As we approach the fateful date of April 1, when the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) begins accepting H-1B applications for the next year - which for some reason begins on October 1 - the controversy is reigniting yet again.Recently, the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP) released a study based on a survey of technology companies in the S&P 500, indicating that hiring H-1B visa holders is associated with increases - not reduction - in employment at U.S. technology companies; more specifically, it states that for every H-1B position requested, U.S. technology companies increase their employment by no less than five workers. And no, hiring a US worker instead of the H-1B worker would not increase domestic employment by six workers. Opponents of the H-1B program (at least as it stands currently) discount the report on grounds that the NFAP is a pro-immigration group, and as such is biased; they have their own take and statistics on the down side of the guest worker program.
There are some clearly valid arguments on both sides of the H-1B issue. For example, companies would certainly like the flexibility of hiring whom and where it suits them best, and training foreign students in our excellent universities yet not getting access to them after graduation makes no sense. Yet there is no doubt that if my job is moving overseas and I am asked to train my replacement, that's going to feel like a slap in the face.
Something tells me that there is a viable middle ground, but that's a (controversial) write-up for another day. In the meanwhile I, for one, do not expect the tempest over the H-1B program to die down any time soon, not for another year at least, more possibly two years. What with the plight of the economy (at the macro level); employment, income and wealth erosion (which is now beginning to get really personal); the ongoing global war on terrorism; the complex and confusing broader immigration debate; and the looming presidential elections, there is no reason to expect that the nation is in any hurry to settle this particular issue.
Yet time marches on, and as April 1 approaches rapidly, I am reminded that last year, the entire annual quota of 65,000 H-1B visas was met on the very first day (April 1). How long will it take to exhaust the quota this time?This month, Bill Gates urged lawmakers to increase the number of H-1B (guest worker) visas and two bills were introduced in Congress seeking to raise the visa cap... As we approach April 1, the date when the US Citizenship and Immigration Services begins accepting H-1B applications, the controversy is reigniting yet again.