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whyiswhy 12/4/2012 | 11:24:31 PM
re: Headcount: Buddy Can You Share a Line? It's very likely that yur CEO's BOD and investors are thinking the same thing.

Sales pays the bills, not engineering. I too have seen the very situation you describe: staff PhD'd to hell, a year into the cash, and nothing to show for it. PhDs tend to be academics, and many times their end drive is satisfaction of intellectual curiosity. In spite of that it's up to the CEO to move the organization in a direction that will result in product going out the door for revenue ASAP.

If the BOD does not make a move in the next month or two to replace the CEO with one that knows how to run things, do your job professionally, but refresh your resume and go shopping for another job. Do this quietly and when you get an offer, just leave quietly and honestly. IOW, tell them why you are leaving, take nothing of theirs with you, etc.

sevenbrooks 12/4/2012 | 11:24:27 PM
re: Headcount: Buddy Can You Share a Line?
Okay, so does this mean if I am NOT a US firm that I can do my work offshore and not pay this fee?

If so, I think lots of firms just moved their HQs to Canada.

sevenbrooks 12/4/2012 | 11:24:27 PM
re: Headcount: Buddy Can You Share a Line? skeptic,

I think you missed my point. A good opportunity is a good opportunity. A get rich quick scheme is a scam. Its dishonest. Anybody who sits back and stares at themself in the mirror realizes its dishonest.

OpticOm 12/4/2012 | 11:24:26 PM
re: Headcount: Buddy Can You Share a Line?


Posted on Wed, Sep. 17, 2003

Workers desperate as visa demand rises
By Mark McDonald
Mercury News

They come from cities and villages all over southern India, arriving in the pre-dawn darkness to find a place in line on the sidewalk. They wait quietly, snoozing in the humidity or eating from little packets of rice and paper cups of homemade yogurt. Every now and then, fidgeting, and just to make sure, they re-check their papers and passports.

By mid-morning, when the side door to the U.S. Consulate General finally opens, there are several hundred people in line, and sometimes as many as 2,000. Many have come to apply for an H-1B visa, the category that allows certain specialty workers to live in the United States for as long as six years at a time. H-1B applicants must be sponsored by U.S. companies, and virtually all the H-1B visas given to Indians are for positions in high tech.

There's an unmistakable desperation among those in line, a desperation due in part to a limit on the number of H-1B visas available each year. Regardless of his or her place in line, everyone's application will get reviewed and processed, but still, nobody wants to risk getting squeezed by the visa cap. For many Indians, an H-1B holds the promise of a lifetime of savings in exchange for a few years of work in the United States.

On the face of it, this exchange seems fair enough: U.S. tech firms get a steady supply of qualified Indian engineers and programmers, while the workers get prime-time salaries, cutting-edge experience and First World comforts.

In October, Congress raised the limit on the number of H-1Bs available each year to 195,000 for the next three years. It also changed some requirements and raised some fees to help the Immigration and Naturalization Service speed up processing and handle a huge backlog of applications. But the new legislation failed to tackle abuse in the middleman industry, which has grown with every expansion of the H-1B program.

That abuse in the United States has its counterpart in India, where the appetite for H-1B visas has spawned a predatory culture of fraud and forgery that labor, police and diplomatic officials are only beginning to address. In some cases, unscrupulous employment consultants take advantage of well-meaning visa applicants. In other cases, unqualified applicants are funneled into the United States by middlemen who help them fake academic degrees and pad their resumes in order to win H-1B visas. The U.S. State Department estimates that one-fifth of the H-1B applications it received in India last year contained false information.

Sunil Raj is one of those who succumbed to the frenzy. He said he was duped by two New Delhi firms into spending his life's savings of $6,000 -- an enormous sum here, equivalent to a dozen years of pay for the average Indian -- for a training course, an H-1B visa and a guaranteed software job in the United States.

Raj, 30, quit his job as a marine engineer and got a little bit of training as a programmer. His H-1B visa came through, but the ''guaranteed'' job turned out to be a fiction. Raj decided to go to the United States anyway, leaving his pregnant wife behind in Mumbai, formerly Bombay. He camped out with a string of relatives in four states, missed the birth of his daughter, and spent 11 months out of work. He applied at two dozen companies, he said, but they all needed immediate help. None were willing to wait three or four months for the transfer of his visa from his previous company, a delay that should ease under new legislation passed by Congress in October.

Worker left bereft
Finally, broke and broken, Raj returned to India. ''I have lost a year of my life, but what's worse is that I've lost hope,'' he said. ''I won't ever try to go back to America, not after this experience.''

Raj's application was largely legitimate, although he should have had a real job waiting for him stateside. He was simply too smitten, he said, with his own dreams and ''the management sweet talk.''

''There are lots of unscrupulous guys out there,'' said T. Venkateswarajan, the head of Track International, a small but reputable recruiting firm in New Delhi. For 300,000 rupees ($7,000), he said, unscrupulous firms will obtain an H-1B using false documents. ''Everybody knows it's a racket, but it happens everywhere. Every tech worker in India wants the U.S., by far. It's jobs in the U.S. that are driving this whole thing.''

Many of those jobs in the United States are a perfect fit for India's well-educated, English-speaking, technically inclined workforce.

And the vast majority of H-1B workers are legitimate. Some have attended graduate school in the United States, and many are hired directly by major U.S. companies for jobs requiring advanced skills. Indeed, with so many top-flight workers heading to the United States, some experts in India worry that India might be heading for a high-tech ''brain drain.''

But U.S. consular officials said last year that 21 percent of H-1B applications it received contained some kind of fraudulent information -- forged college degrees, doctored resumes, phony work experience or phantom job offers. That figure more recently dropped to 11 percent, with an additional 3 percent of applications categorized as ''suspect.''

''It's easy enough to go out and buy a whole package of phony documents off the street here, and, quite frankly, some of them look pretty good,'' said Clyde Jones, chief of consular services in Chennai (formerly Madras), the busiest of the four consular offices in India. ''Each city has its own ghetto where you can get these things.''

Experts say the visa fraud is most rampant in southern India, which is the hotbed of the country's high-tech boom. Hundreds of Indian and multinational computer companies have headquarters in the south, particularly in the cities of Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad -- which advertises itself as ''Cyberabad.''

H-1B applications from the region are processed at the U.S. Consulate General in Chennai, which issues more H-1Bs than any other consulate in the world -- about 30,000 last year out of the worldwide total of 115,000. Indian nationals received 44 percent of all H-1Bs issued worldwide last year, virtually all of them for high-tech jobs.

Most of the checking of the documents in H-1B applications is done at INS offices in the United States, although consular operations like Chennai, which has a three-person anti-fraud unit, also can sniff out fake degrees or doctored resumes, and then recommend further INS scrutiny.

The consular staff in Chennai, which handles as many as 1,000 applicants a day, consists of just five American supervisors and 15 Indian staffers. They work amid a sea of laundry tubs that are stacked on the floor, in hallways, on desks and atop filing cabinets -- green tubs for H-1Bs, red for previously rejected applications, teal for visas that don't require personal interviews, blue tubs for everything else.

Within the realm of visa fraud, there are two basic scenarios: either the visa applicant tries to cheat by falsifying his application, or the applicant himself is cheated by an unscrupulous training school or an employment consultant known derisively as a ''body shop.''

Most individual applicants are hardly sophisticated enough to fake their way into landing an H-1B on their own, in part because companies -- not individuals -- must initiate the visa application. To that end, there is now a whole complement of fraudulent training courses, visa ''facilitators,'' interview coaches, document forgers and phony shell companies that prey on ambitious young Indians dreaming of tech jobs in the United States.

Here's how the scheme works at its most basic:

A shady recruiter in India takes several thousand dollars from Mr. Unqualified Dreamer to provide him with some hurry-up computer training and an H-1B visa. A fake degree and a phony resume are thrown together, and then the recruiter pays a shell company in the United States to offer the applicant a job as, say, a computer systems analyst.

The U.S. company has been set up to provide the illusion of a real employer at the other end of the visa pipeline. Such companies are often run by Indians living legitimately in the United States on H-1Bs or green cards. The offer letter is written on the shell company's letterhead, and if the offer appears genuine to an INS examiner in the United States, then the application probably will be approved.

There has been an explosion of computer-training schools all over India, thousands of them, in big cities and small towns, with sexy names like EduSoft, TechnoCampus or the Software Finishing School. In reality, many of these ''schools'' consist of little more than a sweltering office, a few dusty computers, some photocopied training manuals and an ill-prepared instructor.

Unregulated by state or local governments, the schools purport to give quick and cutting-edge training in the latest computer skills. And so strong is the urge to become computer-savvy and visa-eligible that many Indians can't see the fraud for the stars in their eyes.

A few standard-bearers
''In Hyderabad, particularly, there are lots of fly-by-night operations coming into training because they see big bucks,'' said Sudip Banerjee, chief executive for operations at Indian software firm Wipro. Wipro hires hundreds of tech workers each month, and obtains H-1Bs for those who are sent to work in the United States for Wipro clients. ''We're very careful about who we take, because there just aren't any standards for anyone claiming to be a 'training school.' ''

For a time, training in the programming language COBOL was all the rage at the pop-up schools. Then it was C++, then ERP, then SAP -- all the acronyms that correspond to the latest and hottest skills being demanded by tech firms in the Silicon Valley and elsewhere.

The schools boldly tout their courses with newspaper advertisements that feature the Statue of Liberty or roadside banners festooned with billowing American flags. The ads use seductive words such as ''passport,'' ''careers'' and ''fortune.''

But training courses are now promising much more than just training: More and more there are the additional guarantees of both an H-1B visa and, say, a $50,000-a-year software job in the United States. All too often, however, the training turns out to be haphazard, the visas don't come through or the jobs don't actually exist.

A new movie in India captures the frenzy -- and questions the wisdom -- of the headlong rush by young Indians toward jobs in the United States. The film is called ''Dollar Dreams.''

''My case is dollar dreams, yes, but I'm not blaming the U.S., I'm blaming the middlemen here in India who take advantage of us,'' said Raj, the Mumbai man who says he was victimized by a training-school con in New Delhi.

Stars in their eyes
Raj emptied his bank account of $6,000 for a training course arranged by a company called ProEnhance. Another Delhi-area company, FCS Software Solutions, was to provide the actual training, which was to be followed by a job at the New Jersey branch of a Milpitas company called Ace Technologies.

The initial training was incomplete, Raj says, and he eventually had to file a police complaint just to get the company to start working on his visa application. Even though the visa did come through, there was no job waiting -- not in New Jersey, not in Milpitas, not anywhere.

But Raj headed overseas anyway, paying his own way and hoping to catch on with some other computer firm stateside. He traveled throughout the East and Midwest looking for work, but nothing materialized. He finally retreated back to India last summer.

Raj isn't entirely defeated. He and his lawyer are continuing to press a case in Consumer Court against ProEnhance and FCS, although ProEnhance is already out of business, and FCS denies any complicity in the case. The chief executive officer of FCS says his firm has no relationship whatsoever with Ace Technologies, the New Jersey company that was supposed to supply Raj with the job.

''We're totally separate companies,'' FCS owner Dalip Sharma told the Mercury News in an interview at the company's headquarters in Noida, a New Delhi suburb. ''There's no business relationship there at all.''

But FCS's own corporate literature says it's a wholly owned subsidiary of Ace Technologies and, further, that it acts as ''the arm for Ace Technologies for filling their demands for software professionals . . . in the U.S.''

And one other thing: Sharma and the owner of Ace Technologies are brothers.

Chandra Shaiker of Ace Technologies said his brother's company is independent and any company literature to the contrary is wrong. He said Ace Technologies has no relationship with ProEnhance. ''We have heard the name, but we have not ever dealt with that company.''

Many job contractors are genuine enterprises that find qualified Indian techies to work on a contractual basis at companies in the United States.

And most H-1B applicants know precisely how the visa system works, how the shady consultants operate and how the risks can stack up against them in the United States. In their desperation to get overseas, most applicants readily sign restrictive contracts that bind them to consultants.

But questionable linkages like that of ProEnhance, FCS and Ace Technologies are not uncommon in the H-1B process. Some of them combine shady training courses with the unscrupulous ''body shops'' that either defraud Indian workers outright or falsify documents to procure H-1B visas for unqualified applicants who are willing to buy their way to a visa.

Bulking up resumes
The whole process of fraud typically starts with resume falsification, especially the embellishment of work experience. If a job applicant doesn't have the right skills for a job opening in the United States, many consultants are quick to add some fictional torque to an underpowered resume.

When Ashish Singh was looking for a U.S. tech job, three separate recruiting firms in India pressured him to doctor his resume. Specifically, they wanted him to delete his master's degree and replace it with two or three years of non-existent software experience.

''I didn't like that,'' said Singh, 26, now a software engineer at Mirror Plus Technologies in Sunnyvale. Outraged and offended, he refused to go along with the demands. ''I was proud of getting my MBA. It was on my resume in bold.''

Degree forgeries are another large part of visa fraud. Small rings of forgers are busted now and again, but Indian police and consumer agencies have been unable to control the abuses.

Forgeries were so out of control in southern India a few years ago that the Chennai consulate had to appeal to Indian software firms and trade associations for help. What they came up with was code-named Project Olive, for Online Information Verification Engine -- a database of legitimate graduates from colleges in the city of Hyderabad and the tech-crazy southern state of Andhra Pradesh.

Jones, the Chennai consular chief, credits Project Olive and his anti-fraud unit with the sharp reduction in visa fraud over the past year.

Throughout Andhra Pradesh, became a favorite victim of the forgers. Fake Osmania degrees were found easily enough by whispering to a few well-connected stall-keepers at the sprawling Laad Bazaar in Hyderabad. They were so widely copied and circulated that the school's legitimate graduates were virtually blacklisted and routinely had their visa applications delayed or denied.

Sudip Banerjee, the operations chief at Wipro, helped develop Project Olive.

''We ranked universities on their credibility,'' Banerjee said, ''and when you would see Osmania in someone's file, a red flag would go up.''

Osmania sent the names of all its tech and engineering graduates to the Project Olive database, the better for the consulate to be able to verify degrees. And the school also developed new diplomas.

''We knew there was a big problem with people forging our diplomas,'' said D.C. Reddy, the vice chancellor at Osmania. ''The diplomas were printed on normal paper, cheap paper. But we worked with the police to take timely measures, and the diplomas now have watermarks, holograms and other security features.''

If diplomas and resumes can be faked, so, too, can job offers.

Advice: Keep tabs
An H-1B applicant might have a legitimate college degree and the required two years of appropriate high-tech experience. But the third part of the document equation is a job offer from a U.S. employer.

In about half the cases of H-1B fraud in India, U.S. officials say, the offer letter is phony.

Experts say the INS is simply too understaffed to check to see if every job offer is real. And the Department of Labor isn't authorized to investigate job offers, only working conditions after a job has begun.

''If it was up to me, I'd give the Labor Department more authority to check on the body-shoppers and whether the jobs really exist,'' said Jones, the Chennai consular chief.

Jones said most of the bigger companies have a good track record with his office. Indeed, applicants from the largest tech firms usually don't have to personally appear at the consulate as part of an ''express visa'' program. Jones said 235 companies are on the express visa fast track.

''I'm not worried about Microsoft and Cisco or the other big companies,'' said Jones. ''It's the start-up companies that may or may not exist: Somebody's got a basement and a computer, and they're hiring 25 people as 'computer consultants.' ''

Mercury News Staff Writer Sarah Lubman contributed to this report

shaggy 12/4/2012 | 11:24:25 PM
re: Headcount: Buddy Can You Share a Line? No one else is going to care care of you but You.

Unfortunately, this belief system fails miserably when one needs a quadruple bypass, even for the cardiac surgeons amongst us.


would you stop taking things out of context? We're talking about jobs/careers here, not natural disaster, health failures, act of terrorism or hurricanes.

This is a telecom chat board. Conversations are relevant to the topic of laying off engineers, not heart surgery.

And no, no matter how many times you quote something off the internet, I still don't believe you're correct.
rjmcmahon 12/4/2012 | 11:24:24 PM
re: Headcount: Buddy Can You Share a Line? would you stop taking things out of context? We're talking about jobs/careers here, not natural disaster, health failures, act of terrorism or hurricanes.

I'm talking about value systems and purpose, or lack thereof.

This is a telecom chat board. Conversations are relevant to the topic of laying off engineers, not heart surgery.

I'll suggest all conversations are relevant, even the silent ones, maybe even more so.

And no, no matter how many times you quote something off the internet, I still don't believe you're correct.

Not believing is a good beginning. Good for you.

Dr. Debakey said to his surgeon students that the poem "Elegy Written in a Country Church-yard" by Thomas Gray was his favorite classic.

http://sites.micro-link.net/ze... Gray.html

Maybe we should be writing our own epitaphs as did the author of the poem. What would you write for yourself?
exnortel2 12/4/2012 | 11:24:21 PM
re: Headcount: Buddy Can You Share a Line? I did not understand the relevance of this article. The tech bubble popped two years ago. Thousands of American tech workers have lost their jobs and there is no such demand for skilled software workers from India or any other country.

Why can not the US congress scrap the H1B program entirely when thousands of American workers can not even get an interview? A US $50K job for an Indian engineer at the age of 26 ? I think many more qualified, laid-off workers in Silicon Valley would gladly take this job ! In which October of which year did the congress raise the cap on H1B visas ? Did the author check the date or is she still thinking in the days of October 2000 ?
flam 12/4/2012 | 11:24:18 PM
re: Headcount: Buddy Can You Share a Line? ... and the point of this article is ...?

Have you ever visited South East Asia? The people there are incredibly competitive. I know we don't think of them as such, usually getting overwhelmed by the desperate, visible poverty, but once you get over that, you will realize that they will do anything to get ahead.

How's that different from the pond-scum that run our companies? Enron, anyone?

BTW, I spoke about this with an H1 holder a while ago, over beer - in vino, veritas - and he told me that the trick to getting a US visa is to tell the consulate that you wanted to make money. "That's the only thing americans understand. They will sell their grandmothers for money."

Go figure.
jr2 12/4/2012 | 11:24:16 PM
re: Headcount: Buddy Can You Share a Line?
>>The way I understand (I know and worked with H1B visa holders), lot of them get their visas without even an interview.

That is not true anymore. That was in the good old days of the bubble.

>>he told me that the trick to getting a US visa is to tell the consulate that you wanted to make money. "That's the only thing americans understand.

I never heard of this one either. I think the questions asked and asnwered varies. The consular personnel just want to make a show that they are doing their job. Unless something strike at them as obvious (these are paper pushers and not detectives), they are going to validate it.
atmguy 12/4/2012 | 11:24:16 PM
re: Headcount: Buddy Can You Share a Line? >>BTW, I spoke about this with an H1 holder a while ago, over beer - in vino, veritas - and he told me that the trick to getting a US visa is to tell the consulate that you wanted to make money. "That's the only thing americans understand. They will sell their grandmothers for money."

The way I understand (I know and worked with H1B visa holders), lot of them get their visas without even an interview. It is like a lottery. When you submit the application, you get a number. Only yhe numbers picked, get to interview. The rest of them get handed over the visas. Of course, things have become tight after 9/11.
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