Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Globalization and American hi-tech : H1 work visas

For American tech workers, managers and executives nothing personifies globalization more than H1 work visas that are used by American companies to bring in foreign-born workers. As the US government begins the application process for 2009-10 year in April, writers, analysts and bloggers continue to eagerly watch out for the quota of about 65,000 to be filled.

Quoting Ann All Already, the pace appears to have slowed. In 2007, the number of applications exceeded the available number of visas on the first day the government began accepting them. Citizenship and Immigration Services stopped accepting applications after two days, then used a lottery to award visas. The agency received 163,000 applications in the five days it accepted them in 2008. Of those, 131,800 were for standard H-1Bs, of which 65,000 are available under the current cap. The USCIS also got 31,200 applications for the 20,000 H-1Bs reserved for applicants with advanced degrees. Again, a lottery was used.”

A recent New York Times blog summarizes: "For the high-tech industries, particularly, foreign-born workers on temporary H-1B visas are an important labor pool. Many of these workers arrived in the United States as students and stay on through the H-1B program. Many also go on to become permanent residents and founders of startup firms. But there is longstanding criticism among some labor groups that workers on such visas suppress engineering salaries and actually make it easier for employers to move more jobs to low-cost countries like India." The blog has already attracted over 860 comments

Similarly Steve Hamm recently blogged on his Business Week entry "Today, I’m focusing on protectionism and its fallout. The New York Times published a Page 1 story this morning showing how protectionism is on the rise worldwide in response to global economic pressures. I picked up a piece of analysis over the weekend from economist and author Paul Collier’s book, The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries Are Failing and What Can Be Done About It. He points out that the last period that the world went protectionist in a big way was the years 1914 to 1945. We can see what a raging success that was!" Steve`s entry also attracted hundreds of comments

One is left to wonder if the writers, bloggers and those commenting are merely expressing their views in a new medium or are they genuinly concerned about fixing a system that many agree is broken?- MB
Ps: Just for the record, I entered the US on H1 visa years ago before I applied for and became a permanent resident, a Green card holder