Google, Apple and Facebook not using H-1B visas for cheap foreign labor

Posted Sunday, Apr 16, 2017 by Jeff Safire

By Ethan Baron / April 10, 2017 at 5:16 PM

Pity the much-maligned H-1B visa, caught up in the politicized vitriol of the U.S. immigration issue and given black eye after black eye by the companies that love and abuse it.

Now, a new report wipes some of the grime off this flashpoint work permit, with findings suggesting that major Silicon Valley tech firms are, at the least, not using the H-1B to land cheap talent.

And the visa needs all the polishing it can get. Disney and Southern California Edison have both been vilified for reportedly using the H-1B to bring in foreign IT workers so the companies could cut American jobs. And closer to home, UC San Francisco was blasted for using H-1B workers as part of an effort to outsource jobs to India.

But Google, Apple and Facebook are not using the visa to acquire cheap engineers and managers, a report out April 10 indicated.

The San Francisco Chronicle newspaper analyzed H-1B applications from the three Silicon Valley titans, and compared them with those from Indian outsourcing firms.

It turned out, according to the paper’s analysis, that Google, Apple and Facebook were offering salaries considerably higher than the prevailing wage for the jobs in question in Santa Clara County.

Google was offering $127, 920 for a technical program manager, a job with a prevailing wage — according to the U.S. Labor Department, which factors in skill level and location — of $94,619. Apple was offering $142,ooo to a software engineer, compared to the prevailing wage of $124,675. And Facebook was offering $163,351 for a software engineer, with the prevailing wage at $144,707.

Of course, the newspaper used a relatively small sample for its conclusions, so the findings don’t represent the firms’ hiring practices in general, and there’s no telling if these tech giants hire foreign workers when in some cases an American could do the job. But the Chronicle’s report certainly puts a measure of shine on the H-1B, which faces an existential threat from the administration of President Donald Trump and Congressional Republicans, many of whom are deeply skeptical about bringing foreign workers to the U.S.

Among employers, however, the H-1B is extremely popular. This year, the lottery-based allocation system reached its cap in just five days of application.

The Chronicle also analyzed applications from controversial Indian outsourcing firms Tata, Infosys and Wipro. While Wipro offered the prevailing wage for a programmer analyst, Infosys offered almost $17,000 more than the prevailing wage for a systems engineer, and Tata offered about $7,000 more for a developer position.


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