The H1B Problem

Post by
Andrew Paier

Immigration is continuously in the news. ?As an IT professional I frequently hear people talking about various aspects of this as it impacts our industry, whether it be about off-shoring or in some cases complaints about people on H1B visas "stealing" jobs.

Who owns the job

First I'd like to address the idea of "stealing" a job. ?A job, if it exists, belongs to the company that has work to be done. ?No job is "owned" by anyone but that company. ?A job is not inherently an "American" job just because the company is based here. ?Heck, off-shoring has more than proved that point. ?So lets stop talking about someone "stealing" a job from someone else.

But what about this H1B problem

I've known a number of people in working in the US on a variety of visas. ?And all of the ones that I have worked closely with have been individuals that did exceptionally good work. ?Unqualified. ?Not "they did good work for someone on a visa". ?They did very good work. ?Period.

The problem people have is that they are doing the work, often for less pay than a similarly skilled American (if you can find one) would do it. ?And I agree that is the problem. ?But the problem is the individual involved. ?The problem is how the visa program works.

When a company brings someone over on an H1B visa, for the most part that person cannot easily leave that company for any other company until they get all the way through the process for their green card. ?This can often take many years. ?During this entire time, if the person actually finds someone who is willing to try and pick up their H1B, my understanding is that the clock resets.

Think about that. ?How do you think most large employers (and really the only companies that can afford to deal with the complexity of visas are large) would treat an employee if they knew for 3-5 years, that employee had nearly no opportunity to go to another employer? ?Right. ?They would under pay them and treat them fairly poorly. ?And this is what I have seen first hand.

A Simple Fix

The fix for this is very simple. ?When a company gets an H1B visa for a person, they are effectively saying to the government "This is a person of unique skill that we cannot find here in the US." ?Now, we can argue if they are telling the truth or not, but that is effectively what they are saying. ?So, this means that the person is needed in the US job market. ?And here they are willing to come in. ?Great! ?Now let them be in the market.

That is the Visa shouldn't be owned by the employer, but rather the employee. ?If another company in the US is paying much higher for that skill set, they should be able to hire this person and just pick up his Visa from wherever it is in the process. ?Perhaps we need to work out the details of how the first company gets compensated for costs associated with obtaining the visa. ?Something pro-rated based on typical time to green card I would think.

This simple change would ?The point is if the original company is only bringing in people to depress wages, t

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