H-1B Shortage in Today's Society essay

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To protect themselves, many Americans chose to avoid working with or becoming friends with those who immigrated. A lack of trust permeated everything that the Americans did in regards to the immigrants, at least with the men. This was not always true of the women, as they often got along together and shared the trials and difficulties of raising families. However, many men who owned shops and stores would not hire an immigrant laborer (Glazer, 1998).

They believed that immigrants took jobs away from people in the U.S., and they did not want to catch any diseases that these immigrants might have brought with them. The general attitude during this time period was that immigrants were so different from Americans that they could never mesh into one society, but that attitude has obviously changed, as today America is a mix of all kinds of people (Glazer, 1998; Sowell, 1997).

What is generally seen to be lost in most of the immigration discussions that take place in this country and others is that the United States is actually losing money because the highly skilled and highly educated people that they need cannot get into the country or stay there very long once they arrive. The U.S. is growing desperate in many areas, and that is part of the reason that so much work is being outsourced to other countries. Certainly it is cheaper, but there are also issues with the lack of qualified people in this country.

For a long time, people have talked about immigration into the U.S. To do jobs that those who already live here as citizens just do not want to deal with. However, Bill Gates suggests that is not the main concern. There is another one, and it is much more dangerous. The country now needs to adjust immigration laws to allow people from other countries to come in and do jobs "that U.S. citizens cannot do themselves." (SN056 ALI-ABA P. 526)

The issue at hand is this: Whether current immigration policies- H-1B visa and permanent-resident visa quotas- for highly skilled workers are solving the problem of the shortage of skilled workers and the effects of these policies on foreign skilled workers, foreign students graduating from U.S. universities, businesses such as Microsoft, and the U.S. economy. How can Congress balance the interests of the U.S. need to retain the brightest and best to compete in the global market with immigration quotas?

While this note only reflects the H-1B visa debate, this is part of a larger issue that affects immigration policy as a whole. The issue this reflects is of a much larger governmental policy failure, which is immigration reform. If the U.S. cannot handle immigration reform to attract highly skilled workers, then how can the U.S. possibly deal with immigration reform as a whole? What does the fact that a private business is now lobbying Congress for immigration reform say about Congress' inaction to reform the system?

History of Immigration Policies/Quotas

During colonial times and also following the Revolution, free and relatively open immigration was encouraged by America. Later in the 19th century, however, that policy was questioned. Most of the people who started to question this policy were the workers in America, because they started wondering about the competition that they were seeing. Congress started passing immigration laws in the 1890s and created a federal agency that could oversee immigration, as well as uniform rules for the naturalization of those who wanted to become citizens (an Immigrant Nation: United States Regulation of Immigration, P 3).

Overview of H-1B Visa

The H-1B program was established by the Immigration Act of 1990. It allowed nonimmigrant aliens to work in specific occupations in the United States for a period of six years. Although an H-1B visa does not result in legal permanent residency status, visa holders can apply for permanent residency if they are sponsored by their employer (21 BYE J. Pub. L. 153 P. 157).

Currently, there is a yearly cap on H-1B visas of 65,000. In response to claims of a labor shortage in the technology sector, Congress raised that limit to 115,000 during 1999-2000 and to 195,000 during 2001-2003, but in 2004 the limit returned to 65,000 (8 U.S.C. Section 1184(g)(1)(a)(i) (2000).

In addition, there are 20,000 visas to go with those who have graduate degrees from U.S. institutions and there are no limits when it comes to how many visas can be issued to universities and to research institutes (8 U.S.C. Section 1184(g)(5)(c)

The demand for H-1B visas is great. The quota for the visas was exhausted on the first day of fiscal year 2005, and in 2006, the quota was exhausted six weeks prior to the start of the fiscal year. In fiscal year 2007 the quota for these visas was actually met on May 26, 2006 (Press, 2006).

For fiscal year 2008, the supply of H-1B visas ran out on April 2, 2007. That was the day that petitions for these visas could be filed and a full six months before any of them would be issued. Almost fifty percent of the people who tried to get a visa were denied one (Written testimony of William H. Gates Before the Committee on Science and Technology, United States House of Representatives, P 13). The cap on these visas was arbitrarily chosen and was designed only as a reassurance to critics that there would not be an unlimited supply of visas (Trucios-Haynes, 2002).

Companies like Microsoft would like nothing better than to hire Americans for the jobs, but there just are not enough of them. This forces a lot of companies to outsource their jobs to other countries, and it is not just being seen in the technology sector, either. There are many areas of business that have begun to outsource their jobs, especially to East Asia. One of the areas where outsourcing is becoming extremely popular is in health care.

Many people would not think of health care as the type of business that would be outsourced, but there are many functions of various different groups in hospitals and care facilities that can be outsourced. The health care industry in America today is worth approximately $1.7 trillion and it is becoming dependent more and more on the long accepted outsourcing practice (Romano, 2004). This has stirred up many questions that not only deal with public policy but corporate responsibility as well.

In the past, services like housekeeping, security, and the hospital cafeteria were the only ones that were outsourced (Romano, 2004). These jobs were considered marginal services that were not related to the core function of the hospital and therefore outsourcing them was not an issue. Now, many of the clinical areas of the hospital as well as some of the top executive jobs are being outsourced. Many of the daily functions of the business are being outsourced as well. For years, nurses have been outsourced as temporary staff and this troubles some individuals that look at outsourcing and the health care industry because nurses are seen to be one of the most vital components of health care (Romano, 2004).

While hospitals are worrying about outsourcing some of their jobs and functions, there are other businesses that are struggling with the same problem. There have been many different solutions proposed to the basic questions of business, such as what business an individual is in, what is core for that business, and what business the individuals wish to be in (Clark, 2004). Outsourcing is just the latest suggested solution. Companies such as those that work in the telecom industry provide outsourcing to very large customers overseas as well, most typically dealing with services that are related to data networking, and outsourcing often stems from this (Clark, 2004).

According to a recent study, outsourcing of the global corporate network was worth approximately $3 billion in 2003 (Clark, 2004). The same study predicted that 10% of the enterprise communications seen in Europe and North America will be completely outsourced by the year 2010 (Clark, 2004). There are ways that these service providers could increase much of their revenue from outsourcing by two or even three times, in part thanks to a strong rise in fixed to mobile communications. However, the study also warns that there is some threat from information technology service providers such as HP, EDS, and IBM (Clark, 2004).

Throughout the last 30 years, it has been traditionally blue-collar jobs that have been leaving the United States for countries such as East Asia, but now the service sector is discovering that it is being invaded as well (Clark, 2004). It is possible that the outsourcing to other countries and the concern that it is generating will lead to laws that force companies not to send specific jobs overseas, but this is not something that is strongly expected to take place anytime soon (Clark,…[continue]

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