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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy

Would a Visa Auction Help or Hurt?

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The National Journal reports on an idea being floated by UC Davis Professor Giovanni Peri and released by the Brookings Institution which would have some non-immigrant visas made available to the highest bidding employers. The plan also includes a legalization path for some in the country illegally. But the auction concept is really the news item here since it's an idea that has not been much discussed. I like the idea of allowing the marketplace to help shape the immigration system. We don't have to completely shift to such a system, but Peri is on the right track in suggesting we at least consider allowing market forces to drive which workers are coming in to the country as opposed to relying on a disfunctional Congress or government agents that aren't always concerned about improving the country's economic performance.

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  1. George Chell's Avatar
    One problem I did discuss with Peri is that why would corporations want to bid when they can move the job to Singapore or Hong Kong or for that matter any other immigrant friendly country. It wont be very competitive with our competitors unless there is a Green Care provision.
  2. Legal and no longer waiting's Avatar
    The problem with this set up is that we cannot guarantee that the visa recipients will be paid fair market wages. The only way to guarantee it is to make the visa easily transferrable and extendable by the beneficiary, like EAD. Unfortunately, that contradicts the whole set up. If things go the way Peri suggested, the companies will pay more for the visas but you will underpay the workers to compensate for it. They will pay average wages alright. The talent, however, is likely to be more qualified than average.
  3. Legal and no longer waiting's Avatar
    Greg, I believe you are familiar with a street named "Auction" in downtown Memphis. This Peri idea reminded me of it...
  4. George Chell's Avatar
    "If things go the way Peri suggested, the companies will pay more for the visas but you will underpay the workers to compensate for it."

    As I said they wont even take it. Just like our "not the immigrant of the day" Eduardo Saeverin, corporations will see this as a tax, rightly or wrongly and move the job to Singapore, unless there is a strict GC provision which neither Singapore nor Hong Kong is willing to offer. We can stop an individual from entering the country, but will be stop the company from entering America with huge loss of jobs of the already employed here in this country? I dont think so.
  5. Greg's Avatar
    LNLW - As long as H-1Bs are employer sponsored, Peri's idea doesn't really change anything. I wouldn't mind an EAD system that allowed highly qualified individuals to sponsor themselves. There's nothing sacred about having to have one approach to attracting skilled workers.
  6. gg's Avatar
    From what I understand it will take a minimum of 10yrs to get a green card for most immigrants excluding those who come as students. Also it completely eliminates the country wide quota system. But most importantly it keeps in tact the master-slave concept. Which company would be willing to trade its permit to an employee (as envisaged in this program). Companies will rather screw employees if they go against their wishes rather than loosing a few thousand bucks. BTW, minimum auction price start at 7000$ for skilled and 1000$ for non-skilled. Will companies able to afford this kind of money ? All said an done they have only presented a policy paper. These are not the final details and its already quite contentious.
  7. Legal and no longer waiting's Avatar
    I am coming from the stand point of behavioral economics (which Peri should be familiar with) - humans crave certainty. When you have one aspect of the system that is a bit uncertain (you don't know how long your H1 worker is going to stick around), it helps to have the other side certain - at least you know how much the petition is going to cost you. When both things are uncertain, or the price gets to be be too high, the honest employers are more likely to excuse themselves altogether. The rest are going to try to make sure the worker does not leave.

    Regarding your comment about self-petitioning. This is actually not what I had in mind. I think, employer petitioning is crucial for work visas (for people who are truly exceptional, there is EB1). However, a better system would convert H1 after one year into a work authorization that is fully transferable and extendable by the beneficiary. Term contracts with the original petitioning employer should also be prohibited. This will remove incentives for the employer to underpay, as the employee will just leave too soon to recoup expenses (visa, relo, training, etc). To extend H1, the employee should be able to show that s/he is employed in the same general profession the H1 visa was issued for and has not been out of status (i.e. work) for over 180 days since the last entry. Shady contractors are going to hate this.
  8. Another Voice's Avatar
    As Churchill once said " Americans will do the right thing after trying every wrong thing out there" Instead of sensible CIR they keep coming up with this stuff...... I guess eventually we'll get it right instead of chasing our own tail.
  9. Sy's Avatar
    Worst idea ever! so big $$$ boys like Microsoft, Facebook, google etc can "buy up" all the Visa and future big boys startup will be scavenging dirt? not a smart idea at all
  10. JJohn at's Avatar
    Best thing in this new announcement is that these visa's will be processed on priority basses thus thy will take lesser time! Thanks to National Journal!
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