Where are the H-1B Geniuses?

By John Miano on May 8, 2011

The U.S. imports about 100,000 people a year on H-1B visas. The public is constantly told that this mass of labor imports represent the "Best and Brightest" in the world.

Where are the big accomplishments from those on H-1B visas?

The citations of "H-1B" accomplishments from program supporters illustrate this problem. The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that:

Supporters of the program, including high-tech firms and industry groups, say it attracts foreign talent that spawns innovation and creates jobs in the U.S. They cite former H-1B holders such as Vinod Khosla, co-founder of Sun Microsystems, and Vinod Dham, an engineer behind Intel Corp.'s Pentium chip, as proof of its value.

Sun was started in 1982. Dham started at intel in the late 1970s. The H-1B visa program started in 1991.

These alleged H-1B stars never had H-1B visas.

While on the Wall Street Journal article, it discusses the decline in the number of H-1B visas in recent years. However, it never mentions "optional practical training" or OPT. Until recently, DHS permitted people on student visas to work under OPT for one year after they graduated. In 2008, DHS changed its regulations to allow people in technology fields to work for up to 29-months (with 35 months possible for fall graduates).

DHS's regulatory-created OPT guestworker program not only permits people who are not students to work on student visas, but also does so without any worker protections whatsoever. DHS does not require these workers to be paid at all, let alone the prevailing wage.

Under OPT, employers have:

  • A work period nearly as long as for an H-1B visa

  • No requirements to pay the prevailing wage

  • No requirements to protect domestic workers.

Yet no mention of this new source of labor in the WSJ piece.