H-1B Application Window Opens April 2 - InformationWeek
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11:47 AM

H-1B Application Window Opens April 2

Controversial visa program allows foreign-born tech pros to work in the U.S. for up to six years.

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Foreign nationals seeking high-tech and other specialty employment in the U.S. can submit applications for H-1B visas for the 2013 fiscal year beginning Monday, April 2, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has announced.

Visas obtained after that date allow workers to begin employment starting Oct. 1. The numerical limit of 65,000 H-1B visas for the current fiscal year, not including 20,000 reserved for those with a master's degree or higher from a U.S. university, was reached on Nov 22.

H-1B visas allow foreigners to work in the U.S. for three years, and can be renewed for one additional three-year period. Although the visas are used by workers in occupations as diverse as fashion modeling and journalism, the majority of them are obtained by IT professionals--particularly those from countries such as India with burgeoning tech sectors and educational programs.

The program isn't without controversy. Backers, including major computer companies such as Microsoft and Oracle, say it's necessary in order to make up for what they claim is a shortage of American-born IT workers, especially when it comes to skills related to hot new technologies such as cloud and mobile computing.

[ H-1B applications have caused tensions between India and the U.S. See U.S. Shelves H-1B Visa Talks With India. ]

H-1B supporters cite studies that indicate that the program actually helps to create jobs for Americans. "In today's global marketplace, we cannot afford to keep turning away those with skills that our country needs to grow and to succeed," said New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, during a speech last October sponsored by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

A study released this month claims that H-1B visas are becoming more difficult to obtain.

Application rejection rates rose to 17% in fiscal 2011, compared to 11% in fiscal 2007, according to research by the National Foundation for American Policy. NFAP said the higher rejection rates are "harming the competitiveness of U.S. employers and encouraging companies to keep more jobs and resources outside the United States."

Critics of the program, however, question claims of a skills shortage and suggest that H-1B visas are merely a way for corporations to import cheap labor, at the expense of U.S. workers. Last year, American IT worker Jack Palmer sued India-based outsourcer Infosys, accusing the company of systematically discriminating against Americans in its U.S. hiring practices.

Palmer also alleged that Infosys' management openly discussed ways of flouting H-1B rules during meetings at which he was present. The case remains pending in Alabama circuit court.

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User Rank: Apprentice
12/12/2012 | 7:11:31 PM
re: H-1B Application Window Opens April 2
For one thing I don't want to wait till October to start working in the US. I want an H1B and want it now.Having worked in the US for 8+ yrs I am already adjusted to the US workculture, lifestyle.Once I have worked in the US for 6+ yrs on H1B I should have been given a greencard or atleast now should be given a greencard. Companies came all the way to India to hire us on H1B and promised Greencard and hired as Permanent Employee and failed to stand upto the promise. There is no uniform processing of H1B / Greencard programs. Once a person works in US for 6+ yrs he would be adjusted to the US workculture, lifestyle etc and would be unfair to expect them to go back to India and work. In stead should be given a greencard and given market salary.Most of the people who are in the US and are citizens have come from some country and became citizen. One thing is companies once given an H1B to foreign worker should provide path to Greencard and Citizenship. American Citizens work in the Higher Value Positions as Managers etc H1B workers provide the skills that enable the managers to manage their work. it should be understood like that.
User Rank: Apprentice
3/9/2012 | 8:49:58 PM
re: H-1B Application Window Opens April 2
I am very skeptical about what MS and Oracle are claiming. US universities are graduating thousands of students with CompSci and CompEngr degrees. Are none of them qualified for these jobs? There are thousands of US-based programmers who were working in ASP, Java, and C++ before their jobs were off-shored during the Great Recession. Are we to believe that all the H1B visa candidates are *already* expert in the hot technologies, or will some additional training be required? The same effort required to train H1B Visa holders in the latest mobile programming techniques could be used to train US programmers in mobile; all the money is green.
User Rank: Apprentice
3/5/2012 | 10:27:07 PM
re: H-1B Application Window Opens April 2
The H1B Visa program effectively removes 65,000 jobs that US Born and Educated workers could be working. The argument about their not being enough US workers is foolish when we have an unemployment rate of 9% that is across the socioeconomic ladder. At the same time, the incentive for future workers to go into those high-tech fields is diminished when nobody is hiring because the jobs have been filled by foreign workers. Why would anybody pay $50,000 - $100,000 for a high-tech degree, only to be told "Sorry, no job openings". As such, the H1B Visa program is actually causing us to lose our domestic high tech workforce and leaving us dependent on foreign talent.
User Rank: Apprentice
3/1/2012 | 7:24:23 PM
re: H-1B Application Window Opens April 2
NFAP is a front group - meaning lobbyist disguised as a "think tank" and funded by companies who don't want to be associated publicly with their positions.

So Paul, why do you keep citing their so-called "studies"? Look at NFAP's leader - he came from another front-group that pushed "studies" claiming that smoking was safe. He's a lobbyist and probably illegally claiming 501-3(c) tax exemption (like so many other lobbyists).
User Rank: Apprentice
3/1/2012 | 7:16:46 PM
re: H-1B Application Window Opens April 2
I've been in the IT industry for more than ten years now and truthfully I just don't believe that there is a shortage of skilled US citizen laborers. At times, it was difficult to find qualified candidates but at the end you do come across and they are in massive numbers.

Having hired several H-1B Visa at previous companies, I seriously don't get how most of these workers are classified as skilled workers. Far from it. Each and every time we ended up terminating their contracts and hire a local engineer. It was more pricey initially but on the long run it was cost effective simply because the person understood the corporate culture, the business that we are in, they were able to provide workarounds to issues that were difficult to approach and most of all re-work was simply eliminated because of the upfront full understanding.

What puzzled me the most was how some of the Visa holders actually required training. I recall spending $15K to send someone to get certified for a platform that they claimed they were an expert in.

I really just don't buy what MS and Oracle claim. It's just simply cheap labor.
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