Norm Matloff's H-1B and Offshoring Web Page
Professor Norm Matloff's
H-1B and Offshoring Web Page
The H-1B work visa is a sham. Though the industry lobbyists
portray it as a remedy for labor shortages and as a means of hiring "the
best and the brightest" from around the world, the visa is used to
access workers that cost less and are de facto indentured servants.
This is well-established fact, confirmed by two
congressionally-commissioned reports, and a number of academic studies.
Even former software industry entrepreneur CEO Vivek Wadhwa has
I know from my experience as a tech CEO that H-1Bs are cheaper than
domestic hires. Technically, these workers are supposed to be paid a
"prevailing wage," but this mechanism is riddled with loopholes.
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to view my major writings on these topics. These range from short
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- Two congressional reports, a number of academic studies
have shown that H-1Bs are paid less than Americans.
- Underpayment of H-1Bs is usually done in full compliance with
the law. The problem is primarily NOT one of lack of enforcement or
- The use of foreign workers for cheap labor pervades the entire tech
industry, INCLUDING the large, mainstream firms, and INCLUDING
the foreign workers hired from U.S. universities. It is NOT
limited to the "bodyshops."
- Age is a core H-1B issue. Most H-1Bs are under 30, and since
younger workers are cheaper than older ones in both wages and health
care costs, employers use the H-1B program to avoid hiring older
(i.e. 35+) Americans.
- There is no tech labor shortage. No study, other than those
sponsored by the industry, has ever shown a shortage. HR departments
routinely exclude CVs of applicants they deem "too expensive"--those
that are over age 35 (so managers never see these CVs). Comparison of
American K-12 math/science scores to those of other nations is a red
herring, and is rank hypocrisy, since the same employers who claim
that "Johnnie can't do math" are laying off tens of thousands of
Americans who had been top math/science students when they were kids.
- The world's "best and brightest" should be welcomed, but only a
tiny percentage of H-1Bs are in that league. Meanwhile, many of our own
best and brightest are squeezed out of the market once they accumulate
10 years or so of experience, and worse, many top college students are
discouraged from pursuing the field in the first place. In other words,
H-1B is causing an internal brain drain of American talents.
- Though the industry lobbyists claim that the importation of H-1Bs
avoids the offshoring of work, the visa is actually used to
facilitate shipping the work abroad.
The National Science Foundation, a key government agency, actually
advocated the use of the H-1B program as a means of holding down PhD
salaries, by flooding the job market with foreign students.
added that the stagnation of salaries would push domestic students away
from PhD study, which is exactly what has happened.
- The per-capita rates of entrepreneurship and patents among
immigrant engineers have been the same as that of the natives.
Thus the displacement of the American workers has not produced a net
- Proposals to establish fast-track green card programs to retain
the foreign workers are misguided. First, in the EB-1 green card
category, which is for outstanding talents, waits are short. Second,
and more importantly, the foreign workers are mostly young, and would
still crowd out American workers of age 35+ even with green cards.