Sunday, June 17, 2007
The H1-B Wars
No one seems to like the new immigration bill pending in Congress. It is an open secret that H1-B visas are used by corporations to substitute American-born workers - particularly in the IT industry - with foreign-born workers who will accept lower wages. According to an anonymous HR professional reported to the Charlotte Conservative News, corporations often pretend to interview American-born workers with no intention of hiring them - and then resort to H1-B labor instead. The immigration bill implicitly favors high tech workers by using a points system to qualify the desirability of immigrants on the basis of education and professional skills, and will likely increase the number of such workers allowed into the United States. As experienced professionals working at or below entry level salaries, these immigrants may crowd out recent American college graduates with technical degrees. While supporters of the H1-B program claim that immigrant workers will remedy "shortages" of IT workers, many experts claim that those shortages are artificial, often generated by age discrimination that pushes still able-minded IT workers out of the market as early as thirty-five. H1-B supporters also claim that the 2.4 unemployment rate for IT workers is "healthy", while in reality it is worse than the 1.8 unemployment rate for American college graduates as a whole.
At the same time, the Indian press is in a furor over an amendment to the bill to charge corporate sponsors $5,000 fees for H1-B applicants. Some even assert that the points system is a sham, claiming that you can get more points as an agricultural worker than as an MD or an MBA. Other critics complain that the new "guest worker" program will deny them professional mobility. While waiting for green cards, they say, "we have to stick to the same jobs, same job description, the same employer until we reach the final stage of green card - until we are just inches away from a green card. Until then, for 10 years, we have to stick to the same job. That is totally unfair." Many believe the new system will not work, and that American corporations will have to rely on increased outsourcing to meet their IT needs.
A news item posted on the web this morning suggested that the bill may not pass. Small wonder if it doesn't.
"Of Course H1-B Visas are About Lowering Wages" from The American Prospect
"Immigration Bill Bad News for College Grads" from PR Newswire
"U.S. Businesses Wary of Immigration Bill" from Forbes
"Immigration Bill is Unfair to Skilled Migrants, Group Says" from Cybercast News Service
"Senate Votes to Hike H1-B Visa Fees" from InternetNews.com
"White Collar Jobs Threatened" from Charlotte Conservative News