** FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE **
Increase innovation through H-1b Reform, not H-1b Expansion
The U.S. Senate,
led by Senator Orrin G. Hatch, Utah, is currently drafting
legislation that would vastly increase the number of H-1b workers
without adding any displacement protections for U.S. workers. These
U.S. Senators are siding 100% with multi-national corporations and
100% against American tech workers. Details of this pending
legislation are summarized in the 1/29/2013 NY Times article pasted
Only a small percentage of H-1b workers are
"innovators." It may take skill to fill a tooth or maintain an
obsolete business billing software - but this is not innovation.
More often H-1b are averaged skilled immigrants willing to work for
below average wages - with the benefit to the employer that they are
indentured - they do not have the same freedom to seek a better job
while their green card is being processed. The best
solution to the misuse of H-1b is to set $100,000 minimum wage.
400,000 of the 1.6 million BS degrees
each year are STEM - up from 320,000 just a decade ago. These are predominately Americans and are more
than the U.S. job market can absorb: During the past decade STEM
employment increased by
only 60,000 per year - less than the number of foreign workers
entering each year. Only top graduates from top
schools are considered by major employers such as Microsoft, Intel
and Google - and these employers receive far more applications than
their HR departments can manage. We don't need additional foreign
STEM workers - there is no "shortage."
also consider the interests of American workers. The Programmers
Guild calls for some basic U.S. worker protections within these
expansions of the H-1b program:
1) All H-1b workers must be paid a salary of at least $100,000.
This deters employers from misusing H-1b as a source of cheap,
low-skilled, labor at the exclusion of new U.S. graduates. This
salary floor is
consistent with what Microsoft pays new hires. (“A
typical new hire for a Microsoft programmer or software-engineer
position might command a salary of $100,000 to $120,000…” in the
article below.) Currently DOL is approving H-1b as low as
$5 per hour for kitchen help in Saipan, and many low-skilled
jobs in the $12 to $16 per hour wage range.
2) All H-1b positions must first be advertised and in good faith
made available to qualified Americans.
For too long Congress has allowed employers to hire H-1b regardless
of whether qualified Americans could fill the positions. Currently
the PERM (green card) recruitment occurs after the position has been filled by an
H-1b worker. Obviously recruitment should occur before a foreign
worker is hired.
3) Add a $3000 per year fee to every H-1b visa.
Microsoft advocates a $10,000 fee, but we feel that is unfair to
employers who only need an H-1b worker for short term. This is a
relatively small fee in relation to the full cost of employing at
top-skilled tech worker. (Microsoft claims to pay $20,000 signing
bonus and $50,000 in stock options – see article below.)
4) Green card
process should be independent from employer at a specific job on
H-1b. The largest users of H-1b are foreign corporations managed
by citizens of other countries, creating the absurd situation that
the U.S. is allowing citizens of other countries determine who will
become U.S. citizens. The key basis employers use in deciding who to
sponsor for GC is who they want to keep indentured for a long
period. This is not related to the GC candidate being exceptional in
Guild members will
be asking their Senators to amend H-1b to include these provisions,
and demanding an explanation if these basic protections are not
Bill Sponsors –
contact to ask that they include the above provisions:
G. Hatch, Utah - 202-224-5251
Rubio of Florida - 202-224-3041
Klobuchar of Minnesota - 202-224-3244
Coons of Delaware - 202-224-5042
opposes this expansion of the H-1b program. U.S. Workers have been
excluded from these back-door negotiations with industry lobbyists.
Regarding the 6000
openings a Microsoft, they have thousands of unfilled positions even
when H-1b cap is not reached. Microsoft does not recruit at any of
the 23 California State University campuses – for example. Microsoft
needs to do a better job matching the tens of thousands of
applications they receive with their openings.
corporations advocating more H-1b is Hewlett-Packard. But they have
laid off 3000 workers just at their facility in Roseville CA (near
Sacramento) and have had only a few opening over the past several
years. Check Craigslist and newspaper classifieds for evidence there
is no shortage of tech workers.
Mr. Kim Berry
Microsoft offers U.S. big bucks for H-1B visas
With Congress reluctant to admit more skilled workers from overseas,
Microsoft is offering to pay millions of dollars for the right to
hire more foreigners, with the money going for educational training
to eventually fill those jobs with Americans.
By Kyung M. Song
September 27, 2012
MIKE SIEGEL / THE
WASHINGTON — Faced
with 6,000 job openings and Congress at loggerheads over whether to
admit more skilled workers from overseas, Microsoft on Thursday
offered a twofer solution — charging employers millions of dollars
for the right to hire more foreigners and using the money for
training to eventually fill those jobs with Americans.
which Microsoft unveiled in Washington, D.C., is the company's most
public foray into the ongoing ideological battle over immigration
reform and quotas on temporary H-1B visas for highly skilled foreign
In doing so,
Microsoft attempted to sidestep such controversies as citizenship
for undocumented immigrants that led Senate Republicans to block a
comprehensive overhaul bill in 2010.
Redmond software giant framed the issue in stark economic terms: In
a nation beset by high unemployment rates, jobs with six-figure
salaries are going begging for qualified hires, particularly
For instance, the
U.S. is expected to add an average of 120,000 computer-related jobs
requiring at least a bachelor's degree for each of the next 10
years. But colleges and universities are minting half as many
graduates as needed.
"It's a problem
that's approaching dimensions of a genuine crisis," said Brad Smith,
Microsoft executive vice president and general counsel. Smith held a
briefing for reporters at Microsoft's D.C. office on K Street before
his speech at the Brookings Institution, a nonpartisan think tank.
The proposal would
likely face an uphill climb in Congress, at least for now. Just last
week, House Democrats helped defeat a Republican bill that would
have granted permanent residency to 55,000 high-tech workers each
year by diverting green cards that now go to less-educated
foreigners via lottery.
calling on Congress to grant 20,000 new H-1B visas each year solely
for jobs in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM).
The current annual cap is 65,000 visas, about half of which are
claimed for computer-related occupations.
requested an average of 4,100 H-1B visas annually between 2010 and
2011, more than any other corporation.
Microsoft wants the federal government to release 20,000 green cards
each year from an accumulated pool of a half-million unused ones so
high-tech workers could remain in the United States as permanent
residents. Without a green card, an H-1B visa holder's stay is
limited to a total of six years.
offered the plan only in its name, Smith said other employers and
trade groups share its concerns about the skills gap. Failure to
meet the labor challenge, Smith said, would only push high-tech
American jobs abroad.
companies could pay $10,000 for each of the additional 20,000 H-1B
visa reserved for STEM occupations. Large employers now pay $1,500
apiece, along with several thousand dollars more in various fees.
For green cards, the fee would be $15,000.
said, the fees would bring in $500 million a year.
detailed how that money might be spent. It called for hiring and
training more STEM teachers for kindergarten through 12th grade and
making advanced-placement computer-science courses available in 95
percent of U.S. high schools that lack them, among other things. It
also said colleges should expand their enrollment capacity for STEM
applicants, particularly in computer sciences.
Smith called the
new $10,000 fee for an H-1B visa a small one-time investment.
A typical new hire for a Microsoft programmer or software-engineer
position might command a salary of $100,000 to $120,000, plus a
$20,000 signing bonus. Add $50,000 in stock options, plus the cost
of an office and other expenses, Smith said, and the total cost
might add up to $200,000.
Smith argued that
small companies and startups should be able to bear the higher fees
just as easily, since salaries don't vary significantly across
Kirkegaard, research fellow at the Peterson Institute for
International Economics in Washington, D.C., said raising the fee to
$10,000 could give Microsoft a recruiting edge against India-based
outsourcing companies whose payrolls are heavy with workers brought
over on H-1B visas. One such company, Tata Consultancy Services, is
the second-highest user of H-1B visas behind Microsoft, according to
a Brookings report.
Kirkegaard said he
agrees with Microsoft's dual approach, that the United States needs
both more high-tech workers and more and better STEM education.
Nonetheless, he said it was unlikely that Microsoft's piecemeal
solution would get anywhere in Congress.
overhaul has been repeatedly thwarted by various factions in recent
years. Among them are Hispanics and some Democrats who want to link
H-1B visas to creating a pathway for citizenship for people brought
here illegally as children, Republicans who oppose expanded
immigration, and labor unions that fear foreigners will displace
Microsoft can hope for is that this proposal becomes part of such a
new comprehensive immigration reform to be initiated after the
election," Kirkegaard said.
executive director of the National Immigration Forum, a
pro-immigration advocacy group, agreed Microsoft's proposal
addresses only one part of the nation's need for temporary workers
of all skill levels.
labor needs for technology firms in Silicon Valley will not help the
Georgia farmer whose onions are rotting on the vine," Noorani said.
Skilled Science Workers at Focus of Second Senate Proposal on
By JULIA PRESTON
As one bipartisan
group of senators released its blueprint on Monday for a
comprehensive overhaul of the immigration laws, another group in the
Senate was ready to present a proposal addressing one dysfunctional
aspect of the system: a shortage of visas for highly skilled
immigrants working in science and technology fields.
Four senators, led
by Orrin G. Hatch, a Republican from Utah, will introduce a bill on
Tuesday that would greatly increase the number of temporary visas
available for those immigrants, and would also free up permanent
resident visas, known as green cards, so more of those immigrants
could settle in the United States and eventually become citizens.
The bill will be
the first legislation introduced in Congress on immigration in a
year when the once-toxic issue has gathered surprising political
momentum. Lawmakers who have shied away from it in recent years are
now offering proposals that they are framing as practical solutions
to fix a failing system.
employers like Microsoft, Oracle and others have been calling for
years for more visas for foreigners with computer, engineering and
mathematics skills, saying they have more jobs than they can fill
with Americans who are graduating in those fields from American
universities. White House officials and lawmakers on both sides of
the aisle acknowledge that a broad overhaul, including a pathway to
citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants, would have a better
chance at attracting votes for passage, especially among
Republicans, if it had vigorous support from business.
A group of eight
senators, led by Charles E. Schumer of New York, a Democrat, and
John McCain of Arizona, a Republican, on Monday unveiled principles
for an overhaul that focused on solving illegal immigration, with
increased border security and measures to give legal status to
illegal immigrants. Their blueprint referred to changes for highly
skilled immigrants, without specifics.
The bill by Mr.
Hatch’s smaller group, by contrast, is a detailed plan to
recalibrate the high-skilled visa system. It
would immediately increase the cap on temporary visas for those
immigrants, known as an H-1B, to 115,000 a year from the current
maximum of 65,000. It would also create, for the first
time, a “market-based” system that would rapidly increase the
numbers of those visas if the supply ran out,
to a maximum of 300,000 H-1B visas
in one year.
In the boom before
the recession took hold in 2008, there were several years when
businesses snatched up all the available H-1B visas in a few days.
The market mechanism in Mr. Hatch’s bill would lower the cap on
temporary visas if demand from employers declined.
the bill are Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, a Republican who was
among the eight senators endorsing the broader blueprint, and
Senators Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Chris Coons of Delaware,
In a statement on
Monday, Brad Smith, general counsel and executive vice president of
Microsoft, said the company “strongly supports efforts to
permanently reform our high-skilled immigration system and enact
broad immigration reform in 2013.” He enumerated measures the
company would like to see in any legislation, including all those in
Mr. Hatch’s bill.
Randel K. Johnson,
senior vice president of the United States Chamber of Commerce, said
his organization had worked closely with the senators on the bill
and would send “a letter of strong support.”
Ms. Klobuchar said
immigrants had brought new ideas and businesses to the United
States. “I truly believe we have to be a country that makes stuff
again, that exports to the world,” she said in an interview. “To do
that, we have to have innovation.”
Klobuchar said, under the current system “we have been training our
competition,” because many skilled immigrants were forced to return
home after studying and working in the United States.
Mr. Hatch, who
fought off a re-election challenge from the right last year, has not
said whether he would support comprehensive legislation including
legal status for illegal immigrants. Ms. Klobuchar and Mr. Coons
said they expected their bill would become part of the broader
The bill would
allow spouses of temporary immigrants to work, a change that would
bring relief to many foreigners — many of them educated women from
Asian countries like India — whose careers languished when their
spouses came to work in this country. The bill would make it easier
for temporary immigrants who are tied to one employer to find a new
job if their first job did not work out.
It would also
tinker with the system to make more permanent resident green cards
available for immigrants in science and technology fields, but
without increasing the number of green cards over all, something
many Republican lawmakers are loath to do. It would allow the
immigration authorities to distribute as many as 300,000 green cards
that went unused over the years because of twists in the system.
The bill would
make changes to ensure that a much higher percentage of 140,000
employment green cards available each year would go to the skilled
immigrants, and not to their family members, as happens now.
insistent demands from universities, the bill would make an
unlimited number of green cards available for foreigners graduating
from American universities with advanced science and technology
degrees. It would increase visa fees and use the money for training
programs for Americans.
groups said they would oppose the bill, saying the large number of
temporary immigrants would undercut wages for Americans. “America is
a nation of immigrants, not of guest workers,” said Keith Grzelak,
vice president of the IEEE-USA, which represents more than 400,000