New H-1B visa rules?

I was listening to the news the other day and it was talking about how my president (Darth Orange) is talking about gutting the H-1B visa program. This is relevant because there are a lot of coding jobs that are filled by H-1B visas from countries like India, etc. Roughly 12% of all H-1B visas are for coders.

Now, while I don’t agree with Trump’s plan, I have to wonder how it will affect the coding marketplace. As I understand it, most of those H-1B jobs are the higher end ones, but a scarcity in the market could still create job opportunities across the spectrum. Some of those jobs will likely turn remote, but not all.

Again, I think it is a bad decision - bringing in new talent and ideas has always been good for industry and I think these policies will have long term negative effects for the US and the world, but since I have no control over it I’m left to wonder about the short term effects for individuals.

Any thoughts?

There’s already negative unemployment for programmers in the US. The reason tech companies sponsor visas is because there is a real struggle to fill positions. Rather than improve employment opportunities in the US for citizens, I find it much more likely that the jobs will simply move out of the US altogether.

I hear ya, but the way I see it, most jobs that were easily offshorable would mostly be offshored to enjoy the cost savings. I’m sure there will be an increase of offshoring as companies face a new reality and reassess if having someone work remotely in Poland or whatever, but that also means an increase in the availability of the leftover other jobs from companies not willing to work that way. Again, I think the long term effects will be bad, besides just being a horribly isolationist signal to send to the world.

I keep hearing about this great need for programmers. They can’t be too desperate - they haven’t hired me yet. :wink: There certainly are many people looking for jobs and have been for a while.

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Well, I think we’re all agreed that this is not going to be good for the US, certainly not in the long run.

I guess I’m not explaining my point well. I remember decades ago an economics professor talking about labor markets. If the qualified labor supply drops below what the market needs, there are a limited number of options that they have:

  1. look for qualified labor elsewhere
  2. raise the wage to attract more qualified labor
  3. shrink or change their business so they don’t need as much qualified labor
  4. redefine what they call “qualified”

With regards to (1), programming is probably already one of the most saturated labor markets with overseas and remote work. Sure, there will be some new companies that say, “Screw it, lets let her go back to South Korea and let her do her job remotely.” But there will be a large chunk that won’t for either legitimate logistical reasons or out of fear/tradition. Some companies may chose to move overseas, but there is a reason why tech companies continually settle in super expensive locations like Silicon Valley. If they could get the contacts and resources they need in Malta, they would.

With regards to (2), it is already a high paying field, but there might be a small pay increase - simple supply and demand. Everyone always thinks their industry is a special case where Smith and Locke don’t apply, but in the end, the laws of economics prevail.

With regards to (3), that is hard to judge. Some lower scale enterprises can shift to prepackaged stuff, alla WordPress, but not the high end players. And of course shrinking your business is death.

So we come to (4), which to me is interesting. I remember by econ prof talking about this but I can’t remember what he called it. I’m not saying that suddenly some guy that’s been studying on the internet for 5 months is suddenly going to be offered a job as senior fullstack engineer at a major bank. I’m talking about something more subtle.

Imagine there are ten levels of coding, based on some combination of skill, knowledge, and experience. We can also assume that the H-1B visa jobs are in the top half of that since they must meet and certain wage standard and be valuable enough for the companies to do the effort. Now, level 10 needs a certain number of workers. If they can no longer get enough, now they have to dip into the pool of level 9 programmers. Now level 9 (which was already short) is even shorter on qualified workers, so they have to lower their standards a bit and dip into level 8. This creates a cascading effect down the line, increasing demand across the spectrum. I wish I could remember the name for this phenomenon, I’ll keep looking.

But I agree that any benefit would be short term. This all assumes that the market stays constant (and other hard to measure factors). But as innovation gets stifled here and that talent goes overseas and starts a new Silicon Valley somewhere else (it’s the influx of talent that make SV what it is, not some magic dirt).then long term things will go downhill. I was just interested in the short term prospects. (But yes, if I had a magic wand, I would keep Trump from kicking out all this talent. But then if I had that wand, he wouldn’t be president.)

I don’t know, maybe I’m getting too theoretical here. This was just all running though my head last night. That’s what you get for mixing sleep deprivation and Scotch.