The second time, I was working alongside an H-1B holder from Russia at a small start-up in Phoenix that has since gone out of business. He was a real nice guy. We got along fine. Everybody knew the company operated on a shoestring -- they got me pretty cheap, because I was getting sort of desperate with all the layoffs in the industry and the corporate takeovers, but they got him cheaper.
I was doing software for a telephone communications system for them. The investors were hoping to be able to sell the company. They were dreaming of a gargantuan payoff, but when companies passed on buying it, we all knew there were going to be massive cuts. When companies are cutting their budgets, the first to go will be the expensive Americans, and that's what happened.
What's harder to detect than being out-and-out replaced by an H-1B worker is when you don't even get job offers because there's such a vast pool of H-1Bs that you're competing against. I've gone in for interviews that were clearly meaningless. They were mock interviews just so they could meet their labor requirements. They would tap the shoulder of some junior engineer to interview you for five minutes. It's just about sharing a common culture and language -- an H-1B manager is going to be more comfortable hiring other H-1Bs.
I went through the whole re-education thing at a local community college, but it didn't pay off too well -- I got one temporary job out of it. As you get older, you can go and get those skills, but employers will say, "I can hire a 22-year-old or an H-1B; why should I hire this guy in a saturated job market?"
I have a passion for engineering, and I thought I could maintain my career for the rest of my life, but realistically, my career is over. I'm making payments on the electricity, paying to keep my computer going, but my medical copays are going up. I'm definitely feeling squeezed.
Sekhar J.: 'Consultancies are 90% of the problem.'
I came to the United States in November of 2007. My H-1B was sponsored by an Indian consulting firm. They have an address in Washington, D.C. They tell the clients they have a guest house there, but really it's just a post office box.
I was coming from Bahrain. They gave me a Skype number to call in on for an interview with the client. It was five o'clock in the morning. They told me to say I was already in Washington. The client was in San Antonio. They thought I was already in the country on the H-1B.