Top 10 Reasons Why The H-1B Visa System is Unfair

The politicians and mass media are full of bogus reasons as to why the H-1B Visa and the Immigration System is unfair but to be honest most of those reasons are either completely or partially false or in fact a problem because of them.

I will also do this for other visas like E-3, J-1, F-1, etc. as well as the Permanent Residency/Green Card system and thus US Immigration as a whole.

Let’s take a one of those major reasons as an example;

According to them the “h-1b visa system displaces US workers, causing local unemployment to be higher”

  • the fact is that if it wasn’t for immigrants, companies like Google, eBay, Intel and Paypal may never have begun in more recent times. How many more Americans would be out of work directly and indirectly in related industries?
  • If a person works a lot harder creating a new product, providing a great service so a new client is earned, etc. then that company now will hire more people. Immigrant workers not just today but throughout the entire US history have worked a lot harder their local counterparts because they have too just to survive. (incidentally this is also what ultimately pushes wages hire for US workers as well dispelling that myth as well)
  • A foreign worker with high education in skills in engineering who comes over to be a lead engineer at Apple or work in the Alternative Energy or Bio Tech arena is not displacing a manufacturing worker who lost their job at GM or Chrysler because of their mismanagement. The unfortunate reasons why the average US worker is losing their job is because of terrible American executive management at the companies for decades and corresponding terrible American politicians and their policies in Government. (the politicians and media use foreign workers to deflect blame from where it rightly should be at themselves)

Now let’s get to what you have all been waiting for the Top 10 Reasons why the H-1B visa system is unfair.
This list is not in any particular order as to some degree they are all as bad as each other. (you will see many of this Top 10 list have links as their dedicated posts already about those topics with even more information than the snippet here)

1. Visa Application Cost – Currently if a company chose to apply for the right and was serious about hiring a foreigner they would have to pay about $2,000 in application costs ($1,000 without premium processing) that is not refundable for the application as these days there are always more applications than annual visas available. Then a further $1,000 in extra fees if the petition is accepted. Where does this money go? Well to the US Government of course for vague reasons like Fraud Detection, US Retraining, Homeland Security, etc. So in other words the same old excessive pork barreling for the US Government and politicians.

2. Premium Processing – Ok for the USCIS to process your H-1B visa application “faster” (i.e. 2 week guarantee) and for your registered attorney or company to have phone access to the case officer assessing your application you can pay this extra $1,000 fee. While this doesn’t necessarily “help” your application, all the big companies tend to do it for their applicants to ensure things are correct and of course they get the most visas. In the end it is a fee that benefits only those that can afford to pay it.

3. Visa Lottery – Since the H1B visa has been capped at the 65,000 mark, oversubscription has been a huge issue. Last year they received 130,000 applications on the first day alone on April 1. Even the 20,000 cap for foreigners with US Masters Degrees s being oversubscribed and going to a lottery. The fact that so many companies need the specialized talent but the US Government has set some arbitray limit is not helping the anybody in the US economy.

4. Lawyers – We have consistently said the only people who benefit from this process all the time is the Immigration attorney. For them it doesn’t matter whether a foreigner gets a visa or doesn’t. As long as the system is so convaluted and unnecessarily complex they can just charge more fees. And you wonder why their lobby is so strong in Washington!!

5. Lack of Access by Smaller Companies – For many of the reason I have highlighted above with excessive fees, lawyers, etc. puts the whole process beyond smaller companies, companies in non major centers and many start-ups. If these companies had better access many cities around the country would not be dying and many innovative start-ups could turn into houselhold names and benefit the US as a whole.

6. Visa Quota – As we mentioned there is an arbitray quota of 65,000 H-1B visas each year with an extra 20,000 H-1B visa for foreigners who may have US Masters Degrees. These figures are based on nothing and just random figures to suit nothing but a few politicians in Washington. Given that Bill Gates, richest man in the world who created one of the world’s biggest brand in Microsoft thinks this figure should be more around 500,000 for the US economy, you can see where this may be an issue

7. Lack of Incentive for Permanent Residency/Green Card – An immigrant who comes to the US legally and works hard, pays taxes, etc. it is not the easiest path to Permanent Residency. It is again up to the employer to pay for the application costs and due to the completely overworked and innefficient USCIS and complexity of the process, it can take many years for this to even come through. Some applicants have to stay in their same role foregoing promotions and salary increases, better opportunities at other companies, etc. for 5 or more years just so this process can play out.

8. Tax Burden – An H-1B immigrant has to pay all the taxes a US worker has too; being Federal, State, City if applicable, Social Security, Medicare, etc. However unlike a US worker they have no access to Social Security benefits or Medicare. So they are helping the US worker completely but getting no benefit for themselves.

9. Change of Employer – To change employers, an H-1B applicant’s new company has to pay almost all of the same application costs that we said can be around $3,000. The actual complete approval process itself can take many months. However from the date an H-1B leaves their current company they have only 10 days to get initial approval from Department of Labor  for their new company or they are considered out of status and have to leave the US. Imagine if you were laid off suddenly and you had 10 days to not only find interview but also secure an offer and then submit the approval documents or you would be deported.

10. Hire Dates – So the applications open on April 1 each year and for a few luck people whose applications go really well they may their approval by the start of May. Can they start working then? NO!!! 
The official start date for H-1B visas is October 1 so companies, foreign employees and thus the US Economy as a whole is put on hold for this date to tick over for work to begin

BONUS: Visa Stamping & Travel – I put this in the bonus section as it doesn’t necessarily effect the US Company, US Worker or US Economy but more just the foreign worker. Should this person in their measly 2 weeks leave a year get to be able to go back home and see their families and friends, for the first time they have to plan a visit to the local US consulate just to get their visa stamped. Seems like a simple process but usually takes half to 3/4 of a day to do. That’s a large part of a short vacation spent on US beuracracy!!

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10 thoughts on “Top 10 Reasons Why The H-1B Visa System is Unfair

  1. Foreign H-1B workers do not have a record of improving the bottom-line of corporations. If you disagree, please name the innovations and the H-1Bs who invented them.
    Some of the biggest users of H-1Bs were the collapsed Wall Street financial services companies.

    Indeed, some of the most screwed-up IT departments I’ve seen have been dominated by H-1B imports.

    The most successful versions of Windows were the versions from the last century, before Microsoft started relying on so many H-1Bs.

    H-1B imported workers drive down the wages and working condition of U.S. citizen workers.

    The Millions of H-1B workers who have flooded into the country have, and will continue to decimate the hopes, prospects, and wages of U.S. IT, Engineering and nursing workers, and would clear out US citizens from all IT science and medical curricula at American universities since the job prospects are made dismal due to the oversupply of eager foreign student green-card seekers willing to work at lower wages.

    The same sentiment of workers is breaking out across Britain. They have had all they stand with salary depression and losing their jobs because of the importation of foreign workers.

    Check out this video to see some interviews of the strikers:
    http://mefeedia.com/entry/itn-latest-story/14132009/

  2. So let me get this straight your argument against H-1B workers are the Wall St Financial companies that collapsed. All of those companies were run by Americans and had policies constructed by Americans in Government.

    Using your logic some of the worst automotive companies, banks and war policies were made by Americans thus all Americans must be incompetent then according to your ridiculous logic.

    Then you argument is what you have seen personally in IT departments which of course means all IT departments are like that everywhere.
    Then you blame Windows perils on H-1B workers.

    Haha your arguments would be laughable if it wasn’t so obvious that your beliefs are serious. Sadly there are many like you.
    If you want to see the benefits of the h-1b then read an actual study; http://www.nfap.com/pdf/080311h1b.pdf

    Clearly you have no idea the study, the sacrifice and cost it takes for most foreigners to make the journey judging by your laughable arguments.

  3. Thank you for one of the best articles I have ever read about H1B!!! Your reasoning is logical and profound – exactly what Pink Baloons (unable to spell Balloons in the right way) is missing.
    I think it is always easier to blame somebody else – in this case helpless immigrants. Did you ever think, Pink Baloon, than you were given so many opportunities to achieve as an American, the opportunities, which your ancestors gave to you by moving to the New Word maybe 300, maybe 200, maybe even 100 years ago and that instead of working and achieving those goals, YOU and many other Americans who think like YOU prefer to blame the immigrants for your own problems such as overbuying, overeating, overtrashing the environment! Until you do something about your lazy asses (and that concerns Brits as well) your country will be having fiasco after fiasco. So my advice is stop blaming everything and everybody and START WORKING!!!

  4. Hi,
    That is a good question. Maybe theoretically they are but unless it was a private school with a very specialized specific role, I doubt a foreigner would ever be hired as a High School teacher given the amount of US citizen and permanent resident availability.
    CJ

  5. What a great post! You really said what had to be said. It is paradox that the US has so many smart people in private industry and so many not so smart people in the government who make the policies.

  6. Hi P,
    Thanks for the kind words and yes it sad that the people in power are in many cases not the people who should be making any decisions.
    CJ

  7. The problem with H1 Visas is most Indians, apply to jobs with fake credentials. I have seen some of them, apply for jobs with 7-8 years as work experience and run away from assignments when the going gets tough. USCIS must check the credentials of each person who are applying to lottery via SSN.
    This entire process is rigged with people who try to get a job with 7-8 years as experience which otherwise should have gone to an American.

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