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Gates: U.S. Shutting Out Generation of Einsteins

Alan Sipress

Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates brought his dire warnings about the future of American competitiveness to the Senate this morning, telling Sen. Edward "Ted" M. Kennedy's Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions that tight visa policies are costing the United States some of the world's brightest thinkers.


"America has always done its best when we bring the best minds to our shores," Gates testified. "Scientists like Albert Einstein were born abroad but did great work here because we welcomed them. The contributions of such powerful intellects has been vital to many of the great breakthroughs made here in America."

Gates called for the U.S. government to overhaul its immigration system for high-skilled workers, warning that the country already faces a "critical shortage" of scientific talent. "Unfortunately, our immigration policies are driving away the world's best and brightest precisely when we need them most," he said.

Gates told the committee that he had already seen the detrimental effects at Microsoft of the country's 15-year-old visa policies. He noted that the government's annual allotment of H1B visas, given to foreign professionals employed by U.S. companies and universities, ran out within the first four months of 2007. He predicted the supply for 2008 will be exhausted even sooner, meaning that Microsoft for the first time will not be able to get H1B visas for any graduating students this year.

During his remarks, Gates also called for improved education and training, especially in math and science, and more government support for research, development and protection of intellectual property.

"We have had the amazing good fortune to live through a period of incredible innovation and prosperity," he said in concluding his prepared testimony. "We must not squander this opportunity to secure America's continued competitiveness and prosperity."

By Alan Sipress  |  March 7, 2007; 11:30 AM ET  | Category:  Alan Sipress
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Join ProgrammersGuild.Org
http://www.ProgrammersGuild.Org

Posted by: JOIN Programmers Guild . Org | March 7, 2007 12:36 PM

Thanks Gates for suppoting the skilled legal immigrants. We have tons of people with high skilled and still unable to get the Greencard owing to visa unavailability. Please support us as we don't see many people supporting the legal immigrants. Thanks once again. --Nanban---

Posted by: Nanban | March 7, 2007 12:56 PM

Programmers Guild is a 3 person organization, a sham organization that supposedly "protects" rights of IT workers...it is nothing more than a disgraced lobbying outfit with links to Anti-immigrant organizations like NumbersUSA and FAIR.

Posted by: RandallJ | March 7, 2007 12:58 PM

I agree with Bill Gates that we shut out some of the brightest minds from our shores.
But I wish that Gates had talked more about developing the brightest minds in THIS country by making college more affordable to those without the means. I was fortunate. Went to UCal Berkeley in the 1950's. $45 for tuition. Sure minimum wage was $1.00 and gas was 25 cents per gallon. Minimum wage is now over $5.00 and tuition is much more than $225 per semester. When public universities cost thousands for tuition and books are $100 a piece, what chance does a middle class kid have whose parents don't make enough to send that son/daughter to college but too much to allow that same offspring to get a scholarship based on need.
Sure, California has a great JC system which helps for two years and state universities and the the UC system abound to such abundance as to allow almost all to commute. But what about states like Oregon where Junior Colleges are few and far between and there are almost no colleges other than on the I-5 corridor.
Gates needs to look to help people in the US, not complain about Visa programs from abroad.
As we outsource our high tech jobs, there are fewer Americans getting degrees in those fields. Obviously with fewer Americans getting degrees in engineering, etc., more jobs are outsourced.
Duh!

Posted by: Dick Diamond | March 7, 2007 1:34 PM

Microsoft has not been particularly innovative - look at Vista. Bill employs plenty of geniuses now, where's the beef? He really wants to keep China and India from producing competing products.

Posted by: Tomcat | March 7, 2007 1:42 PM

I'm pretty sure Einstein wasn't here on an H-1B visa. Don't talk about the "best minds" in connection with workers you underpay and overwork on threat of revoking visa sponsorship.

H-1B is a tool for dumping larging numbers of warm bodies into an already flooded labor market, not acquiring the "best minds".

In the meantime, the next generation of Americans "Einsteins" are turning away from scientific and technical fields, as it becomes obvious that they provide slim chance of a successful career.

- Mike.

Join ProgrammersGuild.Org
http://www.ProgrammersGuild.Org

(we have more than 3 members)

Posted by: Mike | March 7, 2007 1:56 PM

Microsoft could use more *best minds* in the programming parts of the organization. So far, their best minds have put their efforts into *selling* rather mediocre products and dominating their markets by means having little to do with technological excellence.

Posted by: Bill Mosby | March 7, 2007 2:02 PM

i concur and add it is in our national security interest.

Posted by: egalitaire | March 7, 2007 2:06 PM

Gates mis-spoke. What he meant to conclude with is "'I' have had the amazing good fortune to live through a period of incredible innovation and prosperity," he said in concluding his prepared testimony. "'You' must not squander this opportunity to secure 'my' continued competitiveness and prosperity.". Gates could care less about the rest of us, he just wants more. Extreme greed at its best. If he truly wanted more students to study math and science, he would push for higher salaries and more opportunities for those fields. He is not stupid, but sure as hell is greedy, and in my opinion, worthless as an American.

Posted by: Vicars | March 7, 2007 2:15 PM

Funny claims Mike, I don't understand how you claim H-1B visa recipients are underpaid, they are some of the most highly paid employees at my company, no scratch that, aside from anyone with a VP or a CEO in their title, they ARE the highest paid! By a considerable margin!

Posted by: Fred Evil | March 7, 2007 2:16 PM

One must not miss the point that by definition, employment-based legal immigrants have already been certified by the U.S. Department of Labor that a shortage of such skilled professionals currently exists in this country. Yet, many of such skilleld professionals who otherwise can fill our needs NOW are relegated to long lines waiting for their turn under the visa QUOTA system. Since there's a need for these professionals NOW, why make the proven qualified workers wait? People should stop attacking the messenger and look at the system and all its flaws. Bill Gates's point to Congress was - fix the broken system!

Posted by: Waiyee Wong | March 7, 2007 2:35 PM

Gates is way off base, and the 'hearings' were a complete sham. SOME (very few) companies use the H-1B as it should be used, however most of the visas are used by outsourcing companies and body shops. The H-1B system should be reformed to stop abuse and wage depression, and not allow the use of H-1B's as 'rented labor'. This should be done prior to increasing any caps. If this is done, there will be plenty of H-1B visas to go around without a requirement to raise the cap.

Instead of fighting for importing more foreign workers, Gates should be looking at ways to promote US students and workers, and make education cheaper. There is NO INCENTIVE for US students to go into math and science fields in the US because as soon as you start to get ahead, an H-1B is hired at lower wages and the US citizen is fired.

The H-1B and L-1 programs are corporate welfare and are destroying the American way of life. Stop the abuse and reform the program before increasing the caps!

Visit http://www.programmersguild.org to learn more about the truth behind the H-1B and L-1 visa.

Posted by: TM | March 7, 2007 2:39 PM

I have personally seen Americans replaced by offshore outsourcing on the basis of cost. On top of that, these Americans were required to write "knowledge transfer" documents for their replacement "experts." If they chose not to, their severances would be effected.

Also use google to find how many offshore research and development offices and operations are being developed by Microsoft, IBM, HP, etc. It is far easier for these companies to leave the states than any American can... and why SHOULD Americans want to leave the US to find better employment opportunities?

If he is having problems getting H1-Bs for new graduates, perhaps we should be making sure more of those slots are open to US students. Problem solved - other than universities seeking foreign income.

If one studies the job requirements for IT workers, you will see that often an incredible amount of training needs to be invested in skills. But - many companies are not training people - they would much rather pilfer from those who do. Often the IT person will invest their own money in getting training - so it is an incredible gamble of family money on what is going to be "the hot" technology of the next year. Often these technologies cost 10's of thousands of dollars (we're not talking about MS Word or something) so one cannot simply run down to the store and "start learning at home" with this software.

Some places will see a candidate experienced with a previous version of the same software and deny the resume! A candidate will have experience on similar software/hardware and be denied. (Is there really that big of a difference between AIX, HPUX, and Solaris?)

Right now I am rewriting software that came from India. I'm not complaining but I do have to deal with the complaints of a company that wants something to work and yet wants to change as little as possible to save their investment. Sometimes it just doesn't work that way.

The summation of my points - US companies are creating their own problems with hiring qualified workers.

They like the idea of supply and demand when the price is in their favor but start squawking to the government for regulations when someone might be able to make a buck for their intelligence and training.

Thousands of kids from Silicon Valley to Boston's Route 128 watched their parents get fired and laid off from technical positions and we wonder why technology isn't considered a viable career choice anymore. I can guarantee kids are hearing about Gates call for non-Americans for these jobs right now over dinner tonight.

Between football players making millions for throwing a ball, an ex-stripper married to a billionaire putting her face all over the news from her death, as well pop-singers raking in millions - American technology has bigger problems to deal with than hiring older people (who actually INVENTED THE INTERNET THANK YOU) and their demands for better working conditions and pay.

Posted by: Scott Auge | March 7, 2007 2:49 PM

As long as they are carefully screened and monitored so that they won't blow us up at the malls I agree fully

Posted by: Concerned | March 7, 2007 3:19 PM

Underemployment is indeed a problem. I have a degree in physics and chemistry and have never had a good job in my life. I have seen for a long time that employers would rather hire someone with McDonald's experience than someone who stayed in school and did his or her homework. They would rather hire an illegal alien. Employers and personnel managers include many stupid people who aren't even able to recognize, much less value, a good education or an intelligent mind.

Posted by: Martian76 | March 7, 2007 3:29 PM

Underemployment is indeed a problem. I have a degree in physics and chemistry and have never had a good job in my life. I have seen for a long time that employers would rather hire someone with McDonald's experience than someone who stayed in school and did his or her homework. They would rather hire an illegal alien. Employers and personnel managers include many stupid people who aren't even able to recognize, much less value, a good education or an intelligent mind.

Posted by: Martian76 | March 7, 2007 3:31 PM

"A candidate will have experience on similar software/hardware and be denied. (Is there really that big of a difference between AIX, HPUX, and Solaris?)"

This is more of a problem with an HR employee who doesn't know the difference between AIX and FedEx filtering resumes based solely on the exact list of required skills on the job description.


While I'm not a particularly big fan of Microsoft, it's worth noting that through the Gates Foundation Bill has spent a considerable amount of time, energy, and money "looking at ways to promote US students"

He is right we keep the world's best and brightest out at our own peril.

Posted by: Norm | March 7, 2007 3:40 PM

Some of the greatest minds of this young generation are already in this country, Bill, but they simply do not choose to become computer programmers or engineers. It is not because they do not enjoy computer programming, they just understand that the labor market is such that becoming a lawyer, doctor, or teacher is usually a much more lucrative and/or fulfilling career choice. If Microsoft, Google, and other software companies provide the quality of life or job satisfaction that these careers provide, you will not have any problem attracting the cream of the crop.

Posted by: Matt | March 7, 2007 3:49 PM

Not impressed. There is no more a shortage of US-born programmers than there is a shortage of Americans willing to do "dirty jobs" like cleaning and construction--IF they can make a decent living at it.

Posted by: csdiego | March 7, 2007 3:58 PM

As a college student in Engineering today, I can see that most of the best students in this country are turning away from fields in science and technology to work in other industries. This is because science and engineering are probably the hardest to study but the earnings are only average at best.
For example, at my school, most of the engineers with the highest GPAs are turning to the financial industry because they can get paid alot more (at least twice as much for the first year alone, and it goes widens).
Therefore, as we are losing these young engineers and scientists, how can America still hope to maintain its lead on innovation? And without innovation, how can America continue to maintain its lead economically?
I fully support what Bill Gates said, any skilled worker who is needed, who is willing to come legally, should be supported. This will help the US and the world becasue we are allowing the brightest minds to work in the best environment. I think it is time we let phD students do research instead of bussing dishes at a restaurant.

Posted by: Cornellian | March 7, 2007 4:36 PM

All we do with temporary workers via the H1-B and L-1 is train them how to create companies in their own countries to compete against us.

Take for example:

http://www.cybercrime.gov/ComTriadarrest.htm

If those two were smart, they would let their visa's expire and hook up with Tata, Wipro, and that crowd to create a "new" product division.

Americans are training their own replacements and businesses are training their own competition.

Posted by: S Auge | March 7, 2007 5:07 PM

Its a fact that most of the students in Computer Engineering departments are non American and even the few Americans who do graduate go into Financial services or law following the money. That leaves the companies with three choices. Hire the non american graduating students, send the development offshore or hire people off the street and train them. Now the people who spent their youth having frat parties and Spring break orgies would like the companies to take the third option and train people at their own expense. However companies would like to opt for the first two options so it boils down to keeping the development in USA by reforming the visa regime or watch entire development efforts go abroad. When this happens it doesnt hurt the frat boys as they continue to get their social security checks (yes programmers guild thats you I am talking about) but it does hurt the few American programmers who were working on the project. e.g. If there are 10 people needed for a project and you found 5 qualified and willing Americans and you could hire the other 5 on visas you would keep the project in US but if you didnt have the visas you would send the entire project abroad and fire the 5 Americans you did find.

Posted by: Prabuddha | March 7, 2007 5:18 PM

If engineers and scientists are in such short supply, wouldn't it make sense that their salaries would be much higher? If you know your skills are in short demand, don't you try to leverage that by asking for more money? The argument that there aren't enough engineers and scientists goes against the law of supply and demand, because (as the engineering student above pointed out) their salaries have not increased as demand has increased. The reason is obvious - instead of paying the market rate for these employees, businesses import the labor via the H-1B and depress wages! While businesses claim that the engineers and scientists are the backbone of their companies, they don't want to compensate them as such. The whole argument about a shortage is a sham! If they were that hard to get, they would be paid a lot more, and more citizens would be going into those fields!

Instead, we educate foreign students while denying the same education to our own citizens, then complain that our citizens don't have the skills! Companies do this too - send the cheap H-1B's to training instead of the citizens! Soon not only will we not have the skills, we won't have the companies or the education either. It's a race to the bottom, and we're winning.

Posted by: TM | March 7, 2007 5:24 PM

Fact: H1B visas require and ensure that foreign workers are getting paid their share.

Fact: If Americans want to continue living prosperously now and in the future, we must be able to compete with foreign nations like China and India. The economies of these countries are growing at 10% per year, while America grows at 3% per year.

Opinion: Gates is expressing his true beliefs, he wants what is mutually best for this country, microsoft and us--global competitiveness. There is no black and white. There are cases where H1B is used and abused, but overall, when companies cannot hire the best foreign graduates, who are already here on student visas because the cap is too small, that is a major problem.

It takes people like Gates who can look into the future and suggest strategies to avoid major future problems. It might not be latent now, but if we dont fix policies now the future consequences might be severe.

Posted by: Mike | March 7, 2007 5:38 PM

Bill Gates, Microsoft and countless other tech companies are denying and depriving EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY to American Workers... especialy those aged 40 and above. They do not advertise their jobs and then covertly bring foreign workers in for interviews and hiring through third party HR firms. All of you HR people are criminals. And, lowering our salaries like this is also a violation of ADEA.
Reports, studies shatter myth that H-1B visa holders are paid same wages as U.S. citizens
http://tinyurl.com/hkwj3
or... http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2006-09/i-rss090606.php

Posted by: Colleen | March 7, 2007 6:42 PM

Mike may want to check his facts....

1) FACT: There is no requirement in the H-1B program that the visa holders get paid their 'fair share'. The 'prevailing wage' requirement is a sham that companies break or ignore all of the time. The biggest abusers of this are outsourcing and head-hunters. They can be completely ignored (see http://www.prweb.com/releases/2006/7/prweb407549.htm) or worked around (see http://pressherald.mainetoday.com/news/immigration/).

2) FACT: If America keeps shipping jobs overseas and importing people to perform jobs at a cheaper rate (labor dumping), Americans won't be able to have a high standard of living anyway because they will not be making any money.

3) FACT: (not only were your facts wrong, they were mixed up!) Smaller economies are more affected percentage-wise by changes in their GDP than large economies. Due to their HUGE populations, the per-person changes in income were not as great as the growth would indicate for India and China. And their economies wouldn't be so large if we didn't ship all of our work over there to begin with. China and India have both had very closed economies in the past and are still nowhere near as open to our as ours is to them.

Finally, the fact is that if Gates truly wanted to make changes to allow the smartest people into the country from other countries, he would advocate CHANGES in the H-1B program before he advocates INCREASES. He can't get any visas because they are all taken up by outsourcing and head-hunting companies like Tata, Infosys, and others that import mediocre workers who will accept lower wages and live in slave-like conditions. Is this really where the best and brightest will hang out?

Fix the system, then consider increases. If the system is fixed, you'll find out that the cap wouldn't ever be reached.

Posted by: TM | March 7, 2007 6:45 PM

To Fred Evil -

According to 2004 DOL data, H-1B workers in computer occupations earn an average of $13,000/year less than Americans in the same occupation and state.

http://www.cis.org/articles/2005/back1305.html

- Mike.

Posted by: Mike (the first one, not the one who just posted) | March 7, 2007 7:23 PM

I was lay-off when I was working for NASDAQ working under SAIC contract after 6th month. The reason: SAIC discovered they can bring another H1-B at 1/3 the salary they payment. Thanksfully, this was in 1998 at the height of .com. I found another job the next day.
Most H-1B != Albert Einstein. Gate is full of sh*t! an total over-exaggerated comparison.

Posted by: Extinct US Developer | March 7, 2007 8:41 PM

RE TM: No offense TM but you dont even come close enough to Gates to question his judgement.

It might seem reasonable to advocate changes in H1-Bs organization as you suggest, however, that would be a long-term solution that doesnt help to solve or even address a short-term problem.

You seem to be the one who is confused!

The degree to which America will continue shipping jobs oversees is negatively correlated with the amount of H1B visas allowed into this country. Put simply, if the H1B cap remains as is, then more jobs will be outsourced. You can disagree with me, but this is also what some of the biggest CEOs in the US have been saying for years. My guess is they know more than you!

I stand by my facts. The GDPs of China and India grow at faster rates than that of the US. Global Economic Projections from indicate that 20 years from now Chinas GDP will exceed that of the US and that Indias GDP will be on par with that of the US.

One last thing TP, try looking up the word "fact" in the dictionary. Your facts are something that I was taught in the third grade are "opinions."

I may only be a high school student, but this high school student understands that you dont know jack!


Posted by: Mike | March 7, 2007 9:17 PM

The lie of bill gates..


First of all, his foundation has nothing to do with promoting U.S. students in Computer Science. Go to Gates website.

Second. Microsoft's issue isn't that there isn't enough programmers, they're complaining that programmers want too much money.

Third. I like it when smart minds come from overseas. But. If we believe this is a person who is that skilled, give him/her a green card right away. But companies don't want this because H1-B is set up so that if the person complains, or tries to go to a different company, they're essentially deported. If they were given a green card right away, they would work at the prevailing U.S. wage.

Fourth. Microsoft (and the Gates Foundation has nothing to do with Microsoft) has done nothing to help this issue except beg congress for more cheap labor from overseas. I'll bet they've spent more on lobbying congress than on paying the prevailing U.S. Wage.

Posted by: Tom | March 7, 2007 9:40 PM

Fact: Einstein did very little, if any, innovative work as a US resident. He published the Special Theory of Relativity in 1905 and the General Theory of Relativity in 1916. Heck, he retired twelve years after coming to the US -- and he would never have come in the first place had the Nazis not come to power. Einstein didn't even particpate in the Manhattan Project. Robert Oppenheimer (born in the US) led the scientific end of the project. Yes, Szilard and Fermi were instrumental, but again, they came to the US because of political persecution, not because the US offered them better jobs.

Gates knows how to make money -- period. He should leave science policy and immigration policy to those who know more about it. And Mike (in high school), you'd BETTER know jack before you take others to task.

Posted by: historian | March 7, 2007 9:57 PM

I've worked at Microsoft as a contractor. They do not even attempt to hire the best and brightest. Their MO was to hire on the cheap and make their workers put in 80 hour weeks. For me it was no problem as I got paid by the hour. For the direct employees with families it totally sucked. They would go home and bring their kids back to work with them so they could see them. The kids roamed the halls while the parents were still in their offices slaving away.

Bill Gates it a total hypocrite!

Posted by: Kg | March 7, 2007 10:19 PM

I am one of 20+ Americans ordered by corporate management to train our Foreign Replacement Workers.

Our Replacements are H-1b and L-1 guestworkers.

Corporate Mgmt held out a carrot for the Americans. "Stay on and Train your replacements then we'll have this severance for you."

I had 3 TATA India Employees as replacements. Each learned a different aspect of my position.

There was nothing "Einstein" about these people. Most everyone was an absolute rookie, learning on the job.

The H-1b visa is nothing more than a cheap labor program for the corporations funding congressional campaigns.

Posted by: Troup | March 8, 2007 7:40 AM

How dare Bill Gates try to deceive the public in making a comparison between Albert Einstein's circumstances and those of Microsoft today.

Einstein did NOT come to America on an H-1B visa. He came here for humanitarian reasons to avoid religious persecution. Einstein was a Jew in Germany in 1932 - a bad situation since Adolf Hitler was beginning his implementation of the Jewish holocaust. Wisely he decided to stay in America.

Congress must remember, Bill Gates represents the best interests of Microsoft and their shareholders, NOT the best interests of the American public.

Posted by: spf | March 8, 2007 8:07 AM

spf, Einstein did not come on the H1B visa, because there was no such category at the time. H1B was introduced 20-30 years after Einstein came.

Mike, congrats...the Programmers Guild is a officially now a 4 person organization...with you as the 4th member,eh?

Posted by: RandallJ | March 8, 2007 10:41 AM

TM, we don't educate foregin students for free, they pay "out of state tuition" which is 2-3X higher than tutition state residents pay. Were it not for the higher tuition these S&T departments would close....so don't cite this as a kind of service provided to free to international students. Whiners!

Posted by: MT | March 8, 2007 10:48 AM

Do a background verification for each and every employee in H1B in USA, expecially the work experience, if they are true and deport the folks with false experience and claim those numbers, you will have enough visas left to bring the Einsteins's and also you will be shocked with the findings, the foreign body shoppers do here. If these companies must be penalised, the problem is solved. Also why not WP do a article on this

Posted by: Guest | March 8, 2007 10:58 AM

can you whiners tell me why Bill was called to testify and not our great friend Lou Dobbs. I will let you whiners think, like it or not, H1b quota WILL increase this time. Hard truth - pls learn to live with it.

Posted by: Legal Foreign skilled programmer | March 8, 2007 11:02 AM

Let's just get this straight...

The number of QUALIFIED Americans graduating from science and engineering programs getting a BS, MS, or phd is really tiny. Despite the high demand in this sector, no employer is going to hire underqualified people.

--
Gates is testifying for immediate fixes, and that's fine for NOW.

But until you can get kids to study hard enough to compete on the global playing field, intellectually - which is VERY competitive, this problem will subsist.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 8, 2007 11:20 AM

Bill Gates is a businessman and he would do anything to increase his profits. He is lying to the public saying increasing H1-B is good for the country. I don't believe that's true. I am an Indian working on H1-B here in US. Although I get paid similar to my American colleagues in the company, an increased supply of H1 visa holders hurts us all as real wages for IT engineers (irrespective of nationality) continues to increase by miniscule amounts.

I don't believe there is a shortage of well qualified IT engineers in the US. The current 85,000 visas per year (including 20K for US Masters degree holders) is more than sufficient to meet the demands of the economy. Business leaders like Bill Gates are motivated with the desire to suppress labor costs by increasing the available pool of H1 visa holders in the country. The H1-b visa program is being absued by body-shoppers and Indian IT companies like Satyam, Wipro, Infosys, TCS, HCS, CTS. They are filing thousands of H1 visa applicatons this year for their employees from India to come down to the US, get knowledge transfer from their American collegues and go back taking the project/development work offshore to India ultimately leading to loss of American jobs here. The whole system sucks.

Posted by: James | March 8, 2007 11:35 AM

For those who think that H1b's are cheaper should understand that, most of the H1b's work as consultants in Client place.
They are paid hourly and 2-3 times expensive than employees. If H1b's are cheaper, why they pay 3 times the actual salary they pay to their employees and hire H1bs through staffing firms. I know people working in my company since couple of years as consultants.

Posted by: RA | March 8, 2007 11:40 AM

I completely agree with Bill. I have been stuck in the system to get legal permanent residency for last 5 years and have not even cleared the first step of labor certification. At this point I am ready to go back to India. As far as my credentials are concerned. I am heading a division of fortune 200 company, have MBA from Wharton, MS in Industrial engineering and have about 10 years of experience. I wonder if folks like me have to go through so much frustration what do other less qualified folks have to go through.

Posted by: Sandeep | March 8, 2007 11:47 AM

I would like to see Mr. Gates answer these simple questions:

1) If there is a shortage of IT workers - like the real shortage we experienced in the late 90's - how come I do not see IT people getting sign up bonus and increase in wages? Something is wrong with this picture.

2) If one is the brightest mind, let's say a complete IT professional from abroad:masters+10 years progressive experience+CCIE/CCNP+BSEE or BSCS, etc with articles published on major newspapers, lectures, etc

one could easily apply for the greencard right away under the Employment Base greencard category. It takes about 2 months to get labor certification. The second phase is I-140, which can be done using premium processing in matter of few weeks. Then the I-485 phase already could let family work here. Something is wrong here.

The vast majority of H1B folks are beginners or mid-level professionals. They come here hungry for more experience and since they usually have more than what they got back home, they are willing to work 80h/week. I know because I worked at Microsoft, I know how it is.

Posted by: Brown | March 8, 2007 12:11 PM

All poor Bill wants is unlimited cheap labor. H1B's will work as many hours as they are asked.

Posted by: mike | March 8, 2007 12:13 PM

Sandeep:

If you have an MBA and you are so experienced, why you did not come here based on EB1 or at least EB2 category ? That should be much faster for you, even if you are from India or other retrogressed country. Perhaps you come here and then developed your skills here.

Employers should provide better conditions (less work hours in the case of Gates!) or more rewards for employees. Then you would see qualified and bright Americans stepping up.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 8, 2007 12:15 PM

Excellent job by Bill Gates. I am totally agree with him. Inviting and retaining high skilled immigrants is in interest of this great nation. Today, skilled legal immigrants who are already in the US job market facing deadly backlog of green card and made thousands of legal skilled immigrants frustrated. Our lawmakers are almost ready to give amnesty to 12 millions illegals who broke the law and not paying any taxes. This will give very bad message to rest of the world and more and more illegal immigrants try to enter illegally in coming years. On the other hand, potential high skilled people who want USA as permanent home will get negative message; "USA is no more heaven for best and brightest people"
high skilled immigrant who are waiting for green card are not taking away jobs of US citizens. Labor certificate process for Employment based green card is very tough; DOL determines prevailing wage, 30 days job posting on state govt job bank, internal posting, two Sunday ads in leading news paper, two more ads in professional journal, company web. After this process, if they don't find US citizen for that job, DOL approves labor certificates.

Is it fair to make some one wait for 5 to 10 years for green card?

Posted by: raj | March 8, 2007 12:19 PM

It is good to see people clamoring for higher pay so that they can have a "good" standard of living. I am sure that these people will not think twice about going to Walmart and buying cheap Chineese stuff. After all, why pay $35 for a pair of jeans when you can get one for $10 at Walmart? Why pay $3.50 for a gallon of milk at the local Mom and Pop store when Walmart sells the same stuff for $2.09 a gallon. Different brand maybe, but milk is milk, isn't it?
For all those people who complain about having to train "replacements" - do you realize that there are many people from America who are heading to India because of lower Health Care costs? Why don't they stay here and support the American economy by paying "high" prices to the American doctors? These people are no big business folks like Bill Gates - they are ordinary middle class Americans. Ofcourse, no one is making a big deal out of it because being highly self-centered, Americans do not care that they are ruining the quality of life of other people in other countries. They just know how to cry when someone "replaces" them, and just like Bill Gates, they don't care that by going to India for "lower healthcare prices", they actually deprive Indian people of affordable healthcare.

Posted by: Dude | March 8, 2007 12:53 PM

I came to USA, with 2 years of work experinece after my Bachelor's degree on H1B visa, After working couple of years here, got employed by a Fortune 20 company and started my green card in EB3, as I'll NOT be able to file under EB1/EB2 as I'd less than 5 yrs work experince with Bachelors degree at that time. Now, I am stuck in this greencard mess, due to retrogression. Without a green card and due the complex green card process, my employer is not able to promote me to the lead postion, Also not able to refile under EB1/EB2 category cause, USCIS does not count the experience gained with the GC filing employer, After spending 8 years, I think not wise to wait anymore, and If I do not get my greencard by this year end, I've decided to move back to India, this after I got 6 patents approved. I already talked to my manager, as my employer already have operations in India, my US Employer is now willing to promote me to higher managment position and is willing to assist to setup up a center in India for our group, and work is in progress. I already made couple of visit flying Business Class. Reason, we are not getting qualified prople here in USA and are not able to get people from other countries due to poor immigration system. Now, I'm not only going back to India after being in USA for 8 years, I'm taking 80+ jobs with me and guess what with a fat wallet too... and the offer is too good. Read in previous posts, some one posted "USA is no more heaven for best and brightest people", is now a REAL BITTER TRUTH these days. Also as a bonus, I already got my Australina PR in less than 18 months (Entire Process), Thanks for the US Dollars that helped me apply for this and easy & good Australian Immigration System.

Posted by: Suresh | March 8, 2007 1:02 PM

Gates is talking about increasing H1-B. Why he is not talking about increasing visa numbers for green card. The reason is he wants to get cheaper labor and can hold them up by paying less for a longer time in H1-B.

Posted by: AM | March 8, 2007 1:05 PM

Suresh, that is by design. Do you think Mr. Gates and other employers are stupid? They love H1B because they know that gradually they can offshore most IT operations overseas and transfer knowledge from here to there. Bill Gates and other employers touch the idea of permanent residency superficially. His favorite visa is the H1B for the exact same reason you are complaining. Some will go back home and direct operations there for a 1/3 of the cost of an American employer. It can't get better than that for an employer.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 8, 2007 1:17 PM

The main problem with H1B visa process is that it restricts a foreign worker from transferring jobs easily and the ties Green Card process to a sponsoring employer. I understand that this was done to protect US employer. However, this exact (red tape laden -bureaucratic-intermingled) protectionism has resulted in misery to many tech American citizens and H1B visa holder alike. This has created huge business opportunities for consulting/body shop companies providing off shoring and onsite development services by taking advantage of bureaucratic bottlenecks, quota system and multi-year processing delays.

The fact is that US companies (not including consulting companies) requiring IT resources have different hiring timelines and their need to hire may not coincide with the H1B quota announcement date. The consulting companies take all the numbers in few weeks of announcement. Then when US companies are in actual need of recourses they are forced to hire resources from the consulting companies, which further entice the US businesses to sign package deal for onsite/offshore services. This provides perceived cost savings to the US enterprises and this perception of cost savings motivates US businesses to replace US Citizens who may have been in the job for a while.

The Consulting business is simple. It's a numbers game. The onsite resource is charged at a US market rate and offshore resource is changed at approximately 30-40% of the local US rate. The H1B worker gets Salary as determined by DOL, which in many cases is disproportionate to the market rate, thus enabling the consulting companies to have a huge markup per candidate. The consulting company also has an advantage to move the H1B candidate offshore after the project until the H1B resource becomes billable again.

Now because the H1B candidate cannot change jobs easily and their green card is tied to their visa sponsoring employer, many H1B consultants do not change employers. In addition to restriction on changing employers, the candidates also are stuck in the Green Card processing rut for many years at same salary level. This provides a perfect opportunity for consulting companies and some US companies to profit from bureaucratic process that surrounds this H1B & Green Card issue. As matter of fact this protectionism has caused more pain and misery to American citizens and done disservice to genuine American companies needing additional resources to fulfill their IT requirements.

The solution is to this issue:

(1) Make H1B portable (without paper work hassles) and tie it to an individual (not company). That way the H1 candidate can compete openly in the job market and the market will determine skill set levels and compensation for eligible candidates. If the H1 candidates are unable to compete in the US job market, they will go back to their home country. INS will also save on operational and processing costs and time.
(2) Let an applicant file their own green card after few years of being gainfully employed. American businesses will also benefit from reduced operational and processing costs and time.

Posted by: John | March 8, 2007 1:17 PM

Hi John,
regarding your proposal
"...
That way the H1 candidate can compete openly in the job market and the market will determine skill set levels and compensation for eligible candidates..."

Unlikely we will see that happening. Bill Gates and other employers would not get you to work extra hard that way. Am I wrong, John?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 8, 2007 1:22 PM

When asked about American value to his success, he attributed Unique characerstic of this country "Freedom", Freedom is what makes this country so unique from other countries in the world, this is what attracked many best and brightest from around the world.

so programmerguild and many other protectionist I would like to remind you that you are free, free to do whatever you like and also you should respect that others around you are also free to compete and work. Many other nations specially India is learning from American sucessuss and it will their gain at American loss, as more engineers will return and they will be able to keep their best in their shores.

I see more outsourcing and job losses unless we honor and attract best and brightest from around the world

Posted by: kumar | March 8, 2007 1:24 PM

I think it is all about balance. We should let in a certain number of eager and qualified professionals in order to keep Americans competitive and motivated.

However, what I do not get is the idea that we are under shortage right now. It seems that number of supply of H1B/year is about right.

Are any of you professional IT folks getting sign bonus or massive phone calls from recruiters?

Mark
Senior Technical Consultant
M.S., Information Management
BSEE. CCNP,MCSE,HP ASE

Posted by: Mark | March 8, 2007 1:29 PM

I don't understand how H1B = lower wages. There may be a few companies doing that, but in the long run, they are not going to survive that. I know from personal experience that there is a shortage of IT workers - Americans or H1B. My company is now talking about opening a center in the Philipines to tackle the shortage. If that happens, I am sure that a lot of people are going to be laid-off.
Someone mentioned that people in engineering don't get enough money for kids to persue a career in science or engineering. Let me tell you this - kids are just plain lazy. They don't want to put their brain to work. Ask most kids how much change should they return when a customer pays $5.12 for a coffee + donut costing $2.62. If they cannot use a calculator (or a cash register machine), all they would say is "gee - that sounds like hard Math" or "I am not that good with numbers". Kids are more up-to-date with NBA and NFL scores than they are with simple Science and Math concepts. I guess that is the reason for the popularity of shows such as "Are you smarter than a fifth grader?"
The simple fact of life is this - you can blame others (H1Bs, government, Bill Gates, aliens, neighbors) for your sorry state and wallow in self-pity - but in the end - you make your own destiny.

Posted by: Dude | March 8, 2007 1:30 PM

Yeah but Bill, Einstein worked for the people, not for corporations.

Posted by: manji | March 8, 2007 1:36 PM

Thank you so much Bill Gates for supporting legal skilled immigrants. You may be the first high profile person who have spoken on our behalf. I am one of the half million skilled immigrant (alien) on H-1 ( BTW who pays taxes) is stucked in Green Card retrogression process for more than six years. I can not change job and have to be on same salary for many years due to huge Green card backlogs.
I urge people to support Bill Gates fighting to end Employment Based Green Card backlogs.

Posted by: Sagga | March 8, 2007 1:45 PM

H1B is not necessarily low wages. Typically is actually same wage. What it is different is the number of hours one under the gun of H1B is willing to work. Employers take advantage of that.

I agree that we need a certain number of H1B's to keep lazy Americans competitive. Offshoring will happen regardless. In this time and age of offshoring, if we let too many foreigners we risk to lose non-offshoreable jobs at home as well.

Therefore keep the cap on.

Posted by: Pete | March 8, 2007 1:45 PM

I'm sick of hearing about all of the H-1B's who have to eventually leave the country! The H-1B was meant as a TEMPORARY visa! If they are the 'best and brightest', why do they have such a hard time understanding that? The H-1B is NOT an automatic path to a green card!

Maybe they should change the rules so that people on an H-1B visa CAN'T qualify for a green card. Then companies won't be so quick to bring people in on an H-1B and train them. They know they will eventually lose them! Most of them do anyway, because when the green card arrives a lot of them break away ASAP from their handcuffs! Every H-1B I know is so anxious to get the green card so they can leave their employer! That's why so many companies use the L-1 now - if they can get it!

Could I go to India or China and work? What's the visa process like there? Last I heard, I wouldn't be allowed to do anything but menial labor even though my skills would be in high demand there! SAP is in high demand there, and all they have are people who get suckered into paying lots of money for 'training institutes,' of which MAYBE 10% get jobs in the field!

Posted by: Eddie | March 8, 2007 1:48 PM

It's good to know that Mr. Gates has taken the initiative to highlight the real issue in the immigration system. It was pretty straightforward that when congress raised the H1B visa cap to 195000 for few years, they should have thought of the possible impacts on green-card which has resulted into huge backlogs. Ideally Congress should have raised the cap for Green Card numbers at that time only. They fixed 1 issue but led to another.

Posted by: Amit | March 8, 2007 1:48 PM

Labor department already approved our labor; stating that YES - This is a skill in shortage in USA; and company agree to pay 6 figure salary for me.
However; because I am born in India or China; (same quota for China as Finland) I cannot get in; because there is a Quota for my country of birth.
Now are we Recruiting with a mind on nationality or color of the person?
How is this not Profiling?

Posted by: Aks | March 8, 2007 2:23 PM

Hey Folks, I cannot totally agree with Gates. The increase in H1B is not a good idea and would not really help USA. Not all H1B's are Einsteins. Already there are 65000 H1B per year + 20,000 H1B's only for US educated degree holders (Master or higher). Apart from this they have the L1 Visa for intracompany transfers and B1 Visa for short time visits. If you are from Canada, you have the TN visa to get to US and work and Australians have the E visa to enter to USA for work, Also there is a category called O visa, It is no longer a secret that the Indian IT companies like TCS, WIPRO, Infosys, Cognizant, Satyam, Patni, etc consume more than 60-70% of the H1B and the remaining 20% are consumed by some little Indian / Chinese consulting company run from an Apartment without any formal office getting few dollars from the H4 Spouses and getting them H1B's. Only 10 % are used for the intended purpose. I'm a US Citizen, an IT Manager in a mid-size company and have an Indian neighbor who is on H1B too and when ever I talk to him, complains about retrogression. He got his new wife to usa on H4 just last year, Nice young lady and was at home until early this year, since she was on H4 and cannot work. When there was a opening in my team early this year, We had requested a Staffing Company for few resumes, and I was surprised when I got the resume of my neighbor's wife, Not because it was the resume of my neighbors, but her resume tells she was working in US for various clients for past two and half year, while she just came to USA, just last year. That is when
I lost my respect for these H1B's. I decided to get the job done with few co-ops than hiring someone with a false resume like this. If the US Government can make the process strict so this kind of fraud does not happen, then we will have more and more Einsteins come to US and they will not have retrogression.

Posted by: IT Manager frustrated with H1B Frauds | March 8, 2007 3:03 PM

Many people here who are attacking Bill Gates' testimony apparently did not hear his full testimony:
1. The FRIST part of his testimony related to improving the educational system for American citizens, providing job-related education, providing scholarships, etc
He had many, many suggestions on this.
2. Only after that did he raise the issue of H-1b workers, and that was, as he stated explicitly, because reforming the education system was a long term solution, but would do nothing to help worker shortages right now
3. Gates stated clearly that although the H-1b is a temporary visa, we should stop pretending that it is, because it makes no sense to use a temporary visa for permanent jobs. Read again, these jobs are PERMANENT jobs.
Unfortunately, since there is no immediate way to obtain a green card based on employment, corporations have to use the H-1b visa. If in fact, it were possible to hire a worker on a green card application immediately without using the "temporary" H-1b visa, it would prevent many jobs from being shipped overseas once the H-1b visa ran out.
4. The wage issue is confusing: what happens is that initially the H-1b is paid at or above the prevailing wage. The reason that those wages become suppressed is that, as long as a green card application is being processed (10+ years), the worker is not allowed to get substantial wage increases, or his application has to start anew, and he must go to the back of the line. Many H-1bs prefer to turn down promotions or change jobs, because they will have to wait another 10+ years in line. Additionally, the corporation must pay huge legal fees and govt fees every year for visa extensions until the process is completed (10+ years), and the company loses because it is difficult to send the employee out of the country to train others, travel for business purposes, etc.
As Gates said, which employer in their right mind would want to pay the expenses of hiring a foreign worker in addition to all the hassles? IF at all the company is benefiting from the subsequent low wages, it is being erased in all these legal fees.
4. As Gates pointed out, for every job where an American worker has been "replaced" by an H-1b worker, even if that were true, the H-1b is creating jobs that would hire several other Americans. This is because many H-1b workers, once they obtain their green cards, begin their own companies. Read article by Duke University on the ratio of immigrants to Americans who have started their own companies, many of them innovative, and the corresponding benefit to the US economy.
5. Does hiring H-1bs lower the US standard of living? I think not: Read many articles on how the large proportion of baby boomers, who will retire in a few years and drawing on Social Security will be supported by H-1b workers, who are ineligible for SS, who pay taxes, but are ineligible for Unemployment, and once again Point 4 above.
6. Bill Gates references Microsoft only as a personal example. To the person who claims that very few companies hire H-1bs, I don't know where you are living, but in New York (every single investment bank), California, Texas, Florida, and even deep into the Midwest, H-1bs are hired as doctors (on J-1 as well as H-1b visas), nurses, IT depts, statisticians, research scholars, engineers, even in the arts and music industries. And if you think all of these people are abusing the system by paying lower wages, you are living in a dream world.
7. It is harder to obtain the equivalent of a green card in India or China, but that is because of the huge population. And the huge skilled population is precisely why America is hiring them. If the US truly wanted to send its citizens to these countries, and a free trade system, why doesn't it bully these nations into accepting open visa policies? Because it does not want it. It wants to keep its patents within America, it wants to hire and fire people depending on its needs, and retain all the best jobs. Which is what most countries do. Look, you even complain about keeping jobs here. what would happen if Americans started leaving the country to go to other countries easily? You would not only lose jobs, but people as well. Whether you believe it or not, in 20 years, these countries are where cutting edge research will be done, without restrictive laws against stem cell research, for example.

Sure, there are some consulting companies who abuse the system, but that is because the system is broken. If there were no backlogs, everyone except the abusers (including US companies) would benefit.

As someone pointed out, the solution is to give the H-1b worker the same working rights (but not voting)as any American worker. This keeps the market competitive and alive, and if the worker doesn't find a job, he will be unwilling to work for long at lower wages and return home. After a few years, he can self petition for a green card, perhaps at a local agency, with minimum paperwork - perhaps background checks with employers to remove the terrorist concerns. This will also reduce the backlogs and subsequent abuse.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 8, 2007 3:25 PM

My response is to suggestion made by an un-named person to Sandeep to file in EB1 or EB2.I think this guy have no clue about the current Green Card (GC) situation. You need to be no less than Noble prize winner to file your Green Card under EB1. To file under EB2 if you are from India, it is retrogressed by 4 years and USCIS has predicted same situation until it clears its entire back log. So people research for the facts before attacking others.

Posted by: manju | March 8, 2007 4:00 PM

Aks:

I do not believe that the quota is in place due to racism concerns. The quota is in place because the United States of America is not a shop or a business place. It is a country. We cannot let business monopolize this place and bring in people who were graduated in massive numbers in good part thanks to unfair and unequal conditions in your home country. What many of you advocating for increases in immigration numbers for cheap labor are missing is that this is not only about competition. It is about a fair competition.

If Americans are paying $30,000+ for a decent degree in the US and we have any Indian paying 10% of that cost back home, then that is not a fair competition anymore. The idea of Mr. Gates that we should open the gates of India and other exploited places and allow all eager professionals come here without a quota is simply insane. We are not cars or goods and services for you to come here in many numbers as you can. It is like this every where.

Please open your mind. At that point you will see more people supporting your immigration goals.

Thanks,

Pam

Posted by: Pam | March 8, 2007 4:27 PM

Hello,

Four years of waiting time if you apply under EB2 is not too bad. I personally know PhD's from abroad who have work experience and who wrote articles on magazines apply under EB1. I disagree with you that you need to be a Nobel Prize winner to apply for EB1.

Again, for the best and brightest apply under EB2 at least and that is not too bad.

Thanks,

Posted by: Anonymous | March 8, 2007 4:33 PM

A modern "Einstein" could be eligible for the Employment Base Greencard category 1, right? That one is relatively quick and could let an Einstein get in. It seems Mr. Gates argument is flawed :-)

Posted by: Einsteins | March 8, 2007 4:40 PM

Socialism at its best, reading the comments from some readers that are critical.

Its amazing isn't it. Soacialist tendencies in a capitalist economy.

Gates is not an example of Greed. Look at you . Have you comments like..quote "This is America. People dont walk, we drive" unquote. Don't expect Americans to accept the fact that they want a great deal on everything! Have the cake and eat it too. The greed for V8s, ATVs, Boats, 50 inch flat panels, fat salaries, cushy work and best of it all, they want it at the LOWEST cost.

Take the loin cloths off people, let them slog in their own countries for American greed.

Competition and future prospects are being re-written. The good old greed is holding Americans from understanding the (fine)print.

Bottom line...Talent and business flows in the direction of least resistance. Bright Students with Intentions to pursue education in the US, highly skilled immigrants must take note.

American social security needs your $$$. Talk about greed. Wonder why USA draws negative ratings in poll (competes with Iran, so to speak)? But..what the heck!

Posted by: Bare truth | March 8, 2007 5:48 PM

I am surprised at the manner in which most newspapers (such as WashP or AP) are reporting this news. There is serious focus on highlighting the H1B portion of his speech (to which he made a fleeting reference in his initial statement and only addressed in more detail under direct questioning). The point he made about "retaining talent here in the US" seems to have "slipped through the journalistic cracks". His questioning the seriously broken immigration system that actually dissuades immigrants that have MS and PhDs from the top US universities from pursuing permanent residence here in the US and contributing to the progress of the country, does not seem to get any press at all.

How smart is it to spend US resources educating these folks and then when its time to utilize their expertise and training, to create a situation where they're either frustrated with the instability associated with waiting >10yrs for a green card or worse, decide to just go to some welcoming place and contribute to its economy.

I'm appalled this key point does not deserve mention in any article causing me to believe that journalists serving reputed news organizations either are unaware of the costs/resource associated with educating a graduate student or simply do not care!!

Posted by: poiuy | March 8, 2007 8:06 PM

First time, Bill Gates raised the importance of skilled legal immigrants for competitiveness of the United States and problem this community is facing due to long backlog of Green Card. Today, every where people, media, and lawmakers are talking about illegal immigrants. Skilled immigrants are overlooked by lawmakers and media. First time, Bill Gates throw the light on skilled immigrants. Democrats are more than eager to award path to citizenship to 12 millions illegals, who broke the law, proved burden on the system and not paying any tax. skilled immigrants do not have any problem with this amnesty but skilled legal immigrants should give priority. Democrats don't want to give any relief to skilled immigrants out of CIR bill which is on big dispute and do not have common ground and bipartition support. Businesses, University, Hospitals and some grass root organizations like Immigrationvoice tried to get some relief since last couple of years but Congress leadership is holding off it as they think support of CIR will be weaken. They are concerned about illegals but not to skilled legal immigrants who are contributing to economy, paying all taxes including social security and totally obeying law.

Now United States in not heaven for best and brightest talent but it is heaven for illegal immigrants.

Posted by: raj | March 8, 2007 8:42 PM

"IT Manager frustrated with H1B Frauds" :-

Agreed!!

All Johns, Schmidt, Geroge, Vladimirs, Sharon's, Ram's and Chang's are frauds. If one of their clan had done it or if someone fabricates an evidence that they have done it, the entire community is suspect.

We are US citizens and we came here first. Let everybody else stand in line; prove that they are Einsteins in making.

Abolish all L, E, O and H visas.

Agreed!!

Posted by: Doe | March 8, 2007 8:43 PM

Ballplayers Guild?

Is there one like this?

All Major League teams should first advertise and try to find local ball players and if no ball players are available only then bring in foreign ball players!

All foreign ball players should be paid prevailing wage. Minor League players too!
(Minor League players are paid peanuts)

All forgein ball players should pass English exams!

Foreign ball players should start their Greencard process all over again whenever they get a pay hike, move to a new position or transfer to another team!

Posted by: Player | March 8, 2007 11:27 PM

>"1) If there is a shortage of IT workers - like the real shortage we experienced in the late 90's - how come I do not see IT people getting sign up bonus and increase in wages? Something is wrong with this picture."

In today's world, US companies will not respond to IT shortages by raising salaries. It is more profitable for them to send the job overseas for lower wages. Some would prefer to have local workers, but only to a limit. They'll pay $65K for a local programmer but if they can't find somebody at that price they prefer to find an offshore programmer for $8K rather than bump up the local salary offer to $85K.

In the 90's they had to raise salaries and bonuses, because back then India and China did not have enough trained workers to absorb work in huge numbers like what is happening today.

Posted by: Dave T | March 9, 2007 6:50 AM

Dave - Agreed. Minor point though - in the 90s it was not that there wasn't skilled labor available overseas, it merely was more difficult to engage them. With the world growing 'flatter', its now a lot easier. Friedman details this very succinctly...

Posted by: poiuy | March 9, 2007 11:47 AM

"In today's world, US companies will not respond to IT shortages by raising salaries. It is more profitable for them to send the job overseas for lower wages."

I know that too. The problem is that it remains:if we follow Mr. Gates rationale, then you open unlimited H1B visas to flood the market and then drive US engineer wages further down. Do you really think American students will enroll in engineering after seeing that happening?

Moreover, as the infrastrucuture abroad improves, offshoring will just expand. I seriously doubt that by bringing cheap labor here we will significantly minimize offshoring. I think that if you allow significant number of H1B's to come, that will just delay offshoring for few years. That is a win-win situation for employers like Bill Gates, because he knows that the H1B's eventually can go back to India and do programming for a 1/3 of the cost from there.

The problem is that if you allow excessive supply of cheap labor getting to drive wages down, these folks will compete against Americans on non-offshoreable jobs (such as architecture, IT security, project management for local and public services companies in the US).

Offshoring is unavoidable. I have no problems with that. However, we need to be careful and admit that we should not bring excessive number of cheap labor and people given this circumstance, otherwise they will eventually compete for the selected and scarce jobs remaining that don't go to India. It is a complex situation, folks.


Posted by: Anonymous | March 9, 2007 12:44 PM

"I know that too. The problem is that it remains:if we follow Mr. Gates rationale, then you open unlimited H1B visas to flood the market and then drive US engineer wages further down."

I don't think unlimited H1B's will solve the problem either. The issue is with the green card process. Half or so of them eventually go back or immigrate to another country because of it. So the corporations keep recycling another young and cheap batch of H1B workers, while the set of those who do stay and wait out the ultra-long green card process are overrepresented by those who are the most desperate... because most of the "best and brightest" who have the talent to innovate and start successful companies are not going to be content to let their career stagnate for 5-10 years while they wait on the elusive green card.

Posted by: Dave T | March 9, 2007 1:58 PM


Bill Gates does not ask for the best and brightest. He asks for hundreds of thousands of fresh BS graduates in engineering.


If he wanted the best and brightest he would be asking for Masters and PhDs...

This is a war for control of our American government:

Mega-rich vs. Middle-class

For more info, read:

http://www.computerworld.com/blogs/node/5136

Posted by: Anon | March 10, 2007 3:45 PM

I've worked with, trained, and put up with H1 folks for 10 years. They are definitely NOT the best and the brightest, just the cheapest. Many have big egos, phony resumes, certified in technologies they never really used (read a book, passed a test), and poor communications skills. Most were rookies when they started with some basic technical knowledge but very little actual experience. (That's why we had to train them). Don't be fooled by Gates. This is what's really happening out there today.

Most of the jobs in my previous 3 companies were outsourced to these guys. It was counterproductive and put a lot of good American folks out of work. This is what happens when accountants run IT, CIO bonuses based on how many jobs they outsource, and dumb politicians listen to people like Mr. Bill (the evil one) Gates.

If Gates is so concerned about education, maybe he should go back and finish HIS college degree. Microsoft would not hire him today. He is undereducated and wants too much money.

Posted by: Gary F | March 11, 2007 4:37 PM

If you flood the market with BS graduates in engineering, then no American students will enter the field.

What are we telling our kids?

Read what engineers have to say:

http://www.computerworld.com/blogs/node/5136

Posted by: Concerned | March 11, 2007 4:57 PM

Way to go Bill

Posted by: Javier | March 12, 2007 4:58 PM

I like how Bill pretends to be oblivious of the connection between a flooded labor market and decreased enrollment. There have been no jobs for CS/CIS/CE graduates in many parts of the country for the past several years.

BTW the programmers guild has done a lot on behalf of tech workers and engineers in the past few years.

Posted by: gruckiii | March 12, 2007 8:43 PM

There is no shortage and there never was.

Emergency: Every American tech and engineering worker MUST prepare for rapidly arriving unemployment and bankruptcy if the bill to raise the H1B visa cap passes.

How do I know? Because that's what happened the last time the H-1b cap was raised. Hundreds of thousands of foreign workers were imported here for a period of several years until the visa cap went back down. During those same years, hundreds of thousands of competent, productive American workers were let go, because foreigners could be employed for less.

Contrary to popular belief, there are NO protections for American workers in the existing law. What makes us think this time will be any different?

Bill Gates is absolutely lying when he says that skilled Americans have no trouble finding work and when he insists that there is some sort of 'shortage' that needs to be remedied.

I am an American IT professional, and I know what I am seeing. Salaries have been stagnant, and opportunities few and far between, ever since the H-1b cap was first raised.

Why on earth should any American student major in engineering, computer science, or any related fied when these professions are being turned over to low-paid foreign workers?

Posted by: Babs | March 23, 2007 2:17 PM

I think too many people are narrow minded here. Do not forget the US is competing in the world market. US could totally block those foreigners from working in US. But this would only benefit those who do not study and work hard to make their own lives better just because they were born here. Current immigration rule has set a whole lot barriers for the foreigners to reach the same position as US citizens do. No pain, no gain. Do not blame on others. If you are the best, you will be succeed. US was such a society in the past and succeed. Competation makes better world. This is even true for the work market. There is no citizens or foreigners in companys' mind. There are only good workers.

Posted by: LSmith | April 4, 2007 8:48 AM

"There is no citizens or foreigners in companys' mind. There are only good workers" I completely agree with Lsmith's quote above.

My Boss said "we hire international students because it is so hard to find good domestic students"

I believe most of the people who have displayed antiimmigrant sentiment here are not involved in recruitment at their corporations. Recruitment is the most challenging aspect for any corporation. US with its 13 trillion dollor growing economy needs a mix of hardworking americans and foreigners in the workforce.

Posted by: legalalien | April 4, 2007 11:52 AM

I've been watching developments in the H1B area for the last few months. I have a very vested interest, as I am one of the 150,000 applicants with an application at USCIS. I wanted to share some of my story to show how this potentially affects us and others.

My wife and I both came to the US from New Zealand in 2005 on independent work visas. My wife has a PhD in neuroscience and works as a post doctoral researcher. Her work involves research towards finding a cure for Parkinson's disease and other neuro-degenerative disorders. I have masters of engineering degree in artificial intelligence and work as the senior software architect for a $500M/yr global corporation that manufactures GPS navigation systems for cars. I have been in this company for seven years both in the US and New Zealand and built much of the global technology team that exists today. I have personally created jobs and employed people from all over the world, including the US. Diversity in our team is a great strength.

Together my wife and I earn about $160,000 per year which is more then the market salary in our respective jobs. Last year in 2006 we moved the majority of our capital to the US and purchased an apartment.

I am presently on an L1B specialist knowledge visa, and my wife is on an H1B. Why separate visas? Because this provides some robustness; if something should go wrong we can be together in the US with at least one of us working. I say "at least one" because the fact that you are married does not necessarily mean you can work in the US because your husband or wife is working. Whether you can depends on the subtleties of the different visa categories.

All is not well however; the company that I work for (and effectively started) is being sold, and because I am here on L1B that affects my visa status. Hopefully since this is happening globally the visa can be simply amended with the name of the purchasing company. However, this is not guaranteed, and to increase my chances, the purchasing company is also applying for an H1B visa at the same time. Like the L1B there is no guarantee that this will be approved, especially since this category was oversubscribed on the first day applications for 2008 were received. The entire process is costing around $10,000 with no guarantee of success. It is a very stressful time for people like me where my future path depends on what happens with some paperwork.

Both my wife and I are highly educated, highly skilled, individuals of considerable means from an advanced country. We are here because both our specialist careers depend on access to markets or facilities of a very particular type; a type that does not necessarily exist where we come from owing to differences in population size. We are also here because living and working in a slightly different culture affords us a different perspective on the world and enriches our cultural experience. So far I have to say it has been a great experience by and large.

I'd just like to remind readers not to tar all immigrants with the same brush. There is a difference between legal and illegal immigration, there is a difference between skilled and unskilled workers, and there are many reasons why people come to the US. We will play by the rules although the processes and systems in place do not necessarily make this pleasant or easy. We believe that a system based on individual merit rather than generalization would be fair and reasonable. We hope that our contribution to US society is valued and that we can continue to make it.

Posted by: Matt | April 5, 2007 11:01 AM

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