How Immigration Reform Is Impacting IT Staffing

By Christopher Donovan

Hiring in IT is already a challenge due to a small talent pool, and each day is an indication that this struggle will worsen. Turn on the TV or open an internet browser and you’ll quickly discover yet another news item regarding U.S. immigration policies. Flooded by so many proposed changes, opinions, analyzations, and court decisions, the topic has become a murky river that we are all floating down but cannot see through. In an effort to grasp a clearer picture of what’s happening and what it means for you, let’s take a step back and look at how immigration reform is impacting IT staffing.

Current H-1B Visa Abuse

The current H-1B visa process was designed as a lottery system allowing 85,000 total visas to be granted each year. While on the surface it sounds simple, this system has descended into chaos due to outdated laws that see poor monitoring and enforcement. There are widely known ways to abuse the system. Large offshore firms flood the program with tens of thousands of applications, greatly increasing their success rate in being granted H-1B visas compared to the U.S companies that are playing by the rules. And that’s just the start.

These large Asian firms are not only receiving an unjustly large majority of the allotted visas, but they are blatantly violating U.S. law and treating genuinely hard-working immigrant workers unfairly. In many instances, they will pay a worker a fraction of the appropriate salary reported to the government. These workers also have seen their paychecks cut off until a client pays their employer, which is a distinct violation of labor law.

Still worse, firms with ill-intent have gone even further, knowingly bringing over workers that lack the necessary skills for success by faking resumes and references. A worker could be forced to live in a company-owned housing complex, pay 60% of their salary back to that company in rent, and have no idea that they are being taken advantage of. These workers are often abandoned by such firms, which won’t sponsor them for an extension or green card so that the firm can profit from the turnover. Such turn-and-burn abuse has been allowed to flourish due to a lack of regulatory oversight.

Proposed Immigration Reform

Love it or hate it, there are many proposed H-1B visa changes meant to curb such abuse through stricter enforcement, raising fees, improving site visits, and more. Executive orders cannot change laws on their own and have simply been calling for congress to review how current legislation is being enforced, especially in relation to the lottery system. While 85,000 visas are granted each year, those three-year visas can be renewed for three more plus a one year extension, effectively making them valid for seven years.

It’s currently estimated that there are up to 900,000 H-1B visas currently employed in the United States, a number that the government itself can’t even pinpoint. On top of this, a large Go to the full article.

Source:: Business 2 Community

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