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Profile: H-1B Worker Tells About Risks

Economic risks include paying into Social Security with the possibility of not being able to stick around to receive a retirement check.
Make no mistake, Juan Gutierrez is excited about the possibility of getting his green card and, eventually, U.S. citizenship. But H-1B workers like Gutierrez, a senior programmer and analyst at IT services firm Information Systems of Florida, take some economic risks, including paying into Social Security with the possibility of not being able to stick around to receive a retirement check. For married H-1B workers, spouses and children can't work unless they obtain their own visas.

For Gutierrez's wife, that hasn't happened. Her background is in business administration in the horse industry, niche expertise that doesn't have U.S. employers racing to sponsor her. She's attending graduate school at a U.S. university and isn't allowed to hold a job--not even as a professor's assistant--to help offset tuition costs.

"I'm not in favor of or opposed to raising the cap on H-1B visas," Gutierrez says. "But I will tell you that being here as a foreign worker is expensive, and we are penalized. I didn't know about all the restrictions when I came here."

Because he's invested five years, not to mention the Social Security contributions, he's sticking it out through the often decade-long process of getting a green card. If that doesn't pan out, he might move to Canada or the United Kingdom. Says Gutierrez, "Compared to the U.S., it's very easy to go to the U.K. as a skilled worker."

Continue to the sidebars:
Where An H-1B Visa Holder Comes From Matters
and One H-1B Visa Holder's Quest For A Green Card

Return to the story:
In Depth: Why We Need The H-1B

Editor's Choice
Brian T. Horowitz, Contributing Reporter
Samuel Greengard, Contributing Reporter
Nathan Eddy, Freelance Writer
Brandon Taylor, Digital Editorial Program Manager
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek
Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing