March 19, 2008
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Programmers Guild Proposes Alternative to the H-1b Lottery
Guild agrees with Bill Gates that the H-1b lottery does not serve U.S.
national interests. The guild advocates that priority be given to higher
skilled H-1b candidates, and that U.S. employers be given preference
over foreign consulting firms. These simple changes would provide a
means for Microsoft and other U.S. employers to have every H-1b that
they submit on April 1, 2008 approved.
Sacramento, CA March 19, 2008 -- On March 12th Bill
Gates appeared before Congress calling for an increase in what he deemed
the "arbitrarily set base cap of 65,000 H-1B visas." By March 14th,
without soliciting comments from the U.S. workers who are impacted by
the H-1b program, Congress introduced two bills that would double or
triple the H-1b base cap:
a) The "Innovation Employment Act," (H.R.5630)
introduced by Representative Gabrielle Giffords, D-Arizona, would
increase the cap in H-1B visas from 65,000 a year to 130,000 a year in
FY 2008, and up to 180,000 in subsequent years.
b) Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas [(202)
225-4236] introduced the
"Strengthening United States Technology and Innovation Now" (SUSTAIN)
Act (H.R.5642) that would increase the H-1b cap to 195,000. also sponsored by
Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Virginia, [202.225-2815].
"Neither of these bills provide meaningful
protections for U.S. workers," according to Kim Berry of the Programmers
During his March 12th testimony Gates lamented that,
due to the "USCIS H-1b Lottery" in April 2007, "Microsoft was unable to
obtain H-1B visas for one-third of the highly qualified foreign-born job
candidates that we wanted to hire." On March 16, 2006 Gates had told the
Washington Post that salaries for H-1b jobs at Microsoft start at about
US $100,000 a year.
In a recent letter Compete America chairman Robert
Hoffman also opposed the H-1b lottery, writing: "As was the case last
year, not only is the annual supply of H-1B visas virtually assured to
be exhausted on the very first day applications are accepted, half of
those applying will lose out in the visa lottery, denying U.S. employers
access to tens of thousands of highly skilled and badly needed
professionals who could contribute to economic growth and job creation
in this country."
In this instance the Programmers Guild agrees with
Bill Gates and Robert Hoffman: The H-1b lottery is not serving the
interests of U.S. employers. In FY 2007 the lottery awarded over 4500
H-1b visas to Indian outsourcing firm "Infosys Technologies Limited,"
while denying a few hundred of Microsoft's applications.
Accordingly, Kim Berry of the Programmers Guild
advocates that USCIS apply two criteria in determining which H-1b visas
to approve in the April 2008 filings:
1) SKILL: H-1b workers with the highest skills
should be given priority. In no case should a "PhD genetic researcher"
lose out to a "$16/hour accountant." "The best proxy for skill is
salary. If H-1b were granted with a preference for salary, every
$100,000 H-1b that Bill Gates filed would get approved," according to
Berry. "Any business with a critical need for an H-1b candidate could be
assured of approval by paying a higher wage. Since the median H-1b
salary is about $55,000, any H-1b paying more than about $65,000 would
be approved. We are not aware of any statute that mandates that USCIS
use lottery versus some other selection criteria when over 65,000
applications are received on the first day."
2) NATIONAL BENEFIT: Bill Gates specifically
addressed "H-1b visas available to U.S. companies," stating that
"Microsoft has found that for every H-1B hire we make, we add on average
four additional employees to support them in various capacities." This
is certainly not true when H-1b are granted to Indian consulting firms.
According to Ron Hira, "[Outsourcing firms hire almost no Americans and
their entire business model rests on shifting as many American jobs
overseas as fast as possible." The Programmers Guild agrees that any use
of H-1b should serve the broad U.S. national interest. "U.S. firms that
will create U.S. jobs should have preference for U.S. H-1b visas,"
according to Kim Berry.
In his testimony Gates stated "If we increase the
number of H-1B visas that are available to U.S. companies, employment of
U.S. nationals would likely grow as well." The Programmers Guild
disputes this. "Gates did not address that eight of the top ten users of
H-1b are not U.S. companies - they are foreign consulting firms that
undermine U.S. consulting firms and displace U.S. nationals from the
employment rolls," according to Berry.
Before Congress considers increasing the H-1b cap
based upon the testimony of Bill Gates, U.S. tech workers should be
granted equal time. "U.S. Citizens should have an equal voice in
Congress as multi-national corporations," states Kim Berry, president of
the Programmers Guild. "There are many highly skilled American tech
workers being overlooked because they do not have the precise skill
experience cited in job ads - and because Microsoft and others only
considers new graduates for entry-level positions."
If any Congressman is unaware of the harm that H-1b
is causing, Berry recommends that they review the "H-1b Harm Report" at
www.HireAmericansFirst.org, where hundreds of U.S. tech workers have
detailed their personal experiences.
The Programmers Guild advocates for the interests of
U.S. computer programmers and other tech workers. See
www.programmersguild.org for more information.
Pending bills to increase H-1b cap
Gates "Salaries for H-1b jobs at Microsoft start at about US$100,000
In a recent letter Compete America chairman Robert Hoffman also
opposed the H-1b lottery
4500 H-1b visas to Indian outsourcing firm "Infosys Technologies
Ron Hira statement