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Profile: Where An H-1B Visa Holder Comes From Matters

This worker came from Holland, where he was already working for the Dutch operations of a U.S. company.
Getting into the United States to work depends a lot on where you're coming from.

Robbert van der Bijl, a systems software engineer, came to the United States from Holland several years ago and remembers a lot of waiting lists, lawyers, and standing in lines. But as a Dutchman, he had it relatively easy. Working for Phillips, he was able to come over on an L-1 visa for employees of U.S. companies' overseas operations, then change jobs, and gain permanent resident status.

People from China or India with bachelor's degrees will wait years for green cards, says Susan Cohen, an immigration attorney at Mintz Levin, because allotments are based on country, and it's largely first-come, first-served. So H-1B visa holders from China with bachelor's degrees who applied for a green card in July 2001 and are still working for the same employer probably would be getting one about this month, she says.

The process is arduous and costly enough that companies wouldn't go through it if there were people they could hire locally, contends Van der Bijl, who's now working as a systems software engineer for a New Hampshire company that tests semiconductor chips. That's why he thinks the United States should eliminate the cap for H-1B and other skilled worker visas altogether. Says van der Bijl, "I don't think companies will go through the expense and trouble to bring someone here unless they have really good reasons and a big need."

Continue to the sidebars:
H-1B Worker Tells About Risks
and One H-1B Visa Holder's Quest For A Green Card

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

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Brian T. Horowitz, Contributing Reporter
Samuel Greengard, Contributing Reporter
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Brandon Taylor, Digital Editorial Program Manager
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek
Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing