Wednesday, February 25, 2009

About Time for the H-1B to Go Away

One of the things I really like in the stimulus package is the fact that companies hiring people under the H1-B visa program are not eligible for bailout money. About damn time we started to put a finger in this hole in the dike. The primary reason I am unemployed right now is that someone from India on an H1-B visa is doing the job I should be. The rules say they have to be paid the "prevailing wage" but I know from personal experience that they are paid a lot less than American workers in the same job. Yes, most of them are smart and seem capable but that is not the point. The thing is, India has been sending 65,000 IT workers over here every year and each one of those jobs is putting someone like me out of work. The program was originally supposed to help bridge the gap in demand for IT workers that couldn't be met with American workers but that time is long past.

Predictably, the anger is growing in India over proposed changes to the U.S. H-1B visa work program. The stimulus package forbids companies who hire H-1B workers from receiving federal bail-out money and the move could send tens of thousands of temporary workers, largely engineers, back to India. Indian labor and political parties are threatening boycotts of American companies if Indian workers are eliminated.

Let them boycott. If you take an inventory of the Indian workers in the IT departments of most major American companies, including and especially the financial sector, you will find that they outnumber Americans by a large majority. This might have been an OK thing back when there was a huge shortage of IT trained American workers but that situation is changed and the whole H1-B visa program should be scrapped for good.

We'll probably lose some good Indian restaurants but I'll willingly make the sacrifice.

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