Tightening visa rules and their impact on the U.S. economy and business is a subject that never fails to spark controversy. Ongoing changes to the H-1B and L-1 visas rules have been a flashpoint of debate in the Tech Industry.
- Restrictions on H-1B and L-1 Visas hurt U.S. businesses and the economy.
- Unless Comprehensive Reform passes, employers can expect the restrictions to continue.
As far back as 2005, those in the industry saw that the H-1B may not be headed in the right direction. In a discussion at the Library of Congress that year, then Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates suggested to “get rid of the H-1B visa caps,” finding the numerical limitation for technology workers “questionable,” suggesting that “the theory behind the H-1B” (cap) is “too many smart people are coming” to temporarily work in this country. Gates said that America’s competitiveness will suffer with increased technological capacity abroad, especially in the face of growing high-level research institutions in China and India. Responding to a question about policy changes Gates would make if he were king, he said “I’d certainly get rid of the H-1B visa cap,” and then added “That’s one of the easiest decisions.”
Gates and other leading technology executives have continued to press Congress aggressively to let them hire more foreign employees by raising visa limits. Gates and Richard Rashid, Chief Research Officer at Microsoft, have both complained that the company cannot find enough qualified computer science applicants and that the H-1B visa limit, which now stands at 65,000 workers per year, has hurt their ability to attract top IT workers.
Organization heads in India too share views similar to those of their American counterparts while debating stricter H-1B and L-1 visa rules. “U.S. companies will have trouble getting IT professionals to service its requirements if the present 65,000 cap on H-1B visas remains. The impact of the visa cap will not be felt by the Indian software industry in the macro level,” said Kiran Karnik, president, Nasscom (National Association of Software and Service Companies).
Critics on the other hand blast the H-1B program as undermining U.S. workers, being ripe for abuse and fraud and further fuel the shift of skilled workers overseas.
As the newest form of CIR, S.744: Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, moves through the Senate, many in the industry hope that the problem will ease. They are, however, watching proceedings cautiously. Although the bill for example raises the quota of H-1B’s, it severely restricts the ability of many tech companies to hire all the H-1B and L-1 workers they need.
The debate may be never-ending, however, it’s in the interest of U.S. employers to stay on top of developments and attuned to the politics of the H-1B and L-1 systems. As the rules continue to tighten and enforcement increases, we encourage employers to contact us to see if your company is in compliance with all immigration rules and regulations and to contact us well in advance of hiring foreign nationals so you get all the facts.
We at VisaPro also encourage our readers to plan ahead and not wait until the last moment to file H-1B and L-1 petitions. Please read the latest news on the current H-1B filings and the progress of S.744.
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