"Graduates on H1B visas are significantly higher caliber"

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I am an H1B visa holder. I came to the United States on a student visa and later transitioned to the work visa. I currently work as a Lead Software Engineer at a large FAANG technology firm and I conduct hundreds of interviews annually, for both experienced and new grad roles. Throughout my years here, I've worked with both talented American engineers and foreign engineers, and I can tell you that we all agree that hiring is extremely difficult given our high hiring standards.

When we're hiring, what we need more than anything else are people who are qualified for the role. We will only hire people who have the necessary skills to do the job so that a customer's bank account doesn't get hacked after you used our website. And our hiring process is extremely rigorous.

We start with one to two rounds of phone interviews, in which we ask simple knowledge-based and algorithm questions to verify that the candidates did not lie in their resumes. Unfortunately, less than half of the candidates I interview can pass these phone interview rounds. If a candidate does pass, my team brings them onsite for a full day of interviews. We will ask a range of questions focused on software systems design, the analysis of algorithms, and common workplace behaviors.

Again, only a very small number of candidates pass all our interview rounds, and they usually receive offers from multiple companies. We must therefore fight to get them to join us regardless of their citizenship status or gender, since they are the ones who are able to keep our products safe and customers happy.

My company has established STEM-initiative programs across the United States in an attempt to train U.S. students and to engage kids to become engineers. Unfortunately, there isn't enough interest among American students (especially female students) to attend such programs. In our new grad hiring program, we can only find a small number of American students who are qualified for our new grad roles.

We have also found that foreign graduates usually have a significantly higher GPA, more internship experience, and more advanced classes on their resumes. 

It is very time consuming for my company to hire H1B workers. Recruiting foreign graduates involves lawyers' fees and there's never any guarantee that we'll be able to secure the work authorizations for them. Given that successful candidates can pass all of our interviews, we will do anything to get them onboard since they bring tremendous benefits to our company. We follow a unified pay model that is adjusted based on previous salary, years of experience, interview performance and not on citizenship. Our H1B visa holders are not underpaid. It's time people wake up to this.

Kavi Ramesh is a pseudonym

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Photo by Stephanie Hau on Unsplash

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