Thursday, February 12, 2009

Very Interesting Take on H1-B Visas During the Recession

I found this posting by Bill Snyder on InfoWorld's site very interesting. The H1-B visa program in the United States is contested all the time. Bill's take is that due to the downturn in the economy, the H1-B visa program needs to be reduced if not eliminated until the economy rebounds. He makes some very good points along the way. As far as my opinion, I would probably not take it quite as far as him.

There is no question that the H1-B visa program is misused and abused. That has been the case for a number of years. I have seen time and time again where these "consultancy" firms will apply for visas when they do not even have enough work to go around. That is nothing new. Their process is to just pay these individuals while they are on the bench as they prospect for new projects to work on. Obviously, dealing with this over the years gives reason to reduce or suspend the H1-B visa program temporarily, especially given the economic circumstances we currently find ourselves in.

However, I pause about that notion when thinking thoroughly through it. The problem with it is government themselves. Like I mentioned, the program has been abused. But, how long has it taken the government to institute the necessary changes to curtail this misuse? They still have not taken care of it till this day. Thus, if we reduce or suspend the program, how long will it take them to get it to the appropriate number when the economy rebounds? On the surface, it seems fairly elementary. One could say reduce the overall number to 30,000 now and then bring it back to its current level when we return to a positive GDP number. But, when it comes to government initiatives, it never seems to go that smoothly. Therefore, I pause based on the slow reactive stance they have taken when it comes to this program.

In addition, I have assisted a number of current and past H1-B visa holders over the years. A number of these individuals have made a large impact in the work that they have achieved here. Some have gone on to receive their Green cards. Others have started businesses that have succeeded, and thus created jobs. Can we afford to let these individuals go to other countries and prosper? I think not.

Personally, I believe the focus at the moment should be on the creation of jobs as opposed to who is best suited for the limited number of openings that exist. Companies can easily take their openings and make them available to one of their overseas offices. Do we want to push them to those alternatives when we need to focus on one side of the equation (job creation), and the other side will take care of itself (low unemployment).

Overall, in a perfect world it would be wonderful if the H1-B visa program would be set up with elastic measures in place to make sure every American technical worker has a chance to succeed. But, that would mean we would need to be proactive as opposed to reactive. More often than not, we find ourselves in a reactive position.

1 comment:

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