We lose when graduates are told to hit the road

May 20, 2009

John Chen has served as chairman, chief executive officer and president of Sybase, Inc. since 1998. All views are his own.

chenAs I watched the news showing President Obama reaching out to University of Notre Dame graduates eager to shake his hand, I was impressed by the coalition of colors and nationalities in the faces all round the President that says much good about the United States. I also wondered who, among those shaking President Obama’s hand, will be told by an immigration official next week, ”Congratulations, graduate. Now hit the road, leave the U.S., go home!”

When that happens, if it hasn’t already happened to thousands of graduates across the country, the U.S. will be the loser.

The fact is that at commencement time, foreign science and engineering graduates from U.S. universities are itching to stay in America, especially at this time, and put their energy into the most valuable work. This would eventually help us recover economically and go on to thrive as an innovative world trading powerhouse.

Instead, they’ll be told we don’t want their intelligence and their problem-solving skills, or their innovative or entrepreneurial abilities. They’re told to just go back to where they came from — go back to India, to China, to Brazil, to Russia, and to all the other places that we compete with for wealth around the world.

These aren’t queue-jumping immigrants, or illegals trying to outwit border guards. They’re professionals, some with doctorates or masters’ degrees, who observe the rules. U.S. companies want to employ them. Unfortunately, they get lumped in with the general, anti-immigrant bias that cycles through Congress at times like these. and mocks the legal immigration system.

These foreign talent wanted to utilized our H1-B program that allows U.S. companies to hire a limited number of highly skilled foreign workers for the short-term or as a first step to a green card or permanent residence. Every April 1, U.S. corporations—from financial to high-tech firms—file petitions to hire these individuals under the H1-B terms.

We absolutely need H1-B immigrants for what they bring to our economy. I work in the Silicon Valley and the presence of foreign-born entrepreneurs has undeniably been a catalyst for taking the technology industry to a new level. Google founder Sergey Brin is from Russia, Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang from Taiwan, and Intel co-founder Andy Grove from Hungary.

More than 50 percent of high-tech workers in Silicon Valley are foreign born, according to the Silicon Valley Index, an industry publication. Many of these immigrants go on to become entrepreneurs. In the 10 years to 2005, more than half of new tech companies had foreign-born founders.

The National Foundation for American Policy keeps estimates showing that for each H1-B visa, U.S. corporations hire five additional workers. This is not taking jobs from Americans, which is what we hear from labor unions.  We’re actually creating jobs by bringing bright people into this country.

High-tech companies know this, of course, and we gained valuable support in early May when Ben Bernanke, the Federal Reserve chairman, told the Joint Economic Committee of the U.S. Congress: “I know it’s not very popular to say, but our immigration laws discriminate pretty heavily against talented scientists and engineers from other countries. If you allow more people with high-tech skills to come here, you’d get more innovation and more growth,” Bernanke said.

Not only do we lose in our domestic economy by turning away this huge resource of talent, but we lose in another perhaps even more significant way. Tighter rules and continuing traces of the 9/11 worries about foreigners distort the smart power of our foreign policy that we can use internationally. Reasoned persuasion is a key ingredient of smart power, together with trade deals, foreign aid, diplomacy and cultural influences such as movies and music. We need to boost the persuasiveness of our case by being smarter about keeping talent educated at our great universities, often subsidized by U.S. taxpayers, at a time when we need it most.

By singling out work visa immigrants, we are setting a bad example internationally.  That’s true also when we indulge in trade protectionism.  You can be sure such activities will trigger a round of retaliation throughout the world.  And look what damage we will do to ourselves.

We risk our foreign direct investments of $2.1 trillion.  We risk the market access for more than 2,000 multinational corporations, whose parent companies in the U.S. make up a quarter of our private sector output. We put into jeopardy U.S.-owned foreign assets abroad totaling $18 trillion. Can we afford it?

52 comments

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Yes, I could not agree more. If anything, the US needs to greatly increase the number of H1-B visas which are given out. Immigration should be easy for any educated person fluent in English. That is especially true in the medical fields where there is a shortage in the US but an over abundance of highly qualified nurses in countries like the Philippines.

Posted by Howard | Report as abusive

Yes. I fully agree with John Chen that we should retain talent. But the need of the hour is not to increase H1B. Because this year there were only 45,000 H1B applicants out of 65,000. This shows that Software Engineers are loosing interest in USA. Also many of the existing H1B Visa holders want to return back to their home country or other foreign countries who recogonize their talents.

Therefore the US Government should immediately take steps to retain the existing H1B holders in this country. To do this the Government should arrange to issue Green Cards to all the H1B holders. If Visa numbers are a problem, then USCIS can issue temporary green cards. The advantages for issue of green cards are as follows:
• Retention of US work experience and domain knowledge of the H1B worker. Avoid Reverse Brain Drain.
• Green Card Holders can choose to be a direct employee with the Employer – thereby reducing several layers of employers (staffing company) which would lead to more wealth creation
• Green Card Holders would like to go for higher education in US Universities – leading to an increase in revenue for the Colleges and Universities
• Green Card Holders will start to retain their savings in US Banks and will not transfer money outside the country
• Green Card Holders are likely to transfer all their money from banks in home country to US resident banks
• Green Card Holders will start spending more dollars and there will be an overall buying spree. This will indirectly help to uplift the profits in various retail US businesses – again a boost to the economy.
• Green Card Holders will increase investments in USA – i.e. start new business opportunities, purchase property assets, invest in stocks and shares.
• Many immigrants (H1B Visa holders) normally avoid travel outside the country because of their Visa status. On receipt of Green Card – they will be free to travel to most of the countries including their home country without any restriction, since the hassle of obtaining a Visa or Stamping will not bother them. This will boost our travel and tourism industry.

Posted by Timothy Smith | Report as abusive

I agree that brain power is very important to attract and keep.
But here is my take:
In today’s age, american movies and tv are not favoring the vision that the US is a country where intelligence is rewarded.
The message is clear: as soon as the US is in some sort of conflict (as usual), the first weapon used is Prejudice in all media. It was with the japanese and germans in WWII, with the russians during the Cold War, the chinese/vietnamese during Vietnam War and now all arabs/persians/palestinians during this current conflict.

Also, it’s true that Asia and Oceania, as a producer and as market, have grown considerably in size and importance, and there are other universities around the world that provide very good quality education and post-educational opportunities, even attracting students from the US.
Meaning jobs for the very well qualified exist overseas too.
The US needs to wake up and seek other ways to attract talent rather than rely on the ones it currently has. It can change the terms of entry into the US but there is nothing to retain that talent once it’s done getting a degree and finish the internship.
I may be wrong, but that is my opinion.

Posted by SG | Report as abusive

I beg to differ with the author. It definitely serves the immediate need of the graduate to stick around in US, get a job and move on with American Life.

On the other hand, if these graduates are forced to go home, they might miss out in the short run, but in the long run they stand to gain. Good example is India, most students who went back (almost 90%) in the seventies have become very successful business people, CEOs etc while those who decided to stick around is nowing looking for jobs in their sunset years in Silicon valley. There are few exceptions to this and time then was differnt. Especially in the eighties and nineties when technology was at its peak in the US and there were plenty of opportunities to become sucessful. Similar opportunities now exist in many of the developing countries, like China, India, Brazil etc.

John is missing one important point. Things were different in their countries in the sixties and seventies so that many entrepreneurs decided to settle in the US and take a chance. Few succeeded. But now in developing countries economic climate is quite different and these countries encourage “changes”, a sure sign of economic prosperity. Take for example Oracle, DB2 or Sybase. Please take no offense. What fundamental value has these companies added to the IT world in the last 20 years. Nil except for minor changes in features mainly for selling purposes. When I was in India, I was astonished to see the level of “text usage” to do business. Airline tickets lands up in your iphone. In China, the manufacturing has become an art by itself. Shocked to see the extent of automation.

Overall, it is a good thing for global development to force these youngsters back to where they come so they can contribute to their countries economic development because these countries are eager and ready for “change”.

Posted by Kris Gireesh | Report as abusive

Mr. Chen you are correct. The real travesty is that our nation’s our educational system is not producing the engineers and scientists we need from our own citizenry. This is not a new phenomenon. This has been going on for over two decades. In my view the current situation is a loose loose scenario for everyone.

Posted by Anubis | Report as abusive

In view of the labor of our economy and the scenarios of
general business processing and development, arguments now require much more underlying understanding of multi-dimensional disciplines and their global impacts within labor economies in association with a “moral hazard” impact. In short, a much wider base of understanding of the economy and labor rather than a “buy-sell mentality” is required. Also, a greater understanding of what specifically is an “education”. EDITED

Posted by Michelle L. Rosenbaum | Report as abusive

My relatives came from other countries, Germany and Norway.

One was a tanner and became a butcher, and his children became grocers in Milwaukee, Wi. The other was a physician and also helped people in Blair, Wi.

Without these people the US would have been a lesser place.

I would not send our new graduates back to their birth country. We should let them apply their newly-acquired skills here, and make the country that educated them a better place.

Mark

Posted by Mark M | Report as abusive

I’m going to say that I agree we need to retain those who are currently here as a result of their H1-B employment but at the same point we are forgetting that unemployment is sky rocketing across the board at all levels of employment. I think this is influencing some of the bias towards hiring immigrants for professional, or any position for that matter, in the United Sates. We are represented with a feeling that loyalty is best served by providing work to Americans first, foreigners second. I also have worked with people on H1-B status and with have heard their complaints that they are payed less than their coworkers of similar experience and I wonder if part of the reason many of the people who are choosing to go to their native country or other countries to seek employment, is that they will enjoy more equality at the professional level? For one I don’t see this argument as being as black and white as it is portrayed, there are too many different issues at stake here to simply label the blame on one facet, the denial of H1-B status for professional immigrants.

Posted by Eric P. Hamm | Report as abusive

I think anyone who spends four-years at a US university and graduates should be offered full Citizenship.

Posted by Hector | Report as abusive

Absolutely right. Nicely put.

Posted by andrew coutinho | Report as abusive

i agree with allowing green card high tech grads to be placed in u.s. compainies. think of guys like werner von braun, mr fugita from hiroshima who came up with the fugita scale to classify tornadic strength just to name two people who came to us and joined the scientific community. these people added not only to our country but to the world too. try to remember the old analogy ” the mind is like a parachute it wont work unless its open.”

If our own students were able to afford college, we’d have more people in these fields, from our own population. Time to start taking care of our own. If we dont educate our own, who will?

Posted by Sam Spade | Report as abusive

The problem is not about any particular grad, or grads at all. The problem lies in our immigration policies at large. These policies are now geared to relations more than economic prospects. So basically any illegal from 3rd world that manages to get legalized – by marriage or whatever other means – can pull in all his/her next of kin. The families in 3rd world tend to be large, while education/skill levels tend to be low – that means many entrants that are destined to work menial jobs or jump on welfare rolls, since menial job pool keeps shrinking. The next of kin have their next of kin, and so on.
It’s time to rewrite the policies. Instead of asking “what America can do for the individual?” we need to ask “what the individual can do for America?”. That’s where the grads come into the picture. And there’s nothing racial, anti-[whatever nationality]. It’s much better for America to admit a Mexican grad of US college than a Mexican peasant who is barely literate in Spanish and speaks no English (Mexico is just an example, the same applies to any other country).
Since America is not infinitely stretchable, opening for college grads should be accompanied by tightening H1 rules and stricter enforcement of them. And stricter policies on illegal immigration, too.

Posted by Anonymous | Report as abusive

If the students are here on visas to earn an education, them let them earn and education and return home. If they want to return for a different purpose, let them apply through normal channels.

The author and comments above suggest that it is Ok to change the terms of a visa agreement once students have graduated. I am against this because it muddies the purpose of the visa itself.

I am also against foreign students who displace US kids who now find no room in US schools. Applications for college education is very competitive … even under the best circumstances. It is not fair for US citizens to build and maintain colleges thought tax money and then watch spots for education be taken by those who are not from this nation. If we had a surplus of spots, then no problem! But that is absolutely not the case!

Posted by Engineer in Seattle | Report as abusive

If no high-paid science and engineering jobs, why do we need them? It is all demand and supply. do you feel scientist job a high paid job?

Mr. Chen’s idea is right on good economic condition, but It is wrong in a current situation. Don’t tell me there is no talent American Engineer in Silicon Valley looking for a job. H1 Visa is executed for hiring a cheap labor, nothing to do with performance. I have worked in Silicon Valley, as manager I will give you the comparison between Indian software engineer and engineers who educated in US. There are a big different between them in terms or structure, and cohesive. US engineers are much better than a lot in Large and sophisticate projects.

Posted by Olivia | Report as abusive

Do we really not produce enough engineers/scientists/programmers domestically? I know a friend with a Ph.D. in Computer Engineering, after 10 years and numerous successful projects he ran for his company, they laid him off. It was cheaper to eliminate the position and create one almost the same that was later filled by an H1-B. Two years later, after he became tired of being told he’s overqualified or wouldn’t be happy at the level of pay offered for various positions he’d applied for, he accepted a management position… at a Goodyear Tire store. I, myself, have been unable to find permanent employ in my chosen field even though I’ve got great qualifications and experience in programming on HPCs. Everything is smooth sailing until they find that I’m 36 with a recent Master’s degree and not 24.

Posted by Chuck | Report as abusive

I agree with Anubis, the real tragedy is the US citizens are not getting the education they need, plus many good jobs are being shipped out.

Posted by Becky | Report as abusive

What if we approach the entire problem differently?
What if anybody, anywhere in the world could just pack up and move anytime they felt like it, anywhere in the world, without a problem?
Think about the implications of such an idea… no border guards, because of no borders… freedom of movement, thought(why not, we’re dreaming here, right?) and nonviolent behavior.
I’m not asking for much, just a basic change in society for the benefit of us all… why not? :-{)}

Posted by Alan Brittenham | Report as abusive

I agree with Chuck & Olivia. The purpose of the H-1B program is to fill high tech positions with cheap labor. As an engineer, I found out very early that you hit a ceiling in pay and if a company could replace you with cheaper talent; they will. Engineering and Science is not portrayed as a highly valued and compensated career, so US kids are not encouraged to enter the field and those of us that want to make the big bucks are forced to enter management or sales.

Posted by Wes | Report as abusive

We ought to staple a green card inside the diploma of every foreign student graduating with an undergraduate engineering degree and EVERY Master’s and Doctorate graduate.

Further, US needs to boost number of its own graduating with technical 4-yr (and for that matter 2-yr technician) degrees. With only 77,000 engineering Bachelor degrees awarded each year- we cannot even replace the baby boomer retirees each year- let alone stay ahead of countries like China (200,000 eng degrees/yr) India and Russia.

Posted by Art | Report as abusive

If the US is spending the money to educate foreigners, then, by all means we should try to retain them after graduation. (and FYI, most graduate programs in engineering and biosciences are partially or fully funded, I’m getting paid to get my PhD). However, I don’t think it is necessarily a fundamental problem with our immigration policies (although they do need to be revamped). Most of the people I know who WANT to stay in the US after graduation haven’t had a problem doing so. It’s all paperwork, and timing. Intern, make connections, find a job before graduation (be reasonably prepared) + get paperwork turned in early = stay in US. The problem is that alot of graduates want to go home. I’d say 50% of the people I am in graduate school with want to return to their own country. The US should be more proactive in their efforts to retain these people… however, at the same time, these efforts should be balanced. The US doesn’t produce many domestically born engineers and scientist, so efforts to keep foreign graduates should not decrease the ability of Americans to get jobs.

Posted by Katie | Report as abusive

If there are no jobs for these new graduates, won’t they just add to the unemployment rolls if they are just handed a green card? How does higher unemployment benefit this economy?

Posted by Logical Thinker | Report as abusive

Alan Brittenham said: “…Think about the implications of such an idea… no border guards, because of no borders…”

Why don’t we erase all criminal laws from the books too. If murder, theft, rape etc. are no longer crimes, we would now have a crime free society. What say you?

Posted by Dennis Matthews | Report as abusive

We do not have nearly enough employment to absorb all the college graduates now. For each position available there are at least ten qualified U.S. workers available and willing. Why on earth would we increase the glut of workers at a time of massive layoffs of skilled and educated native workers. Have you all gone mad?

Posted by Kelly | Report as abusive

Cheap labor propaganda! 500,000 H-1Bs have American jobs while Americans are unemployed. 45,000 plus 20,000 American jobs are reserved until October 1 when H-1Bs will fill them.

We absolutely NO NOT need the H-1B. Google was started as Larry Page’s dissertation project. Page was born in Michigan, educated at Stanford. He was joined by his friend and fellow PhD student Serge Brin who was born in Moscow and raised in the USA since age 6. Yahoo was started by David Filo born in Wisconsin, educated at Stanford and Jerry Yang, born in Taipei, raised in San Jose since age 8 and educated in the USA at Stanford. Andy Grove was not an Intel co-founder he was an early employee. His contribution was mainly as a businessperson, not as an engineer. Andy Grove came here as a refugee from the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. All of these people would have been here even if the H-1B had never been invented.

The National Foundation for American Policy is Stuart Anderson, a long-time lobbyist and activist in favor of a liberal H-1B program. Anderson began these activities by writing pro-H-1B articles for Jack Kemp’s Empower America, then for the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank. He also was the author of the 1997 study by the ITAA, the industry lobbying group, that convinced Congress to enact the first expansion of the H-1B program in 1998. He then went to work for then-Senator Spencer Abraham, in which job Anderson authored the 2000 legislation which expanded the H-1B program

Posted by n6532l | Report as abusive

Mr. Chen,

What study are you citing when you say: “In the 10 years to 2005, more than half of new tech companies had foreign-born founders.”?

Also, your statement, “Instead, they’ll be told we don’t want their intelligence and their problem-solving skills, or their innovative or entrepreneurial abilities. They’re told to just go back to where they came from.” is just preposterously untrue, isn’t it. You know darned well about the 2-year OPT visa that almost all foreign graduates of U.S. universities can obtain, don’t you. If you don’t you have not done your homework and should retract the article until your introduction has some shred of knowledge behind it.

Posted by William | Report as abusive

Is this guy some industrial spy from China? We already ARE losing – thanks to 10 years of importing MILLIONS of guest workers on H-1B. If these imported workers are so smart and brilliant then why are Americans TRAINING them? 10 years of guest workers have brought economic collapse to America. As someone who worked in Silicon Valley for 17 years I have seen the lies firsthand.

These workers are coming in by the millions, exporting out cash and technology, and then going home to COMPETE AGAINST us. How does bringing in and training a FOREIGN workforce help the U.S.? It doesn’t it helps COMPETITOR NATIONS.

Posted by Bobo | Report as abusive

I think all H1B Visas should be stopped immediately and discontinued after the last holder heads home. I personally gave up on high tech when you could outsource for a lot less than I was making. Either do the research here or overseas or both but no one from overseas should be allowed anymore than a short visa perhaps a month at best per year. The holders of these Visas are at the mercy of the company sposoring them which is bad enough but to continually say we don’t have the talent while thousands are continually let go to accommodate these people is ridiculous. Write you representatives to stop this practice. This is good for Democrats, Republicans, and Independents.

Posted by Mike Reno | Report as abusive

Instead of blaming American education for not preparing students properly, and for not encouraging minorities and women to enter the engineering field, why not look at the real reason students no longer want to enter this field—no job prospects. With American engineers and computer programmers no longer able to compete against a huge influx of cheaper imported labor via H-1B and L-1 work visas, and with many more high-tech jobs going “offshore,” it’s simple economics. Students do not want to invest many thousands of dollars studying in a field for which there are no job prospects.

Me and my IT colleagues lost our programming jobs when our company imported programmers and made the Americans train them in order to receive severance. The company posted LCA sheets as required by law, and thus, we learned that the visiting programmers are earning about half of their American counterparts. Whenever I contact my elected representatives, the Dept. of Labor and the Dept. of Commerce about this, their shoddy excuse is that Americans aren’t educated enough or prepared enough or smart enough to do high tech. But I’m not surprised. That’s what the corporations and the media tell them.

Myths:
1) These are Temporary (Guest) Worker Visas and NOT IMMIGRANT VISAS
2) They are paid the same wage as Americans, they are paid about 12,000 or more less
than their American counterparts
3) They are just average programmers and in fact some of them are incompetent
4) There is no labor shortage with millions of highly skilled Americans and Permanent Residents unemployed.
Hire local it’s the American thing to do.

Greedy Companies use them to replace Americans with:

1) Cheap Foreign workers – These companies don’t want to pay the prevailing wage.
2) Younger Foreign Workers – Those over 35 are discriminated because of their age.

Hire Americans and Permanent Residents. Help America.
Yet another sellout of the American worker, just so a few executives can make a few more million.

Hiring or continuing to employ an H1B worker (or any other VISA) in the US in our current time of crisis is un-American.

Posted by debug | Report as abusive

With millions of Americans unemployed we don\\\’t need guest workers. All these lies about shortage of skills are just pure lies. There are unemployed Americans qualified for the jobs. I know a couple of American RN graduates that cannot find a job.

In this economy and Americans needing jobs, it is very Un American not to hire local.

Send these guest workers home and America will be better. We have lived and had higher standards of living before NAFTA and these Temporary Guest Worker Visas. STOP THE GREED OF COMPANIES THAT DON\’T WANT TO PAY PREVAILING WAGES instead displace Americans with cheap foreign labor.

Posted by UnemployedAmerican | Report as abusive

SOCIALIST programs like the H-1B american worker replacement program have one common result. By artificially lowering the price of a commodity you discourage production. (More H1-B’s = lower pay = less americans entering field)

The vast majority of these cheap imported workers go to a handfull of large bodyshops like Wipro, Tata, and Infosys that undercut American workers and are used to FACILITATE off-shoring through knowledge transfer(American workers train foreign workers to allow off shoring).

H-1B program is a poster child for FRAUD, with recipients PAYING for jobs, falsifying credentials, or just plain lying to clients, and employers.

The program in inherently sexist(almost %100 Indian male under 30) racist(Indian bodyshops do not hire Europeans Africans Americans etc) and ageist(what other field are you to old to hire at 35?)

The constant barrage of falsehoods, outdated or incorrect statistic, biased studies, propaganda and lies from the corporate lobbyists and special interests who have agendas contrary to the good of the USA and its citizens is starting to show itself for what it is, TREASON.

Posted by patriot | Report as abusive

Ask yourself –

Protecting the middleclass is not protectionism its being Patriotic.

Which one would you rather give a job to:
An American Student that just graduated from our college
or a Foreigner that went to school here and just graduate from our colleges.

Help Americans get jobs first. Its the American thing to do.

Posted by OnlyInAmerica | Report as abusive

Unfortunately we all lose when hiring is economics-based rather than qualification-based.

Millions of qualified U. S. citizens have also been told to ‘hit the road’ as their jobs have been taken from them and given to cheaper foreign workers. Millions more refrain from even seeking better jobs and better education because they cannot compete with their lower-paid foreign counterparts.

I’ve seen both sides of the issue, bacically because we found we needed to retain qualified foreign workers who had proven their ‘mettle’ via student internships. The system years ago was to issue a ‘help wanted ad’ via a Federal agency, with specific qualifications listed. More often than not, those ‘boiler plate’ qualifications were superfluous, rigged in favor of that applicant.

Unfortunately, history proves to be a pendulum, with extreme polarization of trends. Currently, that trend is highly in favor of both importation of cheap foreign labor and global ‘outsourcing’.

Quota-based systems do not work. Quota-based systems impose reverse discrimination. Yet quota-based systems have been our only ‘stop-gap’ tactics yet devised.

I wish our employment policies would favor the ‘best and brightest’, regardless of country of origin, but that will not happen as long as the ‘bean counters’ are motivated solely by factors of cost.

Posted by Bernie | Report as abusive

John Chen drove Sybase into the ground and should be quiet. He is hardly the type of “genius” we have to import.

The truth is that the H-1B was used as a back door to import hundreds of thousands (65k+/yr * 10+yrs) of low-wage (and in I.T, pretty low-skill) mostly Indian visa workers. Many were exploited by their Indian bodyshoppers. There was NEVER a word about that from NASSCOM or Duke Prof. Vivek Whadha, NASSCOM’s shill in residence.

But all of the sudden, they acknowledge the corruption and abuse of their fellow Indians, and act like they care.

And this sordid outsourcing program has impacted 3-4 million American hi-tech professionals. Some have been forced totally out of the industry. Many have have seen their wages decline. Some have been forced to train their Indian replacement.

It is sad chapter in the history of United States business — and one day the journalists, corporate execs, politicians, professors, and lobbyists that helped facilitate this legal discrimination of Americans will hold their head in shame.

H1B is all about corporate greed. Most of my friends who are Computer Science graduates of U.C. Berkeley, Stanford, M.I.T. have now left the I.T. industry because we cannot find jobs in our fields due to H1B. It’s a disincentive to a new generation of American students to pursue a science and engineering careers.

People are posting comments here to support H1B are spreading lies. For example, this guy “Howard,” who said:

“specially true in the medical fields where there is a shortage in the US but an over abundance of highly qualified nurses in countries like the Philippines.”

Yeah, right, even the doctors in Philippines are eager to become nurses so they can enter the U.S. as H1B nurses. With the H1B program, the U.S. is raping the Philippines of its desperately needed medical people because all of them want to leave the Philippines. Check this Frontline documentary “Philippines: Have Degree, Will Travel Where have all the nurses gone?” out and see for yourself and see who is telling LIES:

http://www.pbs.org/frontlineworld/rough/ 2007/12/philippines_hav.html

Posted by Unemployed Engineer in Silicon Valley | Report as abusive

Take my word for it it’s not easy for foreign students or workers to get a job in China or India or get any student or public aid. That BA degree from China or India is not equal to that of the BA from most American schools. You will learn engineering from ITT in India but you will not learn anout culture and civilization as you will at MIT in America. If you wish to do real research from the best technical minds in the world the West and Japan is where you must go – not to India or China.

Posted by doublecross | Report as abusive

We must ask what else do workers bring to America besides work? There is a dark side that no one wishes to talk about it’s called elder dumping or spouse dumping. You see it when parents have out lived their usefullness due to age and illness or a spouse in divorce court. Suddenly tax payers must care for a spouse with under age kids or the cost of care for a senior who happens to be the parent of a very talented tech worker trained at MIT or Stanford or ITT.

Posted by doublecross | Report as abusive

Yes, we lose when executives like Chen turn their backs on US citizens.

And we lose when US knowledge and research methods are transferred over-seas.

We should cut the numbers of student visas, and set higher standards for all visas.

The reason there are so many foreign grad students in STEM fields is because of the explosive increase in student visas, the availability of OPT, and the existence of vast numbers of work visas. NSF knew, in the mid-1980s, that these would drive down compensation and opportunities for US STEM workers, and, by altering financial incentives, reduce the numbers who entered graduate programs.

“A growing influx of foreign PhDs into U.S. labor markets will hold down the level of PhD salaries to the extent that foreign students are attracted to U.S. doctoral programs as a way of immigrating to the U.S.A. A related point is that for this group the PhD salary premium is much higher [than it is for Americans], because it is based on BS-level pay in students’ home nations versus PhD-level pay in the U.S.A… [If] doctoral studies are failing to appeal to a large (or growing) percentage of the best citizen baccalaureates, then a key issue is pay… A number of [the Americans] will select alternative career paths… For these baccalaureates, the effective premium for acquiring a PhD may actually be negative.”
http://www.nber.org/~peat/PapersFolder/P apers/SG/NSF.html
http://www.nber.org/~peat/ReadingsFolder  /PrimarySources/TimeLine.html
Policy and Research Analysis Division of the NSF
http://www.ucop.edu/ucophome/pres/commen ts/numbers.html

Posted by jgo | Report as abusive

As a US software engineer a few years out of college, I would recommend any young American thinking about a degree in the sciences or technology to RECONSIDER. There are no jobs for you in the US market; My first job after university was working in India for one of the largest offshoring companies in the world. We Americans simply cannot compete with these third world workers as the cost of living in India is drastically lower than here in the US.

The number of ‘proud’ US companies with huge offshoring centers in India is staggering, and will only increase as these companies continue to cut budgets in order to pad the bonuses of those at the top. Furthermore, even those jobs that require onsite employees will be filled by cheap H1B/L1 visa holders from the third world. Realize that wages in IT/Science have plummeted nearly 20% in just the last 5 years, and will continue since Congress will do absolutely nothing to stop this.

Take my advice: do not go into debt studying engineering/science. You’d be better off getting into the plumbing/mechanic business as they cannot be offshored, nor will you be competing with the cheapest world labor US CEO’s can import.

Posted by Bill | Report as abusive

This article ignores a few relevant facts. There are now credible reports of American IT workers being forced to train their foreign worker replacements. For evidence of abuse go to utube and search for the Cohen and Grigsby video where immigration lawyers tell how to AVOID hiring qualified Americans. There is much evidence H-1B, L1, OPT, etc are really about undercutting the American workforce with cheap indentured labor who “coincidentally” come in very high percentages from low wage countries (NOT Japan or Western Europe). Being able to compete US workers against the entire world thru easy immigration is far too much leverage. The safeguards have been totally inadequate!!

Posted by ConcernedAmerican | Report as abusive

That immigrant that is competing with US workers will finally become a citizen and be referred to as a US worker.

Posted by Sideburn | Report as abusive

I think that Goverment is screwed up! I have resumes at different companies, all top jobs, and I known that a H-1B person has gotten one of them. Maybe I got my degrees too young for the programs that goverment offered.

Posted by Nick Gibsom | Report as abusive

If these foreign students truly are necessary, and if the U.S. has an interest in educating them, then let’s change the laws so that the U.S. sees a return on its investment. Foreign students should be forced to apply for U.S. citizenship immediately while they finish their degrees. They must pursue only technical or scientific degrees. They must sign no-compete agreements so that if they leave the U.S. for more than six months then they will forfeit the investment that the U.S. paid for them. This can be implemented in the form of a 20% tax on their income which goes into a 401K plan that they may not touch until their retirement. Companies that hire these students must not receive any federal or state economic stimulus funds and may not bid on any government contracts as long as there are unemployed American high tech workers living within 50 miles of any of its offices.

Posted by Greg Gordon | Report as abusive

Article is corporate propaganda, and grossly inaccurate.

“We absolutely need H1-B immigrants”

1) We don’t need them. There are four H1B skill levels, practically all H1Bs are hired at the lowest skill levels. With – at least – tens of thousands of US STEM workers recently unemployed, it is impossible for me to believe that there are no US workers to do those jobs.

2) H1Bs are temp workers, not immigrants.

“The National Foundation for American Policy keeps estimates showing that for each H1-B visa, U.S. corporations hire five additional workers.”

I believe this study has been fully discredited. The methodology used to make the determination is beyond absurd. Also, five workers in what? Fast food? And who funded this study? Who funds the NFA? And why is such funding such a big secret?

Posted by walterbyrd | Report as abusive

CORRECTION!
H1-B visa workers are not immigrants, please stop referring to them as such. OH, some may want to be but then they too will be put out of a job when replaced by another H1-B visa guest worker.
H1-B visa holders are scabs, cheap knock-off replacements that require extensive hand holding in order to come up to speed.
No matter where they come from they are all the same class of ignorance. What’s worse is that most of them do not have a handle on the English language so it makes it even harder to train them.
IT corporate apes like CHEN should be lined up against the wall and painted balled for how they have decimated the citizen and permanent resident engineering population; to me it’s a criminal endeavor to replace United States citizens with their country of choice. It’s tantamount to ethnic cleansing of the STEM workforce; which I find fascinating since most of the corporate officers that preach outsourcing are mostly born here.
But Mr. Chen, you have proven that even CalTech graduates dolts and cretins.

Posted by Darrell | Report as abusive

If more than 50 percent of high-tech workers in Silicon Valley are foreign born, EEOC should investigate. Not once have I read an article where an H1B proponent mentioned how many American-born high-tech workers are highly skilled and available for work, but can’t get work. Nor have I ever read an article where the H1B proponents mention the U.S.-born graduates that won’t get a job. Why do H1B proponents feel they are entitled to everything, but Americans are not?

Posted by Common Sense | Report as abusive

It’s no longer a matter of IF America is losing it’s compettive edge, but one of how quickly unfortunately. We need to rethink our immigration and employment policies to allow talented and hard-working individuals to contribute and pay taxes to the fragile economy. American companies will be strongest when they thrive, compete and succeed in an environment where the brightest and most talented are allowed to flourish.

>>Why do H1B proponents feel they are entitled to everything, but Americans are not?<<

It’s because they compete against us and are able to displace us. Push them out of America, and they will take their jobs with them to wherever they go.

Posted by Tim | Report as abusive

It’s easy to forget the personal ambitions of many highly intelligent people who have graduated or are about to graduate so I think a tailored approach is in order. Some graduates may decide to stay in the country only after experiencing something other than a campus life, regardless of the current visa hurdles, so it’s important to provide them with the opportunity to choose without feeling threatened – or indentured – to a specific company.

I think that to change the current conditions of H1B visa issuance some other things need to be looked into first, such as fixing the current backlog of the immigration process. Increasing the number of visas issued in itself will simply increase the backlog.

Posted by SG | Report as abusive

Many of these graduates will add much more value to their home country than they will add to the U.S. economy.

It is the morally right thing for the U.S. to allow them to return to their native countries and bring those countries into the first world with their valuable western education.

The U.S. graduates far more highly educated and skilled U.S. citizens and permanent residents than the job market can absorb.

Posted by Karla | Report as abusive

Hi,

This is my idea of the big picture. It isn’t pretty so bear with me.

The collapse in the US financial markets has reduced consumer demand in the US economy.

If demand is falling in the economy – the only ways a company can make money is pick up a government contract or downsize expensive labor.

If your company gets a TARP/Stimulus package “shovel ready” contract. You shouldn’t have to be fired unless you are genuinely incompetent and are considered a liability to the company.

If your company can’t get one of these TARP/Stimulus contracts, well then it has to cut costs. The only way to do that right now is replace some of the highly paid folks by cheaper H1B imports.

Now if a million or so people get fired in this kind of replacement scheme – that is just not a significant economic fraction of the country. There will be no additional decline in demand on account of that. Even after you get fired – you are still going to keep using microsoft windows, cisco servers, HP printers etc…

So that is just the economic bottom line.

The other thing is that if you block the import of cheap labor, you will cause a precipitous decline in the profitability of private corporations in the US. This means that in order to prevent your companies from going under the government is going to have to have give out more stimulus and more TARP like recovery packages.

That is more ‘socialist’ policymaking that is unlikely to fly either domestically in the US or internationally either. The world simply cannot support any more debt in the US. Keep that up and you will simply see a flight of capital from the US and that in turn will cause a soviet style collapse.

Let me put it another way. This decline in productivity in the US workforce is not new. President GWB faced it in his time, and he dealt with it by creating circumstances that he felt promoted growth but even he had to take a loan from the federal reserve and that has led to this crazy large deficit. President Obama had to take over where President Bush left off and he is only adding to the deficit right now. If the US withdraws from Iraq or Afghanistan, this is going to add another burden in the form of returning soldiers who will have to be retrenched. Given the number of private soldiers that are in this war, this is going to cost money which is going to add to the deficit.

Bluntly speaking the US is tapped out in terms of the loans it can give itself. Any more and the house of cards will likely fall down.

So – sorry – I realize a lot of you all are in pain – but if you interfere with the flow of foreign technical labor into the US, you will most likely cause far more economic problems than you will be able solve.

I feel the government understands this and while it will lend a kind ear to the voices of disgruntled citizens, it is unlikely to actually do anything that is potentially economically suicidal.

You’re simply going to have to suck it up.

Your best bet at this point will be to try and piggy back on defense industrial contracts. Those are open to citizens only. National labs are being asked to rapidly hire people for Stimulus related R&D and no foreigners can apply there. This should be your first choice. It may involve taking a pay cut right now but atleast after a few years you’re a permanent government employee and they can’t fire you. For every 100,000 they pay you, they spend 400,000 in security screening at some of these places, so its way expensive to fire you.

Alternatively you could try exporting your skills to foreign countries. But this is potentially problematic for two reasons, firstly most of you guys don’t know any language besides English. You’re smart and you can learn so its probably okay – but it is a hurdle you will have to cross. Actually places like India need a lot of mid level people and if you adjusted against PPP your salary in India (or China) is way higher than your salary in the US. Secondly, the moment you talk about going to work somewhere else you have to get past the state department and the Dept. of Commerce’s export regulations. There is some totally bizarre stuff about “deemed exports” that has to be cleared. It is possible but it is a huge pain to navigate and they love to throw you in jail if you make any mistakes on that front. All in all, this is a profitable but difficult transition, I can’t say it should be your first choice.

In the interest of disclosure, I am an H1B married to a US citizen, so I do feel the pain at both ends. I get harassed by the DoS idiots who think that just because I have a PhD and the wrong skin color I am some kind of crazy person and my spouse feels every little pinch due to the economy. We get hit by both sides. Oddly enough there are way more people like us than you’d think.

It is a stinking situation and I wish it could be different.

It doesn’t look very good right now nor do I see it getting much better – best of luck to you guys.

There is a sea of misery we have to wade through here.

Posted by s2 | Report as abusive