H-1B Visa Issues

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    In the June 12, 2006 issue of InformationWeek, Marianne Kolbasuk McGee does a masterful job of covering the issues of the H-1B question in the US. What is the question? Should the US increase the number of H-1B visas it issues, should it decrease the number, or should it eliminate the visas altogether?


    It’s a topic that a lot of people have opinions about. Kolbasuk McKee sorts out the arguments for and against an increase in the visa count and examines the truth behind them.


    For example, one common argument against raising the quota is that US companies are simply using it as a way to hire workers and pay them less than American workers would earn. Yet a couple of people interviewed for the article say just the opposite — that they’re paid more than their counterparts. Yes, the other side exists; some companies do exploit the people they hire under the H-1B visa program, but, as one subject says, these are companies "at the far end of the curve." (The GAO seems to back this up in another InformationWeek article, finding that 3/5 of 1% of H-1B visa holders are underpaid according to the standards set by the Labor Department.)


    Another argument often given is that American companies can’t always find the talent they need in specialized niches and so they look overseas. I’d have to say that if the position typically requires an upper level degree in some highly technical area, it’s a legitimate concern. The article provides some statistics about college graduates. "US universities in 2004 granted 44% of their master’s degrees and 48% of their doctorates in computer science to foreign-born students here on visas." Frequently, these are the recipients of the H-1B visa programs. It’s a way to keep these highly educated individuals in this country.


    All in all, the story lays out the facts, the myths and perspectives about the H-1B visa program. You’ll walk away better informed and possibly with a changed opinion on the topic.


    You’ll find it online here.

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