High-tech companies often cite a tech-worker shortage when asking Congress to raise the 65,000 annual cap on H-1B visas, but according to a study conducted by John Miano and the Center for Immigration Studies there is no empirical data to support that claim.
For years, American programmers have said that businesses only pretend to look for American workers and that the regulations requiring giving Americans first shot at these jobs are full of holes and meaningless.
The H-1B visa program allows skilled
immigrants to work in the United States on a supposedly temporary basis.
The tech industry says the foreign workers are needed to remedy a tech
labor shortage, but for most employers the attraction of H-1Bs visa
holders is simply cheap labor.
A few years ago, the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer informed hundreds of tech workers in its Connecticut R&D facilities that they'd soon be laid off. Before getting their final paychecks, however, they'd need to train their replacements: guest workers from India who'd come to the United States on H-1B visas. "It's a very, very stressful work environment," one soon-to-be-axed worker told Connecticut's The Day newspaper. "I haven't been able to sleep in weeks."
Seeking comprehensive immigration reforms, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has proposed a six-point formula, including expanding the H-1B visa programme popular among Indian professionals, to fix the "broken immigration system" of the US.
"A pathway to legal permanent residency and citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants must be at the core of reform," Villaraigosa told reporters at the National Press Club here yesterday, describing his vision for a comprehensive immigration reform.
In a rare move that flies in the face of anti-immigrant rhetoric in some corners of the U.S., the Department of Homeland Security has announced that it was proposing to provide employment authorization to H-4 visa holders, who are spouse-dependents of principal H-1B “non-immigrant” visa holders.
The U.S. doesn’t just attract students and now many more Indians are moving to the U.S. for jobs. Several skilled Indian workers moved to the U.S. in 2012 for employment, said reports from U.S. Embassy in Delhi.
It was noted that more Indian nationals were employed in the U.S. in 2012 than in 2011, reported Kenneth Rapoza for Forbes. It was also seen that H-1B acceptances increased 15 percent to around 130,000 visas. The number was 114,000 in 2011. H-1B visas are used greatly by Indian companies for their employees traveling to the U.S.
Microsoft is so eager to find qualified engineers and programmers for its thousands of vacancies that it has offered to pay a bounty to the government in exchange for extra visas in order to import more foreign workers.
The proposal, which also would raise fees on other corporations seeking to tap the additional visas, was intended to help jump start immigration reform that had stalled in Congress. But the tactic may have backfired.
Microsoft's proposal has sparked concerns — both old and new — about the visa program that has allowed companies to recruit hundreds of thousands of well-educated foreign nationals to fill U.S. jobs.
Claiming the United States doesn't have enough skilled IT workers to meet American companies' increasing demands, Microsoft has called on the feds to issue 20,000 more H-1B visas and 20,000 additional green cards per year to help fill the gap.
The recommendation does not sit well with the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), which has accused Microsoft of fudging the labor numbers to create the illusion of a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) skills shortage. The EPI argues that opening the floodgates to IT talent from overseas will exacerbate STEM unemployment rates in the United States.
Silicon Valley companies have long relied on foreign skilled employees. During the recession, many big local technology firms appeared to hire a larger share of those workers compared with other top employers of professionals from overseas.
That is according to an analysis by the National Foundation for American Policy, a nonprofit nonpartisan policy research group in Arlington, Va. The group looked at government data on new H-1B visas that were awarded to the top 50 employers of such visa holders nationwide over the past four years. H-1B visas are the coveted visas that allow foreign skilled workers to be employed in the U.S.
According to the analysis, Silicon Valley companies such as Intel Corp. and Google Inc. received 14.7% of the new H-1Bs visas that were awarded to the top 50 H-1B employers for the year ended Sept. 30. That totaled about 2,110 approvals out of the total 14,315 such visas for the group.
It's been nearly four months since the U.S. began accepting from employers H-1B visa petitions for IT and other professionals for temporary jobs starting in fiscal 2010, which begins Oct. 1. The weak economy continues to dampen demand of the visa most popular among employers seeking IT workers.
Since the U.S. began accepting fiscal 2010 visa petitions on April 1, the U.S. has hit about two-thirds of the annual cap on general H-1B visas. At last count, as of July 10, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services had received 44,900 H-1B visa petitions toward the congressionally mandated annual cap of 65,000.
While use of the visa in the private sector at companies like Microsoft is well-known and hotly debated, less is known about school districts' use of the program. In fact, at least 40 Washington school districts have applied for H-1B visas to employ teachers and staff over the past five years.
By Christine Willmsen and Lornet Turnbull -- The Seattle Times
A Gallup poll released on August 5, 2009 shows that 50% of all Americans believe that immigration should be reduced. This number is 11 points higher than the figure from an identical poll conducted last year. Only 14% of Americans say immigration should be increased (down from 18%) and 32% say immigration levels should remain the same (down from 39%).