Tag Archives: obama

US Immigration Reform 2013

From Mark Zuckerberg to Marco Rubio, Immigration may be the No. 1 political topic of the year for the first time since 2007. However as veterans of that debacle know, just because both side of Congress and a broad spectrum of business and labor unions are pushing for reform does not mean either that anything at all will be done. Then even if anything does get done chances are it will be a poisoned chalice and only benefit foreigners a little while screwing them elsewhere.

Let’s have a look at the state of US Immigration today and what the 14 major pain points are;

1. 11 Million (approximately) illegal immigrants currently in the US

2. Further millions of US born children of illegal immigrant living in the shadows unable to legally attend most Universities and work

3. A backlog of 10+ years for many legal foreign workers who have followed all the rules waiting for a chance to get Permanent Residency unable to change jobs, accept promotions or pay raises

4. Huge unnecessary legal costs attached to most visa processes that serve no purpose other than profit Immigration attorneys

5. Wait times of 3 months to 2 years just to process single applications for basic visa changes

6. Artificial caps on visas like the H-1B visa when the growth sectors of the US Economy like Technology are desperate for more qualified talent so as to further grow their companies and thus the US economy and tax revenues as a whole

7. Foreign workers tied to companies unable to easily change jobs to accept better offers because of illogical transfer processes, costs and wait times

8. Immigration system that incentives doing things like sham marriages or illegal entry or overstaying b/c that is a far less costly and speedier route to living day to day in the US than following the rules and the long wait times

9. So many highly intelligent and talented US educated undergraduate, graduate and Phd students forced to leave the US and thus start companies and create technologies and wealth outside US shores. Immigrant founded companies in the US at large and particularly Silicon Valley has declined dramatically in the last 8 years

10. An ill informed American public that has little idea of how the US Immigration system works let alone the overall history of US Immigration and often the nature of their own ancestral entry and bases their opinions on factually incorrect cable news sound bites

11. The ability for someone to obtain a US work visa makes no sense as a company has to hire a person first and sponsor them which usually means being interviewed face to face. However the US actively discourages people to enter the US for the purposes of seeking employment

12. US Consulate processes for assessing foreign candidates are complex and often contradict processes and approvals received within the US and wait times to gain interviews are often many months making no sense for foreign students and workers to enter the country

13. Family visa sponsorship times for things like spouses of green card holders or brothers and sisters of US citizens are also 5-10 years or more

14. For non-immigrant visa petitions like H-1B, E-3, L-1, etc. there are only approximately 250 USCIS caseworkers to assess the annual 425,000 applications and growing as the economy is improving creating a major log jam for US companies and the economy

So the reality is unless a comprehensive Immigration reform assesses most, if not all, of these issues without attaching arbitrary conditions, criteria and costs it really is not fixing anything. All these things about paying fines, going to the back of line, tying things to borders security, adding more visas with obscure criteria or increasing caps without fixing current processes and wait times and continually incentivizing sham activities are just the status quo.

So while we are all the most confident we have been in many years for some form of Immigration reform we accept the reality that Congress will most likely miss the point, possibly fix one or two issues but then create five or ten more.


H1B Visa Update & The Issues Ahead For US Companies

As it currently stands now into May, the USCIS has issued no further update to their April 20 H-1B Visa Update whereby about 45,000 H-1B application have been received along with 20,000 H-1B applications for the US Masters Degree additional quota.

Some are now saying given the slowness of the process that this cap could still be not filled up to the 65,000 H-1B visa quota by September for FY2010. This poses a very real danger.

In 2001, the H-1B visa quota was 195,000 and following the dot com bubble burst, that quota was not filled and a short US recession followed of course with may in the IT sector losing jobs. It was soon after that the quota was reduced to the current 65,000 H-1B visas issued annually level with the later addition of 20,000 for foreigners with US Masters Degree Holders.

At the same time of course the new H-1B visa legislation (and L-1 visa for that matter) which is essentially anti-immigrant in its language and not so subtly seeks to restrict the ability of US companies to hire foreign workers on H-1B visas and L-1 visas.

Chairman of the National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM), said if this proposal passes in the current format then it will have a fairly disastrous impact on the IT sector.

This should give you an idea: the number of H1B visas applications filed by the top-three Indian multi-national IT companies . TCS has reportedly applied for 600 visas, a little less than half of last year’s 1,539 visas. Wipro applied for 1,000 visas this year, compared to 2,500 visas last year. The sharpest fall has been for giant Infosys. It has applied for 400-500 visas for FY09 compared to 4,500 filed last year.

You have to bear in mind this is only 85,000 work visas in total so a tiny fraction of the entire US workforce. For some giant US companies it is not even enough workers to staff just their own entire company. However when giants like this are reducing their intake and H-1B friendly employers like Microsoft are publicly stating their numbers of foreign worker applications to appease bigoted and idiot politicians you there is an issue.

The Founder, Chairman & MD, Head Hunters said “Costs in the immediate short term are going to increase. That is because companies will have to hire more locally, also finding the right kind of talent at the right time is going to be a challenge.”

Industry watchers point out that fewer H1B visas filings could also lead to the shrinking of the H1B visa cap, which at present is at 65,000….similar to what happened right after the dotcom bust when the no of visas shrunk from 195,000 to the present levels.

Over half of the Silicon Valley start-ups were pioneered by foreigners and people like Greenspan called for both a temporary worker program for low-skilled jobs and for an increase in visas for highly skilled workers.

Noting the “very large participation” of undocumented workers in both low- and high-skilled jobs, he said, “if you were to remove either of those groups, the economy would be very much in trouble” and not have any signs of the recovery it is now.

President Obama and the G-20 summit in March stated the US would not become protectionist in their economy but if this H-1B legislation would pass it would do just that as it would essentially restrict the free market and put tarrifs and barriers to hiring talent.

NASSCOM also dispelled the notion that this is not in general a temporary worker program as the average engineer on an H-1B visa spends about 2 years working in the US. Given the taxes they pay, the spending of themselves and often a family plus the skills they employ, the only universal benificiary is the US economy and her citizens.

Of course polticians like Senator Durbin and Senator Grassley would never admit to this!!