Foreign STEM workers don’t guarantee higher IT productivity. Do we really need more H1Bs?

An EPI study casts doubt on the ‘need’ for foreign-born STEM workers, while lawmakers push for more offshore outsourcing. Why?
By: PlanetMagpie IT Consulting
FREMONT, Calif. - March 21, 2013 - PRLog -- Popular belief is that those foreign workers who come to the U.S. on H1B visas are crucial to sustain an American workforce, which currently lacks in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) skills.  Thus justifying the need for more & more H1Bs.

But what if popular belief isn’t true?  

H1Bs Used for Workers Who Aren’t the “Best and Brightest”
An EPI Study ( recently found that H1B visa STEM workers don’t dominate their fields, as the popular assumption goes.  Conducted by Norman Matloff at the Economic Policy Institute, it found that foreign-born workers in science/tech/engineering/math, while hard workers, “applied for fewer patents, attended less selective colleges and were less likely than American computer science students to work in research & development positions.”

So if they’re not the ‘best and brightest,’ what’s the reason for the Immigration Innovation Act?

The Act was filed by 10 U.S. Senators in January.  If passed, it will significantly expand the number of H1B visas granted, from 85,000 a year to 300,000 a year.  According to this article ( from the Silicon Valley Business Journal, they have the support not only of President Obama, but 30 technology executives.  Including the CEOs of Facebook, Yahoo and Cisco.

Does this mean we have a STEM labor shortage?  Are these executives trying to locate additional talent for science & technology demands?

Biggest Use of H1Bs is Offshore Outsourcing, Not Bolstering Local STEM Workforce
No.  A Computerworld Study ( has found that the top users of the H1B visa program, use it for offshore outsourcing.  The increase in H1B visas would benefit major outsourcers who want to cut costs to the bone.

More H1Bs would contribute to higher unemployment – “a major hemorrhaging of American jobs,” according to the study.  Not only that, but tripling the number of foreign workers will decrease demand for American STEM graduates.

Given the H1B’s real purpose and the fact that more H1Bs = higher local STEM unemployment, we can conclude that the Immigration Innovation Act is unnecessary.

Do we need to import STEM Talent to sustain our economy?  No.
H1Bs are being used by highly-profitable American companies to get cheap labor.  Yet the STEM talent we need already exists in the U.S.

As noted in the white paper “The Argument for Reshoring American IT (,” tech school enrollment is up, and will continue to grow as long as American companies focus on recruiting domestic talent.  More H1Bs just take white collar jobs away from U.S. workers and hurt the U.S. economy.


Foreign-born workers aren't best and brightest, study shows – Upstart Business Journal (

President Obama talks immigration reform with Silicon Valley CEOs – Silicon Valley Business Journal (

Top users of H-1B visas are offshore outsourcers, Computerworld study finds – ComputerWorld (

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Tags:It Security, Offshoring, STEM Jobs, H1b, Technology Innovation
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