Biden Administration’s H-1B Approach Threatens to Confuse Many

President Biden hasn’t yet decided on whether to lift the Trump-era ban on H-1B visas that is due to expire at the end of March. That adds another element of confusion to the current White House’s H-1B policy, especially in light of next year’s H-1B lottery proceeding as normal.

During a White House press conference last week, one reporter asked whether the Biden administration had reviewed the visa ban, adding: “And has the White House decided to lift those bans before they expire at the end of the month?”

Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Secretary, responded:

“You know, I don’t really — I hate to end the questioning on a question, the answer to which I am not certain. But, look, this goes to what preceded us.  We have so much work to do to repair and to restore and to rebuild that we have a prioritization matrix.”

In other words, the Biden administration has higher priorities at the moment than H-1Bs. Meanwhile, despite the ban still technically in place, registration for the H-1B visa lottery for fiscal year 2022 is slated to kick off March 9, running through the end of the month. Since 2020, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has relied on an electronic pre-registration system; only those companies whose registrations are selected via the subsequent lottery will have to complete the visa petitions, which are quite lengthy.

If things weren’t confusing enough, Biden’s U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 would prioritize visas based on wages, and give both the Secretaries of Homeland Security and Labor the ability to determine the appropriate wage levels. That would effectively dispose of the current H-1B lottery, which is based on random selection, in favor of a system centered on picking high-wage applicants. (Both the Senate and House bills feature language around wage-based selection.) 

Like the ban on H-1Bs, the wage-based system was originally proposed under the Trump administration, which suggested it was a way to ensure the H-1B is used as intended. “If finalized as proposed, this new selection process would incentivize employers to offer higher wages or petition for positions requiring higher skills and higher-skilled workers instead of using the program to fill relatively lower-paid vacancies,” read the DHS note about the proposal back in 2020.

Granted, the Biden administration has a number of priorities during its first 100 days, including the (just passed) COVID relief bill. At some point, however, it will need to establish a coherent policy around H-1Bs—including whether to completely revamp the system.

12 Responses to “Biden Administration’s H-1B Approach Threatens to Confuse Many”

  1. jake_leone

    The real question isn’t whether Biden will lift the ban, that is going to happen. The question is, will anyone pay-up to lift the ban faster?

    The change from an idiotic lottery to a salary based allocation of H-1b visas, is literally a no-brainer. It should have happened decades ago. But no one was willing to pay for it. No one with money is willing to ask for it, because Big Tech secretly likes the idiotic lottery. Big Tech would prefer to use cheaper Offshore Outsourcing companies.

    Silicon Valley whines for H-1b visas, saying we can’t find enough, they can lie all they want to the public or the press, there’s no criminal penalty for that. But we know, by Facebook’s own admission, Federal investigators, that Big Tech companies turn away 29 qualified STEM/IT applicants for every 1 job they fill. That’s by Facebook’s own admission to Federal investigators (lying to a Federal investigator is a felony), they would have hired any of the 29 other STEM/IT applicants, if they had the job. And by Facebook’s own admission, if foreign workers undergoing the Green Card Perm process had to compete with any of the 29 others Facebook turns away, Facebook would hire the local STEM/IT person.

    But those foreign workers undergoing the Green Card Perm process have another property that is more valuable than initial skill A person waiting for a Green Card, can’t leave the job until the Green Card is received, a process that could take decades.

    Most STEM/IT jobs do not require the best and the brightest. Most STEM/IT work contains a huge amount of on the job training and learning. What Silicon Valley really wants are indentured workers that can’t leave the job, after completing training.

    The Silicon Valley no poaching case shows us that even Tech CEO’s like Eric Schmidt, would risk jail time, in order to have Lord and Master power over a workers ability to leave for any other employer. Just read the Email exchange between Eric Schmidt and Steve Jobs, when a Google recruiter successfully recruited an Apple engineer. That recruiter, she was immediately fired. That engineer was denied his Capitalist Free Market right to leave his employer (Apple) for any other employer (in this case Google).

    Eric Schmidt knew he was breaking the laws, because later he asks that all the CEO’s participating go verbal only, because an Email trail is indictable evidence.

    Economically, I am better off with the idiotic lottery. Because the lottery ensures that Offshore Outsourcing companies can continue to game the system, and take more than half the H-1b visas. Offshore Outsourcing companies concentrate on well defined positions like HR and accounting. You can’t do that with my design job. Further, with half the H-1b visas going to companies that concentrate on the mid-west, OPT candidates have only a 1 in 4 chance of getting an H-1b visa. That means, they too, cannot stay at my company for long.

    Tell you right now. If Joe Biden wants to punch back at me. Then the thing to do is to use some of that spite he had for Trump, and use it to grease the guillotene. Changing to a salary based allocation will mean that my company will start looking all over the world for my replacement. You would have to offer around 200k/yr to find someone, and with a salary based allocation you would have a good chance of getting that H-1b visa (therefore no wasted effort).

    Hey, Biden, my neck is in the guillotene, I have told you where the 3-in-1 oil is. Now all you have to do is the smart thing (that will lead to more Americans being employed, instead of unemployed). And keep the change from an idiotic, moronic, buffoonish lottery for the H-1b visa, to an H-1b allocation based upon salary.

    You just have to say “yes” instead of “no” to one of Donald J. Trump’s executive orders.

  2. Do not bother posting conservative American viewpoints here because Dice is owned by DHI Group, Inc., with headquarters on Broadway in New York City and the liberal moderator will purge them away.

  3. Every week, there has to be an article about H1B, and the same person posts the same comments every time. Biden has a lot of things to fix and this isn’t at the top of the heap. Why don’t we take a month off from discussing H1B and then see if it has been fixed by Biden?

    • The H1B Issue is a big issue for Americans in the STEM fields including the technology fields, so this topic is definately relevant. I can not think of a more relevant and important topic than one which affects so many Americans either currently in the tech professions or considering going into one. With past administrations, both republican and democratic, the H1B importing of labor has greatly discouraged smart and talented American students from pursuing a technology career, because quite frankly, the employment market just sucks. It sucks because wages are depressed by the mass influx of labor into the market by the H1B program.
      If you are a bright young person considering careers and you have your choice of a well paying profession with steady and consistent employment over that of a mediocre paying job with contract and gig employment, which would you choose, considering you are investing so much time and MONEY into school here in the United States.

    • IT unemployment is 3% and even going down!. This is not a real issue unless you are not able to learn any new technology or diversify your background. If you skills are not enough to become a “real threat” to the “uneducated”, “poorly educated”, “slum dwellers” H1Bs, then you are just a mediocre IT professional.

    • jake_leone

      So go read the DOJ indictment of Facebook. It is online at the DOJ website.

      I won’t stop posting about THE HISTORY of how the H-1b visa, OPT, and Green Card system have actually been used.

      But, at least then YOU will be informed enough to discuss the issue.

  4. The funniest thing at this forum is the outrage over Biden for not doing what Trump didn’t want to do. They even try to argue with beautifully (but ineffective) sounding explanations criticizing the DOJ, DOL, USCIS, DHS, the White house and any US institution that doesn’t comply exactly with their demands. Then they blame Facebook, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, etc. But the truth is that no matter what they say, the reality is different, we have a strong IT market with low unemployment under 3% and the companies are happy with their H1Bs, otherwise they wouldn’t be hired.

    Look, if these H1Bs were REALLY bad and hurting IT companies’ PRODUCTIVITY or prestige, H1Bs would be gone long ago (business is business), not the opposite which is companies hiring more H1Bs and giving them good salaries and bonuses.

    • Jake_Leone

      Facebook has admitted to Federal Investigators that out of hundreds of resumes it receives, for every 1 (ONE) job it puts onto its jobs website, 30+ were fully qualified, and Facebook would hire the people, except there is only one job available.

      Facebook has admitted to Federal Investigators, that the jobs that it openly hires for (in other words posts onto its own website), are tougher and more difficult than the jobs currently being done by it’s foreign worker workforce here in the United States.

      Facebook has admitted to Federal Investigators, that is hides the Green Card PERM job ads in 2 print editions of the SF Chronicle. Facebook has admitted to Federal Investigators, that is refused the free off of the SF Chronicle, to place those printed ads also on Chronicles website. Facebook has admitted it never forwards the resumes of the workers it could not hire from openly advertised STEM/IT jobs, to the hiring managers involved in the PERM process

      Facebook has admitted, to Federal Investigators, that it protects foreign workers from having to compete with better qualified local STEM/IT workers, who have applied to Facebook for much tougher jobs. Facebook has done this 2600+ times over just the 1.5 year period of the Federal investigation.

      And that meets the very definition, under U.S. Federal law, of discrimination based upon national origin.

      The DOL/DOJ routinely settle such cases (and have settled several hundred under Trump) for about 100,000$ per violation. Facebook did this 2600+ times.

      This has been going on for decades, just Google Fake Perm ads on YouTube.

      Yes, it is of great benefit to a company, if you trap a worker in the job, while waiting for a Green Card. U.S. citizens and Green Card holders cannot dismiss their 13th amendment right to leave their job, at will. But, because a person changing from an H-1b visa, to a Green Card wait cue, can sacrifice their 13th amendment rights. That is why H-1b workers are in such high demand at Big Tech companies.

      Big Tech companies are finding, by their own admission, 30x more fully qualified local STEM/IT candidates than they can hire.

      Again, Big Tech can lie all they want to the public, in ads, to the newspapers. But they couldn’t lie to Federal Investigators about what was actually going on at Facebook. They had to be franc and candid about this, otherwise they would face a felony obstruction of justice charge.

  5. Visa LOTTERY could lead to back door cash transactions between employers, agents and visa aspirants. only .1% were usually caught.
    It is a financial boost for immigration attorneys once a year.
    Wage increase is beneficial for US Born Citizens and it might block chain placements at client sites. And best way is to ask client to post job ad and if a visa holder is hired the employer and the client must attest the hiring process with visa petition to USCIS.
    No race is special but any political party who supported certain race
    (if not for votes) can uplift them by blocking visas, green cards, illegals, refugees and help them by investing in their education, businesses etc. I think any US Born Citizen with government support can start staffing services and provide genuine experienced local candidates to the clients.
    No shortage of any kind of workers for sure in US whether it is in IT or non IT.