H-1B One Workforce Grant Program Could Eliminate H-1B Workers

For years, critics of the H-1B system have argued that tech companies use the visa to replace American workers. Now, the Department of Labor (DOL) is spinning up a program designed to replace H-1B workers sourced from overseas with homegrown equivalents. 

The H-1B One Workforce Grant Program will offer $150 million to businesses, nonprofits, industry and trade associations, and training providers (such as community colleges) to “provide individuals in their communities with skills necessary to advance career pathways to employment in middle- to high-skilled H-1B occupations within key industry sectors.” 

“In the current job environment, it is critical that local organizations work as one instead of independent parts of a process,” John Pallasch, the DOL’s Assistant Secretary for Employment and Training, wrote in a statement accompanying the announcement. “Our goal is to create seamless community partnerships to build career pathways for local job seekers to enter middle- to high-skilled occupations in cyber security, advanced manufacturing, and transportation sectors.”

Eligible participants must be “at least 17 years old” and “not currently enrolled in secondary school within a local educational agency.” The DOL cited unemployed individuals, workers who want to update their skills, veterans, and military spouses as particularly desirable.

The U.S. government has been tightening its restrictions on the H-1B visa over the past several months. Earlier in September, for example, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) submitted a notice to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) that it would “revise the definition of specialty occupation to increase focus on obtaining the best and the brightest foreign nationals via the H-1B program, and revise the definition of employment and employer-employee relationship to better protect U.S. workers and wages.” 

That’s in addition to President Trump’s recent executive order temporarily banning H-1Bs. Pair that with a substantial adjustment to H-1B fees, and it’s clear that the Trump administration is making good on its promise to adjust the nature of the visa after years of small steps.

Cumulatively, these policy tweaks are having a real-life impact, at least if you go by the rising rate of H-1B application and renewal denials. This workforce grant program could also have a significant impact on the outsourcing and business-services firms that heavily leverage the H-1B to provide subcontractors to companies. But the true long-term future of the visa, of course, will hinge on the results of November’s election. 

47 Responses to “H-1B One Workforce Grant Program Could Eliminate H-1B Workers”

  1. Jake Leone

    Look, I know that most IT and programming jobs require only around 2-years of college. Many companies are insisting on a Masters degree, and that can require 6-years of college.

    And the reason why companies ask for a Masters degree, is because there is flood of applicants. Many tech companies simply throw away 99% of the resumes they receive. Some brag about it. When companies hold jobs open for several months, they are simply looking for the best deal they can make. That deal might be on salary. That deal might be on capability. The Bay Area cannot support low salaries, therefore some jobs stay open forever.

    We import 65,000 people under the generally available H-1b visas. The cost to educate those people for one year in college is around 23,000$/yr (from Google – public college). The actual cost then is about 1.5 billion dollars.

    So this is about 1/10 the amount needed for just one-year of College level work.

    But more importantly, the loans taken by students also raises their asking price. Payments on student loans each year, exceed the cost of the average Indian engineer working in India. Hey, any minimum wage job in the United States exceeds the cost of the average engineer in India.

    India tariffs our goods 100% (Harley’s for example). And our goods are already far more expensive (because of labor in the United States) than those in India (so why tariff our exports at all). You know, isn’t it about time we started talking about tariffing services? I think it makes sense, that’s India’s #1 export. And there should be a surcharge on the H-1b visa (20-30k yr) and/or far higher minimum salary requirement. These training programs are fine, no issues, but they are nothing compared to economic disparity between areas of the United States and India or China.

    • Actually, this is how our government makes their daily operating expenditures. Through taxes on imports and exports. None of it (contrary to popular belief) comes from “Federal Income Taxes”. Those go to the Federal reserve bank Inc. in Washington. The founding fathers set up the import/export tax system for a good reason – to give the government its operating money, and to balance trade. Of course anything that is “outsourced” can and should be taxed to balance between economies.

  2. Good morning
    My name mano
    Nationality INDIAN
    STATE of kerala
    Qualifications. HIGH SCHOOL
    AG 38
    Please give reply
    I am waiting for good news
    Thank you

  3. One of the main drivers of H1-B is outsourcing to countries that whose currency value is lot less than US. As a result, the foreign countries can pay a reasonably decent salary and hire good resources. I was paid 12,00,000 when I worked for IBM India almost 10 years back. That is roughly 18000$. There is no way that you can find someone to do that job here for $18000. I was paid close to $130K when I worked here doing similar job. But, of course I was let go of IBM US as I was too expensive. In short, H1-Bs are not about skills, its all about $.

  4. The country is over populated in recent times with excess download of all kinds of visa or immigrants. Those who care for green planet hate the cities which are destroying trees to build homes, bill boards or office etc in recent years and driving to work even for a shorter distance is not easy these days (exclude covid time).
    The recent news says new employment immigrant visas will increase from 160k to 260k. Not sure the reason to increase visa numbers or fees as it looks USCIS is self funded.
    When you download or import such a large number of immigrants it casts doubt on how this program will really help Citizens?
    To really help Citizens with workforce grant or to those unemployed
    firstly, all H-1b/L petitions must include job posting by client, total resumes received/interviewed, reason for rejection etc.
    USCIS shouldn’t be self funded to depend on fees(if self funded)
    Cancel dependent’ work permit
    stop employment, chain and refugee immigration
    finally save US not to over populated like Asian Countries.

  5. Expecting this training fund allocation will make the entire country visa independent is a dream.

    This can happen only if companies would hire without interviews.

    It is funny to see that some hatefilled people saying all H1B engineers are cheap labors who exploits the system.

    When majority of immigrant engineers are highly talented, who go through all sorts of technical interviews, salary negotiations formalities and we’ll paid for the market, there will be always someone, who will exploit the inefficient system… just like $750 tax paying Billionaire.

    Anyways, I am here ready to put the extra effort, learn new skills… and wherever I go, I will take my job with me.

    • @shri It would be more correct to say that H-1B holders are exploited by the system, making them more desirable than US nationals. If a US citizen or permanent resident is required to work overtime without compensation, and they complain to the government, eventually they get their pay and the law provides for non-retaliation. If an H-1B holder is in the same situation, and they complain, they’re on a plane back to country-of-origin and likely blacklisted by outsourcers. If there is a level playing field of worker protection, H-1Bs become less wanted by US employers.

  6. Minuteman

    H1B visa program is heavily overused and corrupted. Despite of the fact, it is temporary visa for just 6 years, people work on them for over a decade. American IT specialists are replaced by cheap Indian workers, which are in majority just mediocre and not brilliant talents. I was also replaced by them, after providing detailed training on doing my work as IT analyst. I believe that current system is CORRUPTED as promotes nepotism, “casts system” and the lack of trust in American IT industry. Corporations prefer pay less money by hiring Indian outsourcing companies, without paying attention to needs of American IT workers. Stories about the shortage of American specialists available to work are simply NOT TRUE. Almost 95% of Indians contractors have very limited IT experience and/or education, with small percentage of real brilliant talents. Based on my experience, they are also quite limited with “thinking-out-of-the-box”, innovations and problem solving. Additionally, don’t see any reason why almost all H1B visas go towards Indians applicants, instead of giving chance to people from other countries. In order to fix it, H1B visas should have 7% cap, per country, as it is present with “green cards” to make sure that citizens of NOT only one country will be represented. Also, H1B applicants, especially for STEM, should have PhD degrees from RESPECTED universities to avoid current situations of applicants having degrees from “degree mills” universities from India and/or other places. Americans are tired of loosing jobs and their well-being future to H1B holders !! I do not understand, why it took about 30 years to figure out that firstly we should provide good jobs to American people, as they are obliged to pay taxes and protect our beautiful country !! By eliminating American middle-class by greedy corporations, less American people have good jobs and money to pay taxes for supporting the local communities. Simply, if you have your house with own children/family members, you should FIRSTLY take care of them, instead of looking for someone else, right?. Otherwise, you loose your significant others and completely devastate their loyalty. But who will be defending this country against enemies: American people or H1B visa holders ??? We must think strategically in long term, not just for short time to increase quarterly ROI for stockholders !!! In my understanding, any corporations preferring still outsourcing should pay corporate tax of 81%, instead of 21% OR moving overseas, like to India or other places and having 81% tariffs on their products and/or services in USA. This would teach them lesson that greed IS NOT good !! After returning well-paid jobs back to American people, corporations, if needed, would still look for REAL talents overseas ( for PhD degrees holders etc.) from all over the world ( with 7% cap per county for H1B visas), not only almost from India. The new reality would help have good jobs and prosperous future back for all American people, regardless to their race, gender, religion and/or ethnic origin. This really would help our country grow and rebuild after pandemic as well. God Bless America and American people !!!

    • @minuteman:

      “By eliminating American middle-class by greedy corporations, less American people have good jobs and money to pay taxes for supporting the local communities. Simply, if you have your house with own children/family members, you should FIRSTLY take care of them, instead of looking for someone else, right?.”

      The problem is that we don’t have capitalism running things, we have mercantilism. Adam Smith’s famous Wealth of Nations talked about nations becoming more wealthy with capitalism (where investment in one’s own country and workers is key) than with mercantilism (where merchants and corporate owners own wealth is key.)

      The sad fact is, we have a mercantilist society, and most people haven’t even heard of mercantilism.

      • Not just H1, but time to make other visas like L1, H4 etc also redundant.
        Ok, understand you may still need some importing of talent, but why cant USCIS start putting heavy fees on visas like H1, L1 etc. US govt needs to start making money off these Indian IT/ Tech cos. They have milked US cos for decades now… have fattened bottomlines with revenues from US cos. Its payback time. So increase the fees…make it really worthwhile for these Ind IT cos to apply for H1, L1’s. These should not come easy for these folks. They have already minted billions off US cos.
        Btw, these H1, L1s are nothing too great.

    • How much you think their average salary is? Any data? My salary is in top range within my company including citizens. Talk to the employers some time as well why they would hire an expensive or same CTC H1B .May be you will find the solution. I am not saying you should not try to change things but spreading negativity will not help any one.

      • Minuteman

        My point here is to show reality and indicate that bringing new people with h1b visas from India, in majority without any spectacular skills, while laying off American people do not make sense. It kills American middle class and creates threats to the society as those Americans can start supporting extremist movements and/or ideas (see history of Germany before ww2) . Additionally, in America we have enough IT workers to fulfill all necessary positions. I believe those H1B folks should first help develop India to become developed country. “Exporting” IT specialists is not a solution, except devastating the future of American people. Hopefully, this helps.

    • I couldn’t have described it any better! System is highly biased and discouraging to people who are US Citizens. And it is not only the IT field , look into the securities/banking roles…

      Just horrible – undoing of the middle class and below….

      Take care and be safe all!

  7. Let’s face it, H1B’s are used to lower the payroll of folks who have made technology firms RICH, these firms just want more, the modern day robber barrens except they leave nothing but data bits. No railroads, highways, no power generation, NOTHING.

  8. US should close borders for at least 5 years and should make mandatory for all companies outsourcing jobs outside of US to pay higher taxes.
    With 300 million people there is no need to get people from other parts of world to US.
    Don’t get even seasonal workers to do agriculture,lawn mowing kind work.
    There are enough people in US having decent skills to take up tech jobs.
    Don’t import or export just produce enough for local market it would reduce pollution and nuiances of climate change can be eliminated.

  9. Jing Joba

    This article is a joke, completely ignoring that could companies have been coughing up $5B towards the fund that is used to train people living here. The big Q is if the DoL is releasing $150M now, what have they been doing all this while and where is the rest $4.85B sitting ?

  10. Continue with parasite and chain migration. Majority who call themselves American are either from chain migration, undocumented and bogus asylum/refugee programs. Others use birth tourism/produce here.. Above mentioned categories make America. They call themselves “American” without doing anything for America. Where is merit based immigration??? Zero. Substandard TN visa people come here and sit here forever. Just see what kind of immigration USA has. Almost all parasites who did nothing but will take unemployment/SSN/Medicare everything.

  11. This is a waste of money. Fundamentally it is based on the propaganda that the H-1B exists because there is a shortage of domestic talent. That is not the case as anybody can tell from the writings of people like Norm Matloff and many others. With half of domestic STEM degrees held by Americans working in non-STEM fields because STEM jobs go to cheap foreign labor there is no shortage.

    Second, note that the money is to be spent in community colleges. To get an H-1B the person must have a four year college degree. Almost by definition this will not reduce the use of H-1Bs.

    Finally this is not a new program. The money for this program was part of the original H-1B legislation in 1990. This is just the latest use of the program that has been going on since 1990 without any impact. Thirty years of this program has done nothing save propaganda.

  12. Shannon

    The fact that corporations have lied for decades in order to replace American workers with cheaper and less efficient foreigners in order to show investors a false prophet is going to come back and bite them.

    Company loyalty is dead, no one expects to spend more than 2-3 years at the same company, and most people I know refuse to work with foreign hires out of fear of job theft. Sooner of later H-1B will die and I hope US citizens use this pandemic to rip their representatives a new one. Out of any time where it’s not acceptable to replace American workers with cheap foreign labor a pandemic is number one. Tens of millions are unemployed, nearly the same or more are underemployed or not working in their field and yet we “need” more foreigners. I hate to say it but I see Trump winning again.

  13. This new program is just to appease the people who think the government isn’t doing enough to help American workers. The government could care less. There are thousands of Americans who can do the jobs of the H1B workers but the companies need to match Wall Street expectations so they need to keep their payroll low by not hiring Americans and instead hire H1B.

  14. Very simple way to control it setup a system with the IRS for STEM class jobs H1B workers pay a 30% tax premium, companies using H1B workers also pay a 30% premium in payroll taxes for each worker. For every citizen employed in those jobs they and the company get a 30% reduction in their taxes. Those holding green cards on their way to citizenship pay the normal rates. Also companies have to employ H1B monitors who report to the fed, what the companies did to locate non H1B workers, what rate they posted, what if any special requirements they cite and necessity. These monitors, like independent financial auditors are responsible and reportable not to the company employing them but to the fed govt. Yes, I believe in capitalism, however the H1B program turns that on it’s head and gave companies an opportunity they would not have had otherwise

  15. US High School graduates are now STEM ready! They are well educated entry as a new workforce comparing to Indian H1B or H4 they are not productive at work. EAD issued H4 are now the head of the family in terms of income because H1 principals are not qualified for the real work most of them fake their educational credentials that’s why they are accepting low paying rates corp-to-corp or w2 with 40-60% off from the billing rate.

  16. After reading all these comments, I have not seen anyone mention what we can do about it. The all Democrats + establishment Republicans have sold out our jobs, livelihoods and futures to big-tech. Our lower wages increase big-tech share price. Big-tech purchases Democrats, establishment Republicans and media to tell us there is a tech shortage. The only one attempting to do something about this is Trump. There! I said it. He is bound by law and cannot simply cancel this cancer(because contrary to what you have been told, he attempts to follow the constitution and law as congress wrote it). He CAN throw a monkey-wrench in the works. Trump has made it harder and more expensive to get an H1-B – this is why wages stopped cratering in late 2018. He canceled this years wave of H1-B’s due to Covid, which is why Indian recruiters are ringing your phone off the hook — they can’t get H1-B’s into the US. If you work in Tech, if you don’t to be a stock-boy at Walmart, if you want to have enough wages to move from your Mom’s basement, vote for Trump in November. Get your friends and family to vote for Trump in November. Vote early and vote often and vote in person. If Biden and the Democrats win, the H1-B block will be lifted on Jan 17. Sundar, Gates, Satya, Dorsey, et al will have you training your replacement by May.

  17. Scott Andrew

    My thoughts aren’t protectionist or anti-foreigner. Believe me or don’t.

    If it is believed that we don’t have a sufficient talent pool for tech jobs and young people or displaced workers need new jobs, this makes massive sense.

    There is little to no incentive for businesses to take on entry-level people or help people build new skills. It makes more sense to handle the deficiency by importing workers. TBH, anything that involves money gets corrupted, and this could too. But it’s a good idea.

    I have nothing against Indian or other foreign developers. I don’t resent people trying to work for a living and I don’t want to mess with their lives. But exploiting them with low wages while simultaneously lowering wages for others so that someone else can maximize profit is bad. I don’t see how to put a positive spin on it.

  18. Ok, serious question: How a simple ONE TIME 150 million dollar program to train 17 year olds in community colleges will eliminate (sic) the approximately 60.000 highly trained in Colleges H1B workers coming year after year?

    • Minuteman


      Training provided in community colleges is directed also to people having either Bachelors or Master’s degrees as Continuing Education, not necessarily only towards 17 years old freshmen students. Also, I would not exaggerate value of “highly trained in Colleges H1B workers” as more often they come without any spectacular experience and/or education. Their value is agreement to be almost enslaved by corporations for having vague opportunity of becoming one day the US citizen, but usually it’s only fairy tale for them as well.

  19. Jake Leone

    Well exactly, 150 million is only about 10% of what if costs to give 60,000 american kids just one year of public college education. The cost of H-1b visa workers is ridiculously low, compared to actual cost to educate a person for 4-6 years in college. I often see the retort my a few people in these forums, why would an employer go through the hassle and cost of an H-1b worker…

    The reason is simple, the cost of an H-1b workers is typically 25% less than that of an equivalently qualified American worker. If you take that savings amount alone, over 6 years, you save 150,000$. I’d say, you can get a lawyer to handle the H-1b for less that 40k (for sure) and the fees are nothing.

    But there are other advantages, the H-1b worker might become dependent on you for a Green Card. That’s a huge win for the employer. Because it means that worker won’t leave the job for decades.

    Employers just want to weasel out of their responsibility to give internships and training to American workers. It winds up hurting the entire American economy. Because…

    Offshore Outsourcing companies use most of the H-1b visas (until President Trump started applying the actual law to the program). The Offshore Outsourcing companies don’t innovate. They get Americans to train their H-1b replacement and then move the entire department, overseas.

    Joe Biden either doesn’t understand this or refuses to talk about it. Obama was easy-going on the Offshore Outsourcing companies. And the result was the slowest recovery in U.S. history. If we can stop job losses to other countries we can rebound much more quickly from this recession. If we go back to the policies of the Obama administration and past administrations, we will have another record slow recovery.

  20. Look, either you put your fellow countrymen (and your families and children) first or you do not. Companies that utilize the infrastructure of the United States and then turn around and employ foreign workers who have no history or contribution to this country… that is treason and just damn low. If you believe it is OK for American companies to undermine our own good people in this way and you say that to me… your fight or flight mechanism had better be working. No more discussing it; don’t hire foreigners to take the jobs of good American people!

  21. At this point what are the actual statistics? How many new IT jobs are created each year in the US and compared with the number of new STEM graduates whats the relation? Is there ROOM for H1bs? I read that in Canada the number of new IT jobs is significantly less than the number of people going there when they can’t get an H1b in the US, and the number of new IT jobs is lower than the number of their new STEM grads. Something has to give – and it needs to be the foreign workers – our government needs to support our concerns.

  22. my opinon

    Looks like Asian election strategies were imported and using since a decade to grab power, so expect more corruption as well.
    During debates uttering other religion words who use it to praise their god – got their religion votes (is it necessary go to that extent to win anyway?)
    Wait to pick a nominee from certain race depending on the impact after igniting racism – got their votes
    Vows to bring visa’s and remove country limit to a country to flood US with green cards (from H1/L’s) – got their votes and election fund (probably)
    Go for a war or highlight watching a terrorist caught – win again
    Do false promises or make it legal – from any illegal or unethical acts, win their votes

  23. Sadly part of this is on American tech professionals. We never created a professional advocacy organization that would lobby for our rights with the politicians, unlike the doctors, lawers, nurses or accountants. There are no barreirs to entry into IT because we never created any barriers. We never set any standards for our profession. Any clown can take an IT course and bill himself out as an “IT professional”. And they do, from around the world, flooding in, driving rates down.

    Decades of neglect of this field – by the government and by American companies, have led to this. Who would want to go into this field? Little job security, industry ups and downs, age discrimination, easy to outsource, having to use your own time to retrain and learn new technologies. And on the last point, you can spend a lot of time and effort teaching yourself a new technology, only for the industry or your company to go in a different direction. Good luck getting your company to support your long term career development. If you’re lucky, they may have some vouchers to some cheap online training or free vendor specific training. And why would they care? Instead of planning and developing their people, they can simply tap cheap foreign labor markets when they need to.

    So we arrive at this so called, artificially created “shortage”. With the well documented problems in the field, fewer American enter the field, and every recession sees Americans exit the field. Companies buy a new system. Suddenly they need people to make it work. They claim they need people with “5 – 7 years of experience” in their new system. Can’t find any Americans at the shit terms they offer. Indian body shop to the rescue! They have no problem lieing about their people’s experience. They get someone in. Companies don’t care. “We’re saving money!” they tell their senior executives and investors. Seen this shitshow up close too many times.

    Too bad for the Americans already in the field. And the kids who have a real interest in the field and don’t want to study something else. Rates might be good right now, but don’t expect your lifetime earnings to be very impressive. At least not compare to the doctors, lawers, nurses or accountants. Even with an advanced degree.

  24. The H1b can be solved quickly by simply by institutioning a minimum salary of around 120k. That would eliminate the greedy companies that want to drive down American salaries and those willing to pay will get the talent they say they supposedly need.

    But, there’s a reason why that hasn’t happened, it’s because the purpose of the program is to drive down salaries.

  25. IT Manager

    Trump is doing this because of the following economic truths:

    1) American citizens who are not working are not spending cash in the US economy nor paying taxes.

    2) Americans citizens not working are dependent upon low ROI government assistance funded by other people’s taxes.

    3) The highest ROI government assistance is for vocational and professional education.

    4) Dollars spent for IT development done outside the US are not being spent by wage earners in the US economy and generating consumption demand for more goods and services. Offshoring stimulates foreign economies and depresses the US economy.

    3) The highest ROI government assistance is education funding.

  26. Colleges are NOT the answer for retraining SW professionals. This includes three year tech schools. Tech professionals that are out of step with modern paradigms need specialized training geared for those who long ago found the “Any Key” and not kids ripping off box-tops for a degree being taught by people whose income is unaffected by performance. I have found the best training comes from private tech training companies that go under if they don’t deliver.

    This won’t go over big, but I am non-degreed software engineer. I drew my first paycheck as one from Burroughs Corporation in 1983. I am still working as an SE today. I know a little something about bootstrapping, paradigm shifts, and professional survival.

  27. There is another big problem that it is often not mentioned. As Indian workers are positioned in companies they tend to choose other Indians for the available positions, slowly they create strong holds of power/ mafia style and they take decision to favor their country and not the U.S. but we all are guilty, Amazon has transferred lots of jobs abroad to save money… they claim they pass the savings to the customer, we know the savings are passed to Bezos and Amazon high management accounts. Apple, Microsoft, Google, all are the same. At some point this will be the United States of India. The capital will be Mumbai.

  28. Tech worker

    I have worked in many telecommunications companies, mainly in the mobile. Foreign companies bring people that many times don’t even speak english and these guys are given the opportunity that local people are not. While our young people has a secure job in the amazon fulfillment centers, foreign “engineers” (I have my doubts) have an opportunity of a bright future. Also, many of them don’t want to take our culture, once all the office team went out for lunch an one muslim indian had a piece of some type of pork meat on his dish. The guy made a huge drama in front of everybody. Dude, you know the risk, I understand you have your culture and religion, just bring your own food. We don’t have why to adapt to your culture. you are the visitor. Amazon of course won’t spend a dime training people for its own benefit, it is afraid that if they do, they will go to a better company sucha s google, facebook, etc. American companies complain about tariffs but they never complain about the lack of opportunities and lack of devlopment programs for local talent. Let’s have all the benefits and avoid all liabilities. Designed in Cupertino, Made in China or India, Outsourced to India. a huge amount of the operations for amazon have moved to India. I worked in a company that used remote sessions for eveyday jobs using equipment here in the US which was operated offshore. They charge local companies for services to local prices while these companies use ultra cheap labor. these practise should be illegal, if not companies at least need to report how many offshore workers are using to provide local services and be taxed on them and ecourage whistleblowers to report any abuse of these practises.

  29. Minuteman

    Very good point in the discussion. Based on my observations from work and/or going to the interviews, there were always overrepresentation of Indians in IT roles, with only minor group of real talents. During the interviews, you could feel their bias as they overexaggerated any problems in knowing any particular code and/or system. In the same time, you could say that they were trained from scratched before, but they didn’t want to give you the same opportunity to be trained as well. Also, if from country of about 1.5 billion of people ONLY 10% will immigrate to America as H1B visas/Green Cards etc., America will change its population mix in next generation tremendously !! In that situation, your comment about United States of India will be our reality. The rhetorical question is: if this will be better for the future of American people or it will be worse ??