Silicon Valley Has Upbeat View on H-1B Visas: Survey

According to a new survey, tech’s reliance on H-1B visa workers might boil down to the attitudes of those in Silicon Valley.

The Mercury News queried Bay Area residents about the visa, and the results are pretty striking: some 71 percent of those queried think the number of H-1B visas doled out annually should be kept the same or increased, while 7 percent had no opinion. (Of those 71 percent, 28 percent think the number should actually be increased.)

That means a mere 22 percent felt the quantity of foreign worker visas should be decreased. Some 38 percent say H-1B workers provide “critical skills” that companies cannot find in domestic employees. And 44 percent say H-1B workers fill skills gaps caused by a “shortage of qualified workers” stateside.

Some 23 percent think H-1B workers “take jobs that would otherwise be filled by qualified American workers.” Meanwhile, 21 percent of tech workers (defined by the survey as “current or former tech employees or those with relatives in tech”) thought that H-1B visas took jobs from qualified American workers.

Meanwhile, the federal government has taken incremental steps to adjust the H-1B program, despite President Trump’s campaign-trail promises of massive reform. For example, the White House has attempted to limit H-4 visas, which go to the spouses of H-1B visa holders; this limits those spouses’ ability to find gainful employment stateside. In addition, a new H-1B visa rule says employees must fill a specialty niche.

Despite these maneuvers, however, the overall number of H-1B visas filed and accepted has gone up during Trump’s time in office. For every 100 workers, Silicon Valley has 2.2 H-1B visa holders. Washington D.C. (and surrounding areas such as Arlington, Virginia) have 2 per 100 employees, suggesting that demand for the visa also remains high in other tech hubs.

The Mercury News poll shows 78 percent feel H-1B visa holders contribute positively to the Bay Area economy; the same percentage think documented immigrants contribute positively to the local economy. The percentage of those who feel positively about immigration only drops when residents were queried about undocumented immigrants (51 percent believe they have a positive influence on the economy).

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43 Responses to “Silicon Valley Has Upbeat View on H-1B Visas: Survey”

  1. US Citizen

    Strange how the percentage of people in favor of these visas corresponds almost exactly with the number of people who hold these visas. Is there a point here?

    • Gabriel Lobo-Blanco

      I just found out this week how screwed the system is. For example, a database engineer get paid about $165K/yr in Silicon Valley plus benefits. On the other hand, the same position is contracted out to H-1B for only $55/hr. This is equivalent to about $115K/yr. As far as I see, there is a difference of about $50K per year. It is no wonder they want to increase the number of H-1B visas. For everyone they employ, the company saves $50K per year. Imagine companies like Oracle and Microsoft that hire many of them. If they only had 10 H-1B they would be saving aboug $500K/yr if they employ 100, which they probably do, they save $1M/yr. In addition to this, they don’t have to pay for training. Is this really fair? Is this what the government wants?

      • GBistate

        The other thing that they will not tell you is for each H-1B visa the spouse becomes eligible to seek employment without needing to have an H-1B sponsor. The U.S. Government would like you to think that our jobs are going to people crossing the U.S. and Mexico borders whereas the real paying jobs have been handed over to India.

      • Bob Nathan

        ” just found out this week how screwed the system is. For example, a database engineer get paid about $165K/yr in Silicon Valley plus benefits. On the other hand, the same position is contracted out to H-1B for only $55/hr. This is equivalent to about $115K/yr. As far as I see, there is a difference of about $50K per year.”

        The H-1b contractor gets $55/hr. But the contracting company makes $20-30
        there is no gain here

  2. NJ US Citizen

    This survey definitely seems slighted. The only thing H-1B visa holders do as a fact is decrease salaries. Companies layoff US Citizens and employ H-1B visa holders for a much cheaper rate. Explain how companies were paying tech contract rates of $68hr – $125hr, 5 to 8 years ago and for those same jobs with expected more skills and increased technology knowledge they only want to pay $30hr-$45hr? Because of H-1B.
    Cheaper rates, longer product to market deployment with major production issues does not sound like it’s benefiting to the economy. There qualifications and skills knowledge with specialty niches is over-rated and not true.

  3. Another US Citizen

    Seems to me that the execs that you cherry picked to survey from Silicon Valley would benefit the most from an increase in H-1B visas. Now let’s take a survey of the American tech graduates out there that can’t find a decent job due to the current H-1B visa program. Or go to the unemployment office and survey those that have lost their higher paying jobs to lower skilled and lower paid H-1B visa holders. Lets see how they feel about the current H-1B visa program. We have the skill and talent in this country to fill the current job openings here. What we also have are greedy business leaders hell bent on getting as rich as they can while screwing their own countrymen. That’s a disgrace. And while we’re on the subject, I believe that if you bring your spouse to the US and she delivers a baby while on your H-1B visit here and neither of you are US citizens, that the newborn shouldn’t have citizenship status in the US either.

  4. You cannot just go based on such random surveys. Not all of the surveyors have a complete idea about the problem. If there is really a shortage of skilled workers then you wouldn’t see 200k applications for 85k spots. In addition to this there are also cap exempt H1b visas. So the problem is not the less number of visas but the more number of people and tons of small IT body shops abusing it by filing multiple petitions for the same employee. Also, USCIS should thoroughly verify the Applicant’s credentials so that people with fake experience do not get the skilled visa that someone else deserves.

    • Starpageup

      Your comments makes sense. It should be a merit based system; If you need Highly Skilled Worker, then they should be really Highly Skilled, not someone with fake skills and no experience.

      Afterall H1B was meant for Speciality occupation – Highly Skilled Workers.

      N.B. I keep feeling bad saying anyone worker, so don’t mind it. I prefer calling them professionals. I am just following the language used here.

      • Daniel

        It’s not even an issue of highly skilled workers and whether or not they are feeling experience. In the technology sector, there is such an extremely high number of technologies that a person could have worked with. To the point that hardly any two resumes would be identical if they were to list out each individual technology they’ve worked with. To prove the need for an H1B worker, just put out a job listing, matching the exact resume of said worker, and you’re likely not going to find citizen with that exact list of experience.

        For example, I’ve worked with OpenSta as a load testing software when speccing out hardware requirements for upgrading our ERP. This is a useful software, but really has no place on a resume because it is just a scripting software that just requires knowledge of web based communication. If I were a person desiring an H1B visa, I could put this on my resume. Then if an American company wanted to hire me, all they need to do is put OpenSta on the job description. Then bam! There’s no one in the US that matches xyz skill set AND has OpenSta experience. Having OpenSta experience doesn’t make me highly skilled, but to the layman, it would seem as such.

      • Daniel

        It’s not even an issue of highly skilled workers and whether or not they are taking experience. In the technology sector, there is such an extremely high number of technologies that a person could have worked with. To the point that hardly any two resumes would be identical if they were to list out each individual technology they’ve worked with. To prove the need for an H1B worker, just put out a job listing, matching the exact resume of said worker, and you’re likely not going to find citizen with that exact list of experience.

        For example, I’ve worked with OpenSta as a load testing software when speccing out hardware requirements for upgrading our ERP. This is a useful software, but really has no place on a resume because it is just a scripting software that just requires knowledge of web based communication. If I were a person desiring an H1B visa, I could put this on my resume. Then if an American company wanted to hire me, all they need to do is put OpenSta on the job description. Then bam! There’s no one in the US that matches xyz skill set AND has OpenSta experience. Having OpenSta experience doesn’t make me highly skilled, but to the layman, it would seem as such.

  5. I don’t think this survey means much. What companies really mean when they say they can’t fill the position with a domestic worker is that they don’t want to pay the salary and benefits of a domestic worker. The job market is excellent yet our wages haven’t really increased much in decades. They have been intentionally kept down by offshoring and H-1B. I never expected much from Trump in this area because he talks out of all sides of his mouth but he does whatever his handlers want and I think they are happy with H-1B and would like it to see it increase.

  6. John D

    Trump’s tariff idea is bad. Why? Because the US factories that make things necessary to our economy are already out of business, due to not protecting our factories 20-30 years ago. It takes a while to start a factory.

    Similarly, increasing H-1Bs is as bad as not having tariffs when our factories were shutting down. If we don’t decrease H-1Bs, young adults will not train for tech because they won’t be able to get jobs due to people from abroad willing to work for less. It takes at least SIXTEEN YEARS to educate a tech worker (1st grade – BS), and US tech workers will go down the drain just like the US industrial sector has.

  7. H1b visa is a disaster for US Citizens. I personally lost my job being a US Citizen to a H1b person. This visas must be eradicated. Also H4 visas. Obama should never had given work permits for H4 visa holders. 100,000 H4 (dependent visa of H1b) flooded the industry and rates are decreased for US Citizens. This survey is done by another H1b guy for sure to save his own ass.

  8. John Doe

    One more lie from Trump and Congress that he was going to cut back tremendously on the H1Bs. I am an American citizen and lost my job due to H1Bs and have a hard time finding another one although I am more than qualified than any of the programmers they hire. Maybe I should apply for an H1B see if someone will sponsor me in America? Our scum politicians are getting lobby money from the Indian consulting companies. They don’t care about Americans. They are laughing at our predicament.

  9. Well, another fake promis from a politician . The whole news coverage these days are about poor illegals. No one talks about the legal entries that are supported by our elected representatives that just think about working with big corporations and benefit from the situation to fill their own pocket.

  10. Why are they rehashing a Mercury news article? Just read that article. So many sites just sucking content from other sites, not much original content, just recontextualizing other people’s content. I read in a digital marketing consultants form, that 90% of all the content consumed by people on the internet everyday comes from 10 companies. Most of those 10 companies are subsidiaries of the 5 media oligarchies that run the U.S. media and controls 92% of the entire U.S. market. This sounds like a way to manufacture consent about a particular issue. Dice constantly does stories on H1b visas because it seems to be the only thing people read about here. And it is essentially the same story all the time. CEOs and HR and PR talking about how there are so many jobs going unfilled because of a talent shortage and people pointing out how H1B Visas are just a way to lower wages. So it seems maybe people in IT and DevOps, etc need a global Union to force better wages on all companies and to stop the practice.

    • mary anderson

      I , a US citizen, worked with many H1-B visa holders leading American IT projects. Once, only once, in 20 years was the H1-B visa staff able to complete the project without at least 4 re-writes.
      In my experience, The visa holders were not smarter, better educated, more hard working, more dedicated than the US employees; they were only paid less and had no benefits. But since they took longer and required much closer supervision, my estimate is that the employee costs were actually more if one factored in lost opportunity costs.

      • I can second that having worked at a number of companies.
        Can we talk about how messed up the CT DMV fisasco was ?
        Or the CT Social Services crap software that just rolled out.

  11. Kyrylo Pogrebenko

    An H1B visa worker is at least 30% cheaper than an American counterpart, right out of the door. Also, savings for companies go up overtime, since they can keep H1B visa workers on a short leash without needs to increase their salaries and providing bonuses.

  12. Native US Citizen

    Author should be ashamed of himself for writing an article so biased against the legal citizens of this country. No we don’t need more H1Bs. Have seen quite a few fellow citizens lose their jobs due to being undercut by some questionably-skilled H1B that will simply do it cheaper. You are trying to destroy the great things in the US.

  13. Native US Citizen

    Author should be ashamed of himself for writing an article so biased against the legal citizens of this country. No we don’t need more H1Bs. Have seen quite a few fellow citizens lose their jobs due to being undercut by some questionably-skilled H1B that will simply do it cheaper. You are trying to destroy the great things in the US.

  14. H1B visa as well as off-shoring needs to be monitored and reduced, not expanded. The average person was not surveyed here (it’s not clear who was, but some of the commentors had great ideas). Yeah, let’s bring back coal jobs and continue to hemorrhage white collar IT jobs. Making us great again!

  15. This is really bad news. I once found myself in a situation where I worked in an IT department of a major international bank in NY metro area mostly staffed with H1-B folks. This was by far the worst experience of my career I ever had. The level of abuse and mismanagement was unbelievable. When I had a few chats with some of the folks, I understood how utterly bad their situation is and why they would put up with horrible treatment and work dynamics. And wny managers feel they can get away with it. This is really a model that is corrupting the core and the culture of companies that rely on it.

  16. It’s not surprising Silicon Valley have difficulty finding employees. The Bay Area is not appealing as it once was, Californians have a terrible work ethic, and California is a high tax state with wacky politics.

    Who but third worlders would want to live in a place where they have maps showing the location of human feces and used drug needles.

  17. Daniel

    This “survey” is a complete sham. Plane and simple lie. What tech professionals want to have their job opportunities minimized, wages lowered, and job security eliminated due to higher availability of H1B workers.

    Further we need to apply our federal and state taxes to labor outsourced outside of our nation as well.

    I personally have missed out on two job opportunities to over seas workers. I can’t really blame my employer either because it’s financially cheaper and we have to compete with other companies that do the same. If they took the moral position of hiring locally, we would be less competitive…

    This is all a horrible joke.

  18. Try this search: “h1b percentage of tech”
    The first link is to the same site listed above as a source.
    “H-1B: Nearly three-quarters of Valley techies are foreign”.

    After decades of surviving this assault on my livelihood I can tell you that I do not recommend a technical career path in general and I absolutely will not recommend it to my children. It is akin to a self fulfilling prophecy that seems unstoppable at this point: if you devalue the skill ($) and the worker (abusive unskilled managers, because the H1B workers will take it) is it really surprising that “we have a shortage of skilled workers”? Solution: hire more H1B workers (duh).

    Another issue that few dare to mention is the racism/cultural-ism that often plays out when the H1B is a hiring manager. It is a very sad thing to watch the conversion of an entire team over time. Although that does not always happen it is more than just common; it is almost a standard practice.

    I am currently in a team in which that is playing out once again despite my assessment of candidates during interviews. I have not given the thumbs up to a single American because they have been filtered out of the process before I can evaluate them (clearly all Americans are overpriced fools). I have given the thumbs up to non-Americans that apparently are not the “type” they are looking to hire. It is not a talent, skill, communication or an experience issue. It is not an issue of differing compensation as all candidates are pre-filtered by the staffing companies. Lessor candidates that meet “visible criteria” or “cultural criteria” are getting the jobs.

    Before you construct “plausible” explanations for the very few examples I have provided please consider this: “H-1B: Nearly three-quarters of Valley techies are foreign”. I guess there are no smart Americans anymore … it must be the Kool-Aid we are drinking.

  19. Meanwhile the average engineer or IT worker can’t expect his career to last beyond his 40’s. They didn’t survey the people who are affected by the deluge of H1-B visa invaders. Sad when Americans are routinely thrown under the bus in favor of foreigners. Oops, I guess that makes me a bigot. MAGA.

  20. Not a scientific survey if it included actual beneficiaries of the flawed H1b process!
    I am grateful that Trump is working to stop the H4 visa holders from working – there is NO DEMONSTRATED LABOR NEED for H4 visa holders to work. Obama allowing that was not respecting American STEM workers.

  21. The standard procedure where I work is to out-source/off-shore first. TCS has a recruiter that works embedded full-time on site in our headquarters. They only hire a permanent domestic employee as a last resort when they cannot find a qualified contractor through TCS. They don’t even bother pretending to try to fill the role with a US employee or to post any position. They clearly have no fear whatsoever over any legal ramifications. The US government hasn’t bothered to enforce it’s own laws for at least two decades now, and non-US contractors are so cheap and easy to acquire and get rid of, today’s senior tech managers just think this is how business is done.

    This company also prides itself on being a “highly ethical” place to work. It’s amazing how deeply people can delude themselves.

  22. By implementing a few common sense ideas, this problem goes away.

    1. Job must be posted on at least 3 tech job search sites. Not just 3 newspapers in rural areas.
    2. Before starting job, H1-B employee must pass a test in person proving they have the skills they claim to have. This is done at the employers expense.
    3. If hired, H1-B employee is paid hourly with overtime. The pay rate is the hourly equivalent of a non-H1-B employee + 20%.
    4. H1-B employees cannot be sponsored by the various consultancy companies, only the company where they will work. When job is over, they go home and not moved to another job.

    This would force employers to do a real search for US talent, verify incoming employees have skills required for the job and keep companies from doing it just to save money.

  23. This is not a reasonable survery. It’s asking a thief (job losts by americans). Most of the H1B are pretty useless but firms care less since they are most interested in lowering cost not the quality.