The United States issues 65,000 H-1B visas to high-skilled foreign workers in fields that have a shortage of American workers. Pres. Obama's economic stimulus plan prohibits companies receiving federal bailout money from hiring H-1B workers if they've laid off American workers in the last six months.
"Hiring H-1B visa holders has become as toxic as giving out corporate bonuses," said Vivek Wadhwa, a Duke University professor and Harvard University research fellow, in a recent Washington Post article.
Persian Gulf nations and Great Britain, like the United States, have also been reviewing their policies regarding the issuance of visas to high-skilled foreign workers. The amendment to the economic stimulus bill that places restrictions on American companies hiring foreign workers was sponsored by Senators Bernie Sanders and Charles Grassley.
"This H-1B program is a sweetheart deal for employers, in many instances, to be able to gain cheap labor from abroad," Senator Bernie Sanders said in a Washington Post article. "Immigration made this country great. But ask those American laid-off workers if they want $40,000-a-year engineers from Russia or India taking the place of an American engineer who would earn $80,000 a year. I don't think anyone is going to tell me with a straight face that they can't find some of that American talent right here on the unemployment lines."
The nation's largest banks have laid off about 100,000 workers. They've received more than $150 billion in bailout funds, but they've also requested 21,800 H-1B visas over the last six years. And according to an Associated Press report, those banks increased their foreign visa requests by one-third in 2007 and 2008.
More on this story can be found at the Washington Post.