my money here. And please, cut the BS about not enforcing immigration laws. If my status were to lapse for some reason, they'd be knocking on my door and kicking me out of the country within a couple of months. There is a big difference between an undocumented immigrant, and one who has a long paper trail behind him. Protip: the latter are easy pickings.

    But I don't completely blame you on not having much of a clue of how immigration laws are enforced, because if you asked me anything about immigrating into the countries I am a citizen of, you'd get a blank stare as I never had to deal with any of it. My only beef is that it you're not clever enough to realize that you have no clue what you're talking, nah, spewing about.

    Besides, you can't really have, effectively, three different sets of laws (federal, state and local), and expect that it'd be OK for the local police to enforce it all. Either there is a need for FBI and state police, or there isn't, you can't have it both ways. Now it is of course a thing to discuss whether we need all those three layers of policing to begin with.

  • by dkleinsc (563838) on Friday January 25, 2013 @04:30PM (#42694969) Homepage

    Importing people who will be automatically put into a process of exporting if they lose their job always seemed more than a bit cruel to me.

    The rule that H1B visa holders lose their right to be in the country if they lose their job is one of the attractions of H1B holders for bad employers. Imagine, if you will, an abusive boss or company that's making you put in lots of 80+ hour work weeks for $45K a year (It was supposed to be closer to $75K when you took the job, but for some reason the deal changed after you moved to take the job). Now, you have 2 basic options: You can quit, or you can put up with it.

    As a US citizen, if you quit, you might be unemployed for a while, which will suck, but you have a decent chance of finding new work sooner or later and have access to social safety net programs if you need them. As an H1B Visa holder, if you quit, you have to leave the country basically immediately and your best bet is going to work in your home country for $30K a year for a different abusive boss / company. Which means that the US citizen is more likely to quit when abused than an H1B holder is.

    And I don't blame the H1B holders for coming to the US to work - they're doing this because it's the best they can do. But I will absolutely be angry at the employers who want to cut costs by making it difficult to quit and then abusing their employees.

  • Re:wrong approach (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Mitreya (579078) <mitreya@gmail . c om> on Friday January 25, 2013 @04:31PM (#42694973)

    Don't create more visa's, give the workers easy pathways to citizenship. Work on an H1-b for 5 years without run-ins with the law and you're a citizen.

    The law of unintended consequences says that your rule will cause H1-B holders to be fired after exactly 4 years to be replaced by brand new H1-B visa holders.

  • by starless (60879) on Friday January 25, 2013 @05:17PM (#42695519)

    Coming to the US with a green card is very difficult. I know of nobody who did that where I work (federal government science lab).
    I have a PhD in physics, I came to the US on an H1B visa (as did many of my colleagues).
    Then, after several years, I got a green card, then a few years after that I became a US citizen.
    That path (H1B -> green card -> citizen) has been followed by very many of my scientist and engineer colleagues.
    I'd like to think that we make a strong contribution to the US scientifically, economically, and culturally.

  • by sesshomaru (173381) on Friday January 25, 2013 @05:52PM (#42695925) Journal

    The thing is, I really respect what the Indian government does for Indians. I've known a truly huge number of Indians since I started in IT... staggeringly huge, and I really like them. I find them to be good reliable friends.

    Let's face it though, these laws aren't being put into place to help Indian techies (they do help them, but that's a side effect). They are being put into place to lower labor costs for large tech companies. Tech companies have decided that they are paying too much for labor, and they go to their stooges in Congress and say, "We're paying to much for labor, flood the market with H1-B's so labor will be cheaper." Their stooges in Congress think of the money they will get in graft, go "ch-ching" and pass the laws that the tech company owners want.

    If there really is a labor shortage, more naturalized citizens is the right way to fill it, not the complex H1-B visa. Another fact about my Indian friends? They are great people but they move around the country like soldiers being stationed here, and then stationed there. It's got nothing to do with what they want, either. A contract runs out in sunny Georgia and they may next find themselves in icy NYC.

    However, I don't feel particularly picked on because this happens all across the economy and the problem is that almost every law we get is based on graft (or increasing police state power) rather than the public good. It's why copyright length keeps getting extended. It's why we can't import drugs from where they are cheaper, and so on.

    We've decided unchecked, rampant graft is going to be the order of the day in Washington, and we get a country that is run by corruption because of it.

    Read, "4 Amendments and a Funeral" [democratic...ground.com] to see how Washington works. However, a caution, both political parties are currently driven by graft, don't fool yourself into seeing either as "the good guys."

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