Tech Execs Push Biden Administration for H-1B Adjustments

Executives from big tech firms are already pressing the incoming Biden administration to reverse Trump-era rules around H-1B and tech immigration. 

TechNet, which bills itself as a “bipartisan network” of technology CEOs and senior executives from firms such as Google, Cisco and eBay, has filed amicus briefs in lawsuits challenging the Trump administration’s recent H-1B restrictions, according to The Hill. In addition, it’s apparently reached out to Biden’s people about their plans.

“They’ve indicated they are going to be very different than the Trump administration on high-skilled immigration, immigration in general,” TechNet CEO Linda Moore told the publication, referring to that outreach. “High-skilled immigration…has led to so much growth and technological superiority and competitiveness for the U.S.”

Biden’s incoming administration has also reportedly reached out to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, another opponent of Trump’s H-1B approach, to indicate that at least some policies will end up reversed.

But labor advocates worry that any such reversal will allow companies to abuse the H-1B, replacing American workers with cheaper alternatives. “There are some good people on the transition teams and also good advising on the economic policy side of things… Let’s hope that their voices get heard and don’t get drowned out by these corporate interests,” Ron Hira, a political science professor at Howard University, recently told KQED

Blind, which anonymously surveys technologists, recently asked its audience if they thought Biden would loosen restrictions on skilled foreign workers once he takes office; around 74 percent thought the President-elect will “remove executive orders limiting high-skilled immigration,” while 64 percent assumed that future White House policies will increase “the pipeline of foreign-born workers for technology firms.”

“With any new president, there are many unknowns,” read Blind’s blog posting on the data. “We don’t know which tech policies will be prioritized—or others that may come to the fore. However, tech professionals feel confident that this administration will make h1-b visas more accessible.”

Over at Forbes, there’s an extensive breakdown of the ways that Biden could adjust immigration policy, with or without Democratic control of the U.S. Congress (which hinges on the upcoming Senate runoff election in Georgia). These adjustments include tweaking the per-country limit for employment-based immigration, or even adjusting the minimum wages that companies must pay H-1B workers. Meanwhile, President Trump still has more than a month left in his term, and could push to make some of his H-1B reforms even more permanent

25 Responses to “Tech Execs Push Biden Administration for H-1B Adjustments”

  1. Jake Leone

    If Biden wants to prevent the kind of massive job losses that can occur, because the Offshore Outsourcing companies routinely take more than half the H-1b visas. Biden should keep Trump’s:

    * Order to raise H-1b salaries to (just below) the average salary of Americans in the same positions.
    * Order changing from a BRAIN-DEAD lottery system to a system that uses salary a ranking.

    The BRAIN-DEAD lottery system for handing out H-1b visas, was gamed and largely won by Offshore Outsourcing companies (over the last 25 years). As a result of that gaming, Silicon Valley companies only have a 1 in 4 chance of winning an H-1b visa, for a given candidate. No, rescinding that executive order would clearly show that Biden is paid off and is perfectly willing to sell everyone’s job to the highest bidders.

    At the old salary levels for the H-1b visas, Offshore Outsourcing companies are not motivated to hire locally. Because they can take as pure profit that average 35k difference between and American workers vs. the H-1b workers. Raising the salary bar will have no effect on Silicon Valley companies, in fact it will help them get the talent they “say” they need (unless that is just another lie).

    Because the Offshore Outsourcing companies (thanks to these 2 Trump H-1b administrative changes) will no longer be in the H-1b program. BTW, Silicon Valley tech originating companies barely use 1/3 of the available visa. So when the Offshore Outsourcing companies are out of the H-1b program, Silicon Valley companies will have all the access (they say) they need to the H-1b program.

    But, the truth is, those Silicon Valley companies would rather move all their HR, Accounting, Support, Data Management, Offshore anyway. So they are actually, and insanely, also fighting against these 2 changes. Changes, which according to their corporate propaganda should benefit them. But the truth be known, they actually want to rescind those Trump changes as well, and are right now fighting them in the U.S. Court system.

    Biden has to realize that the U.S. economy cannot sustain constant job losses. And, if he is thinking at all, he should know that giving H-1b visas to Offshore Outsourcing companies is the absolutely wrong (most Brain-Dead) thing you can do.

    Offshore Outsourcing companies don’t go after tech originating jobs. There is no script for design personnel, that you can write once and repeatedly re-contract to do. Offshore Outsourcing companies go after the Fixed-Script jobs, that can be documented and moved to India. Those jobs are the bread and butter of what are the real everyday working american jobs. Those jobs (so unlike my job) require that you learn a skill once, and then repeat it over-and-over until death or retirement.

    My job, I have to learn new stuff all the time. I have switch major programming languages 3x at my current position. But I am used to that and expect it. I budget time for learning new computer skills. Today I am working with java, web, javascript, but hey next year it could easily change something new, who knows really. And I have at times in the last 10 years switch between C++, Java, Standalone apps, web apps, specialized servers…try and document that? You can’t, you have to budget time. You literally have to take time away from your family to do this, it would take decades to catch up on what I actually do.

    Look, I could care less financially. If this were just about my interests, I would have to say. Go ahead Biden, be a complete Spiteful-Fool, rescind these 2 Trump changes. Oh! and expand the OPT program, yeah go ahead. And the reason why, is that as a Software Design Engineer, no one can walk in and document what I really do for my company. I make design changes based upon decades of experience. We’ve tried to move all that I do to India. And unfortunately, the knowledge, language and social barriers are just too great, right now.

    There are dozens of companies in Europe and Israel that do exactly what my company does. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could attract some of those engineers. They could easily replace me. But Europe and Israel are at near salary parity with the United States. So by keeping the H-1b salary low (and making sure the system is easy to game by the Offshore Outsourcing companies). You are actually protecting my job.

    And frankly (except for the fact that it sickens me as an American). If the Offshore Outsourcing companies are busy taking up H-1b visas, and using them to move mid-western departments to India, that doesn’t confront me one bit.

    And so keep the salaries low, keep making sure that only beginners walk in on an H-1b visa. They will try to learn my job, get bored or greedy and move on, (or their OPT will run out before they **WIN** the BRAIN-DEAD H-1b lottery) well before they can actually replace me.

      • Jake_Leone

        Trump did a great deal to curb the Offshore Outsourcing companies usage of the H-1b visas. All during his administration, the Trump administration was rejecting H-1b applications from the Offshore Outsourcing companies at a rate of 50%.

        And literally, these 2 ideas, by Trump (though late) are also aimed at permanently removing Offshore Outsourcing companies from the H-1b program.

        If Biden rescinds these 2 executive orders, then Biden will be giving in to Chamber of Commerce. The COC is actively fighting these 2 orders in Federal court, right now. Because they want the cheap, indentured labor.

        Biden has said he will rescind all of Trump’s executive orders on the H-1b visa. Meaning Biden will, even though it is completely idiotic, revert back to the BRAIN-DEAD lotter for H-1b visas. Which only benefits Offshore Outsourcing companies. Which in turn will see the destruction of millions of job in the United States. As we did see during sluggish recovery under Barack Obama (who also sold out).

        If Biden doesn’t see that, it is because he is putting his head in the sand and waiting for campaign contributions to be stuffed into the unburied end.

        Biden took 100 million dollars in campaign contributions from Big Tech, so we know Biden is perfectly willing to sell your job to highest bidders. He’s been doing it for decades.

        • You can’t blame Biden for doing the opposite of Trump, you had four years of rejoice about stupid thing that were not laws, but only plain and simple executive orders. And Trump lost the election, get over it.

          • Jake_Leone

            I guess because Biden won, we don’t need to think or discuss anything anymore. Biden will take care of it?

            That will just lead to ruin. Nothing takes care of itself. We need to make our political leadership aware that Offshore Outsourcing companies use more than half the H-1b visas. (And that we know this and we are voting accordingly.) And they use those visas to remove jobs from the United States. And they don’t remove tech originating jobs, they remove the fixed script jobs in accounting, HR, support… The kinds of job Americans need desparately right now (and always have).

            The Offshore Outsourcing companies don’t need to be using our Federal H-1b system. Yet the Brain-Dead lottery makes it easy for Offshore Outsourcing companies to Win more than half the H-1b visas each year. And the low salary floor, ensures they can make a profit and still under-cut Americans, while the Americans are training their H-1b replacements.

            Literally, by listening to what I am saying, Biden can more quickly improve the economy. If he instead chooses to act from pure-spite (Trump all bad, nothing good) then he will turn us right off the cliff.

            Look, I voted for Obama 2x. Before I realized how idiotic and backward he was in regards to the H-1b program. (Romney was no better). Trump, at least, cared about workers and that made a huge difference. The Democrats won only because of coincidental pandemic. Not because they have any ability to improve the U.S. economy, in ordinary times. In fact, Obama showed us that they Democrats are very good at prolonging recession, to the point where the only jobs available are GIG jobs. Viva the Generation Gig.

            And we will have another record slow recovery. And I will be there to point out that folly, but I sincerely believe, and with my heart in the right place. That if Biden listens to what I am saying here, he can avoid that catastrophe and get Americans back to work more quickly.

            I have no interest in Trump’s changes. The higher wage scale will simply attract more experienced workers to the H-1b program. I know for example, in Europe we had (for a while) an entire team that could do my work. They quit my company, over pay. But if the pay scales get raised, we might start attracting that kind of experienced talent from abroad.

            Further, if we switch to a salary ranking, instead of half the H-1b visas going to Offshore Outsourcing companies. They will start working in Silicon Valley. That will mean more competition. Also, make it more likely my company can convert OPT workers to H-1b workers. I have seen numerous OPT people come and go, they can’t win an H-1b visa (or have only a 1 in 4 chance) quickly enough to stay interested. That ensures no one at my office gains enough experience to replace me.

  2. People are dying left and right of covid and you self-absorbed people commenting here are only concerned with whether Biden will keep the rules that Trump has put in place regarding H1B holders. Get a grip on reality, people. Biden has more important things to do than deal with this issue when he takes office. Even if this issue was corrected to hire Americans only, there would still be rampant age and gender discrimination in software engineering. Those are problems that also must be addressed.I read on a regular basis how people from all walks of life are learning how to code and are getting positions as software engineers. There’s no reason why we can’t train Americans to take American jobs. The American companies that are outsourcing jobs should be penalized by the government for doing so. The reality is that corporate interests control Congress so reform of these companies is unlikely to happen regardless of who is president.

    • Jake_Leone

      So Covid is a disease for which many people have no immunity. That’s why it is killing people. It is spreading fast, because it can spread fast, and yes, Trump made a mistake by not encouraging people to wear masks.

      Trump, and the Republicans, also made a political mistake in holding up extended benefits.

      But all Joe Biden can do now, is exactly what any Presidency can do, distribute the vaccine. A vaccine developed during the Trump Administration, at World-Record pace.

      But, once the vaccine is fully distributed, covid mortality will be go away, and we will have to live with covid, mild-flu, and colds as common diseases which people can get, but not likely die from. (But keep in mind 40,000 people die from flu each year).

      I have been wearing a mask for 5 years, so yes I especially think not wearing a mask, is idiotic. By wearing a mask, I haven’t had a cold for, you guessed it, 5 years. I wear that mask to protect family members.

      I tried to get the word out, about my experience and the fact that there was a Japanese study of mask usage that found a mask was 80% effective at preventing passing the flu to other family members. Which is remarkable in the close quarters of Japanese apartments. But, hey, I am not in the position of one Dr. Fauci, who at the same time I was commenting was saying that masks were unnecessary.

      So there, go review the recent history, Trump was overly optimistic and dissmissive. But so were the non-partisan officials, Dr. Fauci in particular, of any need to wear masks.

    • Jake_Leone

      In world when we are all inoculated, we will still need our economy to recover.

      By posting these things, and if listened to (no one will, because I am nothing to them, yet these ideas are everything), I believe Biden will be- and the Democrats will be- greatly helped. Look, I voted for Obama 2x. The 1st time, okay, we got the ACA (which is a big positive). But, during that 2nd term, I became aware of all the sell out things Obama and Joe Biden were doing in order to get campaign contributions.

      Nothing shows this more than when a former Texas Instruments engineer’s wife confronted Obama on the H-1b visas and about how her husband was having trouble finding a new job, because he was replaced by a person on an H-1b visas, at TI.

      And the numerous times that Obama met with Big Tech leaders. And the specific quotes, by Obama, and by Biden, about needing more H-1b visas. Without taking into account that more than half the H-1b visas were being taking up by Offshore Outsourcing companies.

      History has shown us, and we are fools to ignore, that if you are easy going on the Offshore Outsourcing companies, you create a sluggish recovery. You only create a Gig economy, where no one has permanent jobs. And that is a huge mistake, and we need our President to be consciously aware of this and to make every effort to keep jobs here in the United States.

      Biden is just not capable of doing this, as evidenced by his past actions.

  3. The tech execs and their organizations that helped Biden win, via manipulation and money, now want their payback. The big tech firms didn’t support Biden for altruistic reasons, they did it for their own selfish reasons..

  4. Quentin Leonardi

    Thank god “Biden” is still not president elect . The media’s call on the is a farce. The evidence at these hearing is firsthand and overwhelming in the current president’s favor. Donald Trump will continue to be president over the next four years and you can screw Biden’s plans of more outsourcing.

  5. John Vichich

    I am not that sure that giving more opportunities to foreigners is a good move with unemployment as high as it is. The offshore companies already own most of the government contracts. I doubt if relaxing visa regulations will make much of a difference. I am glad that I am retiring. In hindsight IT was a horrible career choice.

  6. Tim in South Florida

    I agree with just about everything written here except Quentin, who wrote among other partisan misinformation, “Thank god “Biden” is still not president elect .” Anyone that far removed from reality is dangerous and a waste of time. The rest of folks here are right, that we American technologists should be writing to the next administration’s contacts, as well as our congressmen and senators, on the dangers to the economy by reverting backwards on H1B changes. The current administration’s immigration policies never ever stopped the immigration or employment of those with exceptionally hard skills to find, but for the common IT skills–if they’re available to be learned in an Indian tech school, it can’t be that rare–like SQL, .Net, Salesforce/APEX, Python, the list goes on an on–there are tens if not hundreds of thousands of Americans with these skills. Government policies should be encouraging longer term full time employment of American citizens for these positions, and discourage treating IT workers as contract labor who must compete against third world nationals. Have you noticed once an Indian becomes a manager or director or VP at a firm, they start replacing the Americans? I love working with many Indians over the years, but that’s as people. As policy, what’s happened since the Bush years, and worsened somewhat under Obama, was a disaster to well educated, skilled American middle class technology and engineering workers, and yes, it was through political campaign donations and lobbying on both parties. GOP loves big business and Chamber of Commerce and cheap labor that profits business owners. Democratic leadership love big tech donations. Money runs Washington. But if enough of us contact them, they will open their mind because it’s votes that ultimately keep them in power; money is just a tool to get there.

  7. Just remember that Biden supports “working families”. This is a euphemism for trade unions. We in the IT field don’t matter, but his SUPPORT by the top echelons of Silicon Valley companies matters quite a lot, as well as does support from his Wall Street cronies. (The Democrats are way more embedded in Wall Street than Republicans ever could hope to be.)

    Anyone who actually believes a Biden administration will outshine Trump’s when it comes to blue and white collar workers and the labor force in general is clueless. The only people who would support Biden in such matters are those I mentioned who stand to gain millions. The rest of us don’t count.

  8. Good luck with that given the massive unemployment and salary gaps in America right now. Tech companies making demands? hahahahahahaah have they forgotten they are the ones who could get broken up.