DoJ beats up tech firm for H-1B only job ads
Small fine, humiliation by press release
A Pittsburgh computer consultancy is paying $45,000 in civil penalties over claims it discriminated against legal US residents by advertising only for developers on H-1B visas.
The case was brought against iGate Mastech for placing an ad for 30 programmers between May and June 2006 "that expressly favored H-1B visa holders to the exclusion of US citizens, lawful permanent citizens and other legal US workers" according to the US Department of Justice.
So-called citizenship status discrimination is prohibited by the US Immigration and Nationality Act. The DoJ said it is "committed to protection the right of all authorized workers in the United States against citizenship status discrimination".
The complaint was one of many brought in 2006 by the US Programmers Guild against employers for specifying H1-B visa holders only to fill job vacancies.
According to the Guild's website, employers "love" H-1B aliens because they work longer hours for lower wages and also because it's harder for workers on a visa to switch jobs. The Guild called it a "fiction" that the United States suffers a shortage of skilled labor, as "most" H-1B aliens fill entry-level jobs.
Companies seeking only H-1B workers ois a serious problem, according to Guild founder John Miano. "We are only scratching the surface right now with the companies that are brazen enough to put out ads like these," he told Computerworld. ®
Yes and no...
First off, as an American who has spent 30 years in IT, 10 of those in the US working with H-1B visa holders and the last 5 working in or managing development teams in East Asia, I have to agree fully with "Systematic Erosion" up above. As far as the Count of Monte Cristo comment by Solomon Grundy - I feel your pain, but that pain isn't nearly as bad as what lots of people are feeling. Fully 95% of my American contacts with more than ten years experience and/or born before 1970 have been unemployed for at least five out of the last eight years. This includes a guy with an MBA and a P. Eng., who routinely is told he either a) has too high a rate, b) isn't credible when he says he'll work for a lower rate, and/or c) never gets called by the "recruiters" who use "grep" as a primary resume-filtering tool.
Out of some 55 projects I have worked on and/or observed with significant numbers of H-1Bs in the US, 49 have failed. Of the 15 I have worked in since arriving in East Asia, the only one that failed did so - according to the client - because the infrastructure developed for the project by a large, well-known South Asian outsourcing firm was not fit for purpose, and the budget could not support the level of rework needed....even at "bargain basement" prices.
You really do have to pay for what you get - directly or otherwise. The problem in IT for the last 20 years or so is that we haven't been getting what we've thought - and mediocrity is the new standard of excellence. TANSTAAFL? Must be a technical term - no marketroid, HR bot or CxO has ever thought the concept through.
check your info- "cheap labor" is not the case
people who work in this country legally on H1B visas are not cheaper to employ than people who are lucky enough to be citizens. it is illegal to pay people who work on H1B visas lower than the previaling wage (this is to protect them and to protect citizens). Previaling wage differs from city to city, but it is at least 60K/year.
...but do these skilled workers...
...have an MBA that our beloved government finds so much more valuable than, say, a M.Eng?
Always struck me as ironic
The irony is that my hometown of Pittsburgh is home to a few universities (Carnegie Mellon, Pitt, Duqesne to name a scant few), and the standard of living is on the cheap side compared to other places. And the lament from just about everybody out of university is "there's no jobs around here".
Well, if the H1-B people do come here, at least they can make sure their meagre dollar goes further here than, say NYC or DC (or abroad, where it's really meagre!). Also, our centres of higher learning provide good opportunities for graduate studies. Good time to come over and buy houses, because us yanks can't afford them!
Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go back to yinzer, before my head explodes. Maybe I should have some crisps first... *boom*
not unique to America
This happens in the UK too, There is some strange idea among the higher ups that hiring foreign workers is cheaper. while the upfront costs are probably cheaper (and i'm assuming there are some iffy tax breaks for the company) the maintanance costs more than offset this.
From the projects I've been involved in, the quality of the 'offshore resource' i have worked with has varied drastically. From someone who is very good, and can quite easily take technical lead on a project, to supposed experts in a technology, who had trouble interpreting logical structures ie incorrectly coded checks involving AND & OR as they didn't understand them, had copied chunks of code from elsewhere in the app and slightly amended, but without understanding how the original code worked, so while it did what it needed to, it also had a few extras in that guaranteed unexpected behaviour further down the line(they'd even copied the original comments which were meaningless in the context of the 'new' code).
There are also the simplest of problems, caused if you're a non-native english speaker (not specific to foreign workers, i had to train someone a year or so ago that had the reading & writing skills of a retarded chimp). Specs & Designs are very carefully worded to be clear and unambiguous. If you can't follow that then mistakes will be made, and any comments in the code to explain, will not be helpful . we have even included quality of comments in our coding standards now due to this, if they are not in clearly understandable, gramatically correct, english then the code will fail review.
I think, from my experience, that one of the problems seems to be that what appears on the CV means something very different to what you would get with an American or UK developer, and managers have come to expect more than is explicitly stated. If a CV states that a person has extensive experience in c/c++ it could simply mean that they have spent the last 2-3 years coding from detailed program specs without ever understanding how the programs work. Chances are that if a UK or American developer puts this then they are the one who wrote the program spec.
This sort of thing would easily be determined in an interview by a few questions, but the people interviewing don't tend to realise there is even a difference between just being able to code and being able to design code. Or in the case of where i work, there isn't even an interview, the 'resource' is ordered almost like stationary. if a project needs 3 more developers, they are just ordered, turn up and get to work if there are any problems, they aren't spotted until code is actually produced (which is too late to replace someone)