Programmers Guild Calls for a U.S. Job Preservation Fee of $60,000 per H-1B visa

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The Programmers Guild asks Congress for an emergency increase in the H-1b fee to $60,000. This fee is justified to offset the cost of creating jobs under Congress' American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). This fee should apply to the 85,000 U.S. jobs that USCIS intends to raffle off to foreign workers on April 1, 2009 as an "H-1b Lottery."

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) is a comprehensive bill of sweeping changes in the way America does business for the next four years. Section three paragraph one of page H.R.1-2 of this Act proclaims its purposes and principles as:

(1) To preserve and create jobs and promote economic recovery.

But much of the ARRA is likely to be spent creating jobs in foreign countries and creating U.S. jobs that are filled by the continuing influx of foreign labor.

Economic estimates of the cost for those creating jobs, including IT jobs, under ARRA range from $100,000 to $275,000 per job. Yet on April 1, 2009 Congress will direct USCIS to "raffle off" another 85,000 U.S. jobs in their H-1B visa lottery - without first even offering these jobs to Americans recently laid off by Microsoft, Yahoo, eBay, Google, Sun Microsystems Inc., Cisco Systems, Hewlett-Packard and Electronic Data Systems Corp.

"Every member of Congress who voted for ARRA should explain why $20 billion dollars will be spent to create jobs for the next batch of 85,000 foreign tech workers," states Kim Berry, President of the Programmers Guild. "Congress needs to explain why they will allow Microsoft to continue sponsoring H-1b workers when they have already laid off 1,000 skilled U.S. tech workers, and plan to lay off another 4,000 over the next 18 months."

Giving away scarce Americans jobs to foreign workers makes no sense to Americans like Darrell Parker, an unemployed software engineer with 25 years of experience. "The key to the economic recovery of the United States is the creation of jobs and opportunities for U.S. citizens to improve the economic stability of U.S. families and to stem the mortgage default epidemic."

Darrell believes he is qualified to fill many of the U.S. jobs currently held by H-1b workers - in fact many H-1b workers were trained by Americans before the Americans were laid off. Given the economic crisis, Darrell asks Congress for an opportunity to apply to those jobs. "The ARRA should include the recovery of the roughly 500,000 U.S. high tech jobs that are currently filled by non-immigrant guest workers. Reopening these 500,000 jobs to Americans would be more cost effective than attempting to create 500,000 new jobs under ARRA."

On February 5th Senator Charles Grassley stated, "Hiring American workers for limited available jobs should be a top priority for businesses taking taxpayer money through the TARP bailout program. With the unemployment rate at 7.6 percent, there is no need for companies to hire foreign guest workers through the H1-B program when there are plenty of qualified Americans looking for job."

"Just as TARP was a bailout of financial institutions, ARRA is a 'U.S. bailout' and thus should extend the TARP 'hire American workers' goal to all U.S. jobs," according to Kim Berry. "Over three years a $20,000 annual fee would not be an undue hardship in those rare cases where the H-1b worker possesses skills that are so specialized that no American can be found. And given the underpayment of H-1b workers, the fee would level the playing field for U.S. jobs seekers."

Level the playing field? Indeed, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) vice president Phiroz Vandrevala conceded the wage imbalance: "Our wage per [H-1b] employee is 20-25 per cent less than US wages for a similar employee," Vandrevala said. "Typically, for a TCS employee with five years experience, the annual cost to the company is $60,000-70,000, while a local American employee might cost $80,000-100,000." TCS is one of the largest users of H-1b visas, and their underpayment is fully compliant with current "prevailing wage" laws.

Norm Matloff, a professor of computer science at the University of California, Davis, confirms this wage discrepancy. "Two congressionally-commissioned reports, a number of university studies, and statements by Indian government officials have shown that H-1B is typically used for cheap labor."

The Programmers Guild supports President Obama's call to get Americans back on the job and help rebuild the American middle-class. Accordingly Congress has a duty to assure that Americans be given preference for the U.S. jobs created under ARRA.

REFERENCES

H-1B visa holders are paid less than US counterparts - source of TCS quote:
http://www.hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/StoryPage.aspx?id=cda81c51-7247-4c2a-8e36-2414c5f9686c

Darrell Parker contact: 916-607-9676

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KIM BERRY
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