Why I have issues with Mark Zuckerberg’s FWD.us


Facebook (s fb) founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg launched Fwd.us in a Washington Post opinion piece Thursday, a new group that is lobbying for a new approach to immigration in the U.S. He is joined by some Silicon Valley power houses — John Doerr of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, Dropbox’s Drew Houston and scores of others, including many Facebook alumni. In a carefully crafted piece for our capital city’s home paper, Zuckerberg told the story of his family. He talks about U.S. being left behind. Bring out the violins!

FWD.us is an organization started by key leaders in the tech community to promote policies to keep the United States and its citizens competitive in a global economy—including comprehensive immigration reform and education reform.

ellis island

I admire that Zuckerberg and his merry band of do-gooders for embarking on this quest. I also respect the idea of education reform and applaud the leadership position this group is taking here. And I also applaud the efforts the group will devote to science and innovation.

However, what I hate is the focus put on a specific immigration issue; but I am getting ahead of myself. This is from an op-ed currently on the FWD.us website:

The economy of the last century was primarily based on natural resources, industrial machines and manual labor. It was an economy where many of these resources were zero sum and controlled by companies. If someone else had an oil field, then you did not. There are only so many oil fields, and there is only so much wealth that can be created from them for society. Today’s economy is very different. It is primarily based on knowledge and ideas — resources that are renewable and available to everyone.

Yup, ideas and knowledge are renewable and available. But do they lay the bricks for the data centers that house Facebook’s servers? Do “ideas” — as Zuckerberg & Co describe — actually build the dams that in turn produce the electricity that helps you poke Mark? The food on your plate, it too is just bits and bytes?

Yup, those things don’t need people. They crop up magically. No natural resources, no machines, no manual labor, just …. ideas and knowledge!

What that snippet from FWD.us tells me that when it comes to our Silicon Valley leadership, there is a disconnect in understanding the real world that exists beyond the browser or the mobile phone. We don’t do empathy and human interactions very well in the Valley, especially companies whose raison d’être is social and people. You know, like Facebook.

The problem with this effort is that many of those leaders live in a bubble that is of their own making and have little interaction with the real world. The fact is that any immigration reform needs to dovetail with the domestic reality of the 21st century America. In order to change the world and wanting new policies, there needs to be a deeper understanding of the world around us.

The Flyover Nation

Between Sand Hill Road and Wall Street lies a big country that is going to bear the brunt of the coming connected age. Sorry Mark, but in the age of data, Facebook is Standard Oil and you are Rockefeller. And unfortunately, you have the data and we don’t. If we did, there would be naked transparency on data and privacy from Facebook. But I am digressing again.

Any immigration debate has to start with the education and re-education of the American workforce. With the coming connected age and continued proliferation of technology into our physical world, we are beginning to see disruption and massive displacement on a large scale. We don’t have the mechanisms in place to train people for this quantified societywhere data looks to become the ultimate arbiter. How can we have any talk of immigration and a knowledge economy that doesn’t acknowledge that there is a silent desperation outside of Silicon Valley and New York and Washington, D.C.?

People talk about robot-helpers and an army of drones, but I don’t hear how the factory workers and farmers will actually learn how to use them, as well as tame the data these gizmos will throw up and then will put it to work. What is going to happen to millions of people who will be replaced by those drones and robots? After all, they are as much a part of the capitalist food chain that makes the world go around. Damn … if we are going to continue to be an innovation economy, then it has to be about more than a couple of million people.

The Invisibles


Now let’s talk about immigration issues, because when I see FWD.us and the focus of its charter, I see the same old self-serving argument the technology industry serves up when it comes to immigration reform. In my years of writing about technology, I have seen pretty much the same argument made every single time — just change the billionaire or the company clamoring for this change.

Every discussion is about getting startup visas, or visas for engineers and knowledge workers and experts and how we need to get these people to stay in the U.S. after they are done with college. Let’s not trivialize the challenges facing our society and the reality of immigration and job creation in today’s world.

As an immigrant, I see any such discussion as limited. We can’t have a discussion about immigration reform unless we talk about other immigrants — the invisibles who do a lot of the work in the offices of Facebook and Yahoo, but never get invited to the IPO party or are handed an iPhone. How can we have a lobby group which has no representation from those people? Instead we have this:

Across America, creative, hardworking people in coffee shops, dorm rooms and garages are creating the next era of growth. Let’s embrace our future as a knowledge economy and help them — and all of us — reach our full potential.

If Mark and others really cared deeply about immigration reform on a holistic level then the conversation would involve a whole lot of other people — members of non-engineering and non-technology corps. So, no, I don’t buy that just because an immigrant works on an algorithm make her more important.

I know, because I am one. Perhaps FWD.us and Zuckerberg should start actually learning about the whole and real problem: a society disrupted in connected age.



Seems obvious enough to me that this “political party” is just a PAC representing people who want to save money while importing foreign engineers into the states. Their copy and its focus on “ideas” over “labor” is the best they could do to dress that up as being about more than the Valley’s money.

Subhash Bose

The only solution for USA is to scale up…..scale up in population, services, infrastructure, knowledge, wages, values, ………. SCALE UP is the only way to success and survival, opposite is shrinking and death.


There is nothing wrong in this new group focusing on specific issues for specific people. Every group cannot do everything. Each company/organization focuses on certain specific areas and issues to work on. If Om wants such a comprehensive coverage of non-techies and middle America, why doesn’t he start with his own site? How much of Gigaom.com covers non-tech topics and non-coastal people/organizations? There is a reason why Gigaom.com is focused on certain specific topics. Otherwise, it would be similar to this article – a rambling piece that points all over the place without making a point. I want back the few minutes of my life I wasted reading this.

Sara Cannon

I really understand your position. I believe that immigration reform across the board is needed, and I can’t believe in it more. However, personally the the immigration reform initiatives in the government for laborers are bitter-sweet to me. So many people that I know who are skilled can not live in the US and don’t have many viable options to do so. With the current proposed legislation it makes me believe that eventually there will be an upset where it will be easier to become a resident if you were an undocumented worker rather than a skilled professional. Not good.

I find value that Zuckerberg is focusing on an area of immigration that isn’t currently in mainstream thought. If you polled americans on how they feel about immigration – their thoughts would probably be generally centered around laborers rather than skilled professionals. It can only be positive to have someone stand up for the minority of immigration cases and let their voice and stories be heard.

Idon't Know

I don’t care about non-U.S. citizens who want to enter the U.S. labor market. they can work to build up their own countries. i care about the many U.S citizens who have seen their jobs displaced, salaries lowered, and careers diminished because of cheap foreign labor. Thats what this is about. Pretending otherwise is incredibly naive and thoughtless.


We need to fix immigration for skilled and semi-skilled and un-skilled. And skilled does NOT mean only those with STEM Master’s degrees. Many of the startups are built by people with English and History majors who learned to code ‘on the job’. This obsession with STEM degrees is weird.

The startup world needs lawyers, doctors, english and history majors; and dropouts. Yes, dropouts.

We need a sensible point based immigration reform similar to Australia and Canada that takes many factors into account. Want to work in Sacramento? +2. Want to work in Detroit? +10. Start a company? +5. Have an engg degree? +3. Have 5 years of experience? +3.


I think that it’s a pretty transparent ruse, on behalf of Zuckerburg and gang of pro-H1b CEO shills. Just because he puts a fancy website, and they cover themselves with loft and positive sounding platitudes like “immigration” and “knowledge economy” and “globalization”, none of truly hides the fact of one thing: companies love H1b’s because they supply the companies with wage depressing serf workers. If they Zuckerburg is really into “immigration” why don’t they push to make people citizens, people that come here to work then won’t be indentured slave workers ? Why do they never address the argument that in capitalist America – where they made their millions and billions – we have supply and demand that sets the price; they want to operate here, WHILE dumping in scab replacement workers, it’s a fact. All of this bullsh*t from these liars don’t mean a damn, their aren’t any more pretend pro-H1b arguments to hide behind anymore…

Non Immigrant

So whats really the point? That immigrants should have another lobbying group, or that there should be a lobby group around education and training – well, please go ahead and set it up. A group is doing what they believe is important to them, and so should you. Mark is not the president of the US and hence does not have to carry the burden of representing 300M people.

Danny Castonguay

Perhaps they (Zuck, Conway, Graham and others) believe that more (good) programmers is net positive for the country because such people will increase productivity (more units of labors per capita, which ultimately translates into more income per capita).

Opening the doors to all immigrants in the world might decrease the productivity of the US (because the average worker in the US is way more productive than the average worker in the world), which would lead to a decrease in average salary.

Perhaps such a free labor movement, for the world as a whole, would increase productivity. Maybe. But there’s probably a lot of other reforms in the works before we get there – in the mean time American is happy and rich (note: I’m not a US citizen).



Om – thank you for your balanced article on this whole issue.

For me, the biggest issue around immigration reform has been directly related to training (or the lack there of) for existing workers that technology and the economy move ahead of. It used to be, companies hired the individual and provided a learning/training path for them. These days, very few companies provide the development tracks of old, everything is pushed down to the individual. The problem with that? Training costs money, most that need training don’t realize it, and when they do there is little to no government support for such.

The whole system, from how companies look at their everyday employees to government options on training to educating people so they understand that they need to stay abreast of things.


The rhetoric argument to stamp green cards for US educated students while others wait in a line for decades is flawed. This would just turn into marketing machine for US universities to lure international students while also hurting locals with high tuition. While some US universities are world class, It is a fact that all of’em don’t belong in that league.

Immigration should have a price. And the price should be calculated based on contribution to the economy and the country.

I write all this as someone who’s in the immigration queue.


Very good point. If STEM graduates are automatically given green cards ahead of the others, the STEM universities will just become another channel for green card access. It’s stupid to have a blanket green card system for all STEM graduates. Instead, they should have a point-based merit system by which each individual’s value to the country can be gauged and that should form the main basis for providing green cards. This is what a LOT of other countries do. It’s more objective and effective than a blanket system for all STEM graduates.

Upstate Entrepreneur


No. On nearly everything you wrote, no.

“I also respect the idea of education reform”.

Fine: Go to a research university, get a technical
Ph.D., get a tenure track professorship in a US
research university, and then try to teach what you
believe is missing. What’s missing? Ruby on Rails
101? You won’t get an NSF grant or tenure for
teaching Ruby on Rails.

Eventually you will figure out that if Ruby on Rails
is to be taught, then the teaching will be in a
teaching college or a community college, not a
research university. Next, you will discover that
mostly people do now, and long have, learned such
material on their own.

So, if not something that belongs in a community
college or just self study, what are you going to
teach? How about Martin boundary theory in
continuous time stochastic processes? Is that what
you had in mind? How about attacking P versus NP?
Want to teach something productive in that?

Look, here in the US we’ve got the cream of all the
world’s research universities. They are fairly well
funded by NSF, NIH, etc. The funding and the work
are VERY competitive. As they should be, those
universities are working on the big stuff, not
anything Zuckerberg or the SV VCs would understand.
If you believe that you can do better, then go for
it: Anyone who can knock off P versus NP will have
their selection of chaired professorships waiting
for them.

Otherwise we’re talking, what, some 200 level
courses in a CS department or just some community
college things?

Oh, now I understand: You want better books and
videos. Okay, write some books. There are several
publishers eager for better books. You believe that
you can make a big splash writing books better than
Knuth, Ullman, Sedgewick? Go for it! Or videos:
Of course, the Khan videos on calculus just suck;
Khan doesn’t understand calculus very well, but I
do. No one should try to learn calculus from Khan.
Instead just get a good calculus book and work
through it carefully. The US has been awash in
beautifully written calculus books for decades.

Oh, you like the machine learning lectures of
Professor Ng at Stanford and want more like that?
You shouldn’t: Ng’s lectures are suckage. No one
interested in quality should waste time with those.
The really good profs at Stanford — K. Chung, D.
Luenberger, etc. — don’t do such lectures. Instead
they write fantastic books.

Look, those SV VC guys are absolutely, positively
not interested in innovation at all. They ignore
innovation and won’t pay attention to it, read about
it, think about it, or fund it. In SV, innovation
and a dime won’t cover a 10 cent cup of coffee.
Proof: Do some work that is really innovative, high
quality original research, for a powerful, valuable
solution to a big problem in the economy, and send
it to the SV VCs and observe that they will totally
ignore the work.

Instead, SV VCs want ‘traction’ — usage or revenue
significant and growing rapidly. So, whenever, as
now, the SV VCs mention ‘innovation’, in fact they
are talking about something quite different.

“And I also applaud the efforts the group will
devote to science and innovation.”

You are applauding the empty set.

Then there is the:

“The economy of the last century was primarily based
on natural resources, industrial machines and manual

Nonsense. That economy was based heavily on how to
use oil, iron, aluminum, steam, how to generate
electric power, how to use electric power, plastics
(you remember, “Plastics!”), chemistry, chemical
engineering, mechanical engineering, civil
engineering, electrical engineering, electronic
engineering, radio, TV, telephone, transistors,
computers, software, ocean going ships, autos,
trucks, trains, airplanes, powerful piston engines,
jet engines, rockets, satellites, optics, scientific
instruments, nutrition, genetics, and disease
control in agriculture, and nuclear energy.

Looks like college dropout Zuckerberg didn’t do very
well in 20th century economic history.

“What that snippet from FWD.us tells me that when it
comes to our Silicon Valley leadership, there is a
disconnect in understanding the real world that
exists beyond the browser or the mobile phone.”

You praise with faint damnation: SV is in one
hyphenated word, brain-dead, an embarrassment to the
potential of the US, and just silly stuff in
comparison with Terman, Shockley, Noyce, Moore,
Viterbi, von Neumann, etc.

“The fact is that any immigration reform needs to
dovetail with the domestic reality of the 21st
century America.”

“Immigration reform”? You’ve been smoking funny
stuff? All we need in immigration is just to
enforce our existing laws. Then cancel the H1B
nonsense designed to create an underclass to be
exploited — SV slave labor.

“Any immigration debate has to start with the
education and re-education of the American

You HAVE been smoking funny stuff, you have, you
have, right? Come on, Om, fess up. Admit it. I
know there’s a lot of funny stuff in SV.

Where’s this nonsense about ‘education’? The US is
just awash, coast to coast, border to border, with
nearly all the world’s best research universities
along with, in nearly every state or town, second
tier universities, four year colleges, community
colleges, trade schools, etc.

Oh, I see, you want to buy into that stuff about the
US K-12 teaching, right? Okay: To evaluate the US
schools, for each country of origin, say, Finland,
Germany, France, Korea, Taiwan, compare performance
of students with that country of origin in (A) US
schools and (B) schools in the country of origin.
In nearly all cases the US wins by a significant
margin. That is, we just ‘control on country of
origin’. Done. You have something else you want to
see in US K-12 education?

Look, Om, the yelling and screaming about US K-12
education is about essentially just one thing: A
lot of bleeding heart liberal “there but for the
grace of God go I” efforts to get the students from
the really poor neighborhoods up with the students
in the suburbs.

And the really poor neighborhoods? Sure: We wanted
to create an exploited underclass, and we did; and
Zuckerberg wants to create another one.

That’s enough.

For Zuckerberg, he’s a college dropout with poor
technical qualifications and a poor education.
F’get about Zuckerberg.

Om, put down the funny stuff, f’get about the
brain-dead SV, and look at reality.

Prat Agarwal

It’s important to understand and acknowledge the amount of money that Zuck has donated to NJ for education reform to no avail.


In my opinion immigration should be tied to the unemployment rate. If unemployment is high then immigration should shrink. If unemployment is low then immigration should go up.

Maybe I am a cynic but when I see companies say that we need more immigration I interpret it as them saying wages are too high. Aren’t these companies multinationals anyway? They can already hire talent anywhere in the world that they want to. So, I am highly suspicious of their motives.

I think we need to make sure that everyone in the country has a chance to have a successful happy life before we bring in more people. If those conditions are being met then we can let more people in.


Totally agree with you. BUT, If unemployment in a specific specialization of engineering is high, immigration for that field of specialization should reduce. For example if there are a lot of unemployed database engineers, reduce immigrants from that field. If not, then increase immigrants.

Pegging immigration to unemployment in a general field (eg: science or engineering) is this biggest mistake.


I don’t quite get it. Are you upset because FWD.us refocuses the immigration debate on immigrant tech workers? Are you arguing that rather than welcoming tech immigrants we should retrain our workforce? Do you think job-stealing technology should incur a displaced worker tax? What specific FWD.us policies do you dislike? Do you have a point other than “Silicon valley doesn’t understand real people’s problems”?


Om for President in 2016! (Argh, you weren’t born in the US though?)

Great writing, keep it up!

Cate Benish

I think they should spend their time on getting the disabled back to work. How many disabled people does Facebook & FWD.us employ??

Erico Perrella

Basically, your article is saying:
I don’t understand a damn about economy and about economic trends,I don’t understand why and how political lobby groups works and I think they are trying to take over the entire US economy using nothing more than ideas and a sino-mexican army of illegal workers.

Jason Hreha

I think that people in Silicon Valley generally see information/knowledge as a solution for all problems. However, information won’t fill one’s belly. World hunger and most of the large problems facing humanity don’t exist because of a lack of information.

In fact, the quick/easy access to information of all kinds (and varying quality) creates new, hard problems.

In my opinion, information is overrated… and we could all do better with a little less information in our lives. The key is moderation – but that is a virtue we seem to have exchanged for pervasive computing.

Mart. Yost

mmm… so excited. more billionaires controlling more of the world to create more of what they want.

Srihari Yamanoor

I don’t know. Whenever immigration comes up, everyone goes on and on about undocumented immigration, and forgets the plight of thousands upon thousands of engineers, who are here legally and yet in a limbo. Who speaks for us? No one.

Gregorio Rojas

Srihari… apparently you have some people speaking for you and they are pretty powerful people.

But to follow your point, why should we not talk about undocumented immigrants? They have a plight as well, only with fewer to none of the options that someone with an IT background would have.

Also, I may have missed this in this article, but i do not think it says we should not include reform for the high skilled immigrants. i know when i talk about reform i am talking about reform for everyone. why do have to leave any group out? doing that is wrong on many levels. there is strength in numbers.

Peter Delevett, SJMN

Lots of good thoughts here, Om – and you’re not the only critic (http://on.ft.com/10Pc2uJ). I think the mood in Washington seems to agree with you that H-1Bs and e-visas need to go hand in hand with (or even in line behind) broader, blue-collar immigration reform. As a valley journalist since the dot-com era, I’ve seen a readiness by tech execs to clamor for more H-1Bs instead of for better public-school funding… or for training and hiring older workers whose tech skills might have gotten a little rusty.

At the same time, I think Zuck and co. are to be commended for getting into a public policy debate in a big and well-financed way. Bill Gates was well into his 40s and a billionaire many times over before he began to turn his attention to the world outside his door.

Ravneet Grewal

Also what is pointed out in this reform proposal is exactly the gang of 8 is already working on in congress and goes to senate in less than a month. What’s new this group wants?


You are confusing immigration reform with labor market reform. Retraining or rehabilitating obsolete workers due to automation is a real issue, but it doesn’t have to be part of immigration reform. I agree that the zuck group seems to be motivated by their business interest. So, what’s wrong with that? If serving their self interest leads to viable immigration reform then so be it.


Fwd US Is Wrong

Business interests frequently collide with the national interest. For instance, Zuck et al might want to recreate Foxconn in the U.S., but that wouldn’t be in the national interest.

Zuck et al don’t want to go that far, but what they do want is not in the national interest.


What if it doesn’t? Half the kids who graduate from American universities every year can’t find jobs or are underemployed. Increasingly, IT degrees are being shunned because the labor market is saturated with skilled people who can’t find jobs in those fields, while the Silicon Satraps continually scheme to import cheaper labor. How is any of that in the national interest?

Jan Simacek

hehe – although i have no real plans of moving to the US I come to see that the imigration problem is ubiquitous. There is ALWAYS a suply of cheaper labor force with adequate education and/or credentials. And also a rising wave of people opposing their import. I think however it’s unstoppable. The people ARE there, they do have ideas, they WILL start businesses or help other people’s businesses grow. The only question is – do you want them to do it in the US (or Europe in my case) or let them do it in China? The downside of letting them work here is that they can offer better quality/cost ratio thus rendering some of the current citizen obsolete in the labor market. the downside of letting them work in China/Asia is that this way they will help China/Asia get a bigger and bigger share of the most profitable industry there is now – technology businesses…


but I think you live in the wrong spot for long term thinking. FB just wants some code monkeys tapping on keyboards. The funny thing is, I’m an immigrant, got here to do some secretive stuff with computers and the last thing I would do be a code monkey.

Maybe they should talk to another immigrant, Andy Grove.
Andy Grove: How America Can Create Jobs[1]

1. http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/10_28/b4186048358596.htm

marianne doczi

Have just spent days at hospital bedside of dying relative. Immigration is about nurses, cleaners, consultants, kitchen staff, porters. We don’t just consume virtual products, we live in a world where people2people services need as much consideration. Thanks for calling the intellectual and practical limitations of their political agenda.

Ted Hu

brillo piece Om. Wholly agree. Now if only someone can arrive at a suitable label for this phenomena. Too bad Objectivism is taken.


Thank you for writing about this Om, and appreciate your personal perspective as well. My parents were also non-engineering and non-technology immigrants. -Tantek


Ok, so what is the true purpose of this political group, because we know Mark and co. is not truly concerned with immigration reform for all?

Justin McCandless

The true purpose of this political group is to get these tech companies cheaper access to a bigger talent pool.


Get cheaper access to a bigger talent pool (Without having to move their offices out of US, to stay competent)


Actually, it often costs more to employ a foreign worker than a U.S. worker. The employer is bound by salary requirements set forth by the DOL and the fees involved with the visa process as well as getting a green card process add even more to the tally. Ther eis also more liability involved. Employing foreign workers is not a first option for most Silicon Valley tech companies, it is a fallback.


That may be true for direct employment, but most foreign workers that are here (in IT roles) are under the umbrella of a “consulting” company and are substantially cheaper than an American worker, direct or 1099.

That’s the point of having them in. It isn’t because of some perception at the CIO level that Indian consultants are better than Americans. It’s the money.


Just thought I would come back and respond to this as I think you misrepresent how this process works with regard to technology professionals. Third party contractors are still obligated by the same salary requirements for the region/city in which a foreign national is employed. If a sponsoring employer listed on an H-1B ignores these rules, they are breaking the law. Of course these scenarios do exist; there will always be abuses of the law. But abuses are the exception, not the norm.

You comment that “It’s the money” that drives this illegal practice of underpaid foreign born professionals. Of course it’s the money! The flow of skilled workers facilitates the making of money. Without Engineers from around the world, the U.S. would not be the technology leader that it is today. But to say foreign workers in the technology sector are paid less on the whole than U.S. workers in the same sector ignores the problems companies have meeting the salary requirements set forth by the government wherein a foreign worker is often required to make more than their U.S. counterpart. This is a daily occurrence of which I have first hand experience. Based on this information, I think U.S. workers have more of a right to make the claim “It’s the money” as it seems the skilled workers from our own soil is valued at less than a foreign worker. Please stop spreading nonsense.


It is you who is spreading nonsense. Here’s why:

“Third party contractors are still obligated by the same salary requirements for the region/city in which a foreign national is employed.”

There are multiple loopholes in the H-1B visa laws that allow employers to LEGALLY pay H-1B beneficiaries below market wages. Here are just some of them:

1) The prevailing wage is based on a broad job description and not the WORKER. Consider this example: The prevailing wage levels for OES occupation code 15-1132.00 which is “Software Developers, Applications” are:

Level 1 Wage:$34.26 hour – $71,261 year
Level 2 Wage:$42.02 hour – $87,402 year
Level 3 Wage:$49.77 hour – $103,522 year
Level 4 Wage:$57.53 hour – $119,662 year

The Department of Labor defines the skill levels as:

– Level I: (entry) wage rates are assigned to job offers for beginning level employees who have only a basic understanding of the occupation. These employees perform routine tasks that require limited, if any, exercise of judgment. The tasks provide experience and familiarization with the employer’s methods, practices, and programs. . . . Statements that the job offer is for a research fellow, a worker in training, or an internship are indicators that a Level I wage should be considered.

– Level II: (qualified) wage rates are assigned to job offers for qualified employees who have attained, either through education or experience, a good understanding of the occupation….

– Level III: (experienced) wage rates are assigned to job offers for experienced employees who have a sound understanding of the occupation and have attained, either through education or experience, special skills or knowledge. . . . Words such as ‘lead’ (lead analyst),
‘senior’ (senior programmer), ‘head’ (head nurse), ‘chief’ (crew chief), or ‘journeyman’ (journeyman plumber) would be indicators that a Level III wage should be considered.

– Level IV: (fully competent) wage rates are assigned to job offers for competent employees who have sufficient experience in the occupation to plan and conduct work requiring judgment and the independent evaluation, selection, modification, and application of standard procedures and techniques….

Do you see anything in those levels to account for the fact that an H-1B worker may have a masters degree? No premium for a masters over a bachelors? Do you see anything in those levels to account for hot skills, like Android development over, say, Cobol development? Workers with hot skills and higher education levels should be paid a premium, yet the prevailing wage levels do not take those things into account.

Level One represents about the 17th percentile of wage average Americans earn. ABOUT 80% of LCAs are filed at this 17th percentile level. This four-level prevailing wage can be obtained from the DOL website, and is generally far lower than average wages.

From Wikipedia: “The ‘prevailing wage’ stipulation is allegedly vague and thus easy to manipulate, resulting in employers underpaying visa workers. According to Ron Hira, assistant professor of public policy at the Rochester Institute of Technology, the median wage in 2005 for new H-1B information technology (IT) was just $50,000, which is even lower than starting wages for IT graduates with a B.S. degree. The US government OES office’s data indicates that 90 percent of H-1B IT wages were below the median US wage for the same occupation”

Now, you might be saying, “Yeah, but the law requires that an employer pays H-1B non-immigrants the same wage level paid to all other individuals with similar experience and qualifications for that specific employment, or the prevailing wage for the occupation in the area of employment, whichever is higher.”, but loopholes abound. The employer can tailor the job description with such ridiculous requirements that no one would be able to fill it, thus allowing them to pay the prevailing wage.


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