Time to Revisit H-1B Visa Issue

Ann All

When it comes to hiring IT pros from other countries, it's not always about offshoring. U.S. companies are also eager to employ such folks here in the States.


To that end, technology lobbyists see the changing of the Congressional guard -- from Republican to Democrat -- as a good opportunity to revisit the issue of H-1B visas. The visas, which allow foreign workers to toil at U.S. companies, have been a sought-after commodity in the tech business for quite some time.


Bill Gates has called on Congress to eliminate the program, thus removing a considerable amount of red tape for American companies that want to hire folks from other countries.


President Bush supports the idea of raising the annual cap from the current 65,000, a number that was exceeded more than two months before the fiscal year began in 2006.


But while employers want more of the visas, many IT pros oppose the idea. They say that too many companies abuse the concept, passing over qualified workers and using the visas to find foreign staffers willing to work for less than their U.S. counterparts.


And they may be right, based on a Government Accountability Office report, which found that many of the visas were approved even if a company would not commit to paying the market rate.


It's too early to predict whether the recent change of leadership in Congress will improve the odds that more visas will be allowed. But it seems safe to say that it will remain a polarizing issue, aptly described in a Washington Technology article as "one of the big political mosh pits of the IT world."


Perhaps legislators could propose that companies employing workers on such visas also be required to contribute to programs designed to improve technology education efforts. Thus, companies that insist they must hire foreign workers because of a shortage of such folks here in the States could help alleviate the shortfall.

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Dec 19, 2006 7:26 AM howard ames howard ames  says:
bunch of doped reports about shortage of us skilled workers. the november 2006 election results showed the local state people do not want this H1B visa and off shoring and illegals i this nation. border security is a problem for the US government. so the Republicans lost the midterm elections, NOT STOLEN !!! and if you do not know this already there are many hundreds of thousands still cannot find professional jobsor they are working at places like retail, grovery, gas stores like Walmart, ... TO PAY THE BILLS !!!!!!!!    Reply
Dec 19, 2006 10:01 AM Chuck Melockiwsky Chuck Melockiwsky  says:
If Congress could pass a law to fast track Minor League Ball players to get their Greencard, don't the Foreign PhD's deserve something better than the 4-5-6 year wait for a Greencard?H1b visas are no doubt exploited but there is no alternative  visa for a US educated PhD to work or do research here after graduation. Employment based Greencard process reform is what is required than a temporary fix of increasing H1b's. A PhD from a US university is more valuable outside US. Canada, Australia, Ireland give value for higher education and English knowledge in their immigration process! Reply
Dec 20, 2006 2:09 AM Amy Short Amy Short  says:
"Perhaps legislators could propose that companies employing workers on such visas also be required to contribute to programs designed to improve technology education efforts." This is already a requirement under the current H-1B visa application process.  There is a $1,500 fee attached to each H-1B visa application for the express purpose of training and educating U.S. workers. It's required by the U.S. government in order for any H-1B visa application to be processed.Really, if you're going to write publicly about an issue, you should research it first.   Reply
Dec 20, 2006 12:01 PM Bill Gates Bill Gates  says:
" a Government Accountability Office report,"???? It's *EVERY* GAO report and *EVERY* Department of Labor audit that has found serious problems with the H-1B program.  Congress has been aware of the problems with H-1B since 1995 and they have done *NOTHING* to fix them.  There is not a single empircal study in existance not funded by lobbyists that has found this mythical labor shortage. In fact, wage growth for computer professionals has been the same as for lawyers. Does anyone want to argue that we do not have enough lawyers? Industry has learned that all they they have to do is dangle dollar bills in front of Congress and they can get what they want. As far as the _other_ Bill Gates goes, he is notorious for deviating from the facts.Ask David Broder how reliatible Gates is as a source. Perhaps we can start with a provision to close the loophole allowing employers to fire U.S. workers and replace them with H-1B workers. Reply
Dec 20, 2006 12:03 PM Dave Chapman Dave Chapman  says:
The H1-B visa program is about Cheap Slave Labor.As such, it is a subsidy to the corporations who hire thesepeople and pay them half. Because of the large amounts of money involved, there isa considerable budget for lobbying and bribes. Reply
Dec 29, 2006 1:08 AM Eric Eric  says:
This is not true, this article is full of crap...why stop professional engineers and smart people from serving the United States and make US always in the leading age of technology. You looks full of crap and make yourself look silly for posting such article, DUMP ASS. A lot of IT people already looking else where like Asia and Europe....why waste time working in US when here got these dump ass bitches like you, people rather put their time dealing with other things in life then the damn US VISA..lolz Reply
Jan 5, 2007 3:01 AM G. Chell G. Chell  says:
People opposing H1-B visas as competition to the American workers are the same people who oppose affirmative action. When it comes to affirmative action, it is the best qualified who get the job according to many white people in this country, but enter a better qualified Asian, they complain about competition. All these white people want is to maintain their privilege. Reply
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