Want to generate a string of impassioned -- and not always logical -- comments on your blog? Then write about H-1B visas, which allow companies to hire skilled workers from other countries. They've long been popular among technology companies like Microsoft and Intel, which insist they have trouble finding enough employees with the right skills in the U.S. For proof, we have this post from Ralph DeFrangesco that mentioned H-1Bs and had attracted 28 comments at last count, a good number of them containing personal insults aimed at other commenters.
I've seen this on many of my own posts. I've tried my best to present a balanced view by acknowledging that while there is a need for such visas, the current system for supplying them is open to abuse. That's my problem, I guess. I've never thought it makes sense to take an all-or-nothing approach to H-1Bs, but that's seemingly what a lot of people would like to see.
With all of the rancor, and increasing political pressure on H-1Bs, it's not surprising that India's National Association of Software and Services Companies (Nasscom) is asking the U.S. Congress to consider creating a new category of "service" visa that would allow companies to send workers to the U.S. for short periods but, unlike the H-1B, would not lead to immigration status or permanent residency.
Though the recession has reduced demand for H-1B visas, the drop will be temporary. Indian outsourcing companies like Wipro and Infosys reliably receive the largest numbers of H-1Bs. Their U.S. clients want employees on site to assist with their outsourcing efforts. Stemming the flow of H-1Bs won't end outsourcing. So maybe it makes sense to eliminate the H-1B, establish a new category for these kinds of temporary workers, and also allow more EB and F-4 immigrant visas, which put skilled workers on an expedited path toward permanent citizenship. More of the latter category might help avoid the reverse brain drain that Duke University's Vivek Wadhwa and other experts warn could hurt America's long-term competitiveness.
The H-1Bs don't seem to adequately address the needs of companies that need temporary "service" workers or of companies interested in attracting global talent for long-term employment.
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