Chucking the Hard Line on H1-B, a Little | DCR Workforce Blog

Chucking the Hard Line on H1-B, a Little

The technology companies in the US have always claimed themselves utterly baffled by the approach taken by policymakers to H1-B visas.  We face the real problem of having fewer takers for STEM education, reducing the possibility of growing local talent into budding new scientists, engineers and mathematicians. Without a continuous source of new local talent, America must depend more and more on immigrant skilled workers. They clearly see a supportive policy towards sourcing highly skilled immigrants to be in the best interests of the country in the long term and the only way for it to retain its competitiveness in the global arena.

The policymakers want to serve the people who elected them.  They need to ensure that U.S. workers do not believe that our high unemployment rate is due to strong and unfair competition from immigrants, offering skills which are by no means inferior, at far lower wages. They overlook the possibility that companies that can’t fill key positions will post lower profits and eliminate more jobs in the process. Also, they seem to ignore the risk of getting embroiled in trade wars and face retaliatory measures from the other countries.

The repeated instances of H1 and L1 frauds which point to a misuse of the system have definitely not helped the issue either. This collective potpourri of interests and concerns forms a conundrum of sorts, calling for a speedy solution – with the various lobbies pulling in completely different directions.

In a move that has slightly unravelled this whole tangle of affairs; Hon. Sen. Chuck Grassley lifted the hold on H.R. 3012 Act calling for Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants, allowing the possibility of easing the backlog on applications from super-skilled immigrants from India and China. This would remove the per-country quotas on permanent work visa applications; speeding up the process which currently wait-lists applicants for up to 70 years.

This is a win for the lobby in favour of an improved H1-B visa process for reasons which are not hard to see.

  • Imagine a situation where a small entrepreneur (or a major company) launches a new product development effort that requires a particular type of skilled worker; say a software analyst with very specialized skills and experiences. Having scouted for local talent and failed to find a match, the entrepreneur finds the talent from a different country. His whole business is in jeopardy if the new recruit fails to make the cut for a H1-B – which is the rule rather than an exception, under the present circumstances.
  • Take another example where the skilled worker, whose work visa needs to be renewed on a regular basis, goes to the country of origin and files for such a renewal. The worker would have had a running lease on an apartment in the U.S., called it home, stocked it with the usual household items and purchased the usual knick-knacks like clothes, books, electronic equipment, furniture and a car or two. Like most Americans, the individual probably took out a loan to purchase the auto and may have made some investments.  The visa process gets prolonged, or it is denied outright! The worker cannot return to the U.S. and loses most of the things acquired from his hard-earned wages, is forced to live in limbo awaiting the answer – or must forget all about a life and career in the U.S., starting over in the home country. The loans for items lost and rents on apartments which will never be occupied again continue to pile up and create a further complication in the worker’s life.

This move is bound to improve the prospects of the skilled immigrants, who work for and invest in the country that has adopted them which in itself is a valid reason to treat them with more consideration.

The content on this blog is for informational purposes only and cannot be construed as specific legal advice or as a substitute for competent legal advice. They reflect the opinions of DCR Workforce and may not reflect the opinions of any individual attorney. Do contact an attorney for advice specific to your issue or problem.
Lalita is a people/project manager with extensive experience in operations, HCM and training and development across industries like banking, education, business consulting, BPO and information technology. She believes in a dynamic approach to life and learning as change is the only constant.