by Joseph Weisenthal

H-1B Visas Exhausted In Record Time; Think It's Time To Raise The Cap?

from the going-going-gone dept

Every year, the story is pretty much the same with H-1B visas, as tech companies quickly gobble them up, prompting the inevitable debate of whether more should be made available the following year. Everybody knew this year would be a mess, but in case there were any doubt that demand for these visas far exceeds their supply, the government has said that it's run out of them after only one day of availability. Employers now realize that there's no sense in waiting around and running the risk that they won't get alloted any, so they all apply on the first day. The fact that they're exhausted so quickly should make people realize that more should be made available, but there are some politicians who are completely opposed to the system, since they see it as just a way for companies to import cheap foreign labor. But their stance doesn't really hold up. For one thing, it's hard to imagine that companies would go through all of this trouble if it were just about saving money, as opposed to filling gaps in talent. Furthermore, if companies can't bring employees from abroad, then they'll just move more operations overseas, which is something these politicians would find even more troublesome. The real problem is that politicians see everything as a black or white, zero sum game. Some see it as foreign workers stealing American jobs, while others view it as greedy managers selling out American laborers to further line their own pockets. But these simple viewpoints don't capture the reality of the tech industry, which is far more dynamic. The US economy, and the tech industry in particular, benefits from from immigrant workers, while the traditional delineation between management and labor doesn't really apply in an industry where most workers have a large stake in the success of their firm.

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  1. identicon
    Steve Baumann, 5 Apr 2007 @ 10:48am

    It's time to raise OUR number of tech graduates

    It's not time to raise the H-1b cap, it's time to raise the number of people from THIS country that are qualified for these positions, before we fall even farther behind in global tech leadership. Do we want to eventually be a country that can do nothing more than rent talent, with the end result being that all the knowledge that the H-1b workers gain, ends up going back to further the progress in their country? The reason H-1b was created was to enable us to fill positions from the outside, when there were NO OTHER OPTIONS for finding qualified candidates within our own borders. Now, companies are just using it as a (profit increasing) crutch. This will only increase if we expand the cap on how many visas we grant. Other countries are quietly laughing behind our backs at our continually backward, short-sighted mentality. Other countries have 100 year business plans and goals, and some companies here can barely look beyond the next fiscal quarter. Now, I'm not saying that the next fiscal quarter is not important, just that you can't sacrifice the next several years, just so you can meet that next quarter's earnings expectations. It's called BALANCE, people. Just my 4 cents worth (have to count for inflation).

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