Sunday, July 27, 2014

Common Sense H-1B Reform

Over the last couple of years, the trend in the media has been to lament that we train foreign students in "advanced" STEM degrees here, and then send them home to compete against us, due to a shortage of H-1B visas. (The fact that they are careful to use the word "advanced" instead of postgraduate has not escaped me.)  Additionally, the highly publicized H-1B lottery, is likely caused by foreign outsourcing firms who suffer no financial penalty when attempting to game the system.

Adjust the H-1B educational eligibility requirement, not the yearly cap.

The logical thing to do is to raise the educational requirement for H-1B to a postgraduate degree.  According to the FY 2012, H-1B data, eliminating bachelors degree eligibility would free up 50% of new H-1B visas.

Data presented by Dr. Ron Hira, shows that legitimate US employers draw heavily from the postgraduate population, while offshore outsourcing firms favor undergraduate degrees.  Additionally, the offshore outsourcing firms have the unlimited Intra-company L-1 visa available to them, once the candidate has one year of experience with the firm.

By raising the H-1B educational requirement, citizen and permanent resident candidates would have a better chance at bachelors degree and associate degree level positions, which are the targeted positions to be moved offshore by the offshore outsourcing firms.  Restated, 50% more H-1B visas would be available to legitimate US employers.

According to the Institute of International Education, there were 311,204 foreign students enrolled in postgraduate programs in the United States in 2012-13.  This might seem like a large number until we factor in the Doctoral programs are four years, and masters and professional degree probably average two years. So the number likely to graduate in 2013 was roughly 126,157 for all declared and undeclared majors (not just STEM). Additionally, some students may not want to stay in the US and other might not graduate, but the 126,157 number is still less than the total number of H-1B initial employment approvals in FY 2012 (136,890),  

Work experience authorizations 

The IIE data also discloses that there were 94,919 international students gaining work experience on the Optional Practical Training (OPT), an unlimited cap, 12 month work permit with a 17 month extension available for STEM graduates.  While working on student visas, these employees are exempt from Social Security and Medicare tax, putting entry level citizens and permanent residents at a huge financial  disadvantage.

H-1B lottery and oversubscription

A second point of contention is the H-1B lottery, that is triggered when the number of applications exceed the 85,000 visa cap.  As reported by the Center for Immigration Studies, this phenomena is primarily caused by companies attempting to game the system.  Due to the fact that H-1B application fees are refunded to the applicant employer (unlike most other visa fees) there is no financial penalty for oversubscribing the H-1B category.

Gaming the number of applications

H-1B dependent employers, employers with a high percentage of H-1B staff, are eligible for something called a multi-slot  Labor Condition Application (LCA).  The multi-slot LCA allows, primarily outsourcing, firms to apply for an unlimited amount of H-1B visa on a single application -- without naming the candidate or providing credential for USCIS/DOL review.

The ability to apply for hundreds of H-1B visas, on a single application, with the knowledge that application fees will be refunded encourages these companies to oversubscribe the visa category, hoping that their consultant (possibly the same candidate) will be placed at the firms who could not attain the visa at a higher premium.  (I.e., if Microsoft doesn't win the lottery on a single LCA, the outsourcing firm, with the un-named H-1B LCAs, can provide the candidate as a consultant.)

Employment based (EB-3) permanent immigration oversubscription

Due to the dual-intent rules available in both the H-1B and L-1 temporary visas, employers can sponsor these employees for permanent residence.  Published figures estimate that there is a backlog of 500,000 workers in the EB-3 (bachelors degree level) employment based permanent residency program.  Due to country of origin limits, these immigrants are primarily from China and India and are on yearly AC21 extensions, taking them well beyond the 5 and 6 year limits of the L-1 and H-1B visas.

As such, bachelor degree permanent residency applicants from non-backlogged countries will gain permanent residency ahead of those on AC21 extension.  Raising the educational requirement for H-1B will reduce the intake of bachelors degree permanent residency applicants and vacant slots can be recovered and distributed to address the AC21 backlog.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Computer Occupations: H-1B 80% of (Recession Recovery) Employment Level Growth 2011-2013

During the "recovery" from the most severe economic times since the Great Depression, 80% of Computer Employment Growth went to new H-1B immigrants.

Recession and recovery periods are critically important, foreign labor work authorizations  during these periods must be highly scrutinized.

The BLS Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) offer us of view of the occupational levels from year to year.  Released in May of each year, the titles can be a bit misleading, for instance, the May 2013 report covers from the end of May 2012 through April 2013 -- so the MAY 2013 OES report in question aligns almost perfectly with the Fiscal Year 2012 H-1B Characteristics report from USCIS (Fiscal year begins on April 1).

The H-1B is a 3 year visa in its fist term, with a single 3 year extension and unlimited 1 year extensions for those who have secured PERM employment sponsorship for a Green Card. 

In order to compare employment level growth and H-1B foreign labor assumption of employment growth, we need to look at the 3 year period where the H-1B is known to have employment authorization.

H-1B New Employment Approvals  in Computer Occupations
FY 2012 = 83,444 (61.4% of total new approvals)
FY 2011 = 51,570 ( 48.9% of total new approvals )
FY 2010 = 31,661 ( 41.8 of total new approvals)
Total 166,675
Source: USCIS Reports and Studies
Concerning the employment level Gain or Losses, a portion of the Computer Occupations do not require a bachelors degree or higher and therefore, should not be eligible for the H-1B program.

Computer Occupations, 3 year Employment Level Loss Gain
Bachelors Degree or Higher = 206,240 *
Associate Degree =  73,870
* The Bachelors Degree or Higher contains Web Developers, which is an Associate Degree entry position, but that number cannot be extracted from this data-series.

 Once again, we see that of the employment growth that is H-1B eligible, 206,240  jobs, 166,875 of these jobs (89%) went to H-1B "temporary" immigrants.

Meanwhile, 235,818 entry degrees, 125,393 bachelors and 110,425 associate degrees, were awarded to citizens and permanent residents in Computer and Information Sciences and Support Services from 2010 to 2012.
Source: WebCaspar NCSES

Occupational Employment Statistics - Data

20112013Emp. Loss / Growth

Computer Occupations

15-1111Computer and Information Research Scientists

15-1121Computer Systems Analysts

15-1131Computer Programmers

15-1132Software Developers, Applications

15-1133Software Developers, Systems Software

15-1141Database Administrators

15-1142Network and Computer Systems Administrators

15-1150Computer Support Specialists
15-1179Information Security Analysts, Web Developers, and Computer Network Architects
272,670332,11059,440 *
15-1799Computer Occupations, All Other*


Source data:

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Thank a Slave for that Cheap Laptop and Phone?

Only 36% of Google's DRC mineral suppliers are certified as conflict free.

Topic: Conflict Minerals and Slave Labor:

YouTube Link

Just a short post to try to give this topic a bump, good segment by, Abbey Martin from RT's, Breaking the Set.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Correlation Therefore Conclusion

In my wildest dreams, I can not imagine Peri, Shih and Sparber, concluding the mere presence of immigrant workers causes wages to rise –- these are employment based migrants, their gig is to move to the locations where the wages are rising.

The mainstream media is on a mission to extol the virtue of the  In this particular instance, it is impossible to tell if the journalistic pro-immigration slant is coming from the Wall Street Journal authors, Josh Zumbrun and Matt Stiles and if the article’s title, "Skilled Foreign Workers a Boon to Pay, Study Finds” was their idea, was created by their editor, or is actually contained in the “Study” that Zumbrun and Stiles neglected to name.  I guess the WSJ authors thought that nobody would be interested in reading the study, authored by, Giovanni Peri, Kevin Shih, Chad Sparber,  and entitled, “Foreign STEM Workers and Native Wages and Employment in U.S. Cities”, so why bother to provide the name of the study that they are writing about?