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H-1B: the voices behind the visa

Tracy Mayor | Nov. 17, 2010
This article is part of our special report on the 20th anniversary of the H-1B visa, which also includes first-person accounts from five IT workers who have been directly affected by the H-1B program and visual and interactive tools to help you analyze H-1B visa data.

Ironically, the project is over budget. The programming quality has been shockingly bad. The software they sent overseas was coming back so bad, it wasn't even salvageable. The company had to say "onshore coding only," but even that has been a disaster.

The H-1Bs get paid a pittance, and everyone loses. "Chop shop" is a very appropriate term. They constantly swap people in and out. [The service provider] doesn't have enough H-1B visas, so they subcontract with these little mom and pop consultancies. Of the H-1Bs in my area, five of the seven were subcontracted.

Some of these guys are earning $28 an hour. One guy on my team is earning $33,000 [annually] for a position that's supposed to have 10 years experience, though he has nowhere near those credentials. He's living in a hotel with his wife and two children.

If you complain about H-1B, people play the race card, but two of the people laid off [from the medical services company] were Indian, one with 12 years experience and one with 15 years. One woman is brilliant, Indian and in her 40s, and they're chopping her.

I had signed a new contract, but the next month my boss was let go, and the new person canceled my contract. I was replaced by two people on L-1 visas, and one on an H-1B.

The workers in the trenches are afraid. Nobody's willing to scream from the rooftops that this thing is a fraud. But I'm at the stage now where I feel like I have to speak out.

Brijesh Nair

'I have only good memories.'

I came to the United States on an F-1 visa in 2001 to pursue my master's in civil and environmental engineering at Arizona State University. I completed my M.S. in 2002 and my Ph.D. in 2007.

I worked as a design engineer on an H-1B visa from October 2006 until May 2010. My work was primarily to design water and wastewater treatment plants. I believe it was a specialized job. There are few Americans with a Ph.D. in environmental engineering. I was working for a company in Arizona, and at the time, in that region, they were forced to take people like me with an H-1B visa.

The work-related part of my H-1B experience was always positive. Dealing with the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services was always a nightmare, with so many complicated rules and regulations. Personally, though, I never had any serious issue with the USCIS, and my work experience was always good.


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