So on April 8, 2009 after the United States Custom and Immigration Service (USCIS) announced they were still accepting petitions for the H-1B visa for FY2010, many, including myself, were shocked.
How could a program that especially in the last 2 years was utter chaos with double the amount of applications received than available H-1B visas to issue on Day 1 alone (April 1st) now a week later still be accepting applications. Hell…they even created the H-1B Visa Lottery system just to deal with this inundation of applications!
At last report there were about 20,000 H-1B visas potentially still available reported by the USCIS for FY2010 so in comparison with past years something drastic has happened.
So what has suddenly happened to cause this halt in job offers to foreigners?
Enter the opportunistic US Politician and the US Sensationalist “Look For Easy Answers and Targets Despite Facts” Media!
Senators Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) as well as esteemed news organizations like Business Week and many major television news networks are all trying to push agendas and sadly legislation to limit at best or get rid of the H-1B visa program all together under the guise of protecting US Workers regardless of the facts.
These people haunted by the fact that their lack of oversight and investigative journalism and thus personal responsiblity for the economic mess we are all now in, are looking for an easy target to appease the disgruntled, angry and now often unemployed constituents, readers and viewers.
So they pick a target like immigrants, who cannot vote and have very few rights and a lot of downside risk to complain about any injustice involving themselves and blame them for all economic ills and why their American counterparts now don’t have jobs.
The argument would be funny if it wasn’t causing millions of people in the US to believe into this false notion via the out of control sensationalist media who has little care for anybody other than their own bottom lines.
Of course rarely in these articles, broadcasts or policy speeches is anything made of the fact that every CEO from GM to Merril Lynch and from rougues like Bernard Madoff to Allen Stanford all have one thing in common. That is they are all US citizens. Additionally, as mentioned, all the politicians who should have been watching and enforcing reuglations and media owners who should have been exposing this corruption are again all US Citizens!
So its funny in the end that foreigners are getting blamed for a mess which they played no part in causing.
This hysteria is causing Acts like the EAWA (Employ American Worker Act) within the TARP funding for bailed out businesses mainly in the finance sector to be created. Hence companies like Bank of America had to withdraw legitimate offers to highly trained US Masters Degree holding foreigners.
Then you have Top 10 H-1B visa employers like Microsoft (who has people like Bill Gates advocating for the H-1B Visa cap to be raised to 500,000) who announce while they will hire foreigners this year, they will do so in far reduced numbers.
Sure the economy is playing a part but the 65,000 H-1B visa quota (and 20,000 extra for Masters Degree Holders) and 10,500 E-3 Visa quota among other visas represent a tiny, tiny fraction of the US employment market of say 150 million people plus. Additionally there are still a large amount of available jobs on the major sites we recommend to look for foreigners.
There are sectors like Online, Health and Educataion that remained relatively strong despite the downturn and with the Dow picking up in the past month, there is more optimism currently in the US than at anytime in the past 6 months despite the heavy recent job losses.
So the real underlying reason why companies are not hiring foreigners is that many companies, particularly the large and more prominent ones who have hired a lot of foreigners in the past, are being told by their PR people to dampen down for a little while due to this media hysteria and potential bad publicity. There are many stories of comapnies being vilified in the media for just hiring foreigners at this time.
What is the truth and How Can You As A Foreigner Still Get a US Visa In this Economy?
The fact is that Immigrants founded more than half of all the Silicon Valley start-ups in the past 10 years. These immigrant founded U.S. technology companies employed over 450,000 workers and grossed $52 billion in 2005 alone according to Vivek Wadwha from Harvard.
Google, eBay, Yahoo and PayPal are all examples of companies founded by Immigrants to the US which are now household brands and responsible for millions of direct and indirect employment bring billions of dollars of wealth to the US and its people
Immigration experts say shutting out the talent from abroad will only hurt U.S. competitiveness in the long run. The next Google or Silicon Valley will be in Bangalore or Beijing according to Vivek Wadwha due to the current loss of talent.
Of course you never would here a politician admit to any of this!!
My best advice is to continue to look at our recommendations for the best place to find a job for foreigners. (a new site for the IT people in Australia we were recently aware of is growusa.com.au which can help with your E-3 visa search in that sector)
Additionally look at further education via the F-1 visa while this hysteria plays out as there is no cap there and a Masters Degree is very helpful for not only your search and salary demands, but also does enhance your chances. If you do go after a PHD, a republican congressman from Arizona, Jeff Flake, is trying to introduce a bill to staple “green cards” to the PHD which of course is very valuable 🙂 (yes there are the odd positive stories and reasonable politicians in Washington!)
The J-1 visa in terms of Internship programs is also an option for a visa you can transfer to an H-1B visa or E-3 visa later on from in a years time for example.
The other bit of advice is to consider small companies with less public profile and also smaller cities in the US to move to as they have less public profile, less likely to follow the mainstream and thus more likely to hire you if you are a good candidate.
I hope all this advice helps you in this difficult time and provides more context and facts as to the problem facing foreigners today.