Department of Labor Wants Your Input on H-1B Wage Levels

The U.S. Department of Labor is seeking the public’s help on determining H-1B wage levels. This is the latest sign that the Biden administration doesn’t intend to abandon a Trump-era proposal to assign H-1B visas based on wages, as opposed to the current lottery system.

Issued on April 2, the request invites “interested parties” to provide “information on the sources of data and methodologies for determining prevailing wage levels covering employment opportunities that United States (U.S.) employers seek to fill with foreign workers on a permanent or temporary basis through certain employment-based immigrant visas or through H-1B, H-1B1, E-3 nonimmigrant visas.”

That information, the notice added, will inform the review of the Trump administration’s original proposal. Depending on how things go, the data received may result in the computation of prevailing wage levels “in a manner that more effectively ensures the employment of certain immigrant and nonimmigrant workers does not adversely affect the wages of U.S. workers similarly employed.”

Although the Biden administration has rolled back other H-1B rules established during the Trump administration, most notably the temporary H-1B ban, it has seemed far more amenable to the idea of visa selection based on higher wages. 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.

This kind of prioritization would probably not have a huge impact on companies that utilize the H-1B visa to draw highly specialized talent from overseas, as they’re already prepared to pay extraordinary salaries for hard-to-find skills. However, it could decimate the bottom line of consulting and business-services firms that apply for many thousands of H-1B visas every year, then subcontract those H-1B workers to other companies. Higher wages would force those contractors to either pay significantly more and/or spike their denial rates.

In the meantime, anyone who wants to leave written comments about H-1B wage levels can head over to the Federal eRulemaking Portal and follow the instructions. The commenting period is scheduled to close on June 1. 

11 Responses to “Department of Labor Wants Your Input on H-1B Wage Levels”

  1. Jake_Leone

    I think the Biden administration knows there are a variety of statistical studies already, proving, disproving each others claims about what would be a good wage level for the H-1b visa.

    But you must look at the motivations of the people giving you the stats first. The industry led groups always say any H-1b visa is a good visa. But how can that be, if the visa is given to an Offshore Outsourcing company, that brought in a fresher, who is trained by better qualified, more experienced, U.S. employees? And the U.S. employees are then fired. And if you look at the companies that pay the lowest salaries to H-1b workers, and sponsor zero Green Cards, it is always the Offshore Outsourcing companies.

    At times Offshore Outsourcing companies have taken up more than half the H-1b visas, and are the largest H-1b visa using group every year.

    The current minimum salary is 60k/yr, which is obviously too low. But the Offshore Outsourcing companies are willing to pay politicians off to keep it that way, forever.

    And salary isn’t the only factor, many starting jobs are taken by H-1b workers in Silicon Valley. And then the company games the Green Card system, to deliberately exclude any better qualified local STEM/IT competition (DOJ vs Facebook). It does this, because foreign workers don’t have the same legal rights as local U.S. workers. If a U.S. worker leaves the job, there is no repercussion (13th amendment), they can even leave for a competitor. But a foreign worker risks deportation (if the new job does not work out), or going to the back of the Green Card line. That’s a huge and unnatural incentive to stay with one employer and of course a huge incentive to prefer foreign STEM/IT workers over local U.S. STEM/IT workers.

    If you think that employee retention is not a huge factor in determining the value of a candidate, then you need to read the Email exchange between Eric Schmidt and Steve Jobs. In that exchange, a female Google recruiter was immediately fired for successfully attracting and signing an Apple engineer. Employee retention is a major factor in boardroom and engineering-planning discussions, and frankly the lack of mobility of H-1b and Green Card (waitlisted) workers makes them especially attractive to tech employers.

    Look, Facebook is finding 30x more local STEM/IT workers than it can hire (from DOJ vs Facebook). And you have to understand these companies are lying when they say they cannot find enough STEM/IT talent, they most certainly are finding 30x more than they can hire. And we know this because Facebook couldn’t lie to Federal investigators (the same way they lie all the time to reporters and the public about this subject). If they had lied either way, they would have faced Federal obstruction of justice charges and then jailtime. Which is exactly what happened to Martha Stewart, a billionaire, when she lied to Federal investigators.

    If you think Facebook is really looking for skills, you should consider the experience of Brian Acton, a WhatsApp Founder. Brian speaks 9 languages “C++, Perl, PHP, Erlang, Java, Python, JavaScript, ActionScript, English”. Yet Facebook did not hire him back in 2009. Facebook then handed Brian several billions dollars a few years later. Facebook, frankly can’t even process the number of qualified resumes it recieves. Big Tech doesn’t need H-1b visas, because everyone wants to work for a stable big tech company. The companies that are hurting for workers are the start-ups (which offer low pay and zero security). And smaller tech companies (which offer low pay, little job security).

    Just by using a market based mechanism, we can eliminate about half the demand for H-1b visas, the demand which comes from job-duplicate-and-destroy Offshore Outsourcing companies. If we limit the number of retries for Green Cards and force companies to use every available free advertising opportunity in the PERM process, we can ensure there is no further fraud in the Green Card process (DOJ vs Facebook, 2600+ counts of Green Card fraud). By doing just those two things, more workers will be available to mid-sized businesses, as people seeking a Green Card will look for employers that are not in high demand with workers.

  2. In addition to H1B, all Biden donors aka big corporations follow a 80-20 model where 80% of the work is offshore solely due to cost effectiveness and not due to shortage of talent in USA. It’s time to address this too

  3. Edward Dickerson

    No H1-B visa should be issued if we have unemployed qualified people in thr United States. Many companies just want to hire cheaper labor. In addition any H1-B applicate needs to pass a National Security background check.

  4. Jake Smith

    The only thing that I thought Trump was doing ok was the intention to change the lottery system to a salary based process, too bad that as everything else during his administration it didn’t get done, but that was an actual good idea and would actually solve a lot of problems with the current system

  5. I am getting several emails about IT positions including management positions everyday and not one recruiter will reply back with the status of my resume which clearly indicates that those recruiters just collect resumes from US Citizens and hire someone from India anyway. These days, I sometimes trick them by asking whether they are open to hiring H1b or EAD and most of them do respond back by saying that they are open to all visas which means, I will be wasting my time by dealing with those recruiters. I guess, the current administration need to look at this kind of deceitful practices.

  6. Down with H1B visas. America first, Americans who born in USA or legally here must have number one priority. Let’s get an administration that once again again America and its people first!

    • Dice seems to be full of pro-Trump propagandists that think he accomplished something. He gave a giant, corporate welfare giveaway to companies all over this country, spent 148 million taxpayer dollars playing golf at his own hotels and weakened workers rights and the ability to sue. Then there was that little insurrection but of course, he was a white supremacist so he couldn’t be all bad. Grow up people, life is a competition. You’ll always be competing with someone and corporate CEO’s like Trump are the ones who screwed middle class. He also didn’t object to illegals when he was hiring them. FDR and unions built this country, not spoiled rich draft-dodging, sexually assaulting brats who never did a hard day’s work in their life. Maybe upgrade your skills and you’ll have better luck than complaining relentlessly and backing a Russia-loving grifter.

      • jake_leone

        It’s not a competition, if you are not given a chance to compete because of your nationality. The DOJ indictment of Facebook, FILED AFTER THE LAST ELECTION, shows that Facebook discriminates against Americans, simply because they are of U.S. Nationality. Yes. I am all for a fair and open competition for jobs, here in the United States. Indeed let’s have that, let’s:

        – Make it requirement that all PERM job ads be placed on every free website the company knows about. Currently, such ads can be hidden in 2 print editions.
        Facebook refused the FREE offer of the San Francisco Chronicle to place such ads also on the Chronicle website.

        – Make it a requirement, that if a the Green Card Certification process (or PERM process) fails, then the foreign worker has to leave the job, and qualified local candidate must be hired. Facebook has admitted in DOJ vs Facebook, that it found better qualified Americans (better qualified than the foreign workers they were protecting from local competition), but never forwarded those resumes to the hiring managers in the PERM process (Per company policy apparently).

        We have the data, thanks to that indictment. And that indictment is just the latest in a series of indictment that routinely settle for 100,000$ per violation. Facebook violated the Federal Discrimination laws, 2600+ times over just a 1.5 year period.

        No Free American can compete with a slave or an indentured worker, because Americans have (and cannot avail themselves of) their 13th amendment right. So long as that is true, companies will prefer foreign workers over Americans. And this issue is something that transcends any political divide.

        You can’t make this a partisan issue, unless you are in favor of reducing the civil rights of people here in the United States.

      • jake_leone

        The only thing that is clear about what you are writing that you have a closed mind.

        Let me help you:
        – The Trump dossier was a fake.
        – The Obama administration used the FISA court and the fake-dossier to walk all over the rights of people in the Trump administration. Talk about Russia, they might have one dictator 8000 thousand miles away, we have thousands of them 1-mile away from the White House.
        – Nothing takes away your rights faster than a Wag the Dog war.
        – Trump is, literally, a builder, so you are 180 degrees from the truth there.
        – You obviously HATE, to the point of complete blindness, Trump. Okay so how are you going really even talk about the issue at hand. You can’t if you waste time talking about how much you hate Trump. The only thing that does is inflate your Ego.

        The guy who started this thread, is an obvious bigot. The H-1b program can be reformed, in doing so serve both Americans and help foreign workers onto a path towards citizenship.

        Look for a more enlightened path, reccomend highly, A Testament of Hope which is a collection of the writings of Dr. Martin Luther King. I really love that book, it is the way, me dear brother.

  7. I’ve worked as a Senior Software Engineer for a long time and was laid off early in the pandemic. Laying off Americans and hiring contract replacements and frequently, off-shore companies or contractors is very common. H1B Visas are a real problem for American workers and extremely unfair due to the difference in cost of living off-shore vs. USA.

    My experience was that very few were hiring full-time. Of the myriad of contracting companies, the general terms were zero benefits (no healthcare, no vacation, no holidays, no 401K), hourly salary was 25-40% of prior pay. They thought I would accept these terms. I told them no thank you, at that pay scale you are looking for an Operations Tech not an Engineer.

    Also, do not send your resume out to a contracting company unless you have vetted the opportunity thoroughly. General theory that I’ve heard is that in order for an offshore person to know the skills to be hired as your replacement, they need your resume to model the offshore persons resume for “like skills”. Also, if you send it, they will send your resume to as many open jobs that ‘might fit’ so they get paid as the placing agency. For hiring companies, you are then a more expensive hire then a direct applicant which makes you less desirable for the position. Be wise where & how you apply!

    I eventually found a great company, great benefits, and a great product to build! As an employee, please be prepared to be able to wait for the right opportunity.