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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy

WASHINGTON POST: TIME TO ACT ON H-1B CAP CRISIS

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Another major editorial, this time from the Washington Post, endorses the need for more H-1B visas:

If nothing changes, America will miss out on another crop of talent this year.




H-1B visas are reserved for the world's best and brightest, and barring
their entry is economic self-sabotage. The cap keeps out doctors,
engineers and other specialists -- people who save lives and often
create jobs for others in America. One need only look at the national
origins of founders of companies such as Google and Sun Microsystems
to realize that foreign talent has helped keep the U.S. economy on the
cutting edge. These are talents the United States has been struggling
to grow at home, given that more than a third of all science and
engineering doctorates awarded in the United States go to foreign
students (for whom the number of visas is not capped), according to the
National Science Foundation.



***

The H-1B visa cap was set well before the tech boom and so does not reflect current needs.

***
Because lawmakers lack the political will to keep the world's talent in
America, companies are following it overseas, setting up shop in Canada, India, Eastern Europe and other areas where the skills they need are plentiful. As a result, investment and jobs are being shipped abroad. As Bill Gates
testified this month, the jobs created by the A-earning foreign
students who did not remain in the United States will now go to the "B
and C students" surrounding them at home in India rather than to their
American counterparts.



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  1. George Chell's Avatar
    Because lawmakers lack the political will to keep the world's talent in America, companies are following it overseas, setting up shop in Canada, India, Eastern Europe and other areas where the skills they need are plentiful. As a result, investment and jobs are being shipped abroad. As Bill Gates testified this month, the jobs created by the A-earning foreign students who did not remain in the United States will now go to the "B and C students" surrounding them at home in India rather than to their American counterparts."

    Unfortunately economists have abdicated their responsibility and never addressed this issue. Despite anecdotal evidence, the remaining economists such as George Borjas of Harvard and Vernon Briggs of Cornell have been intellectually dishonest arguing that wages would go up if skilled immigrants are shut out assuming away globalization. Although this premise has been challenged and discredited by Carr at Berkeley and Peri at Davis, the impact of skilled immigration on Foreign Direct Investment has not been tested either for the US or other countries. There is a chance that an international organization will put out a paper on this by early next year. The data collection is currently being undertaken and I believe that economists in this organization would address this issue soon. Unless such as study comes out showing that shutting out skilled migrants means FDI going abroad as well as outsourcing, the status quo is likely to continue.
  2. AR's Avatar
    Well, obviously the number of visas are capped at 20000 for advanced degree holders. One would think at atleast the WSJ would take the effort to research its story.
  3. Georg Chell's Avatar
    "Well, obviously the number of visas are capped at 20000 for advanced degree holders. One would think at atleast the WSJ would take the effort to research its story."

    Actually there is a third category called uncapped H1Bs..mostly for researchers and PhDs at universities. No restrictions there..something the post fails to mention as well.

  4. Ren's Avatar
    Here is my gripe and perspective from a H1-B (Origin: India)

    If they choose to increase the cap, they should address the damn GC process problem along with it. Adopting to increase the cap for H1-B will bring in more H1-Bs to rot with employers with no professional freedom.

    I am often disappointed with the newspaper articles urging to raise or not-raise the cap but you hardly ever see articles published solely to alleviate some of the heartburn these candidates go through once they are here. To bring a candidate in his/her early 20's (in most cases, they have no idea what they are signing up for) and let them get enslaved is just morally wrong.

    It almost seems that all are usually interested in building America at the expense of these souls and that to me is just insanely wrong. If the entire power is vested with employers, everything from wage to personal exploitation are bound to happen. Even though that number may be quite small, articles have to dedicated to highlight these as well. Yes, H1-B's do make Google/Sun but there are some that could have do equally the same, but got stuck in the quagmire.

    I personally oppose increasing just due to this fact. I would not too surprised if a survey is conducted and 20-30% of H1-B's are disappointed at the program.
  5. JoeF's Avatar
    "the remaining economists such as George Borjas of Harvard and Vernon Briggs of Cornell have been intellectually dishonest arguing that wages would go up if skilled immigrants are shut out"

    Actually, I have not seen that argument from Borjas. My interpretation from his book "Heaven's Door" was that he favored more skilled immigration.
  6. JoeF's Avatar
    "I am often disappointed with the newspaper articles urging to raise or not-raise the cap but you hardly ever see articles published solely to alleviate some of the heartburn these candidates go through once they are here. To bring a candidate in his/her early 20's (in most cases, they have no idea what they are signing up for) and let them get enslaved is just morally wrong."

    First off, why would they have "no idea what they are signing up for"? Aren't they able to use the Internet? There are tons of stories out there. It probably is more an issue of not wanting to know.
    Further, what's this stuff with getting "enslaved"? H1s can rather easily be transferred nowadays.
  7. AD               's Avatar
    "First off, why would they have "no idea what they are signing up for"? Aren't they able to use the Internet? There are tons of stories out there. It probably is more an issue of not wanting to know."

    I'm not Ren, but I find this line of reasoning very naive.

    Do you expect someone to understand the green card process when they apply for an H1B? And the fact that there are different outcomes based on the country of birth? If you asked any new H1B most of them will *not* know what they signed up for.

  8. JoeF's Avatar
    "Do you expect someone to understand the green card process when they apply for an H1B?"

    No, but what does the H1 have to do with the Greencard process?
    People have enough time in the US to learn about the GC process, and they can change employers just fine until then (and even after.)
    Oh, and I am sure newspapers in high-immigration-level countries carry information about GC delays...
    People who have a college degree can be expected to do their due diligence.
    So, it is rather you who seems to be naive.
  9. b's Avatar
    Can understand Ren's sentiment. How about putting country quota on H1B, and F1 for "diversity"?

    "First off, why would they have "no idea what they are signing up for"? "

    Besides god and USCIS, nobody can know this. Take a look at EB2 India for example. Even a genius can't predict how the dates move VB to VB.

    Second, H1B is a dual intent visa and I see no reason a fresh H1B planning for the GC struggle 6years ahead. Things change a lot in years. PD movement is very unpredictable.
  10. b's Avatar
    JoeF sounds like a EB2 ROW who think its okay for people to wait for EB GC for decades.
  11. James Vanderbeek's Avatar
    "First off, why would they have "no idea what they are signing up for"? Aren't they able to use the Internet? There are tons of stories out there. It probably is more an issue of not wanting to know.
    Further, what's this stuff with getting "enslaved"? H1s can rather easily be transferred nowadays."

    They only get "enslaved" if they start the GC process and not otherwise.... at the end of their H1Bs they have to return back.
    Technically they can move around with different employers on H1B. It is the transferability of the GC process that causes heartburn.
  12. AM's Avatar
    "No, but what does the H1 have to do with the Greencard process?"

    Plenty, actually. The H1 is considered a dual intent visa. A majority of the H1's who come here opt to stay here, given the option and that's when they face the green card hurdle.
    Not many people are going to pay attention to the green card issue when they come here on an H1, because they do not know if they are going to stay back in the US.
    Oh, and it is NOT "easy" to change employers on an H1, especially if you have a pending GC application.

  13. b's Avatar
    For those supporting H1B increase for American competitiveness in science and technology, it doesn't make sense how you can make a better society if you (1) bring in workers on H1B to work in high-tech only to return with their knowledge or skill after six years, or (2) have these people be here but after 6 years force them not to have any career growth in high-tech.

    Increasing H1B without addressing the EB GC backlog is short sightedness. No strategy for long term American advantage in science and technology. Worse you will have all these future Americans who had a very long and unpleasant immigration experience. Great way to build a strong community.
  14. Legal and no longer waiting's Avatar
    "H1s can rather easily be transferred nowadays."

    Joe, I would have to disagree with you here. It was rather easy to transfer an H1B when quotas were not exhausted, as more companies were willing to work with H1 holders. Now, when a new H1 is nearly impossible to get, only "bodyshoppers" are willing to fight for the visas, and getting an H1 transfered to large stable company is often impossible, as companies changed their policies regarding H1 support.

    I also have to disagree with "they should have known what they signed up for" argument. I believe, it is perfectly reasonable for a new worker not to think about permanent residence process when they come on H1. At this point, they are overwhelmed with all the things about settling in a new country, they don't even know if they will like enough to stay long term. Only half of H1Bs actually end up getting green cards. Case in point - my first H1 job. Out of four people on H1 I was the only one who adjusted through EB (one adjusted through a marriage to a citizen, and two left the country to work elsewhere). Why would anyone explore the green card options when they don't even know if they will ever need it?
  15. Ren's Avatar
    Now, I would have answered JoeF but my concerns all are addressed by several who posted replies to your comment. To your comment about internet, one would get an idea about what the process is to get a green card, but one would only know about how arcane it is while going through it.

    I was specific to put the country of origin, just because for Indians and Chinese, the treatment vetted out is just unfair.

    With regards to H1-B, its a dual intent and all that crap but still you are at the mercy of your employer. You could quit and join someone else but what if you get laid off, you are supposed to pack your bags in the shortest amount of time. If a visa is supposed to be available for six damn years, that is enough time for someone to establish basic ties (such as car, school (in some cases with kids) and apartment). There are no clear guidelines as to what constitutes violation of visa (10 days-a month). Could they be more inhumane?

    I suppose you do have a lot of experience with H1-B and GC's but to assume that it is laid down in utmost clarity in internet to say the least is blatantly false.

    For all people who say better know these things before you step in to the country, all I am asking for is
    -- Predicatability
    -- Fair treatment.

    (or)
    Make your damn laws and be clear. Like yeah we will give 200K H1-Bs but GC's for Indians and Chinese would take 15 years. At that point, we all could decide if we want to be here or not. To sum it, dont make GC a moving target. Right now, it could be used as a carrot dangled by the employer to exploit the employee (Not in all cases, but most often can be).
  16. 's Avatar
    "Joe, I would have to disagree with you here. It was rather easy to transfer an H1B when quotas were not exhausted"

    Huh? H1 transfers are not subject to the quota, except if the person hasn't been counted for the quota yet.
  17. JoeF's Avatar
    "Joe, I would have to disagree with you here. It was rather easy to transfer an H1B when quotas were not exhausted"

    Huh? H1 transfers are not subject to the quota, except if the person hasn't been counted for the quota yet.
  18. JoeF's Avatar
    "With regards to H1-B, its a dual intent and all that crap but still you are at the mercy of your employer. You could quit and join someone else but what if you get laid off, you are supposed to pack your bags in the shortest amount of time."

    True, but it is trivial to file a COS to B2, for example. Keeps the person legal.
    Geez, it is not rocket science...
  19. Ren's Avatar
    JoeF, You missed the context he quoted the H1-B's in. With the current scenario of H1-B's in lottery, orgs have changed their policies regarding H1's in general. When they would have to walk through uncertainty and lottery system, they have decide to change the policies regarding *ALL*, both new and transferable H1-B candidates.

    So, it is difficult to find a good company because they decide to encourage only GC and citizens (which I don't care, it probably is their right).

    So, transferring has become more difficult, the folks willing to transfer are like bail bond folks/sharks, waiting to transfer your H1, apply for GC, and then you know the story in general, less pay, no growth, more pain etc..
  20. JoeF's Avatar
    "The H1 is considered a dual intent visa. A majority of the H1's who come here opt to stay here, given the option and that's when they face the green card hurdle."

    Yes, but my comment was about the initial H1, not the GC.
    People don't go for a GC until they are in the US, so they have enough time to learn about the GC process while here.
    So, your comment is a non-sequitur.

    "Not many people are going to pay attention to the green card issue when they come here on an H1, because they do not know if they are going to stay back in the US."

    Exactly. And they have enough time in the US to learn about the GC process.

    "Oh, and it is NOT "easy" to change employers on an H1, especially if you have a pending GC application."
    The GC is for a job in the future, and it is very well possible to work for one company on H1 and have another company apply for an immigrant petition. Lots of people are doing just that.
    True, it may be more complicated, but again, my comment was about the H1, NOT the GC process.
    I would appreciate if you didn't muddle the waters.
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