H-1B Visas May Not Get Country Restrictions After All

In June, news leaked that the Trump administration was debating whether to limit the number of H-1B visa recipients from India. That cap would have been retaliation for India’s localized data-storage policies, which dictate that companies store Indian citizens’ payment-system data (such as credit-card info) within the country. But new reports suggest that such restrictions aren’t in the works.

According to Quartz, which drew its information from India Today, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo indicated during a three-day trip to India that no such plans are in place.

There’s currently no country-specific limit on H-1Bs. When the news first broke about possible restrictions over data localization, a source speaking to Reuters suggested they wouldn’t be limited to India: “Any country that does data localization, then it… would be limited to about 15 percent of the [H-1B] quota. It’s being discussed internally in the U.S. government.” U.S. companies such as Visa regularly complain that data localization curbs their ability to compete in other countries, since obeying those regulations requires that they build out country-specific infrastructure and staffing.

Even if the Trump administration doesn’t restrict the H-1B system by country, there are signs that it plans to institute a new registration system that could make applications more difficult for staffing and consulting firms. According to The Mercury News, companies applying for H-1B visas will need to submit an online registration form; the U.S. government will then choose which registrations can proceed to the actual application for the visa. There’s currently a 60-day commenting period on the registration tool, which will end on August 26.  

And based on the Trump administration’s fiscal year 2020 budget, the fees for H-1B visas will only increase. “The Department’s budget includes $160 million to continue our expansion of apprenticeship programs, along with a proposal to increase H-1B fee revenues to fund additional apprenticeship activities,” R. Alexander Acosta, the U.S. Secretary of Labor, said in prepared remarks (PDF) to a U.S. Senate committee on May 2. 

An increase in H-1B fees and restrictions would align with President Trump’s “Buy American and Hire American” executive order. Intended to “protect the economic interests of U.S. workers and prevent fraud and abuse in employment-based visa programs,” in the words of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the executive order has resulted in a general tightening of H-1B policies (and the potential elimination of the H-4 EAS, which allows spouses of H-1B visa holders to obtain work).  

30 Responses to “H-1B Visas May Not Get Country Restrictions After All”

  1. Steve

    I don’t have much confidence in a purely monetary solution to the H1B visa running rampant. It would have to be significant, like taking the current fee, multiply by 15, then multiply by 15 again.

    • What these big insourcing firms are doing is really just a legal forum of human trafficking. They bring people over from poor areas of the work, promise them the world, then force them to work in jobs that take advantage of their inability to find better conditions.

      Raising fees does nothing, as they simply get passed on to the individuals being brought over.

      If you or I dangle a carrot to entice someone into coming to the US. Put them into a debt that needs to be paid off. Then force them to work in a terrible situation. We would be arrested on so many accounts of human rights laws, that we wouldnt leave federal prison until the sun burns out.

      But if you slap an H1b visa into that process, we’ll now you’re suddenly legitimized…

      • Software and network engineers get lumped into the computer/system administrator category of the federal labor laws. This means even though they are non-exempt, there are no requirements to pay overtime after 40 hours of work. You can verify this by calling the DOL if you would like.

        Furthermore, the laws regarding breaks are left up to the states. Meaning if there are no state level labor laws regarding breaks, you can force a STEM employee to work over 40 hours a week, offer no breaks, and provide no vacations or benefits. This is all completely legal, because there is nothing that is binding a citizen to an employer.

        The keyword there is citizen. An H1b visa is completely bound to an employer. I can just pick up and find a different place to work. An H1b is very enticing to a company that cares little for employees, because they are bound.

        Insourcing firms make money off of a seemingly unlimited supply of product they have to spend nothing on, sleazy companies can get an indentured servant for the price that no US citizen would work for. It’s a multi billion dollar a year industry.

        How anyone in congress could possibly argue that this is justified is beyond me. From a humanitarian perspective, how can a visa be the crucial portion of a billion dollar a year industry?

  2. David

    There’s so much local talent available in US. We don’t need 160,000 (including spouses) coming in every year on H1-B to drive down the local wages. Just like how illegals are coming in taking low paying jobs from Americans. All these big companies are hiring H1B at 30-40/hr

  3. Ron S

    I’ll believe it when I see it. It’s simply not done until it’s done.

    All the US companies want is to get IT talent on the cheap. This has always been the problem. US companies have built effective lobbying along with immigration attorneys with tons of money to fight anyone against the H1b & L1 visa programs.

    There are so many talented Americans out there, it’s a non-issue! US companies just don’t want to pay us. Period. Should US companies be punished in some way for taking jobs away from their fellow Americans and giving them to offshores??!! I think so.

    Look at what Boeing just did to American engineers by using Indian to correct software issues with the 737 problems. The engineers in India are $9 per hour. They dumped the American engineers.

    • Steve

      Was that before or after the entire ‘fleet’ of 737 Max were grounded for a software problem. Sometimes you get what you pay for. This model is added to the list of planes I refuse to get on. Ever. Should they be decalared ‘safe’ again. Flying is miserable, anyway, regardless of airline or even plane. I got long legs, and I get a cramp 5 minutes after I sit down in the cramped plane seating.

  4. In today’s economy (3.8% of unemployment) anyone can get a job, I see people with very low qualifications getting hired for 70k in MA (word/excel stuff). People that are still unemployed should think about increasing their knowledge in new tools or programming languages.

    Also may H1B already speak two languages or more (Spanish, Portuguese), giving them more leverage compared to others who only speak English, (USA is at a similar time zone as most Spanish speaking countries).

  5. Mark S

    I work with the offshore team on a daily basis . That allows me to comment . NO these people are not taking your jobs Period . If you have skills there are plenty of jobs available in market instead of blaming foreigners taking away your job . Money can be stolen but skills never get stolen .H1B increases competition and research and global open market . People within US dont want to work instead want to put the blame on H1B . Grow up , brush your skills and get a job 🙂

    • This a fight between the globalists and the nationalists. The United States did well before the H-1B visa came along, and will do well after the H-1B program is put to rest. All indications are this is going to happen. To paraphrase Matteo Salvini: “You cannot build your country with another country’s workers” .

        • Billy Ray

          The H1B visa program is without a doubt, 100% stealing jobs from qualified US citizens and giving them to foreign workers for lower wages. It’s diluting the labor markets and driving labor prices down to nothing. Just wait until lawyers and accountants start getting hit by outsourcing. Then all this stuff with end immediately.

      • —-
        To paraphrase Matteo Salvini: “You cannot build your country with another country’s workers”
        —–
        US gold mines and the railyway network was built by the Chinese, and slaves from Africa. Foreign workers have always been the backbone of USA.

  6. Jacob

    Not all. That’s wrong assumption about H1b. I understand frustration over H-1B because of outsourcing. Believe me not only it hurts Americans but also hurts skilled H1B resources.Skilled resources average salary usually is in three figures.
    Trump is right in terms of denying visas for outsourcing companies and has face huge backslash by the current government. But there has to be middle ground about how h1b supposed to work out for economy. Half of the fortune 500 companies and many start ups run or founded by h1b people. Program has been useful till now but some people have managed to use it for selfish agenda.

    Jyoti Bansal, Founder of AppDynamics waited for 8 years to launch his company before he was stuck immigration line. This is one example.There are many people like him, who are still waiting for 100 plus years. H-1b is not bad for economy but outsourcing companies are.

    • Harry

      Definitely for a few years there should be a holiday for H1B while the nation evaluates it’s priorities. What is it about capable Indians? Where is the software from India?

      `

    • Some people focus exclusively on the outsourcers as the sole abusers. But the fact of the matter is that all companies – both outsourcers (e.g., TCS, Infosys, IBM) and non-outsourcers (e.g., Amazon, Facebook, Google) – abuse the H-1B visa, supplanting U.S. workers with cheaper foreign talent, and driving down wages.

      The wage rules for H-1B and green card sponsorship are broken down into wage Levels I, II, III and IV, with Level III being the median. For software developers, the most common type of foreign worker on H-1B, the green card data show the following percentages of foreign workers at Levels I or II making below-median wages: Amazon 91%; Facebook 91%; and Google 96%. These firms, putatively in the vanguard of advanced technology and certainly in the vanguard in Capitol Hill lobbying regarding H-1B, are paying almost all of their foreign workers – supposedly, the “top global talent” – wages below the median for the given region. This belies the industry lobbyists’ claims that H-1B workers are hired because they’re experts that can’t be found among the U.S. workforce, and it certainly illustrates that not only the outsourcers abuse the H-1B visa.

      • Jacob

        Amazon, Facebook and Google are not the abusers of the H-1B. I have great respect for this companies and they value for the talent. They dont care about immigration or citizen status. I know few people who worked for amazon and ran into immigration issues. Amazon offered them to keep the job from outside like moving to canada or india. They care only about core talent and keep them regardless of the H1-B status. Looking at wage level for this companies is not the right way to understand the pay structure. They provide yearly bonus, stock options, etc benefits which adds up 35-50k easily a year. For example, Amazon’s 90k is equivalent to ~120k+ salary from other company.

        FYI, I dont work for amazon or google or facebook. I have great respect for them because of their way of hiring best talent from the market.

        • The underpayment of H-1B workers is well-established fact, not rumor, anecdote or ideology. It has been confirmed by two congressionally-commissioned reports, and a number of academic studies, in both statistical and qualitative analyses.

          An employer survey conducted by the GAO[1] found that some employers readily admitted to paying H-1Bs less than comparable Americans, but noted that they were nevertheless paying the legally required wage (i.e., the “prevailing wage”), thereby illustrating that the latter is indeed below the market wage.

          The GAO found that, “some employers said that they hired H-1B workers in part because these workers would often accept lower salaries than similarly qualified U.S. workers; however, these employers said they never paid H-1B workers less than the required wage.”

          This jibes with a previous employer survey[2], commissioned by Congress, that found, “…H-1B workers in jobs requiring lower levels of IT skill received lower wages, less senior job titles, smaller signing bonuses, and smaller pay and compensation increases than would be typical for the work they actually did.”

          So two employer surveys, one by the government and the other commissioned by the government, had employers actually admitting to underpaying their H-1Bs. And the GAO shows that the employers admit that the prevailing wage, the legal wage floor for H-1Bs, is a joke. The data in the paper shows the underpayment statistically as well.

          References:

          [1] H-1B Foreign Workers: Better Tracking Needed to Help Determine H-1B Program’s Effects on U.S. Workforce
          GAO-03-883, US General Accounting Office, Sept. 2003

          [2] Building a Workforce for the Information Economy.
          National Research Council. 2001

  7. Joseph the third

    There is definitely something fishy with companies heavily relied on H1b, like Infosys, they are the outsourcing companies that take advantage of such a wonderful program to attract foreign talents into the US. If you still think that the H1b visa steals your jobs, you should totally go and search some of those people’s resume online. They are far more capable than your common college grads. For example, in India, people work so hard to just get into a college that teaches IT. About as many Americans in the US are the people in India trying to get a degree every year. Many US companies have their local branches in India to utilize cheap labors, that’s one way you don’t see as many jobs as you think. But it is the same as “made in China” goods, since those products made in China required a huge labor market and cheap labor and perhaps the less strict environmental laws and simply if you have those same product made in the US could cost you many times more and they won’t even be able to produce enough to supply the whole market. If that’s true, you all may get a job but far cheaper and boring jobs then what you’ll find today.
    While companies back in the US need a fast track of talents because of the competition and fast-growing technology sector, the local US market just isn’t enough for that. Can you ask yourself, how much your government has invested in you for your education? How do they pay your teachers? How do they value their students lives? They simply see the cheaper solution is using available foreign talents instead of investing in Americans. There, your government is the one you should blame. If you ever need to go through the H1b process as many others do, you won’t brag how unfair it is. Yes, there is always people try to get around the law but it doesn’t represent all of the cases and if your judgment only based on a small fraction of the cake then you may have found the reason why you are not employed.

    • Milly

      Just a minute. The cheating does NOT begin with the H1b’s resume… It starts in school. The Wall Street Journal had an article about this. They do not necessarily work hard – they cheat and bribe.

  8. Sara Ross

    Our dictator in D.C. got over 70 work visas for people to work for him in Florida. Americans don’t need work visas to work in this country. He is a traitor to this country and whenever he does something it’s not for the benefit of the USA. It’s for the benefit of the mental moron. He works for us, can’t we fire him for, among other things, treason?!

    • Milly

      The hospitality worker visas are not the same thing. It is cross-training staff at high-end hotels and resorts from different countries. US workers go to other countries to do the same. Not like the H1b visa at all.

  9. IT Guy

    As some one who came to this country on H1(b) long long time ago and observing this over years, I can offer unique perspective.

    Minimum pay required to be paid to H1 worker is very low by market standards, which qualifies pretty much any IT worker as highly qualified. Very few IT jobs need really highly qualified people.

    Every year USCIS gets about 200,000 applications for about 65,000 quota. Instead of random lottery, can’t they come up with any other way to select the best candidates from the pool other than by pure luck? Looking the at pay is the easiest way to start.

    Building best of the best products requires best of the best talent. There is always a possibility to find such talent outside the boundaries of the country.

    Completely shutting down this program will hurt US in long term.

  10. Let H1/L1 come and go. no birth right citizenship for their kids while parents on non-immigration or illegal status.

    implement e-verify strictly and random visits to retail and any offices including doctors or lawyers to verify legal status of staff and cancel business licenses for employing illegals.

    Stop quick green cards whether employment or business based and 1 million green cards a year.

    US is not at all shortage of any workforce. Save current and future generations of US Citizens to survive. They don’t have another country to go and live.

  11. Elvia

    First and foremost please understand this- People who possess diplomas/ or so called “Highly educated” from foreign countries ARE NOT equivalent to high skilled US workers nor US students who earned diplomas in the U.S.

    From the Center of Immigration Studies- if anything they are equivalent to America born hig hschoolers or some college equivalents. Tests proven on 3 categories: Literacy, Numeracy and Computer Operating Aptitudes

    https://cis.org/Video/Panel-Value-Foreign-Diplomas

    Other H1B/, H4,visa programs /hurting American workers:
    https://www.cbsnews.com/news/are-u-s-jobs-vulnerable-to-workers-with-h-1b-visas/
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=envbbUc4LhU
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hX2xy0J7g3I
    Finally- Thank Pres. Trump for this! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5beoWc0tOik

    H1B Visa program was originally designed to allow US companies to hire from overseas if they cannot find qualified US workers on US soils. One of the examples was a graphic artist that could speak a second rare language to help this publishing company. Due to the introduction of H1B visa program, the owner of the company was able to recruit this specific worker who has the enhanced linguistic skill and also can do graphics for his company. It is not meant to create loopholes for companies to maximize their profits and begin the outsourcing of American jobs.

    Companies such as Infosys, TCS, Tech Mahindra Americas, etc…Tend to snatch up all the visas within months and send their workers over to the US to learn work in the US. Some foreign workers stay for couple of years. During Obama Administration and the recent recession of 2009 American workers for big corporations such as Intel, HP, Dell, etc…were forced out of jobs in massive amount. There’s a whole website created by HP workers lamenting the cruel process of layoffs for corporate profits. HP laid off enough workers and for every worker that would affect 3 more people- on average, their family (spouse and 2 kids). If this is not hurting American citizens I don’t know what is. For these workers, before they were let go, they had to be squeezed once last time by the greedy corporation, sort of “digging their own graves” way, by training these foreign workers. Corporate executives/HR people refer to euphemism terms such as ” knowledge transfer” and they dangle severance packages in front of these employees who are about to be laid off. Many have families to take care of so they have no choice but comply.
    Regarding these so called high skilled workers, – majority are from India, the newer waves are from Middle Eastern countries such as Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Nigeria, etc.., Some are from South American workers Puerto Rico, Costa Rica. At any rates, these workers are nowhere as smart or more high skilled than American workers. American workers who are Engineers, IT specialists, Programmers, Financial professionals, Accountants, Economists etc….are actually the ones who attended verifiable ABET Universities, Technical Institutions, conducted on US soils. They actually learn things the way America do things, and the certification process is set up to meet ISO standards. The degrees whether they are B.S, Master or PhD from those foreign countries are not verifiable in America. When they come here, they take equivalent of American tests. For example American students have to take SAT to get in, these guys can take TOEFL and these testing centers can be bought and as results the results are often cheated compromised. (There was a huge article about Chinese students cheating in these self-administering centers). Anyway, that is just to illustrate my points. The government of these countries is also very corrupt and can easily be bought. It’s not what they know, it’s who they know, and they will get a piece of diploma in their hands to get them the “high skilled” label, but it does not mean anything. When come to the US, these people are just mediocre. They can barely speak English. Their accents are so thick that people always have to communicate with memos and letters after each meeting to make sure they understand what the meeting/conference was about. Ever heard of bedside manners by some of those doctors/manners imported from those developing countries- they are terrible. Their regards for human lives, for medical emergencies are not the same as in America. We jump at the sight of blood or at the slightest symtoms. Those doctors and nurses just take things slowly and precariously because to them their standards of urgency are different. Not mentioning these degrees and jobs can be bought in those countries.

    There are some software programmers that are very good at what they do, don’t get me wrong. I’m not discounting them. However, it is because the hardware resources in those countries are so scarce, it forced them to beef up in their programming skills, creating all these special formulas to force the computer to take in more for lesser operating resources. This is in opposite of the western world, in America, Europe, etc…where resources such as hardware, memories chips are cheaper and abundant, so the programmers don’t have to work as hard. They just have to do simple coding. Also another thing I want to point out is the term “Indian coding” is very popular among IT workers in the US. It is a joke pointing at all these twisted, entwined coding plus bugs embedded, created on purpose by these Indian IT workers onto American’s company programming system. They put the bugs in or create mysterious loopholes in the programs so American IT workers can’t get the system to work, after the contract has expired. The American company has no choice but have to re hire those contractors. It’s job security for them and they know it. It’s only knowledge transfer one way, US to them, not vice versa. Americans- if we play by these rules, we will lose. That’s why we need people like Trump, in your face type, who will do anything to protect hard working Americans from being ripping off or fall into victims of outsourcing, insourcing of greedy corporation’s scam. These workers also cheat in Medicare and Social Security taxes.

    Regarding how they contribute to our economy and pay their fair share of taxes- no they don’t. I’ve seen some lady’s post on Dice H1B/H4EAD topic about how Indian/foreign workers work and contribute more so than American and some don’t even stay for Medicare/Social Security Benefits. To that lady’s response- I would say that’s because they couldn’t get a green card to stay, if they could, they would definitely not forgo a single opportunity. I’ve heard so many stories from my friends who are in the HR/Payroll Administrative fields that these guys will sit in the lobby of HR office and demand a manual check cut for them, if we missed calculate their paycheck, even if it’s only a couple, or $5-10 dollars. They could not even wait to the next cycle. I’ve witnessed some Indian Contracting lady who would come to work early in the morning, like 6 AM California time and make massive phone calls to her relatives in Mumbai, using company’s phone lines and or using companies’ issue cell phones. Then she has the nerves to file for expense reimbursement with Accounts
    Payable. When got called out by audit/finance staff, she said these are business related activities.

    On payroll checks, Americans pay around $10K or roughly 10-14% in Federal Income Tax
    State tax is another 13.-16% depending on which state you live in. FICA (Social Security tax is about 6.2% and Medicare is 1.4% of your total earnings. This lady claimed that they don’t stay for Medicare/social benefit. She forgot to mention that they would be the first one in front of our Payroll/HR office, screaming for reimbursement if we erroneously processed their paychecks wrong and take out their FICA/Medicare/ taxes. The thing is many of these foreign workers have ultimate goal- to stay in America and get green cards and citizenships. Which is fine? I don’t have any issues with that. If they earned their time, play by the rules, not dealing drugs, involved in criminal activities, they should earn their way to legal residence. However once they are in, they never offer to pay back any taxes that they were exempt from being non residence. US government does not have rules to make these guys go back and retro paying back all the Medicare and social security taxes that these guys skipped out during their early years. When they get old, they draw from the same system just like anyone else, but didn’t have to pay into it the first 5-10 years or however long it took them to gain permanent resident status in the US. They even sponsor their moms/dads/ aunts /uncles who are old, ailing, and passed working age, eventually these people will qualify for Social Security and Medicare. The US government will not deny its people of necessities such as food and medical needs.

    This is fleecing of America. In my opinions and President Trump and his administration, please do something about this. Bring justice back to America Tax Payers who are already being burdened with heavy taxes to support all these crazy social programs.

  12. it’s extremely unfair that these companies mostly hire people from outside US and bring them all the way into US when there are so many local jobless people looking for work in IT….and then at the same time they continuously send jobs to india. these people when brought to US are not selected based on their skills/capabilities but through random lottery.