Norm Matloff, a computer science professor at the University of California, Davis, agreed that age plays into it — not because older workers are less skilled but because they typically require higher pay. Temporary workers also tend to be cheaper because they don't require long-term health care for dependents and aren't around long enough to get significant raises, he said.
Because they can be deported if they lose their jobs, these employees are often loath to complain about working conditions. And even half the standard systems analyst salary in the U.S. is above what an H-1B holder would earn back home.
Such circumstances concern Americans searching for work in a still recovering economy.
Jennifer Wedel of Fort Worth, Texas, publicly challenged Obama on the visa issue in 2012, making headlines when she asked him via a public online chat about the number of foreign workers being hired — given that her husband, a semiconductor engineer, couldn't find work.
Wedel said her husband eventually found a job in the health care industry, taking a $40,000 pay cut.
"It's a slap in the face to every American who worked hard to get their experience and degrees and has 10 or 15 years of experience," she said, adding that firms want that experience but don't want to pay for it.
To her, the issue isn't about a shortage of workers who have the right skills. Put simply, she said: "It's the money."
Laura Wides-Munoz reported this story from Miami. Paul Wiseman reported from Washington, D.C. Follow Laura Wides-Munoz on Twitter: https://twitter.com/lwmunoz Follow Paul Wiseman on Twitter: https://twitter.com/PaulWisemanAP