Tag Archives: silicon valley

US Immigration & Education Policy for Students on the F1 Visa

Silicon Valley, an area and name synonymous with innovation, dynamic and entrepreneurs at their finest. The best minds from ar0und the globe converging to create the ideas that are shaping the next 100 years of our collective futures.

An area situated just outside of San Francisco and surrounding the prestigious Stanford University whose alumni is a who’s who of the elite from the founders of Hewlett Packard of yesteryear to Sun Microsystems a decade ago to Google and Yahoo today and virtually everything in between. It is the Meca of our times!

Why is this the case?

Well it has a lot to do with the US Higher Education Institutions and system being the finest in the world. Universities like Harvard, Yale and of course Stanford have been the attracting these fine minds from around the world on the F1 Visa as students and studying for their Bachelors, Master and PhD qualifications under the expert tutelage of the world’s most dynamic professors. These students have long known if they work hard and achieve, they too had access to the American Dream of starting a company and making a fortune via work visas like the H1B visa or E3 visa and then later permanent residency and citizenship via a US Green Card.

What has since happened?

Well quite frankly politics has happened. Immigrants have been unfairly, unjustly and quite innaccurately blamed for US economic ills and US Immigration policy has resulted insituations where by things like an H1B Visa Lottery, H1B Visa Quota, Green Card Lottery, and general delays in the US Immigration system meaning some of the smartest minds in the globe have been forced to wait 10-15 years in the same role just so their Green Card application and thus permanent residency status can be processed successfully.

So this has resulted in what publications like Tech Crunch and esteemed academics from Harvard and Duke fame like Vivek Wadhwa have coined the US reverse brain drain. The ultimate result of which would see Silicon Valley now longer near the Bay area of California but in Bangalore, India or the southern provinces of China or even I am sure to the horror of many in the US who spew the vile anti-immigrant language, the Middle East.

1 in 4 tech companies in the US are started by Immigrants including beheamoths like Google, Yahoo and eBay so it doesn’t take Einstein (himself an immigrant to the US) to see the detrimental effect this has to the US worker and economy as a whole. Of course you rarely here that from politicians more interested in cheap sound bites and their next book deal than actual benefit for their country from educated decision making.

According to Tech Crunch “U.S. grad school admissions for would-be international students plummeted this year, according to the Council of Graduate Schools—the first decline in five years.  The decline was 3% on average, thanks to increases from China and the Middle East, but some countries saw double-digit declines in interest in a U.S. education. Applicants from India and South Korea fell 12% and 9% respectively—with students turning their sights on schools in Asia and Europe instead.”

The Bay Area Council, the Campaign for College Opportunity and IHELP showed that the US needs a 90% upswing in people graduating with degrees in science, technology, math or engineering to keep up with all the new jobs being created in that discipline. Essentially that what made Silicon Valley great may no longer exist and you may see this gradually shift elsewhere.

A majority of the world’s economic growth comes from India, China, Brazil, Eastern Europe and even Africa. Most of those countries have a much better social support structure than the US and certainly much cheaper costs for higher education from ever improving academic institutions. If an aspiring entrepreneur is serious evaluating choices for a great career and to be a global sucess in the next 20 years, the answer is increasingly NOT the US. Particularly when you consider ridiculous anti-immigrant policies like the H-1B restrictions considered by congress.

Make no mistake the US greatest threat to it’s own prosperity is itself and it’s own Economic, Immigration and Social policies like Education and Health.  Let’s all hope sensible, reasoned and rational decisions are made going forward because as it stands now we are looking at a bleak future ahead.


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!!