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.