To: H-1B/L-1/offshoring e-newsletter
The article below reports on another much-appreciated move by Senator
Chuck Grassley to question the outrageous scam known as H-1B. His
concern, that two government agencies are big users of H-1Bs, is right
on the mark. However, he will need to go one level deeper if he wants
to get at the real truth in this case.
Grassley found that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Fannie
Mae were the only federal agencies make the list of top H-1B employers.
Here I will focus on the NIH, though similar statements could be made
for Fannie Mae.
The NIH is our nation's chief funder of biomedical research. This
ranges quite broadly, involving not just core biology but also areas
that are indirectly involved, such as epidemiology and statistics.
What kinds of positions is NIH filling with H-1Bs? The answer is that
most of these jobs are for research scientists, with titles like
Research Fellow, Staff Scientist and soon. (See the DOL H-1B data base,
at http://www.flcdatacenter.com/CaseData.aspx) I can tell you right now
what NIH will say in reply to the senator:
We at NIH always prefer to hire U.S. citizens and permanent
residents, and indeed H-1Bs comprise only 5% of our work force.
However, a large percentage of the enrollment in U.S. PhD programs in
the sciences consists of international students. Sadly, American
students do not pursue doctoral study in sufficient numbers to
produce a sufficiently large labor pool for us to draw upon, hence
our need for the H-1B program. This in turn can be traced to the
poor showing of our children in international test scores in math and
science. The long-term solution is to put more emphasis on science
and math at the K-12 level, and indeed NIH is funding some innovative
programs aimed at bolstering instruction there.
Regular readers of this e-newsletter know that all of this is entirely
misleading. As I've mentioned many times, the reason American students
aren't keen on doctoral study is that it just doesn't pay. Just look at
the database above, and you'll find that many of those positions pay
only $40 or 50K. Yes, $40 or 50K for people who hold a PhD! Indeed,
they also probably have several years of postdoctoral experience under
their belts by the time they apply to NIH.
And once again, THIS IS BY DESIGN; the National Science Foundation, in
pushing Congress to establish the H-1B program back in 1989, stated
explicitly that the program was "needed" in order to hold down PhD
salaries. The NSF noted that the low salaries would then discourage
American students from pursuing a PhD, and of course that is exactly
In summary: The reason NIH has so few American applicants for those
jobs is that the salaries it pays are too low to be attractive. So for
the NIH to tell Sen. Grassley, as I'm sure they will, that it's not
their fault that they are forced to resort to hiring H-1Bs, they're
lying. They know they could get tons of Americans in the field if only
they paid attractive salaries.
And there's more. Point your Web browser to
a page titled "Opportunities at the NIH for Non-U.S. Citizens." Yep,
NIH aggressively pursues foreign nationals, and has a special program
for them, Title 42. In other words, Congress actually created the
program, and the program is clearly aimed at hiring cheap foreign labor.
Indeed, the same Web page discourages potential foreign applicants from
applying for the better jobs, Title 5 positions, "as it is extremely
rare that no U.S. citizens would be qualified for these positions."
You can be sure that the Title 5 jobs pay a lot more, so of course there
are sufficient numbers of Americans to fill them.
NIH also notes that U.S. citizens may apply for the Title 42 jobs, and
those who do fill such jobs undoubtedly get the same pay as the H-1Bs;
but it is the same LOW pay, and that's NIH's whole goal, to hire cheap
H-1B is about cheap labor, folks, from start to finish. I fervently
hope that Sen. Grassley does not meekly accept NIH's reply.
Senator questions hiring of H-1B workers by two federal entities
Grassley seeks information on use of visa program by the NIH and Fannie Mae
November 28, 2007 (Computerworld) -- The National Institutes of Health
employed more than 300 H-1B workers during the federal government's 2006
fiscal year, prompting Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) to ask in a letter to
NIH officials why a federal agency is hiring foreign workers with temporary
Grassley, a member of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary and a leading
critic of the H-1B visa program, today also fired off a letter with a
similar set of questions to the Federal National Mortgage Association, also
known as Fannie Mae. The Washington-based lender began as a government
agency before becoming a private business that operates under a
During fiscal 2006, which ended in September of last year, the NIH "hired or
otherwise employed" 322 people through the H-1B visa program, according to
Grassley. Fannie Mae had 141 H-1B workers during the same period, he wrote.
Grassley said in a statement that the NIH and Fannie Mae were the only
federal or government-chartered entities among the top 200 users of H-1B
visas in fiscal 2006, with the NIH making the top 100.
"I'm asking questions today to find out how many taxpayer dollars are being
used to recruit foreign workers and how invested our government-backed
entities are in this visa program," Grassley said in a statement.
In the letters, he asked the NIH and Fannie Mae to provide an accounting of
how many full- and part-time H-1B workers they have employed each year
dating back to January 2002, along with the job titles of the H-1B holders.
The senator is also seeking detailed descriptions of the steps that the NIH
and Fannie Mae take to hire American workers before filling jobs with H-1B
holders, plus information on the number of layoffs made by the two
organizations since 2002, including the job titles of affected employees.
Grassley acknowledged in the letters that the H-1B program "provides an
avenue for U.S. employers to temporarily employ skilled foreign workers when
the domestic workforce is unable to meet employer demands." But, he added,
"this system is open to abuse and has raised concerns about whether American
workers are being protected and whether H-1B employers are skirting the law
in order to hire cheaper foreign labor."
The senator addressed the letters to Elias Zerhouni, the NIH's director, and
Daniel Mudd, president and CEO of Fannie Mae. Grassley wrote that as a
senior member of the Judiciary Committee, he has a "duty to conduct
oversight" of federal entities and their immigration practices.
Grassley said he became interested in the NIH and Fannie Mae because they
were among the top 200 users of H-1B visas in fiscal 2006. The NIH was No.
55, and Fannie Mae was No. 199, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of
Citizenship and Immigration Services. That made them the only federal or
government-chartered entities on that list, Grassley said.
Officials at the NIH and Fannie Mae weren't immediately available for
comment on Grassley's letters, which asked that responses to his questions
be submitted by Dec. 12.
Last spring, Grassley and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) released data showing
that the largest user of H-1B visas during fiscal 2006 was Bangalore,
India-based offshore services provider Infosys Technologies Ltd., which
received 4,908 visas. It was followed by Wipro Ltd., another Bangalore-based
outsourcing firm that used 4,002 visas.
Microsoft Corp. was the third-largest H-1B user that year, with 3,117 visas,
and Bill Gates, the software vendor's chairman, has been among the most
vocal advocates of raising the annual cap on the number of visas that can be
issued. The cap currently is 85,000, including 65,000 regular visas and
20,000 that are set aside for foreign nationals who have advanced degrees
from U.S. universities.
The NIH wasn't the only public-sector agency that was a major user of H-1B
visas during fiscal 2006. New York City's public school system was issued
642 visas that year, putting it in 22nd place on the list of visa users.
Grassley sent his letters to the NIH and Fannie Mae on the same day that
Compete America, a lobbying group with heavy backing from IT vendors, said
that it had sent a letter to Congress urging legislators to take action on a
proposal to increase the H-1B cap before they adjourn for the year.
Citing an effort by the European Union to attract skilled workers with its
Blue Card temporary visa program, Compete America contended that the visa
system in the U.S. "should better reflect the realities" of the global
economy. "At a time when other nations are aggressively taking steps to
improve their own competitive position, the United States is failing to do
so by sustaining a visa system that turns away future innovators," the
organization said in its letter.