As illustrated in many of the recent articles in our blog, there is a current anti-H1B visa movement in the US that originates from several sources. The primary drivers of this negative anti-H1B opinion are lawmakers who are responding to complaints from constituents over the fear that US job are being lost to foreign workers.
To be fair, there have been several well publicized instances of this actually occurring in select companies, but it is an overstatement to suggest the practice is widespread. Perhaps instead, there really is a shortage of highly skilled labor in the US, and without H1B visa employees some businesses would find it difficult to fill their specialized positions.
Some of this activity is pure politics in an election year, but there is a very real trend toward tightening all forms of immigration and work visas. It may be useful to review the real facts of the H1B visa program, and cut through all of the propaganda and politics that now surrounds the program.
H1B Visa Facts
- An H1B visa is non-immigrant work permission, and does not give the foreign worker permanent residency. It is issued for 3 years with a possible three-year extension, and then the worker must return to their home country. So, the argument that H1B visa workers are replacing US workers permanently is untrue.
- The qualification requirements for an H1B visa are very high, with most workers having at least a Bachelor’s degree and many have a Masters or higher. The truth is that many Americans without a four-year degree would not qualify for an H1B visa in their own country, and could certainly not fill a specialized job position.
- H1B visa workers are not really cheap replacements for US workers, since there is a requirement that the wage paid to the H1B worker be at the prevailing wage for that position in the state of employment.
For IT workers, (the profession that attracts the most H1B visa workers) wages are often in excess of $100,000 per year in top locations such as California or New York. This salary level reflects the skill and experience level needed for most H1B visa positions, and the wages must meet standards for the exact role and locale.
Using this example, if IT companies are hiring H1B workers to replace current US employees, it may be that the US workers have previously demanded too high wages due to a shortage of skilled technical workers. If a company has the option to fill jobs at a lower (but fair market) wage, then management has a duty to shareholders to act on the opportunity for cost savings.
- The sponsoring employer of an H1B visa worker pays a premium of up to $10,000 per employee just to apply for a chance in the lottery. This suggests that there is real demand for skilled workers in specialty occupations. One has to ask, why would a business spend that kind of money if they could hire a US worker at the same wage without the delays, uncertainty and expense of going through the H1B visa sponsorship process?
As one considers these very real facts about H1B visa workers in the US, it becomes apparent that the program does fill a very real need in the country for skilled workers. Some countries such as India and China have educational systems that are oriented toward technical or scientific professions, such as IT work, medicine, biochemistry and research specialties.
Maybe the fault does not lie with the H1B visa program, but instead with the US higher education system which seems to emphasize business, law and entrepreneurial skills, since those have the highest status and earning potential for successful US citizens.
If you are interested in an H1B visa sponsorship and job position, please contact us as there are many opportunities available for skilled foreign workers in the US.
- December 16th, 2016