H-1B Reform Bill Hits as Trump Inactive on Visas

H-1B Visa

H-1B is a hot-button topic for politicians and the American workforce alike. Although Trump has promised big changes to the visa program, there has been little done to move the needle thus far. But a re-introduced bill might finally get that needle twitching.

The Keeping American Jobs Act aims to stop companies from “abusing” the H-1B program. That abuse is framed as companies using the program to train foreign workers stateside, then shipping jobs (and those employees) overseas.

A bipartisan bill, it was introduced by Representatives Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.) and Doug Collins (R-Ga.). In a statement, Collins said it would put a full stop to companies using H-1B visas to “displace” workers and jobs:

Protecting American jobs is crucial in order for our economy to continue to gain strength and momentum. Companies have the opportunity to bring workers from overseas on H-1B visas in the event that qualified Americans aren’t available, but we can’t allow the law to be exploited to displace American workers and send their jobs abroad. The Keeping American Jobs Act protects American workers by preventing bad actors from abusing the system in order to offshore jobs.

Kilmer adds: “Our policies should promote jobs in America. They shouldn’t be about sending jobs done by hard-working Americans overseas.”

In his campaign for the Presidency last Spring, then-candidate Donald Trump said: “The H-1B program is neither high-skilled nor immigration: these are temporary foreign workers, imported from abroad, for the explicit purpose of substituting for American workers at lower pay.” He added: “I will end forever the use of the H-1B as a cheap labor program, and institute an absolute requirement to hire American workers first for every visa and immigration program. No exceptions.”

Nothing official has happened yet. The President put healthcare reform and travel bans ahead of H-1B reform.

Donald Trump

Who’s Abusing the H-1B Program?

Some 85,000 H-1B visas were made available in 2016. According to the Department of Labor (DoL), there were 618,266 applications for those visas. Though the DoL doesn’t break its numbers out by category, it does define the types of jobs applications were for. To that, we can deduce 64 percent – 395,690 applications – of H-1B visa applications were for jobs in the tech sector.

Computer Systems Analyst was the most in-demand category for the program, with 320,222 applications (26.4 percent). Application developers came in second with 184,658 (5.2 percent), and computer programmers rounded out the top three with 108,367 (8.9 percent). California and Texas combined for 29.9 percent of the applications based on geography (19.9 percent and 10 percent, respectively).

The DoL’s statistics also note which companies applied for H-1B visas, though doesn’t offer granular data on which jobs they were hoping to fill. We don’t need to tell you that tech touches every corner of society and enterprise, and tech-related jobs commanded the most applications in 2016; nonetheless, there are few notable tech companies in the top ten.

Apple applied for 23,096 H-1B visas last year, or 1.9 percent of applications. Infosys asked for a few more, 25,326 (2.1 percent). Deloitte Consulting sought the most H-1B visas last year with 122,384 requests (10.1 percent). Cognizant Technology Solutions had 97,509 applications (8 percent).

Abuse (thought it occurs) may be a misnomer; dependency may be more accurate. The arguments for and against H-1B are well documented, and opponents will say the Cognizants and Apples of this world should work harder to find domestic workers. Proponents tend to shift the target to education, noting that not enough “qualified” candidates are graduating from universities in the United States.

A more accurate consideration may be why there is such urgency to fill such a large number of positions. Visas are awarded via a lottery, and the DoL doesn’t tell us how many visas each company was awarded. But that so many large firms were sourcing talent in the tens of thousands is troubling.

Will There Really be H-1B Change?

Trump’s talk on H-1B is tough, but beyond the travel bans shot down by various courts, his administration has left immigration largely untouched.

Change may never arrive, either. Republican Hindu Coalition President Shalabh Kumar told Indian business owners earlier this year: “There will be a need of more H-1B visas. The number of people on H-1B from India is certainly going to increase. As such, I visualize need of more IT workers in the U.S.”

India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj suggests she may have Trump’s ear on H-1B:

Currently there are four bills in the US Congress about curbs on H1B visas. We are engaged with the US at very high level regarding this. We are making all efforts [through diplomatic channels] to ensure these bills are not passed. So there is no reason to worry about it as of now.

Swaraj added that there had been “flip-flopping” on the program long before Trump, and the number of available visas (as well as applications) has risen steadily since its introduction in 1990.

The H-1B application process starts April 3. It will begin without President Trump’s involvement or input, and making systemic changes during the application process will be difficult (if even possible). At this point, it seems Trump’s tough talk on H-1B was little more than grist for his constituents’ mill.

27 Responses to “H-1B Reform Bill Hits as Trump Inactive on Visas”

  1. It doesn’t matter at this point what is going into the H1B bill. Since already scared corporate companies are not hiring H1B visas in USA. Ex: TCS, WIPRO, Cognizant, Capgemeni, Accenture etc. So damage has already been made. It would be interesting to see if these companies will file for H1B this year. It is the Indian companies that are now working against Indians to save their own benefits. It has always been use and throw for corporate companies. Now they feel there is not need for H1B visa holder anymore in USA.

  2. Nothing is going to happen until Trump interfere and raise the salary to 150 k .If there is talent shortage then let the companies pay the that much money rather then hiring cheap labor for 60 k .
    I am saying again , let’s stand up together and make our concerns to be heard.
    Please send emails , letters to White house and ask them to change the H1b , L1 , H4 Ead salary levels and make it very difficult .

  3. Hurray! It is about time. There is nothing like the humiliating experience of having to train a less qualified and less talented foreigner to do your job while you await layoff … I did not vote for Trump but if he pulls this off I will vote for him next time!

  4. Debra Lynn Shepherd

    I feel the same way. It is a slap in the face to see less qualified foreigners Idians get trained only to force the US employee to train them. I personally am glad this is happening to these companies. I knew this would bite them in the face. I didn’t vote for Donald Trump but if he pulls this one off I will vote for him next time. SHAME ON YOU BIG TECH COMPANIES!!!

  5. Debra Lynn Shepherd

    Protecting American jobs IS crucial. I didn’t vote for Donald Trump but if he pulls this off I will vote for him next time.
    I feel the same way. It is a slap in the face to see less qualified foreigners Idians get trained by US employees only to lose their jobs to INDIANS SO THEY CAN WORK IN THOSE PROGRAMMING FACTORIES…THAT JUST BEATS OUT CODE….I would campaign for Donald Trump if he does this!!!’

  6. Art Bonds

    If these H1B’s and the like are truly the “best and the brightest” and are truly needed by companies, then pay them like the best and the brightest. At 60k they are just cheap labor, displacing an American..

  7. Let’s see…three posts by two people use the exact same phrase: ” I didn’t vote for Donald Trump but if he pulls this off I will vote for him next time.” Trolls/spammers being paid to post. They should at least use the same script on DIFFERENT stories, blogs, posts, etc. so they’re not so obvious. Wow.

  8. H1-B is flagrantly and frequently abused by IT outsourcing companies. It needs to be used ONLY when Americans aren’t able to do a job. We have plenty of skilled American IT workers, who are unemployed and underemployed. This needs to stop now. Don’t even ask me for “examples”. It’s so obvious, that if you have to ask, you’re part of the problem !

  9. America’s system is transparent , civilized, encourages honesty and healthy competetion. But the Indian recruiters and the Indian companies are abusing this system. The Indian companies and the Indian recruiters will never give chance for none-Indians; even one asks the least salaries. The first question they ask is that are you from India and are you an India. Indians are utilizing their cast and clan mentality in USA to alienate other US citezens. They are promoting corruption and instilled corrupt culturall value system in the USA. This way the Indians controlled the tech sector and engineering areas; even they are less qualified than the American citezens. USA politicians and business people could not understand the Indian mentality and how they operate in a corrupt way.
    Now the question is that can this law of Trump regarding HB1 will help to stop the alienation of USA citezens from the job market? The answer seems yes to some extent. However , a more comprehensive measure is required to protect the USA system itself; the system that is transparent , civilized, encourages honesty and healthy competetion need a real protection.

  10. I need to correct few things here.
    Every article about immigration starts with negative comments about President Trump.

    This is an earlier bill, the article that brought it to my attention was just trashing the president:
    H.R.5801 – Protect and Grow American Jobs Act
    Read carefully at the source, and not the biased articles and comments:
    Part of it:
    “(i) the term ‘exempt H–1B nonimmigrant’ means an H–1B nonimmigrant who receives wages (including cash bonuses) at an annual rate equal to at least the greater of $100,000 or the applicable adjusted amount under clause (iii);”;

    Click the “Actions” tab and radio button “All Actions” on the left.
    07/14/2016 Introduced in House
    09/08/2016 Referred to the Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security.

    Border Security??? This bill is hijacked, put into an abandoned parking lot.

    Now this Dice article comes up with the same tone, trashing Trump. DICE does not mention what bill this is, so I had to call the Congressman and find out:
    H.R.1705 for year 2017

    Read it completely, and learn your rights, your options, learn how the government works. This is a GOOD government, but we the people need to know how to interact with it.
    This is the most important part:
    SEC. 2. Preventing displacement of United States workers.
    Section 212(n)(1)(E)(ii) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1182(n)(1)(E)(ii)) is amended by inserting after the first sentence the following: “An application is described in this clause if the Secretary of Labor determines that it was filed by an employer for the primary purpose of using one or more United States workers to train the H–1B nonimmigrant workers sought in the job duties and responsibilities of the United States workers in order to lay off the United States workers and move their job or jobs abroad.”.

    You can call your senator and representative, write them a letter, and ask them to do what you think is good for the country.

  11. It was well published prior to Jan 1, 2000 that the H1-B Visa program was abused and quotas to companies exceeded. Mass displacing of US workers have taken place since then and continues as it is easier to layoff people versus manage well. It is time to remove the many “thumbs” on the scale. India charges a 32% Tariff on goods into or out of India which US Businesses pay whether it’s mainframes, laptops, or paper which covers education costs.There is the substantial Foreign Aid going to India since they developed a nuclear weapon. It’s time rethink this relationship as Government today excludes people from benefits if their monthly incomes leave them “too poor”. It is time for government to wake up, stop the infighting, and take action.

  12. The left (the Dems & the liberals) plus the establishment Republicans are hell bent on harassing the Trump government into inaction by bogging them down with legal litigation. These guys are bought and sold by Big Corp (US & overseas).

    Not sure if Trump really cares about people, but he sure wants to payback in kind to the Dems, the establishment Republicans & big business by hitting them where it hurts the most – the pocket book – for attacking him and maligning him relentlessly.

    The real ideologue behind the H-1B reform is Steve Bannon. So, of course the media promptly ‘defined’ Bannon as Hitler’s Goebbels. The minute Trump takes any action, the media will fill the news with how greats H-1B engineers are and also add-in some sob stories related to them. They will then get some ‘famous’ CEO like Zukerburg and a politician like Shummer to explain to us (with tears of course) how the US will lose it’s competitive’ edge in making useless products like facebook and twitter if we don’t have the H-1B program. This has been their SOP dealing with any liberal issue – immigrants, refugees, illegals, drugs, crime. All they see is potential Dem voters among the immigrants and minorities. They don’t care if the country goes to hell economically.

  13. After having seen how effective the Trump administration has been so far, with the ban on refuges from a list of countries currently at-war (You can call it something else), and the effectiveness of a new health care plan that was so bad it actually made the ACA look good (I can’t be covered through either), and the crocodiles that President Trump has moved in to replace the alligators when he drained the swamps in Washington, D.C. None of his actions have inspired any confidence. I imagine that if there really WAS a reform in the VISA program, some court will likely just block it as ‘unconstitutional’. I just don’t understand how citizens of other countries, who have never set foot on USA soil, can possibly have ‘constitutional rights’. Where in the United States constitution does it say that all employees must come from India? But some people seem to think that way.

  14. Nick L.

    The H-1B visa and related visa programs are being abused. This we can agree on. (Yes, I’m one of the displaced workers who had to spend three months training and working with my “replacement.”)

    The outsourcing firms supplying the workers promise big and deliver low. Not only in their services but this also includes to their own employees. They pay the minimal and reap huge profits because they charge the “going” consulting rates.

    From the hiring companies you keep hearing the excuse that the visa programs are need because the US isn’t turn out enough STEM graduates to supply the need. How does that excuse justify displacing your current work force or not working to create the talent you need? (Oh, I forgot the bottom line. The cheaper option is to replace with cheap labor.)

    The current proposals don’t go far enough to affect a real change to the abuse. (The use of outsourcing firms side steps the intent of some of these proposals) The changes need to have more of an effect on the hiring companies. Ideas:
    * Consulting costs shouldn’t exceed a percentage of the payroll costs for that area of the company and incur if a tax penalty for the overage. Example: If a hiring company’s IT consulting costs exceed 20% of the IT payroll costs, the remaining consulting balance should be taken as a charge against any other tax reducing charges.
    * Make reporting layoffs (number of people and costs) and outsourcing/consulting costs reporting entries on company SEC and investor filing reports.
    * Offer greater tax advantages to offset training costs to keep employees.
    * Similar to other laws the hiring companies should be held responsible to make sure the people doing the work for them are treated fairly and making a living wage; not only in the US but also overseas. It has worked with manufacturing companies. Also, make it a corporate social responsibility to report this information.

    One other advantage can be gained by keeping their current employees: keeping the business acumen. (But this is usually written off.)

  15. Jakester48

    You are on the right track. The caste system, while supposedly outlawed on the subcontinent, is still functioning. Only the proper families get a shot at those Master of Science degrees, and they DO NOT FAIL. They get a visa and MS degree by birthright.

  16. Linux Girl

    I am a recent IT graduate who cannot get an entry-level job because of the H1B visa program and the illusion that Indian employees are better-educated than their American counterparts. This is simply not true. What is true is the perception that American tech companies are getting a “bargain” by hiring a “temp” worker to replace an “expensive” American. It seems plain to me that the rise in Internet crime and the amount of Indian call centers perpetrating those crimes is a direct correlation to the outsourcing of jobs to people who have nothing vested in the United States. I would say that it is unpatriotic for a US-based company to even consider hiring H1B holders over American citizens when they could be working with American Universities to teach the skills that they supposedly need the visa-holders for in the first place.

  17. Prodius

    I think it goes a little deeper than that. Since the Great Depression of 1029 Us Congress has set up a means to stimulate local towns and cities by funneling money to depressed areas of the country. An example of this would be stimulating local economy by granting money to School Districts and Housing Authority and other governmental units to interns hire local to the community to spur economic activities. In theory this should stop the domino affect of job loss that took place during the 1929 type depression. Now a days even local governments are outsourcing to India. An example Broward County School District who outsource their cobol jobs to india instead of hiring local and building the local community resources. This is your Federal dollars working hard to build local Indian communities in India or should I say stimulating economic activity in India.

  18. US Political parties started weired concept to fight for everything so any good things proposed it will not take place as expected.

    H1B and F1 Programs abused for sure but big companies/Universities might fund political parties in millions or billions. So we cannot expect both parties will stop promoting it.

    Lets move on.. there are other issues for US such as illegal immigration, Refugee download,no gun ban, against the nature relation promotions , gender change, misuse of government freebies like insurance, housing…etc.
    US living is not safe anymore either for living or raising kids.

    Those who’s H1B/F1/Refugee rejected should feel happy to live in their own country.

  19. John Polansky

    So far our President has promised a lot of things on US job killing H1-B visa, but done absolutely nothing. US job seekers are hurting, new graduates are hopelessly looking for job without success, our government is in hibernation. No action. They just don’t care. Possibly our only hope is divine intervention.

  20. John Doe

    Looking for a job, for awhile. Last one the recruiter actually makes the candidate pool data available to the data. It was me, a qualified US Citizen, against literally 10 H1Bs. Went to an H1B for the same rate. They are parasites at this point.

  21. USC Indian

    How come these days all or most recruiters are Indians? Also why for the most part people interviewing were Indians? When asked about the Manager. He is also an Indian . Also on multiple occasions the recruiters ask me what questions were asked….??? I came to know later that another candidate H1B was being interviewed at a lower rate. Also at another interview. 4 people interviewing all Indians … Where is the EEOC? There must be corruption at the very highest levels for this?
    If you go to Silicon Valley big corporations there are “buildings” full of Indians working there. I only see Americans working at a nearby Starbucks.

  22. Oh common, now these days ,every job on dice,monster,indeed mentioned, job for citizen or green card holder only so congrats to Trump. Cognizant and others companies are not filing new h1b now.