The Corporate Perspective: Intel’s Approach to H-1Bs

Like other technology companies, Intel faces stiff competition for talent, especially when it comes to hiring computer, chemical, materials or mechanical engineers with advanced degrees. And while it would rather engage American workers, sometimes they just can’t be found. The issue, says Ardine Williams, vice president and director of the chipmaker’s Human Resource Enterprise Services, comes down to “supply and demand.”

“When you get to the Ph.D. level, the number of people who specialize in engineering gets smaller and the universities don’t produce enough people with master’s and Ph.D.s,” she says.

How Intel Hires

When it comes to finding engineers with advanced degrees, Intel’s proactive. It posts jobs on a number of websites, advertises through social networks, contacts universities and holds job fairs in the U.S. When it’s seeking to fill a position, it basically doesn’t care whether it’s a U.S. citizen or H-1B worker who fills it.

H-1B Awarded Academic Degrees

The Special Report:

At college job fairs, however, the candidates with advanced degrees tend to be foreign students. In fact, most of the H-1B workers at Intel were hired through its college recruitment efforts. In some circumstances, the company isn’t able to find a suitable candidate on campus at all. In those cases, it resorts to other means.

First, it will exhaust its database of candidates compiled from conferences, career fairs, referrals, job postings and direct applications through its own website. “Generally, hires for our U.S. jobs come from candidates already in the U.S., even if they are experienced non-U.S. citizens,” says Lisa Malloy, an Intel spokeswoman. “Many of our experienced non-U.S. citizens are already working at other U.S. companies on an H-1B.”

Absent finding the people it needs in the U.S., Intel will seek to fill positions with candidates who currently reside outside of the country. “In those cases, we use similar means of attracting candidates, like posting on job boards targeted to this talent,” says Malloy. “Being a global company, our database is often filled with talented workers from all over the world. In essence our database is filled via local activities for local jobs and we capitalize on our database.”

H-1Bs represent approximately 6 percent of Intel’s workforce. Most of them are recent engineering graduates. During fiscal 2012, the company received approval from Citizenship and Immigration Services for 812 initial petitions and 645 renewals. How many of them were ultimately approved by the State Department is unclear.

While Intel isn’t one of those companies that’s leery of hiring experienced American professionals who’ve been out of work, it does want its candidates’ skills to be current. “With engineering, keeping current is one thing that’s critical,” Williams explains. “Where we’ve encountered engineers who’ve been laid off, many times their skills aren’t up to date.”

In addition, some qualified candidates pass on an offer because the job would require relocation, and many experienced professionals regard the need to move as a deal-breaker. Although Intel promotes its flexible work options, like telecommuting, which options are in place depends on each particular business unit’s needs.

Priming the STEM Pump

Intel is a strong supporter of STEM education in primary and secondary schools. For example, each year 1,700 U.S. high school seniors conduct innovative research projects in a quest for a $100,000 prize in the Intel Science Talent Search. The company also develops STEM units to supplement curricula for kindergarten through 12th grade.

The point of these efforts is to increase the number of U.S. citizens with STEM degrees. “For us as a company to innovate, we need those STEM graduates here,” Williams says. “Almost 75 percent of Intel’s research and development happens here in the U.S., and innovation creates jobs here in the U.S.” Efforts by both government and industry make Williams “very optimistic” that the U.S. will produce more STEM graduates between now and 2018 than it does currently.

Approaching Guest Workers

Intel’s guest workers receive the same compensation and benefits as its American professionals do. “The job, not where they were born, determines the wage,” says spokeswoman Malloy. In hiring H-1Bs, she says, the company’s intent is to help the worker secure permanent resident status. That way, both Intel and the employee have the freedom to relocate from the Intel facility specified in the H-1B application. Currently, relocating a guest worker to another city requires the company to petition for a visa all over again, with possibility that the petition will be rejected.

Prevailing Wages

Intel would like to see the annual cap of H-1Bs expand when the economy is strong and demand for skilled labor is high, and contract when the economy softens and demand slips. Additionally, it favors immigration reform that would allow visas to be issued based on demand for a country’s workers rather than the current per-country limit. The company’s also asking policy makers to lift restrictions like those that prevent employee transfers, whether they’re for corporate reasons or the H-1B’s personal situation, such as when a spouse needs to move. Says Williams: “We want all our employees to be treated equally.”

14 Responses to “The Corporate Perspective: Intel’s Approach to H-1Bs”

  1. I see that some of the skills that Intel seeks are those being promoted by commenters on the related message threads.
    If only there were a company that could step up to connect those with certain skills to those who claim a need for those skills…they could just roll the Dice and see what comes up.
    but I guess businesses to connect these things just don’t exist…or maybe the claims by one side or the other are not truthful.
    …I wonder if Dice could set up its own “certification” program to evaluate candidates to ensure that they have the skills needed by companies and then tell the companies that those employees are ready for the interview…and if they don’t interview then don’t bother posting new job listings because you simply dilute the credibility of the job listings and candidates choose other services instead….?

  2. Unca Alby

    Intel has to fight the prevailing wisdom that it’s not really smart to get an advanced degree in technology, and downright stupid to get something like a PhD.

    That is a problem as I see it, as it was a concept I struggled with when deciding whether or not get pursue a Master’s. (I did)

    You see, when you have an advanced degree, you can earn more money. Companies don’t want to pay more money. So they’d rather get someone with just a Bachelor’s. Getting a PhD would be like cutting your own throat. Yes, you can make good money IF you can find somebody willing to pay it.

    If they want to encourage more people to seek higher degrees, they’re going to have to attack this “prevailing wisdom” head-on, and I just don’t see that happening.

  3. shreyas

    These report indicated there were approx. 50% non-resident are being hired with H-1B sponsor or transfer H-1B. Personally I’ve applied more than 2000 jobs only from Intel career posting. In my experience with 7 phone interviews and 3 on-site interviews rejections I can say Intel doesn’t want to pay more salary. I’ve discussed my situation with 20 years experience engineer. He explains why companies don’t want to pay more salary because while Intel can get labor workers from there implementation or vendor partners by paying 60K per year. These labor workers are happy for 60K with there education is just Bachelor degree and satisfied with 60K. Corporate culture is money oriented. I can’t say it’s waste of time in obtaining advanced degree and work for less salary like 60K. These kind of companies creates getting advanced is no use and waste of effort, time and money.

  4. Samwise

    If you are saying that pursuing an advanced degree is not worth it- I agree. I’m having friends who graduated with Masters degrees, and all of them are earning less than I am, plus they are straddled with college education debt. I guess in the tech world, whether you are an MS graduate or a PhD, everybody starts out at the same level as a programmer and grows from there. So once you start working, what really matters is what you *do*, rather than what you’ve done. And hey, by the way, steve jobs, bill gates, zuckerberg, larry ellison ALL are college dropouts.

    • That’s why I agree with what Discover Magazine said in an editorial a few months ago: we don’t need more “STEM graduates.” We need more people who can think, create and innovate. A STEM degree, or any degree at all, is no guarantee that you can do any of those things.

  5. SouthRoad

    Skill Level 1: Has only basic understanding of the Occupation. Perform routine tasks that required limited, if any, exercise of judgement.

    ….Having too much trouble finding a qualified American for this? Need to bring in an H1-B because you can’t find any qualified American who has limited or no judgement abilities? Too hard to find here. Really? We need to bring in H1-B’s at this level?

    If they really are “the best and the brightest” why is anybody less than a skill level 4 granted a Visa.

    Skill Level 1 can ONLY be cheap labor. They are certainly not here for their skills!