1/22/15 Technology Visas

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A bipartisan group of senators has introduced a bill to increase the number of visas for immigrants with special skills.

[These senators are Republicans Orrin Hatch (Utah), Marco Rubio (Fla.), and Jeff Flakes (Arizona) and Democrats Chris Coons (Del.), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), and Richard Blumenthal (Conn).]

Three Democrats and 3 Republicans want to triple the number of H-1B visas.  From an annual cap of 65,000.  To 195,0000.

[As with other visas, the H-1B visa is ripe for abuse.  For years, a group brought in an untold number of immigrants to serve as medical instructors by claiming their skills were required at “Adam University.” No such university exists.]

[In fact, it appears U.S. authorities conduct little or no due diligence to determine how many schools admitting foreigners are fake.]

Generally, this visa is issued to workers with bachelors or advanced degrees.   It’s intended to fill highly-skilled positions not met by the current U.S. labor force.

The high tech firms of Silicon Valley are often cited as the companies most starved for such talent.

A benefit of Senate Bill 153 is to entice foreigners getting advanced degrees from U.S. colleges to keep their talents here.

This all makes sense.

However, this is where I take issue with the proposed legislation.

Some of the biggest technology companies have recently laid off workers at an alarming rate.  Since the summer, tens of thousands of workers have been laid off at Microsoft, Cisco, Symantec and elsewhere [here, here].

Part of Microsoft’s lay-off of 18,000 workers is the closure of its R&D facility in Silicon Valley.  It’s the type of office that requires advanced degree employees.

So, what’s behind this?  According to some critics, technology companies are laying off older, U.S. workers in favor of younger immigrants who would draw smaller salaries.

In addition, the U.S. has more unemployed workers than at any other time in history.

This leads us to wonder.  Is the proposed increase of H-1B visas justified?

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