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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
    H1B-er, 5 Apr 2007 @ 11:18am

    Been there

    I came to the US under H1B 6 years ago. Not from the stereotyped countries. Not in IT. Came for my own engineering career, and had several job offers in several countries (my own country was on the brink of political collapse and civil war). The program has benefits and flaws. You are allowed to be paid x% under the prevailing wage and there is little DOL does - it is largely a rubberstamp process - easy to fake. In my case the pay was around 25% lower, and I ate it because you could be sent "back". I came in as dual intent - fully intending to get a green card, like a number of other H1Bs. (which I did based on my specialty qualifications - not an easy process to go through while the US places greater importance in reuniting families, a majority unskilled, than actually improving the skills base inside the country.) I left my H1B co as soon as I could after getting the GC.

    Yes, outsourcers abuse the system, some others too. However we are not all on our way to distinguished careers in Indian outsourcing centers. Some of us came here to make a contribution and have a great career. Where I work now 40 highly (and lower) skilled people have jobs because of me. Innovation knows no boundaries, business enviroments are just easier in some countries. Unless the definition of "specialty worker" encompassed more than a half assed associates' degree and slave wages (that is the reality) are stopped, the abuse will continue.

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