New U.S. government data on H-1B visas prove that IT outsourcers hire a lot but pay very little

“Hard numbers have been released by the US government agency that screens visas for high-skilled foreign workers, and they are not pretty,” Youyou Zhou writes for Quartz. “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.”

“The H-1B program was put in the spotlight in April, when US President Donald J. Trump signed an executive order called ‘Buy American, Hire American’ as part of his push to tighten immigration rules,” Zhou writes. “Three months later, the USCIS formally disclosed the number of H1-B visas issued over the last two years by employer. Previously, the data was only available as estimates for companies petitioning for information, or by request under the Freedom of Information Act.”

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

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Among the top 20 H-1B sponsors in fiscal 2016, Apple had 1,992 visas granted (for perspective, that’s versus roughly 3,500 each for both IBM and Microsoft). Apple topped the list of annual salary of H-1B visa holders by top sponsors in fiscal 2016. There’s no data the the article regarding the average salary of a non-H-1B visa holder in the same or similar job.

The following editorial was published by The New York Times‘ Editorial Board, June 16, 2016, five months prior to the 2016 U.S. Presidential election:

Visa Abuses Harm American Workers

There is no doubt that H-1B visas — temporary work permits for specially talented foreign professionals — are instead being used by American employers to replace American workers with cheaper foreign labor. Abbott Laboratories, the health care conglomerate based in Illinois, recently became the latest large American company to use the visas in this way, following the lead of other employers, including Southern California Edison, Northeast Utilities (now Eversource Energy), Disney, Toys “R” Us and New York Life.

The visas are supposed to be used only to hire college-educated foreigners in “specialty occupations” requiring “highly specialized knowledge,” and only when such hiring will not depress prevailing wages. But in many cases, laid-off American workers have been required to train their lower-paid replacements.

Lawmakers from both parties have denounced the visa abuse, but it is increasingly widespread, mainly because of loopholes in the law. For example, in most instances, companies that hire H-1B workers are not required to recruit Americans before hiring from overseas. Similarly, companies are able to skirt the rules for using H-1B workers by outsourcing the actual hiring of those workers to Tata, Infosys and other temporary staffing firms, mostly based in India.

Criticism of the visa process has been muted, and reform has moved slowly, partly because laid-off American workers — mostly tech employees replaced by Indian guest workers — have not loudly protested. Their reticence does not mean acceptance or even resignation. As explained in The Times on Sunday by Julia Preston, most of the displaced workers had to sign agreements prohibiting them from criticizing their former employers as a condition of receiving severance pay. The gag orders have largely silenced the laid-off employees, while allowing the employers to publicly defend their actions as legal, which is technically accurate, given the loopholes in the law.

The conversation, however, is changing. Fourteen former tech workers at Abbott, including one who forfeited a chunk of severance pay rather than sign a so-called nondisparagement agreement, have filed federal claims with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission saying they were discriminated against because of their ages and American citizenship. Tech workers from Disney have filed federal lawsuits accusing the company and two global outsourcing firms of colluding to supplant Americans with H-1B workers. Former employees of Eversource Energy have also begun to challenge their severance-related gag orders by publicly discussing their dismissals and replacement by foreign workers on H-1B and other visas.

Congressional leaders of both parties have questioned the nondisparagement agreements. Bipartisan legislation in the Senate would revise visa laws to allow former employees to protest their layoffs. Beyond that, what Congress really needs to do is close the loopholes that allow H-1B abuses.

The New York Times‘ Editorial Board, June 16, 2016

U.S. law allows low H-1B wages; just look at Apple – May 16, 2017
President Trump to order review of H-1B visa program to encourage hiring Americans – April 18, 2017
Tech industry frets over possible H-1B visa program changes under President Trump – January 28, 2017
President Trump eyes an H-1B visa aimed at ‘best and brightest’ – January 27, 2017
Silicon Valley chiefs frozen out of President Trump’s White House – December 3, 2016
Silicon Valley uncertain after Donald Trump wins U.S. presidency – November 10, 2016
Silicon Valley donated 60 times more to Clinton than to Trump – November 7, 2016
99% of Silicon Valley’s political dollars are going to Hillary Clinton – October 25, 2016
Apple CEO Tim Cook and the rest of Silicon Valley throw big money at Clinton and pretty much bupkis at Trump – August 23, 2016
Donald Trump’s most unlikely supporter: Silicon Valley billionaire Pete Thiel – July 21, 2016
Tech investor Peter Thiel’s embrace of Donald Trump for U.S. President has Silicon Valley squirming – July 20, 2016
An open letter from Apple co-founder Woz, other techies on Donald Trump’s candidacy for U.S. President – July 14, 2016
Apple refuses to aid 2016 GOP presidential convention over Trump comments – June 18, 2016
Apple and Silicon Valley employees love Bernie Sanders. Donald Trump? Not so much – May 6, 2016
Trump: We’ll get Apple to manufacture ‘their damn computers and things’ in the U.S.A. – January 18, 2016


  1. Only when there is no advantage, outside of truly hiring foreign workers when no qualified domestic worker can be found, this nonsense will come to an end. Give business an inch and they’ll take a mile and find some way to use it to their financial benefit while killing the middle to upper middle class in the process.

      1. Past stories had reported that the “generous replacement package” for the exiting employees was to only be given IF they trained their replacement AND never reported what happened to any reporters. If they just quit, no package.
        Enough got fed up at Disney that I believe they banded together and are suing Disney for this behavior.

    1. Exactly. Since well before the election, I’ve been explaining Trump’s position and why the likes of Tim Cook supported his crooked, perennial failure of an opponent:

      For Silicon Valley and Apple’s Tim Cook, it’s all about H-1B visas and cheap labor.

      American companies and their shareholders, in general, want skilled labor as CHEAPLY as possible. That’s a main reason why Tim Cook, Apple and other tech firms backed the loser Clinton – they wanted unlimited H-1Bs to continue, so they can pay Ajeet from India half what they’d have to pay Tom from Tulsa who can’t find a job after graduating from college and has to live in his parents basement because Apple got Ajeet from India to do it on the CHEAP.

      H1-B visas for skilled workers DO NOT EQUAL uneducated illegal aliens streaming across the southern border intent on cashing in on American taxpayer’s largesse while setting up shop in the domestic drug trade and/or other crimes (gangs, rape, robbery, etc.).

      Trump is for upholding the laws already on the books designed to protect our borders and our nation’s sovereignty.

      The Trump campaign’s policy:

      Increase prevailing wage for H-1Bs. We graduate two times more Americans with STEM degrees each year than find STEM jobs, yet as much as two-thirds of entry-level hiring for IT jobs is accomplished through the H-1B program. More than half of H-1B visas are issued for the program’s lowest allowable wage level, and more than eighty percent for its bottom two. Raising the prevailing wage paid to H-1Bs will force companies to give these coveted entry-level jobs to the existing domestic pool of unemployed native and immigrant workers in the U.S., instead of flying in cheaper workers from overseas. This will improve the number of black, Hispanic and female workers in Silicon Valley who have been passed over in favor of the H-1B program. Mark Zuckerberg’s personal Senator, Marco Rubio, has a bill to triple H-1Bs that would decimate women and minorities.

      Requirement to hire American workers first. Too many visas, like the H-1B, have no such requirement. In the year 2015, with 92 million Americans outside the workforce and incomes collapsing, we need companies to hire from the domestic pool of unemployed. Petitions for workers should be mailed to the unemployment office, not USCIS.

      End welfare abuse. Applicants for entry to the United States should be required to certify that they can pay for their own housing, healthcare and other needs before coming to the U.S.

      Jobs program for inner city youth. The J-1 visa jobs program for foreign youth will be terminated and replaced with a resume bank for inner city youth provided to all corporate subscribers to the J-1 visa program.

      Refugee program for American children. Increase standards for the admission of refugees and asylum-seekers to crack down on abuses. Use the monies saved on expensive refugee programs to help place American children without parents in safer homes and communities, and to improve community safety in high crime neighborhoods in the United States.

      Immigration moderation. Before any new green cards are issued to foreign workers abroad, there will be a pause where employers will have to hire from the domestic pool of unemployed immigrant and native workers. This will help reverse women’s plummeting workplace participation rate, grow wages, and allow record immigration levels to subside to more moderate historical averages.

    2. botvinnik and First201014,

      Again, please read the article before commenting on it. The folks who are abusing the H1-B program are overwhelmingly Indian IT outsourcing contractors. Apple is paying higher wages than any other major participant in the program. That is because they are using the program as it was intended, to import talented engineers and other professionals to do work that they cannot find equally-qualified Americans to do. To retain those employees, they have to pay competitive wages.

      The outsources are obviously abusing the program, but rational people address shortcomings in a valuable government program by reforming it, not by repealing it. Apple’s issue is that they are a multinational corporation that needs the ability to move a project team between countries (England to the US, for example) without losing half the engineers to red tape in the process.

      If you think it is easy to get legal entry to the US, you are wrong. I know of two artist workshops in the last few months that had to be cancelled because key teachers could not get a visa. These were not potential terrorists, but ladies in their 50s—internationally-well-known watercolorists from Canada and Australia who planned to enter the US, teach, and leave within a week. Customs and Border Protection turned them away on the grounds that there were already plenty of artists in America who could teach the workshops.

      The argument that there were no Americans who painted the same way fell on deaf ears. The argument that nobody in the US has the same programming experience and talent as an established member of an Apple project team might get the same reaction.

      The government should certainly stop abuses, but there is simply no proof that Apple is an abuser. This article is evidence of precisely the opposite.

  2. Sounds like more government regulation to me. And I’m sure they’ll need to hire more people (more government employees) to deal with the additional regulation.

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