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11/30/2011
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House Approves Faster Green Cards For Foreign IT Workers

Senate also expected to approve bill that eliminates per-country visa caps and institutes a first come, first served system.

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The House on Tuesday voted to eliminate per-country caps on employment-based visas, a move that could make it easier for tech workers from highly populated nations like India and China to obtain so-called green cards, which allow individuals to permanently reside and work in the U.S.

The Fairness for High-Skilled Immigration Act (H.R. 3012) drew broad, bi-partisan support, passing the House with a vote of 389-15. The bill is expected to move swiftly through the Senate.

Currently, U.S. immigration law limits employment-based green cards for citizens from any one country to no more than 7% of the total green cards approved by the State Department in any particular year. The rule makes it easier to obtain a green card for applicants from smaller countries that don't generate a significant amount of applications, but makes it tougher for workers from big countries that provide most of the foreign tech workers sought by U.S. companies.

[ Does the visa process need to move faster? Read India Tells U.S.: H-1B Process Too Slow. ]

Individuals from India, the source of most tech industry immigrants to the U.S., often have to wait up to 10 years for a green card due to the per-country cap. The High-Skilled Immigration Act, which was introduced to Congress in September by Utah Republican Jason Chaffetz, aims to correct such imbalances by switching to a first come, first served system for the roughly 140,000 employment-based green cards awarded each year.

"Per country limits make no sense in the context of employment-based visas. Companies view all highly skilled immigrants as the same regardless of where they are from--be it India or Brazil," said Chaffetz, in a statement.

The bill's bipartisan support owes much to the fact that it does nothing to increase the total number of green cards awarded, it simply evens out the process for those looking to emigrate to the U.S. Groups that represent U.S. tech companies applauded its passage through the House.

"The House of Representatives today took a major step forward to address a pressing problem for the technology industry--a lack of access to highly-skilled workers. The 'Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act' addresses half the equation by destroying a barrier for highly-skilled immigrants to bring, and keep, their talents here, benefiting our country's tech industry," said Dan Varroney, acting president and CEO of Tech America, whose members include computing industry giants IBM, HP, and Microsoft.

The other "half" of the equation, according to Varroney, would be a larger percentage of students pursuing STEM, or science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, degrees at U.S. educational institutions. Until that happens, "the tech industry's immediate need can only be met by allowing technology companies access to the best and the brightest highly-skilled immigrants from around the world."

Some groups that represent U.S.-born IT workers dispute that notion, however. "Experienced IT workers who are over 40 years old have a hard time even getting noticed by companies like Microsoft," said Rennie Sawade, communications director for WashTech, an affiliate of the Communications Workers of America, in a recent interview with InformationWeek. "They're really after the younger, more inexpensive workers."

In addition to eliminating numerical caps on employment-based green cards, the Act would also raise the per-country cap for family-related green cards from 7% of the total to 15%.

Our annual Federal Government IT Priorities Survey shows how agencies are managing the many mandates competing for their limited resources. Also in the new issue of InformationWeek Government: NASA veterans launch cloud startups, and U.S. Marshals Service completes tech revamp. Download the issue now. (Free registration required.)

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EmilyWebAnalytics
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EmilyWebAnalytics,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/18/2012 | 4:32:13 PM
re: House Approves Faster Green Cards For Foreign IT Workers
interesting
ChandraKumarNYC
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ChandraKumarNYC,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/7/2011 | 3:06:48 PM
re: House Approves Faster Green Cards For Foreign IT Workers
The green card law was written a long time ago and it is not working. The law is have a per country limit. It is putting a tiny country on par with huge country. One way these laws enabled brain drain from the developing countires like China and India. But as the developing countries are developing; people are returning back.

http://www.samachar.com/Indian...

Even foreign workers are more mobile. And US will be having the highest mobile workforce. Now the compatition is to find the best talents in the world. Will the country barriers go away? Do not know but the trend is in that direction for highly skilled work.

One sad thing in US, heared from one of our managers, he is looking for a networking specialist, he found a one, after a few months the person quit. He was very upset and trying to look for candidates, again. The reason the person quit is; he will be collecting unemployment benefits; he said. He did not have any complaints on him and really liked him. What people will say for this?
coolwhiz
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coolwhiz,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/6/2011 | 5:44:12 PM
re: House Approves Faster Green Cards For Foreign IT Workers
Wrong headline which might have triggered some of these comments.

Some IT workers will get their Green Cards slightly faster. But its not the case that all foreign IT workers will get their Green Cards faster. The number of green cards being issued also not going to increase. So, exactly the same number of people who got GCs in 2011 will be in 2012 if this bill passes. More Indians and Chinese will get these GCs initially because they have been waiting the longest for Green Cards. But no Indian and Chinese will get green card faster than anyone from other countries. With the so-called 7% limit, Indians and Chinese are waiting for longer in the GC queue than other countries, because more Indians and Chinese file their green cards. Again, these are not just IT workers. I know a lot of Indian and Chinese physicians who are stuck and not able to go for fellowships while their other counterparts from rest of the world can go for fellowships and advance their careers. This bill will bring in much needed fairness into the Green Card allocation process where Green Cards are issued on based on when they applied and does not care which country they belong to.
Tronman
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Tronman,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/5/2011 | 1:06:10 PM
re: House Approves Faster Green Cards For Foreign IT Workers
Since the USA has the best universities, which is evidenced by the influx of foreign college students seeking to take advantage of them (like my Chinese stepdaughter who is enrolled at MIT), what makes you think that US universities aren't already producing the best skilled graduates?
KLIETZ000
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KLIETZ000,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/4/2011 | 5:13:06 PM
re: House Approves Faster Green Cards For Foreign IT Workers
I know way too many college graduates who are not able to find a job.The problem isn't a lack of qualified workers. It is a lack of jobs. Sometimes the truth hurts. This is the cold hard truth. We can not sustain foreign workers when so many of our own citizens can't find employment. It is like having a mini fridge to feed a wedding party.
corleone
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corleone,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/4/2011 | 12:43:16 AM
re: House Approves Faster Green Cards For Foreign IT Workers
The bill states that there is a huge backlog for India and China in immigration because they are allotted only 7% of the available visas for a given year, when in fact numbers from the Department of Homeland Security show that due to a certain spillover rule, in year 2010 some 30% of the total visas went to applicants from India and China. Specifically, applicants from India alone were granted some 20% of all available Visas. This bill would allow applicants from India and China to theoretically be allotted 100% of all Visas and could realistically result in them getting 80-90% of all visas.

According to the committee report for H.R. 3012, there are already a number of modifications to this per country rule in each of the five employment-based preference categories. As a result, natives of India received 31,118 or 22% of all employment-based immigrant visas in 2010, while natives of the People's Republic of China received 17,949, rather than the 9,800 that 7% of the 140,000 available employment-based immigrant visas would represent. I don't know what is consider to be fair, but I would say that two countries consuming 35% of available employment based Green Cards each year amounts to a pretty fair share already. H.R. 3012 would raise that total to 75% to 80%.

This is ridiculous! just because of Indian and Chinese ppl. apply for more GC, that does not mean that they will be given more priority. Where the heck is all diversity talks in US??
YMOM100
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YMOM100,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/3/2011 | 2:37:55 PM
re: House Approves Faster Green Cards For Foreign IT Workers
Many want free enterprise and open, unregulated markets, but demand selective protectionism for the job market. Which one is it supposed to be? The reaction needed is not restrict who to hire, but make US universities produce much better skilled graduates that are preferred hires. Only then companies see a benefit.
KLIETZ000
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KLIETZ000,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/1/2011 | 1:22:53 AM
re: House Approves Faster Green Cards For Foreign IT Workers
Helloooooo.......our people here in the United States need these jobs. What is wrong with you people. Only 15 stood up for us and said enough is enough. First, most of our jobs are being shipped overseas. Now you want to make it easier for them to come over here and permanently take what is left? Why aren't we training the long term unemployed American workers for these jobs? Why aren't we standing up for American workers. You are killing us with this kind of legislation. Wake up people.
JYANG5332
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JYANG5332,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/1/2011 | 12:05:06 AM
re: House Approves Faster Green Cards For Foreign IT Workers
The more important issue is to limited by job type. As someone who has worked in the US for more than a decade on work visa, I can tell you the biggest problem for H-1B (and the Green card based on it) for software industry is that often a resume is passed just because he/she does not have actual work experience on a particular technology. For example, if a position want someone to do work for Windows Azure or Windows Workflow Foundation, any resume that does not show that the candidate actually worked on these 2 technologies will be ignored. And if the company don't find such match, they will complained that there is a lack of skilled workers. What the company really should do is to identify candidates with talent but no such previous expereinces, and train them, but this is rarely done. One important reason is that in the US, head hunting companies has a out sized presence. Often if a company want to hire a software engineer, they send the request to a head hunting company, instead of advertising for the position themself. Go to a job board like Dice, and you can see that most of the openings are posted by recruitng companies. And for most of the recruiters in the head hunting company, the first thing they screen resumes is by looking for the word "Azure", "Workflow Foundation" in the resume. This has a very damaging effect on the software industry, software engineers are obsessed with using the "latest and greatest technology", without regarding to whether those "latest and greatest tehnology" is applicable to their problem or cost effective or not. Case in point, Microsoft's OLE2, which has completely disappeared after a few years as the "must have skill" for Windows developer.

In this article :

"Experienced IT workers who are over 40 years old have a hard time even getting noticed by companies like Microsoft,"

In my opinion, this is real (for any many companies, not just Microsoft), caused by the current recruiting process that ignore people without exact buzz words match, and exacerbate by the fact that software industry create new buzz words by the tons every year. Why pay a 40 years old twice the hourly rate when you can hire a 20 year old when both has to learn the same new buzz word ? Easy access to H1B visa for software engineer take away the necessary incentive to improve on the current recruiting process. Congress can not change the recruiting culture, but they can limit the number of H1B visa for software engineer so that more US resumes are considered as deserved.
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