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Malaphax

H1-B and Outsourcing

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Recently I've seen a few articles posted about the various abuses and issues with the H1-B visa program. Here's a few recent ones:

 

Disney laying of 250 IT workers, who have to train their mostly Indian national replacements:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/04/us/last-task-after-layoff-at-disney-train-foreign-replacements.html?_r=0

 

Southern California Edison laid off 400 IT workers also being replaced by cheaper foreign IT contractors:

http://www.computerworld.com/article/2879083/southern-california-edison-it-workers-beyond-furious-over-h-1b-replacements.html

 

I know this issue mostly has been affecting the IT sector as well as the engineering sector, and while I know that not every H1-B visa is being used for abuse it seems like like a large portion are being heavily abused by certain large international staffing agencies.

 

This article from the Pew Charitable Trust also brings up some damning statistics about the program. I'll try and provide a few choice quotes.

“When people are talking about the need to add skilled immigrants to our economy, they are not talking about H-1B,” Harrison said. “H-1B is a holding tank. It’s a place to put bodies while they wait for green cards … You end with a lot of people waiting, and they’re easy to exploit, they’re easy to underpay, and they’re easy to use to replace Americans which is what we’ve been seeing. ”

 

“There isn’t a shortage of entry-level tech workers. But there is a shortage of entry-level tech workers that can be underpaid and controlled by employers,” said Daniel Costa, the institute’s director of immigration law and policy research.

A U.S. Government Accountability Office report in 2011 found that oversight of the H-1B program was “fragmented and restricted,” with only cursory review of applications. When studied by the Department of Homeland Security, more than one-fifth of the applications were fraudulent or included technical violations, the report said.

Source: http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/blogs/stateline/2015/6/08/states-cities-call-for-skilled-foreign-workers-amid-abuse-claims

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Unfortunately if you are in an industry that is ripe for automation - you will get replaced by technology or less people + technology.

 

A large part of my job is actually designing software systems to test cars without the need of real people.

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There's a large difference between replacing a factory line worker with a robot and replacing an IT professional with a cheaper foreign worker.

I absolutely believe that automation is destroying jobs, I'm willing to accept that level of job loss because of increased efficiencies and other factors. I'm not willing to defend the practice of hiring cheaper employees that need to be trained, and can only follow basic instructions/scripts to replace existing employees. The H1-B program does not exist to allow companies to search for cheaper labor to replace existing workers, it's designed to allow companies to find skilled workers in impacted job markets.

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Unfortunately if you are in an industry that is ripe for automation - you will get replaced by technology or less people + technology.

 

This may eventually be true for all industries given enough advances in AI and something I am somewhat concerned about in the long run. That's where one needs to stay creative to stay ahead of the game.

 

As for the H1-B VIsa scandals, I think it's absolutely BS that companies are doing this as the ones they're replaced with are usually far less competent as in my own experience.

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Quote

Data made available by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for the first time show that the widely made complaint about the visa program is true: a small number of IT outsourcing companies get a disproportionately high number of H-1B visas and pay below-average wages to their workers.

Almost 4,000 companies submitted H-1B visa applications in fiscal year 2016. The top 20 sponsors took home 37% of all visas issued 1. IT outsourcing companies made up the top five.

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https://qz.com/1041506/new-data-on-h-1b-visas-show-how-it-outsourcers-are-short-changing-workers/

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