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Issa Bill Would Kill A Big H-1B Loophole (computerworld.com) 248

ErichTheRed writes: This isn't perfect, but it is the first attempt I've seen at removing the "body shop" loophole in the H-1B visa system. A bill has been introduced in Congress that would raise the minimum wage for an H-1B holder from $60K to $100K, and place limits on the body shop companies that employ mostly H-1B holders in a pass-through arrangement. Whether it's enough to stop the direct replacement of workers, or whether it will just accelerate offshoring, remains to be seen. But, I think removing the most blatant and most abused loopholes in the rules is a good start. "The high-skilled visa program is critical to ensuring American companies can attract and retain the world's best talent," said Issa in a statement. "Unfortunately, in recent years, this important program has become abused and exploited as a loophole for companies to replace American workers with cheaper labor from overseas."
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Issa Bill Would Kill A Big H-1B Loophole

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  • by TheGratefulNet ( 143330 ) on Friday July 22, 2016 @07:46PM (#52563803)

    I can only hope that our voices are STARTING to be heard and taken seriously.

    I can't compete with an h1b. I have more experience, I know silicon valley quite well, I have good contacts and can get things done; but I'm 'an expensive american' because I have US healthcare to pay and US rents to pay, etc. and I'm not willing to have 5 other room mates and live-for-work just to stay employed.

    we need a break from this heat wave. many of us who need work cannot get it. companies stopped caring about us and refuse to even consider us. we badly need relief from this or we'll find more of us slipping into the poorest underclass and that's just an absurdity. intelligent and capable thinkers and builders unable to get work because our corp overlords sold us all out.

    I'll believe in the relief when I see it. so far, though, its killing many of us. in some ways, almost literally (I may lose my home soon, that's how bad it can get).

    • by Anonymous Coward

      But libertarianism! But free market! But no more evil government! You'll ruin everything with those bills. We will never reach the libertarian utopia with those bills!

      • The free market wouldn't have special visa programs like H-1B, foreigners would have to immigrate here to work here, same as everyone else, a much more expensive and time-consuming process than the H-1B visa process.
    • We live in a global economy, and there are people who have much, much less than you, and making half your salary will feel like winning the lottery.

      There isn't any stopping it. Evertone should be saving their money right now. Ten years from now the tech industry will be drastically different, and expensive employees will be all but weeded out.

      • Ok that's all well and good, but could I please have confirmation that the wealthy of my country will give at least the same percentage that I do instead of taking from it?
    • As if H1Bs don't have rent and health insurance to pay. What do you think they are, incorporeal spirits?

    • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

      From last week's Illinois Times: [illinoistimes.com] a story about H-2B workers. If you read it, it will anger you. It isn't just tech workers who suffer.

    • by Wolfrider ( 856 )

      --Seriously man, you should consider banding together with whoever else in your area is in the same fix and start your own company. Feel free to contact me off-slashdot if you want to discuss this, I may have a few ideas and stuff that can help you out.

  • This should be a no-brainer.

    I'll be shocked if it even makes it to a vote.

    (captcha: divisive)

    • by tomhath ( 637240 )
      True. This is an election year so there's a lot of posturing going on. But Issa is Republican so the bill has a chance.
  • I have not read issa, but i suspect that it is a trap. Big issue the general public wants, wrapped around some onerous provision for even deeper anal penetration by thier real constituents, monied interests, and corporations. Perhaps even carte blanc for a tla or two.

    That seems to have been the major play the past 30 years. Anyone read it yet?

  • it's already much, much cheaper to hire over seas. Adding the expense of bringing someone over on an H1-B doesn't help. If companies didn't have a reason to use the H1-B program then they wouldn't.
  • The shop I work at is about 50% US workforce and about 50% off-shore. If this goes through, our shop will turn into a 0% US workforce and 100% off-shore...
    • and in some time afterwards, when they realize that we have infrastructure that pretty much WORKS and they do not, they'll be back.

      yeah, its cheap in india. when the electricity works. and when the workers actually DO real quality work.

      let them go to india and china. once they realize that cost savings is not all there is, they'll be back.

      perhaps they need to truly learn the value of having us, the US born workers who know this country and how to get things done, be in their employ.

      I hope more companies

    • Good example (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Trachman ( 3499895 )

      Your example is a perfect example for unintended consequences of each and every government's decision.

      I can give one more example. There may be some bona-fide less desirable locations with low wages, that do have difficulty attracting qualified personel. This will be a burden for some organization in the midland of America trying to hire a skilled worker.

      That being said, every law will have consequences, the outcomes that the politicians would not want to think about it. Here are the few: the limit of $100K

      • Which means that in a decade the new limit of $100K will become what is now $50K.

        You're expecting wages to rise at ~7% annual rates over the next decade? What info do you have that the rest of us don't?

    • Unless your 50% American workforce is all H1B workers, I don't think you understand this bill at all.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 22, 2016 @07:58PM (#52563859)

    The government already does cost-of-living adjustments for government employees. How hard is that to apply to H1-B? Here in Detroit, $60K probably isn't a bad minimum for H1-B workers, but it's crazy low in the San Francisco Bay. Why not tie the minimum to the region?

    • Agree completely, but then they location-shop before body-shopping.

      Problem I have is small companies and other fields. I am in architectural empngineering, and there really are limited grads. We were willing to sponsor one person over the past decade, but the salary would destroy it. (He had one year of "internship" and would be starting around $65k in Los Angeles.). Worth it in the greater good, but a challenge none the less.

      • 65k is princely in other parts of the country. Is the cost of the loss of in person business meetings so high, that the value of a telecommuting architect is totally lost?

        Your applicant does not need to be local. Just easily able to collaborate. It may seem strange, but there really is high speed internet, and people interested in becoming architects in the flyover land parts of the country, where costs of living are much lower, who would be willing to work for a much smaller wage than could be offered wit

        • architectural Engineering. A starting electrical engineer with a Masters is around $60-65k in Los Angeles, more in Bay Area. Junior staff cannot be effective remotely; they do not work independently for a few years, and when they hit that mark they need to be helping to mentor the next generation.

          Senior engineers can be remotely with only limited loss in productivity, and mid-level can safely be remote a day or two per week. We do have a remote office, as well as one full-time remote employee. It works

          • It sounds like your rates in your high cost areas are not congruent with the actual costs of operating your business.

            Since you are doing surveys for new building constructions, and other essential civil engineering services for the locality you service-- remind your local civic authorities that lowballing you will result in their deadlines not being met, because you cannot keep the staff required to service their needs in a timely manner on the rates they are demanding. Your competitors will likewise be un

    • by Anonymous Coward

      H1-Bs are supposed to be highly skilled. I live in the Detroit Metro area. 60k is what you pay a fresh college grad with a STEM degree, even in Detroit.

  • We need green cards to be given out for techs, while killing off the H1B.
    Hopefully, this will be addressed in the next CONgress, or perhaps in the lame duck.
    • I don't think we need a visa system, either. you think we're UNDER POPULATED here in the US? maybe in the flyover states we are, but in the tech area hubs we are overcrowded in a way that is not beneficial to anyone but the corps, who prey on us like vultures.

      when we have locals who can't get or keep a job and you have 90% indians and chinese walking around in google, intel, cisco, facebook, twitter, etc - there is something really wrong, here. locals can't get work and we import people who don't really

    • We need green cards to be given out for techs,

      Why? What are we short on?

  • It's a nice try - but it'll NEVER pass much less get signed by Oblahblah! Too much BIG $$$ in politics! Politicians ONLY listen to $$$!

  • Here is my experience interning with a big American dotcon whose name starts with letter G 5 years ago: Truckloads of Russian speaking product people with minimal technical literacy and only basic knowledge of English supervising B visa temp "consultants," who themselves supervised offshore sweatshops. My work there was to be a "technical interpreter" while I was originally told that I will work as a "developer mentee." I got an impression that most of "developers" in American "Big IT" are just glorified
  • by crow ( 16139 ) on Friday July 22, 2016 @08:10PM (#52563897) Homepage Journal

    Just make two simple reforms:

    *) H1B visas convert to Green Cards after two years.

    *) Limit them to no more than 5% of the workforce for any work site.

    • by barc0001 ( 173002 ) on Friday July 22, 2016 @08:37PM (#52563983)

      I had a suggestion for simple reforms to Canada's Temporary Foreign Worker program that was being similarly abused, except it wasn't limited to tech workers. Specifically the TFW program was set to for companies that couldn't find Canadian talent to fill roles. It was meant to be used for things like say a high end Indian restaurant needed to bring in a chef from India with 30+ years of experience, but instead was used to replace teenage cashiers at McDonalds franchises.

      My suggestion was very simple: If you cannot find a worker for a particular job, you apply to the TFW program for a permit to hire a foreign worker to fill the slot. The government does market studies and knows what an average wage for that position is and to fill it with a TFW, the company will pay 150% of the average wage for that position to get that worker into Canada and employed. The company pays the ministry the worker's 150% wage and then the worker receives a cheque from the government at the average wage for that position as per the market study. The excess monies are used to pay for operation of the TFW program and also to set aside grants to train Canadians to fill these worker deficiencies.

      Another reason the pay goes through the TFW office was that there were several cases of the workers being underpaid once they arrived here, or in one particularly egregious instance, a McD's franchisee was also acting as the landlord for his TFWs in a house he owned and would "helpfully" pre-deduct rent and utilities from their paycheques.

      I'd be willing to bet that if the TFW and H1-B programs enacted this simple reform, the demand for foreign workers would plummet like a stone and it would still leave the door open for those businesses that actually cannot find someone in-country for a particular job.

      • by slew ( 2918 )

        Actually, the H1b program was *supposed* to work like this. Unfortunately, there are big fat exemptions to having the market wage determined on a case basis:

        1. Just pay them over $60K/year
        2. Have a masters degree or better
        3. Don't hire more than 15% H1bs in your company
        4. Hire a bunch of people under the same *nominal* title and share the wage certification determination between them.

        You can easily use #1 in a high wage area like SF bay or NYC...
        Diploma mills make #2 pretty easy
        Big US based consulting comp

      • by godrik ( 1287354 )

        The H1B fees in the US go to public education. Though, it is not 50% of the salary of the employee.

      • in one particularly egregious instance, a McD's franchisee was also acting as the landlord for his TFWs in a house he owned and would "helpfully" pre-deduct rent and utilities from their paycheques.

        There's actually a legit reason for doing this. When a company provides living quarters, that technically counts as additional income (at least to the IRS - I assume the same is true for CRA). You're supposed to pay taxes on it. Sometimes the employee doesn't report that income on their taxes. When the comp

        • by Megane ( 129182 )
          I think you missed his implied meaning of "helpfully pre-deduct". As in it's not a line item on the paycheck or in any accounting system. Nor is it optional.
        • > This is particularly important if the company is giving the employee the room at below-market rates.

          HA Ha ha ha. ha. Trust me, that wasn't his motivation. At all.

          http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/mcdonald-s-foreign-worker-practices-face-growing-investigation-1.2607365

          "This housing complex in Lethbridge is referred to as 'the compound.' Local McDonald's employees said up to eight foreign workers live in each suite and they pay the franchise owner $400 per month each for rent. (CBC)

          The McD

    • get rid of the tied to the job part and force OT pay for H1B's

  • by l0n3s0m3phr34k ( 2613107 ) on Friday July 22, 2016 @08:24PM (#52563949)
    Our government doesn't even enforce our current laws on H1B, what good would new ones do? A few months ago I got a "form letter" denial for a support job I applied for, didn't even get an interview. I had worked with this team for about three years, I knew their applications, escalation lists, support teams, ticketing system; in some ways I probably was more qualified than some of their current staff members. I was told by their management that they had zero actual control over HR's initial acceptance / cut system as all of the HR people are in another state thousands of miles away; HR (by unofficial policy) wouldn't take any local suggestions for who would be interviewed...the "process" didn't work like that. "The process" had HR giving them a list of pre-approved candidates, then HR would allow the local staff to interview them, and then HR would take it from there. After I got my form letter of rejection, I found an LCA for my job had been filed within a few days of my application. Using various H1B "job sites" in conjunction with the Department of Labor's LCA system, I found dozens of jobs in my area that never had any advertising on any job board, nor had any recruiters been contacted. These jobs went straight to H1B, they didn't even bother looking for a US citizen.

    Most frustratingly, there is no one to really complain to, no regulatory agency that will listen. Even when the law is broken...until it gets to the level of a Congressional hearing nothing is done. Even then, nothing happened to Disney, or SEC, or any of the other giant corps. A few donations to re-election campaigns via shadowy 501s and the issue is dropped every time. Sometimes I think the only solution is to destroy the staffing corps pushing this, and by that I mean literally set fire to the US locations of companies like Tata and Infosys.
    • by pr0t0 ( 216378 )

      Sadly, I think one of three things (or some combination) is going to stop this:

      1. (unlikely) U.S. services consumers will start asking the companies they do business with, how much of their IT staffing is met by H1B visa workers; and refusing to do business with them until the number drops to some acceptable level. This will put pressure on companies to stop cutting corners on IT labor expenditures.

      2. (a little more likely) The continuing demand for H1B workers will drive up the salaries and bring them back

    • I would personally volunteer to work as a 'secret shopper' for the government in order to weed out these bullshit companies that screw over our own people with this h1b crap.

      I'm qualified for a lot of jobs and I have a ton of who's-who names on my resume. I can do the job, in more cases than not. and yet, when I apply, its the same as you - some BS excuse and you never hear from them again.

      I would love to help weed out this unpatriotic selfish bastard companies and really sock it to them where it hurts, i

  • It's odd that the richest person in congress would put forth this proposal. It's true that he has a democrat joining in the bill, but what's in it for him? There must be something evil hidden in the text that we haven't discovered yet.

    • by slew ( 2918 )

      It's odd that the richest person in congress would put forth this proposal. It's true that he has a democrat joining in the bill, but what's in it for him? There must be something evil hidden in the text that we haven't discovered yet.

      FWIW, Darrell Issa is a big advocate of Open Government as an analogy to Open Source and has partnered with Mark Shuttleworth to create the Open Government Foundation which makes Project Madison [opengovfoundation.org]...

      You can question his motives, and disagree with his politics, but unlike other legislative efforts, typically for the ones that Mr Issa generates, you can generally inspect the process and look for bugs...

      Although Issa made his money long ago in the "please step away from the car" alarm business and nowadays make

  • This comment won't address the low-cost labor question. It will cover the on-vs-off shore question.

    About 12 months ago, we benchmarked the Silicon Valley vs Bangalore salaries that we have across a 200 person organization.
    - Architect Level engineers had a fully loaded cost about 1/2 of the US engineers.
    - Mid-career enginers were about 1/3
    - Junior engineers were about 1/5 the cost.

    General salary increases in Bangalore are about 10%, US (and most western countries) is about 3%. Cost

    • by godrik ( 1287354 )

      I feel like lots of people here are seeing only one face of the H1B program. I got hired as an H1B and I am permanent resident now. Though I entered the US on a J1 program. When I entered the US, I did not even want to stay, then life being life, I decided too. I work for a university and there are not many qualified applicants.
      It is very unlikely that you would someone that is skilled and permanent resident or us citizen for a professor position. They pretty much just do not exists. There are some, but not

  • Make it direct pay as well so there can't be kick backs from staffing firms where on paper the works are being paid a lot more then they are really getting.

  • by CAOgdin ( 984672 ) on Friday July 22, 2016 @08:41PM (#52564003)

    Do-nothing Darrell Issa is NOW concerned about H1B abuse, because people in his district (a high-tech hotbed North of San Diego) have been having their jobs overtaken by imported, lower-cost workers...conveniently, just before his performance is questioned by challengers for his Seat in the House of Representatives.
    He could've done this anytime in the past two (or four) years, but, no-o-o. He waits until he can make it a CAMPAIGN ISSUE to help his faltering reputation. His Democratic challenger is now approaching parity in polling, so, pull out the project he SHOULD have been working on for the past several years in office. But, schemer that he is, he's held it in reserve until it could save his butt...and he hopes you forget about all the butts of working who've lost their jobs because of his passive attitude toward constituents in prior years!

    • by CAOgdin ( 984672 )

      Oops: error correction: Last sentence: ...about all the butts of working PEOPLE who've lost...

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Step 1) create 150k new job opportunities for American citizens by reducing the number of H1Bs by 150k.
    Step 2) auction off the remaining H1B slots so companies who truly need exceptional skills can get them, but at a market price

  • . . . IT and private industry that misuses the H1B system. In Monterey, CA there’s a school called Defense Language Institute (run by Uncle Sam himself) that employs a boatload of H1B visa holders and they are being treated very poorly in both pay and work conditions. That is, our own government is breaking the law with regards to H1B visa holders, so please don't expect them to fix it. Apples to Apples, the DLI worker works twice as much for half the pay compared to other colleges in the immediate ar

  • I believe that in order to make it a lasting reform is to make the minimum for foreign wworkers a percentage above the local standard industry wage. This would ensure they actually TRY to find a local professional instead of saying they did and replace all the employees with cheaper foreign labor.
  • I seem to recall reading here about a study finding that ~90% of H1-B visas were given to people taking low-skilled entry-level positions. Are they really being paid $60k/year for that? Either entry-level IT positions pay way better than I remember, or something else is going on here.

  • Those who claim the US benefits by draining the best and the brightest from around the world are doing two things wrong:

    1) They bad liars. Everyone knows they just want cheap labor. Just cut the noise already and accept the fact that they may have to send some mangers overseas.
    2) Even if they happen to get someone particularly gifted to leave their native land and work cheap in the US, they're ignoring the negative impact this has on those -- usually developing -- economies which need their best and brigh

  • Who ever said, "The high-skilled visa program is critical to ensuring American companies can attract and retain the world's best talent" is a god damn lair. Its about money. Public record shows it.
  • They amount to de facto indentured servitude which the US constitution bans.

  • I've lost count of the number of times I've gotten letters from HR after discussing raises detailing (in words, not actual $ values) how my pay is so much more than what shows up in my bank account. There's the paid vacation time, how much they pay toward my insurance, sick days, other benefits I have absolutely no use for (but I'm sure someone convinced the company that for $X, they could claim it was worth $Y).

    Unless this bill says the H-1Bs are to get $100K (before taxes) in actual spendable money witho

  • Two instant solutions:
    1) Remove H1B program and replace it with green cards. Most of H1B employees get green cards eventually anyway. If visa holders don't depend on company like they currently do, if they can change jobs at will, they have no reason to accept sub-par offers. One may do an investigation for what money green-card lottery winners work. I really doubt that they work for pennies H1B employees get.
    2) As there is more demand than allowed visas, there is some kind of lottery. Instead of lottery, g

  • Sorry to hijack a story to go on a tangent, but this may be one read by people I'd like to query:

    I'd be very interested to know how older (35+) IT workers (ops & dev) in the UK are feeling at the moment, eg:

    * My long experience gives me more confidence in my employability
    * I've kept up with trends, so I'm OK
    * My experience counts against me (eg "you know C", "you know UNIX", so you must be past it)
    * My age counts against me
    * There are no jobs going for my skillset
    * I'm doing fine, thanks!
    * Jobs I can d

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