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Mark Gilbert
Mark Gilbert
Mark has been involved in EDA recruiting for over 18 years. He is Founder and President of EDA Careers, but started his career in EDA as executive Vice President at EDA Jobs. Mark was also VP of Marketing and Business Development in the beginning of the Internet revolution and has been a … More »

H-1 Visa’s EDA Industry Survey Results, A Lot to Learn About What Might Be Coming…My New (can’t miss) Video Interview…

April 11th, 2013 by Mark Gilbert

Make sure to check out my new video on…I think you will enjoy it…

First let me be clear that this is not an “official” survey nor are the questions or results meant to do anything more than give all of us a general idea of the H-1B visa process.  I wanted to bring some attention, information, and the experiences of others to your attention.  I am also infusing some of the conversations going on currently in government as it relates to these issues and questions.

One of our biggest challenges for start-ups (there are so many) is finding talented engineers for our ever-emerging changing industry.  So many great engineers are working in countries like India, China (and throughout Asia), the EU and elsewhere.  I am constantly getting phone calls and resumes from people living abroad that want to bring their talents to US companies and while I would love to be able to help do that, I am helpless. Because of the lack of H-1’visas and companies to sponsor as well, I must place them in their country of origin, not always an easy task.

The H-1 visa conversation is a flashpoint for conversation and is currently in hot debate by our government, and should be rectified shortly.  It comes up almost everyday in my business and few know the answers to this complicated process (bared out by this survey).  In a recent meeting where I wanted to learn more, the table was turned and I was asked by a government official to help them understand more of what is involved and the knowledge our companies have of the process, so hence, this precipitated me to create this survey.

Clearly the results of my survey show that Sponsorship is complicated and confusing and a path many companies choose not to pursue, even knowing that doing so could make a significant contribution to their company’s engineering team.  Further, students from overseas studying engineering here, end up taking the knowledge learned here back to the country from where they came…certainly a sizable productive incalculable (and I dare say stupid) loss of talent for this country.  We educate them here and send them to other countries to out-develop us…hmmm, it does not take a genius to figure out what’s wrong with that scenario?

I wanted to hear from our EDA companies first hand… Your thoughts and knowledge of what’s involved in sponsoring will help others in deciding (or not) to sponsor.  This should help us learn more so we can make better more informed decisions once we understand more of what is involved. Here are the results as obtained from my respondents…76 of you were invited to respond, 54 of you did, thank you very much.  The following is a list of the questions and your thoughts and a summary of answers.  I welcome some of your own experiences as “follow up comments” below and encourage you to share your experiences.

Industry results and synopsis to my UN-official survey…

The biggest surprise was the amount of knowledge that the heads of companies had of the overall process…to the question… How would you rate your basic understanding of the sponsorship process for hiring a foreign candidate? (1=MINIMAL 5=THOROUGH)

Surprisingly 1.6 (minimal) was the mean average of the responses, meaning that few of you have a significant understanding of the sponsorship process.  The process is complicated and can vary significantly and this shows just how difficult it is and how much effort it takes to really understand all the dynamics of the process and perhaps why more companies are unwilling to engage in sponsorship.

Should the US make it easier to sponsor overseas engineers and if so what suggestions would you offer?   Are you hiring H-1’s this year when the new quota opens?

To the first part about making it easier, 84% of you agreed that the process should be made easier and perhaps when/if that happens more companies will get on the sponsorship boat but as of today, companies were almost evenly split on taking on H-1 sponsorships for this year…about half will, half wont, once this years quotas are released.

Does your company sponsor H-1 applicants?

Interestingly enough, even though about half the companies will not be doing it this year, nearly all the companies have done it in the past…perhaps a good follow up question would have been, why not this year again, but who knew the responses in advance.

Should the US make the path from foreigners graduating from U.S. Universities, to US residency easier, so that what they learn here, can be put to use here and if so what would you suggest?    What could US colleges do to make US citizens more likely to follow an engineering career path?

Overwhelmingly, 83% of you agreed that there should be a better way of moving from getting educated here to getting employed here.  The comments were generally positive with only one saying we should focus more on our own educational system and bring kids through the ranks so that they have decent jobs in engineering when they graduate.

Are you more open to someone WITH an H-1 for transfer?

I guess I should have expected this answer as every one of the respondents said that a transfer of an H-1 was within the confines of workability and they would consider sponsoring a transfer, as the difficult part was already done.

Name a few simple advantages to transferring an H-1 vs. sponsoring?

Transferring was obviously easier because all the initial work was done and there was no waiting for quotas to open.

What is your motivation for sponsorship (A-E…select all that apply). Also, do you feel a higher percentage of candidates will end up staying the term when you sponsor them? (Select 1-5)

It seems that the majority answer was companies, for the most part, have urgent needs that can only be filled from elsewhere, which as we all know, is one of the main arguments in the fight to allow more out of country workers here and why the need exists to streamline the process.  Several of you, nearly 40% also thought that a candidate, who is sponsored, would show his/her loyalty and stay longer.  I am not sure if it is out of appreciation or that they want to get the process done as quickly or easily as possible but nonetheless, they feel they will stay longer.  This was corroborated by close to 70% saying that those who were sponsored ended up staying longer.

Do you feel the best engineers come from other countries?

I guess you can say GO USA, as the overwhelming majority of you do not feel that the best engineers come from other countries.

What countries are easiest to sponsor from? Is Canada TN an easier place to sponsor from and why?

The answers were not very clear to this question with no real deciding information so we shall just skip it.

How long have you found to be, the lag time between filing the sponsorship documentation and their actual start-date? (Use boxes A-D)   Also, Secondly (use the YEARS boxes 5-9) how long does the entire process take to complete to Green Card?    Lastly, (use $ fields H-K) What have you found to be the associated costs for this process and do you pay or does the candidate pay or do you split it? (Use boxes X-Z)

This was one of the more telling questions on the survey.  This is information that most of us can really use…As for how long does it take between filing and starting (here)…some of you pointed out that normally a candidate can work for you in the country of origin until such time as the transfer is approved but overall it takes at least 5 months and several said more.  The overall average time until a green card is actually issued is 3.3 years (and this number varied from a low of 2 years to over 5 years).  The average cost was $3900 (with some saying $2-3000 and some saying over $5k).  Since we did not have a number over 5k to choose from, you will have to draw your own conclusions on the expense possibilities.  Surprisingly, all of you shouldered the cost of the process.

A few of you took the time to write me an email with your personal thoughts (a few of you added to the dialogue boxes).

One of my esteemed clients who I happen to respect greatly made me aware that I had a lot of questions which would generate the same answer from most who reply, if they knew the system, which it seems few did. He noted that some of the questions were too open ended and generic and went on to say that in reality the process for green cards varies dramatically depending on the basis on which you are applying, and the country of origin.

He also made a good point of noting that depending on your qualifications and country of origin, some can get a green card in 6 months, or in extreme cases (EB-3 from India) – they have stopped processing applications because (according to him) the USCIS is backed up 15 years and counting.  He pointed out that much of this is because the original immigration system was not designed to accommodate the number of immigrants applying or the heavy percentage from 2 countries (India and China).

Another client who was glad I was doing this survey said that the H-1 program was dear to his heart as he entered CA through it, 27 years ago and wanted to share one troubling experience.  He went on to say that several years ago, when the H-1 visas were all used up within days of the Apr 1 early filing date, he would receive numerous resumes from Indian body shops (wipro and others) with offers to fill his job openings. They had a plethora of H-1 engineers that they “rented” out by the week. It is easy to understand why he found this very disturbing because he couldn’t get an H-1 for qualified personnel. (I compare this to ticket brokers who buy all the tickets to major concert or sporting events within minutes of the release forcing those of us that want to go, to buy through them at a much more inflated price but not sure this has anything to do with the survey, just my ADD kicking in).  He refused to deal with these body shops because they were gaming the system. He went out on to tell me that he also found out from talking with some of their engineers, that they were paid poorly (35 – 40k / year) for jobs that commanded at least 72k a year and up.  Further, the agencies rented them out for about 100 – 120k / year.  He is in favor of increasing the number of H-1 visas but would argue for a provision that makes it illegal to source H-1 engineers to other companies as described above.

There are 1500 some odd pages floating around Washington, which is in its final stages as I am told, and some form should hopefully pass shortly.  One sticking point is that Republicans want to push the H-I B visa allotment to 65,000 while Democrats seem to feel that this imported work force serves to undercut several good jobs for Americans and our focus should be on getting more of us in those positions.  As with all big legislation, political posturing and grandstanding takes precedence but I feel comfortable that the alarms have sounded and some reform will be coming soon, real soon.  Whatever it is, let us hope that it works best for us.  DAC is almost here and I will give you my thoughts on Austin, next column.

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One Response to “H-1 Visa’s EDA Industry Survey Results, A Lot to Learn About What Might Be Coming…My New (can’t miss) Video Interview…”

  1. Gary Dare (@GaryDare) says:

    Hi, Mark! Your last point was interesting because in blog discussions on other sites for articles on this topic, they usually wind up a flamefests on a) illegal immigration and b) IT industry displacements. But this is a topic that has nothing to do with illegal immigration, and high technology is more than IT – which is NOT well-defined … is EDA IT? Yes, no, maybe …

    Where there’s smoke, there’s fire and the general IT industry is probably an epicenter of problems that may indicate a reform of the program altogether. You don’t need to be a star to run Ethernet cables and configure routers. But if that’s how H visas are being misused then as in your example, an EDA specialist (or a semiconductor process scientist or engineer, or a potential Facebook data mining algorithm inventor from Iceland) doesn’t get one for every paper won by a “bucket shop”.

    I don’t pretend to have any answers to contribute but I do want to make the observation that there does not seem to be an issue when it comes to fashion models, or major or minor professional sports. Right after the annual trade deadline, or when players are sent down to or brought up from the minors, you never hear of challenges against non-citizens who get moved. Maybe that’s the direction that tech needs to look in order to get access to our true stars? (And that applies to other countries, not just the US …)

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