Wednesday, March 18, 2009

More on H-1B Visas

Phil Fersht over at Horses for Sources has an interesting post today on the H-1B visa issue. He cuts into the issue from a somewhat different direction than I did in my Feb 20 Detroit News editorial (link), but makes some points that are complementary to the argument I made there.

As you may recall, the Grassley/Durbin ameendment to the TARP program would make it extremely difficult for US firms receiving TARP program to employ H-1B visa workers. The H-1B visa program is designed to allow foreign workers withspecialty skills to come to the United States on a temporary basis when US firms can not find Americans to do the job. Note that the program requires the employer to pay prevailing wages.

My op-ed piece argued that the H-1B visa program helps save US jobs. The logic is that work is mobile. If firm's can't bring the people they need here to do the work, they will simply move the work to the people they want to employ.

The piece has created some hysterical backlash -- largely from message board nativists using pseudonyms. I'll deal with that in another post.

Phil makes two important arguments.

  1. Durbin/Grassley will have a negative impact on US businesses.

  2. The main point being that offshoring already exists. In most cases, H-1B staff are bringing skills into the country that are shared with onshore IT and operations staff to create a stronger learning environment for the host business.

  3. We need to avoid isolationism, or businesses will move backward.

  4. Hobbling firms from upgrading their IT systems, or managing their global operations by cutting them off from global talent will be counterproductive.

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A somewhat different take on things, but largely pointing in the same direction.

I heartily recommend Phil's blog (Horses for Sources). Check it out.

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