Appreciating our Immigration System


UPDATE: April 1, 2009 – 10:30 a.m. Pacific

Posted by Brad Smith 
General Counsel

As I mentioned in my post Monday, today begins the period for U.S. employers to apply for H-1B visas for high-skilled foreign workers. 

Given the economic downturn, we are filing substantially fewer H-1B applications than we filed last year.  Unlike previous years, a solid majority of our applications this year are for employees who are already working for Microsoft in the United States, so we can retain their talent and specialized skills in this country rather than risk losing them to a foreign competitor.

As we have previously said, even with the down economy, Microsoft will create several thousand new jobs this year as we invest in new growth areas and emerging technologies. The vast majority of our U.S. hires in the coming 12 months will be American workers.  But to succeed and continue adding jobs in the highly competitive global technology business,  Microsoft and other U.S. companies must be able to hire top talent wherever it is located.

High-skilled workers, from all backgrounds and from all across America and around the world, have made America’s high-tech companies the envy of the world.  Their importance has not changed despite the dramatic changes in our economy.  Talented and knowledgeable people are what America needs most to restart our economy and keep American companies at the forefront of the technology revolution that will transform health care, energy, and education in the years to come. 

Last week, I addressed the American Chamber of Commerce in Brazil about the need to avoid protectionist impulses during tough economic times.  There are no easy answers.  We need to continue to invest in math and science education in America to cultivate the tech leaders of tomorrow, but we also need to continue to attract the best minds from around the world.

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Every year around this time, there is a vigorous discussion of immigration issues. That’s because early April is the annual window for employers to file for what are called H-1B visas, which enable foreign workers with specialized skills to work in the United States. 

In relative terms the number of H-1B visas granted each year is not large – 85,000 visas for a country of over 300 million people.  Proportionally that’s like allowing 20 people to sit among the 70,000 fans who will attend the NCAA Final Four games in Detroit this weekend.

But qualitatively, these individuals make a vital contribution to U.S. technology and competitiveness.  In part that’s because the number of U.S.-born computer and engineering graduates has not kept pace with the expansion of key technology-related jobs. 

A recent study by the National Center for Education Statistics found that 39% of all Masters degrees in computer science from U.S. universities – and a startling 61% of PhDs – were earned by temporary residents.  While there are some glimmers of hope that American enrollment in computer science programs may be increasing, it will take years of sustained progress. 

The future success of Microsoft and every other U.S. technology company depends on our ability to recruit the world’s best talent.  While the vast majority of Microsoft’s U.S. workforce is American, Microsoft hires foreign workers to bring specially-needed skill sets to our U.S. operations and to fill roles when qualified American workers are not available. 

Microsoft is working with government and industry to try to increase the number of Americans pursuing science, technology, engineering, and math careers.  Through our programs like Partners in Learning,DreamSparkImagine Cup, our work on middle school math, and our partnerships with hundreds of American universities, Microsoft has invested millions of dollars in a wide range of K-12 and higher education programs.  But it will take time to reverse the past decade’s declines in computer science graduation rates among U.S. citizens.

And the larger point remains – isn’t it in America’s best interests to keep the world’s top talent working here in the U.S., using their skills and ideas to invent the breakthrough products of tomorrow that will drive our economy and create jobs?

Contrary to popular belief, many H-1B filings are for employees who are already in the U.S. but who would have to leave the country in the relatively near future if they cannot secure an H-1B visa.  In a large number of cases, these filings are made by foreign citizens who have spent the past several years at a U.S. college or university and would have to leave the country and take their skills and training elsewhere if they cannot get an H-1B visa. 

In many other cases, an H-1B visa represents a foreign employee who has been living and working in the United States for a number of years, whose skills are still needed, but whose existing visa is expiring.  Many types of temporary visas have very strict prohibitions on renewals.  Others are very, very difficult to extend after a certain period.

In limited cases, an H-1B visa represents a new high-skilled employee coming to the U.S. to fill a role for which there is a continuing shortage of top-tier scientific and engineering talent. 

Some critics have suggested that the H-1B program provides a way for U.S. companies to hire less expensive foreign workers instead of equally qualified Americans.  This is simply not the case.  The law specifically requires that H-1B workers be paid salaries that are at least equal to similar American workers.  Microsoft supports strong enforcement of the H-1B rules and strong action against employers who violate the rules.

While the number of visa holders is very small compared to the U.S. workforce, their contribution is huge.  For example, last year 35 percent of Microsoft’s patent applications in the U.S. came from new inventions by visa and green card holders.  The situation at other U.S. technology leaders is probably very similar.  And arecent study found that for every H-1B position requested, U.S. technology companies increase their employment by 5 new jobs. 

The number of H-1B visas remains very limited.  Congress sets a limit on the number of H-1B visas that can be issued each year.  Demand far exceeds supply.  For the past several years, the number of applications has exceeded the limit – by almost double – in the first five days that H-1B applications can be filed.  When this happens, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services holds a lottery, and people are chosen at random. 

Because of these limits, many very valuable employees may not be selected for H-1Bs this year.  For many, this means that they will have to leave – taking their skills, innovation, inspiration, and valuable economic contributions with them, at a time when America needs them the most.

Posted by Brad Smith 
General Counsel

Comments (32)

  1. Anonymous says:

    This makes me feel horrible. Our broken system in education and the depreciation of authority has led us to this position. Even in this day and time I believe other countries shall fall, as the lack of the evident importance of education slacks from generation to generation. Our government should take a look at school subjects, observe the textbooks, standardize the teaching methods, create a rewards system for initiative and performance, assist those toward college who are trying, and better structure our ways of dealing with individuals who are not.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I have yet to meet anyone on H-1B that I would consider "critical". The standards for H-1B are, like our banking system, unregulated. Half of the H-1Bs are really unqualified. Why hire them? Well some companies only allow hiring from one or two firms which happen to be heavily involved in outsourcing which means all the resumes you get are H-1B.     The funny thing is we hire more and more unqualified people because of this system. Oh well.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Programming C# is not a specialized skill.  I honestly don't believe you can prove an h1-B visa holder has a skill that an American worker who is currently looking for a job doesn't have unless you are talking about localization. Now if you are talking about hardware manufacturing where only 15 people in the world understand how to shrink a die to the next lower nanometer, that's one thing… but I don't believe Microsoft has any such scientific endeavors underway.  H1B Visas are not immigration.  I have nothing against the immigration process and those people who wish to do it should do so.  Money paid to H1B visa holders frequently leaves this countries economy and goes to theirs.  The skills that H1B visa holders pick up working in this country likewise go back home with them.  Also I have seen cookie cutter degree holders in the industry get jobs over skilled professionals that have experience rather than a degree.  Finally your numbers are off… While the United States has a population around 300 million The American work force is ~135 Million.  Now if you take the number of workers in the computer industry as a whole and the # of H1B visas in the computer industry… I bet your ratio gets a hell of alot higher.  Don't lie to us with math.  We Americans aren't too dumb to figure it out.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I worked at MSFT for 11 years, all of the new H1B graduates I worked with needed the same training just like the new US citizen grads.    I'm not against the H1B usage, but I'm against using it for entry level jobs.  And don't try to tell me its not.  I saw it first hand all the time.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I understand the core issue, but I don't understand why companies don't just convert expiring H-1B visas to L1 visas – where there is no quota (as far as I know).

  6. Anonymous says:

    @Dave:    Many people who come here on work visas already have considerable experience before entering the US workforce.  They bring their education, skills and experience to the table working for a US employer.  Additionally, many visa holders do NOT sen

  7. Anonymous says:

    @Kelly: you can't convert an H-1B to an L-1 if the worker is US-based.  They would have to move abroad to a subsidiary and transfer back into the US after 1 year.

  8. Anonymous says:

    H1B Visas are not immigration.  I have nothing against the immigration process and those people who wish to do it should do so.     Dave, it takes somewhere between 6-10 years for someone from India or China to get an employment based green card. Do you think any sane person will hire someone abroad and wait that long to bring them over to the U.S.? If the employment based green card process is streamlined so that it takes less than 3-6 months, then the argument can be made that H-1B visas may not be needed anymore. Presently, it allows companies access to immigrant workers till they get their green cards.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Kelly, that is a good question. One challenge the tech sector is facing is not that H-1B visas are expiring, but that L1 visas are expiring. ;L1 visas are different from H-1B visas and have different requirements. I believe companies in the tech sector have been careful to use L1 visas only where it is appropriate to do so. ;They’re sometimes used when companies move an existing employee from another country to the United States. Individuals on L1 visas can apply for a green card, but they must obtain their green card within five years. Because the green card process is moving so slowly, there are talented individuals on L1 visas who qualify for a green card but who are getting closer to the end of this five-year period. These individuals might receive their green card before their five year period expires, but no one can really know with confidence. As a result, it’s likely this year that more companies will be applying for H-1B visas for these individuals. That’s the case, for example, at Microsoft.

    This underscores again the need to focus on the immigration rules in a comprehensive way. Even more broadly, we need to focus on the overall development of the workforce in the United States, including IT training and our education system overall, rather than focusing on immigration by itself.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Use the analogy of baseball.     Anyone can throw a ball but why do clubs get ball players from Caribbean?  

  11. Anonymous says:

    A L1 visa requires the employee to work at a branch outside of the US for at least a year prior, which causes a lot of inconvenience for both the employees and the employers.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Most of the H1-B abuses are with the Indian body shops. Companies like Microsoft, Google or Yahoo etc will not hire a foreign worker just because it is cheaper. They make their decisions based on best fit for the job. If the arguement is replacing expensive senior employees with junior staff, then it has nothing to do with the nationality of the persion hired. Companies simply choose the best from the younger pool.

  13. Anonymous says:

    L1 visa requires work in the subsidiary for over 6 months and it is valid for 5 years. There are more restrictions for a L1 visa holder to move compared to H1 visa holder who can change job easily.    Most new grads require the same training, US or elsewhere. Beyond that, the level of innovation and productivity depends on individual talent and attitude. companies hire based on talent. I am sure companies do not distinguish between a US grad from Berkeley and a foreign grad from Berkeley.     For big companies there is rarely a big salary difference. On the other hand the company has a lot of legal fees attached to H1 guy for Gc filing different stages, EAD renewals, AP renewal, Visa renewals etc. When the economic times get bad, companies tend to go for guys who already have work permits or citizenship as that cuts the legal costs.     the H1 guys do not take all the wealth across to the country they go back to. Firstly the product they contribute to gets back much more revenue than they are paid. Secondly they pay social security that they will never get back. thirdly, the visa status requires them to stay away from buying home etc which in turn means that they are usually in 75+ percentile in terms of tax paid for their income level.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Again people have pointed out that the number of H1 visa worker is higher among computer professionals. It should be noted that a lot of these H1 guys computed directly to very basic research to very advanced research. A lot of them founded companies that are now generating billions of dollars of revenues and creating more employment. The pace of innovation in semiconductors and software is possibly the fastest it has ever been in human history and a contributing factor has been best talent being able to work with best resources. And that talent has come from all over the world.

  15. Anonymous says:

    I work at msft now and i see the momentum H1B workers bring to teams that would otherwise not be driven in the window of opportunity due to lack to talent.     Lastly money earned by an individual should be left to him to decide on what to do with it. If i want to spend it all gambling in vegas so be it. If i want to buy my island resort in the bahamas so be it. I i don't want to buy a house because the prices fall every day thats my decision. Duh why should that concern anyone!    Immigration yeah right.. thats one trip to oz that takes a lifetime. Don't we all hate the queues that take forever?

  16. a says:

    These are important points about the different purposes and requirements of the L1 and H-1B visas.  These distinctions are likely to have an important impact on the filings of H-1B visas this year.    I believe companies in the tech sector have been careful to use L1 visas only where it is appropriate to do so.  They’re often used by companies when they move an existing employee from another country to the United States.  Individuals on L1 visas can apply for a green card, but they must obtain their green card within five years.  Because the green card process is moving so slowly, there are talented individuals on L1 visas who qualify for a green card but who are getting closer to the end of this five-year period.  These individuals might receive their green card before their five year period expires, but no one can really know with confidence.  As a result, it’s likely this year that more companies will be applying for H-1B visas for these individuals.  That’s the case, for example, at Microsoft.     This underscores again the need to focus on the immigration rules in a comprehensive way.  Even more broadly, we need to focus on the overall development of the workforce in the United States, including IT training and our education system overall, rather than focusing on immigration by itself.    

  17. Anonymous says:

    I don't have time to read everything but must reply to Dave. Basically you're pretty much full of B.S. I work at a leading company in our particular field of software, and I have NEVER seen a "degree holder" be preferred to a highly skilled professional under ANY circumstance. The companies don't care about people being either domestic or foreign, they care about getting the best talent possible so they can remain competitive. If they do anything else, they're on their way OUT anyways and it doesn't really matter since they're not of importance in that case.     Also you blatantly misunderstand software engineering and it's depth by stating that "anyone can do C#". First of all C# is pretty much a basic language that's not in very high demand, second "knowing" the language doesn't mean anything. Knowing how to use it to highest performance on every particular hardware, and how to solve complex problems be it algorithmically, mathematically, logically, visually, or whatever… You misunderstand the level of competence issue, when talking about HIGHLY skilled professionals we are talking about people who will invent and patent technology that you don't even know is going to exist tomorrow. That is a far stretch from "anyone can do C#" and thus your stance is of extreme naivete and ignorance to the subject.    Sorry to come hard on you, but it ticks me off to hear people justifying their xenophobia and how they want big corporations and skilled professionals to run their business', as if they'd know better while wielding an elementary understanding of the field.

  18. Anonymous says:

    I find it interesting that people have the gall to make an attempt at putting together a statement on how computer programming is nothing more than an easily trainable craft, that does not require specialized skills, yet they do not even possess the basic grammar and argumentative talent suffice to make their point. From my work in the immigration sector I can attest to those companies who abuse the immigration system and hire workers who are not any more qualified than an American applicant. However, I find it nothing short of disgusting when people who know nothing of the immigration system, job sourcing, or computer programming try to make gross assessments and unfounded judgments regarding a particular company's hiring practices.   H-1B visa workers are not all "immigrants". Though they are protected under dual-intent, some of them want nothing more than to work here, temporarily, and then return to their country. While others choose to stay, the track that they follow to become a Legal Permanent Resident is not easy, nor is sitting behind a computer for 10-12 hours a day running test software and managing programs. The monotony is one aspect of the job that fails to appeal to Americans, therefore creating the need for more highly-trained workers from abroad. Regardless of the reasoning, until we as Americans decide that we want to pay considerably more for products and services in the information, technology and other related sectors, we should hail the arrival of these workers from abroad who have allowed us to build the lifestyle we possess today on the foundation of their work ethic, and at times, exploitation.   It is irresponsible to accuse a particular industry, or even the sector itself,  for a lacking on behalf of the framework in which they operate. If the immigration policies themselves were strengthened and applied with consistency, then those attempting to develop in and around the framework that these policies create, would have something solid and established to which they could adhere.  I applaud Microsoft for attempting to play a role in finding an elusive equilibrium between the economy and immigration concerns while contributing to the American communities that it serves.  

  19. Anonymous says:

    Also I'd like to add that many people who are coming to this country are practical *geniuses*, they are software *gurus*. The majority of Americans are in no place to just learn these skills since the public school system has failed them to begin with, and even with an existing good education the skills might take 10-20 years to learn, IF you are in a position to learn them. And you have to typically be of high intelligence to begin with. We are talking about people like the next Nikola Tesla. You can't just substitute the next Einstein by a random unemployed American and say he can learn C# just the same. The truth is a lot of these people are in many ways superior intellectuals and if America wants to stay great they have to try to get some of that brain power inside the country so they can compete internationally and educate the next generation of children the best they can. Immigration will always be a big win for any country, you can also take a look at heavily protectionist countries and how they're doing.

  20. Anonymous says:

    I know that merely understanding a computer language is not enough to design a program.  I also know subjectively that H1B visa holders I have worked with were neither better nor worse than their American peers (though culturally different with strengths and weaknesses based upon that).  I also know that people who hold degrees often are picked over those who are taught by experience.  In this country the price of degrees keeps on rising and many in our industry are self-taught / taught by their experience.  There is also a difference between nationalism and xenophobia.  I readily admit my nationalism.  I just don't think that while we have 9% unemployment and climbing with so many unemployed computer professionals we should have any H1b visas except for TRULY specialized skills (as I mentioned in my original post).  As others mentioned, upon taking a new job everyone requires a degree of training, and computer programming (including algorithms) is simply not as hard a science as chemistry and biology for example.  Again I've seen people with H1B visas working on Windows Forms UI's (Badly I might add).  Argue that as a highly specialized skill.  

  21. Anonymous says:

    Dave and millions similar to Dave seem to be totally frustrated with the fact that Indians are prospering so much when compared to Americans. The concern manifests as questions regarding incompetent Indian software engineers. But we all know that that's not what's causing people to speak out so loud.      The answer to this concern is a 5-letter word called DREAM. Americans living here take that dream for granted whereas an Indian coming from thousands of miles away, comes here spending a lot of money in some cases the entire savings of the parents, just to get a taste of that American dream. If he does not make it here, all that effort is a waste. The Indian population in the US is around 2.8 million of which there are around 400,000 millionaires (people who have a net worth of more than $1m). That is an awesome 14% when compared to American millionaires who are around 12 million in number from a population of 297 million which is less than 5%… From maybe half a million people who want to come to the US every year, only 65000 applications are picked and approved, of which some people are rejected an entry by a visa consulate. So those that do make it here, want to make the best use of it. Be it software or hardware or any specialization, they will give their best and get the job done. The Dream makes the man and the man makes the dream! Have you seen Indians at Walmart going round and round for the closest parking spot? You won't! Have you seen Americans do it? You bet! We guys never take our comforts for granted.     Companies that hire Indians understand that they have a motivation to perform better and that they will do it. You put an American software engineer, pay him $60,000 per year and make him do manual testing for 12 hrs a day… See how long he lasts in the job… Will an Indian do it? Absolutely.. Why? The dream makes the man do it. Will an American work Saturdays and Sundays? Yes but for how long? Will an Indian do it? absolutely. For how long? As long as he needs to do it. Why the difference? Because the motivation levels are different.     Imagine the economic situation if those 400,000 Indians who at some point came on H1B were not millionaires and were not paying thousands of dollars of taxes! How much money would they need for the bailout and how worse would the situation be?   Dave said, "Again I've seen people with H1B visas working on Windows Forms UI's (Badly I might add).  Argue that as a highly specialized skill"… Here's how an Indian looks at it… That person may not have a tech background and trying to learn that field to fulfill that 5-letter word called DREAM. Indians are loyal to their dream and loyal to what they commit and that holds true for anything from a job to a marriage. As a CEO of a company, I would want to hire people who will be loyal to me for their assigned work period, instead of having to find somebody to replace a bored American who left the job after 3 months. That's why you need more visas for Indians so company's productivity can improve.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Dave you will be surprised how much Chemistry some foreign Computer Science Engineers know! I disagree that Algorithms are simpler than Biology or Chemistry. both of them are easier. the difference is that Bio or Chemistry requires a huge infrastructure and has slower productivity cycle. In computers you can contribute in smaller steps.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Your argument is  that you do not care for a country you live in as long as long you make profits !! This is the whole attitude of mega companies and see where it took us. This same argument will bite you back  when your Indian children who are born here like other Americans  and  have to face same  consequences.  Do you allow your son's or daughter's job is taken away from distant cousins from India at this time and may be  in the future  from  some other land like Romania or Russia?  Yes I agree the people who makes the argument against H1B do not have moral authority.  Oakland few miles from Silicon Valley never felt any stake in their neigbour. The poor African American kids remained as spectators as the wealth passing by. India is closer to Silicon Valley than  Oakland..  This moral atrocity is perpetuated by companies is unconscionable. I am sure some of the H1B haters  did the same thing to those African Americans and did not apply their "nationalism" to them.   They took easy route  without taking responsibility of  educating and training  the community around them!  I may be critical of H1 B hater's motivation but do not think I am  on your side @subbu.   If your comany has no customers that can not  afford   to buy your product,  what good it is   bringing people from other  countries. Information has no meaning without sender AND receiver.   Every one's  else house is buring but as long as my house is ok  is like emperor with out clothes!!  clothes.  Whatever the reasons and situations are , whites ,blacks, Indians, Chinese and Hispanic … we are  all bound together by destiny.   Good neighbor, prosperous community and conscious country is good for all of us!!!  PS: by the way I am an Indian…  

  24. Anonymous says:

    Companies, like Microsoft, are profit centric entities.  Their ultimate purpose is to make money.  H-1B visas serve a purpose no one appears to have mentioned here- they keep the jobs in the U.S. instead of sending them overseas.  For now, the infrastructure (buildings, networks, etc), leadership, and core talent are in the U.S. and it is cheaper, and therefore more productive, to bring the necessary talent to the U.S. than it is to move the infrastructure, etc. abroad.  However, the calculus changes if companies become unable to avail themselves of the necessary talent.  Microsoft and others already have a large presence in places like India.  If they cannot bring the talent they need to the U.S., they may well bring the infrastructure and operational components to India, because the cost-benefit analysis changes when the forign talent needed to remain competitive cannot come to the U.S.  While I certianly favor employing U.S. workers over imported labor, I would rather some foreign workers come to the U.S. than many U.S. jobs go abroad.

  25. Anonymous says:

    No the US does not have a shortage of skilled workers.    They do have a shortage of skilled workers willing to work for the low-end wages that tech firms are wanting to pay for skilled labor.    Otherwise we would have H1B visas for all of those Mexican gardeners, landscapers and construction workers to they can fill the need for a shortage of landscapers and construction workers.    What we have here is simple market manipulation by the likes of Microsoft. They do not want to pay the fair market wage (of tech workers physically present at this location) as determined by supply and demand, so they attempt to modify the market by artificially increasing the supply form a separate market.

  26. Anonymous says:

    Bill Gates, there is a limited number of people capable of doing a certain job in America, and doing it to the best ability as compared to internationally. Paying these people higher wages is not really going to change that fact. You could argue that it'd make the occupation in the future more lucrative so students would educate themselves, but America already pays some of the highest wages on the tech sector, so such exorbitant costs would only decrease the competitiveness internationally in the future. Microsoft is not trying to artificially bring people in, YOU and the kin are trying to artificially keep people out, and say the companies must take the next best employee based on nationality, not talent.

  27. Anonymous says:

    Some H1Bs in IT are probably needed. But many of them are not being used for essential purposes, as other commenters have attested.    There are many problems that have been affecting employment in the IT field, and H1Bs are just one of several off-kilter aspects.    There are far too many people in IT who have a degree *and* experience *and* certification, who've had to go for months and months between proper jobs.

  28. Anonymous says:

    In my experience there are 2 types of companies hiring people on H1 Visas: The honest and the dishonest.    There are honest companies such as Microsoft, Google, Oracle, etc hiring legitimate H1's, and paying proper wages, to complement their US work force.    And there are countless dishonest companies (TCS, InfoSys, Wipro) using H1's as legal slavery to bring in people at low cost that they re-sell as consultants for 10x what they pay in salary. These companies are committing immigration fraud as they lie to the employees and they lie to USCIS on the wages they're paying.    For an honest company paying legitimate wages, a US worker is always prefered to an immigrant for the simple reason that it's cheaper. (Immigration costs, relocation costs and legal fees are really high)    For a dishonest company, an underpaid emmigrant is more profitable because even with immigration costs they can make money by paying less than what they should in wages.    The system is clearly broken, but don't blame the legimitate companies like MSFT

  29. Anonymous says:

    Brad: I am disappointed that as a General Counsel you are not familiar with H-1B visa laws.    Every point you make is flawed.  [1] You said “a solid majority of our applications this year are for employees who are already working for Microsoft in the United States,..”    [rebuttal] if they are already here on H-1B, then they are being renewed.  Renewal does not count against the visa cap and so is not relevant to this discussion.  Instead of renewing their visa, send them home and hire a qualified American worker.  And we both know and understand what law firm Cohen and Grigsby said regarding the Labor Certification process: “the goal is to disqualify every willing and qualified American worker”.  Every single study produced by honest think tanks shows H-1Bs make, on the average, 25 to 30K less than their American counterparts.  [2] You said “so we can retain their talent and specialized skills in this country rather than risk losing them to a foreign competitor. “  [rebuttal] who are we kidding? Over 50% of H-1B visa workers seek the big carrot on the stick: the green card (which is the first step to citizenship).  This is why they come to school here: (a) because the F-1 visa buys them time to clamor for a job with either the H-1B from the 65,000 cap, or from the special exemptions of 20,000 for higher degreed foreign students at American university – and every one of those 20,000 (repeat: every one) of these is snapped up on day one by them.  The rest use their 1-yr OPT extension to buy more time to get companies like Microsoft to use one of their H-1B tokens to bring them aboard.  Lose them to foreign competition?  If that were true, they wouldn’t even come here in the first place.  And by the way: the fact that half of graduate students are foreign temporary residents is exactly why the college education lobbyists clamor for more H-1B visas: it helps them keep their job. You know it, I know it, and it’s time others know it.  The fact is that today, with obtainment of knowledge through self-training over the Internet, going to graduate school is a huge financial loss.  The information learned there becomes outdated in three or less years.  And the number of years it will take to make up the loss staggering and will take over 20 or more years to recover.  You know it and I know it.  Of course today this is no longer true – bright American IT workers graduating from college are finding they are being replaced by cheaper foreign workers.  And older more expensive workers are being subjected to a subtle form of unprovable age discrimination (a common and natural occurrence which is unfair to the best and the brightest who happen to be old).  [3] you said: “Microsoft and other U.S. companies must be able to hire top talent wherever it is located.” – it can be proved by the Discovery process in Human Resources and the immigration lawyers Microsoft hires.  Verbally, these folks fear loss of their jobs by stating the unspoken knowledge of hiring cheaper workers.  Skilled?   The many F-1s coming here to attend graduate school are admitted to colleges which are middle-and-bottom heavy as far as the distribution of how stringent admission standards are in American colleges: that distribution is mostly in the 2nd through fourth quartiles – i.e., seeped in mediocrity.  Furthermore, in India, there is a well-documented culture of cheating on standardized tests like the GRE, etc.  It reached scandalous proportions a few years ago (American students are no better – they are seeped in their own culture of cheating – and many leverage that to prepare themselves to lobby and lie about these types of points you make).  It takes courage to speak the irrefutable truth – and it will take foolishness to rebut what I am saying.  Be my guest if you so choose.  [4] You said: “these individuals make a vital contribution to U.S. technology and competitiveness.”    [comment] I think it would be more important to say they destroy American workers jobs.  As famous immigration attorney  Joel Stewart himself discloses “As immigration attorney Joel Stewart infamously said, "Employers who favor aliens have an arsenal of legal means to reject all U.S. workers who apply" “  [5] you said: “While there are some glimmers of hope that American enrollment in computer science programs may be increasing, it will take years of sustained progress.”   [rebuttal] American students are not stupid.  Through the efforts of anti-shill activists like Norm Matloff (UC-Davis, subject matter expert on exposing H-1B shills),  the  Programmers Guild (John Mion, etc.), the Center for Immigration Studies, American students are being deprogrammed from the kind of brainwashing being spewed everywhere by shills like the pro-cheap-labor Chamber of Commerce (where you spoke), or the laughable “Compete America” consortium which Microsoft is a member of.  The brainwashing is working – I met and spoke to Microsoft’s top lobbyists a few months ago and I saw that he genuinely believes what his higher ups are preaching.  I was shocked.   Perhaps you are among such folks yourself.  Remember, people who have invested many years at a job begin to internalize the very beliefs they have been mind controlled with articles like yours or Compete America editorials, etc, to the point where it is difficult to prove them wrong – not only is their pride at stake, but what are they to do?  Quit their job?  What would you do?  This is where and why Lord Aston came up with his famous saying in the late 1890s: “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”.  Regards,  Harry  [5] you said ” Contrary to popular belief, many H-1B filings are for employees who are already in the U.S. but who would have to leave the country in the relatively near future if they cannot secure an H-1B visa”    [rebuttal]: again, check your facts – the fact is renewal is a rubberstamping process after 3 years and DOES NOT DOES NOT DOES NOT count against the H-1B visa cap.  Period. Plain and simple.  It’s shameful, in my opinion, that you either don’t know this or don’t say it straight out.  That’s what I was referring to with “mind control”.  After 6 years, they can get a one-year extension.  Any time during those 7 years, their sponsoring corporation can INDEPENDENT OF THE H-1B VISA file for Labor Certification, a completely different issue but also subject to the lies that Cohen and Grigsby spewed on YouTube or Joel Stewart said.  [6] You said ”In limited cases, an H-1B visa represents a new high-skilled employee coming to the U.S. to fill a role for which there is a continuing shortage of top-tier scientific and engineering talent.”   [rebuttal] No rebuttal here – you spoke the truth.  The very highly skilled worker you speak of is of a rare classification within H-1B and makes up less than ½ of 1 percent of all H-1B classifications.  So saieth the government web sites.  And notice that by speaking a truth here you actually contradict yourself in all those earlier statements where you talk about how highly talented  they are.  Or were you talking about  those ½ of 1 percent H-1Bs all along?  I don’t believe you did that – I recall you giving people the impression the vast majority of H-1Bs are among the best and brightest.  [7] You said “Some critics have suggested that the H-1B program provides a way for U.S. companies to hire less expensive foreign workers instead of equally qualified Americans.  This is simply not the case.  The law specifically requires that H-1B workers be paid salaries that are at least equal to similar American workers.  Microsoft supports strong enforcement of the H-1B rules and strong action against employers who violate the rules.”  [rebuttal] for those who do not know it, the wages are said based on the level of qualification assigned to the candidate.  So imagine a scale of Software Dveloper 1, 2 and 3 where 3 is to be paid the most.  What stops you from labeling that developer of Level3 a “Level 2”?  Or labeling a Level2 a Level1?  There are other flaws.  Nothing stops employers because we both know it is nearly impossible to prove and there are too many loopholes.    But that is how it works.  Want some indirect proof?  When H-1Bs who are sponsored by a corporation finally get their green card and are no longer subjected to the de facto slave labor (wages wise), do you have any idea what the attrition rate is at that point?  It’s been published – and it’s about 30%.  I wonder why?  Because they have been unleashed and are tired of being underpaid.  During those 7 years of saving about $20 to 25K per year you saved over $150,000 – and if there is a sharp cookie among them you will bring their salary up to where it needs to be to hopefully retain them.  30%.. this would be unheard of in American corporations (and I am speaking about those “good” economic times).  As Forrest Gump said: “I’m tired!  I think I’ll go home now”.  Harry  

  30. Anonymous says:

    Harry, you should really read Brad's post and replies more carefully before lambasting him and his legal knowledge. Brad noted that Microsoft is applying for H-1Bs for many individuals who are in the US presently on soon to expire L1 visas and have not yet received their green cards since that process often takes longer than the 5 year L1 period.    Considering your major fail your first challenge point, I pretty much stopped reading the rest of your long post since it is probably full of more inaccuracies since you stated a huge one just coming out of the gate.    

  31. Anonymous says:

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