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New H-1B bill will 'help destroy' U.S. tech workforce

Patrick Thibodeau | Jan. 15, 2015
New legislation being pushed by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) to hike the H-1B visa cap is drawing criticism and warnings that it will lead to an increase in offshoring of tech jobs.

But this law, or the announcement about it, makes no mention of the H-1B's use as a job outsourcing vehicle. "This bill is a common sense approach to ensuring that those who have come here to be educated in high-tech fields have the ability to stay here with their families and contribute to the economy and our society," Hatch said in a statement.

Costa said his main problem with the I-squared bill is that it doesn't propose any wage or recruitment reforms that the H-1B program needs. Even the prior Senate's comprehensive immigration bill, which failed to get a vote in the House of Representatives, "at least pushed things in the right direction by slightly raising the prevailing wage level, having an H-1B job database, and phasing in the 50/50 rule." That rule limits a firm's use of H-1B workers to 50% of its workforce.

The IEEE-USA has favored green card immigration over an expansion of the H-1B program.

"There are simply no arguments for H-1B increases that aren't better made for green cards," said Russ Harrison, IEEE-USA government relations director, in a statement. "The primary, practical function of the H-1B program is to outsource American high-tech jobs. Do the bill's supporters really think that's the direction American immigration policy should go?"

The IEEE estimates that bill will actually increase the H-1B use to about 300,000. It includes non-profits, and believes as many as 50,000 H-1B users will be advanced degree holders.

An H-1B visa is good for six years, the IEEE estimates (assuming all the visas are used) that it represents at least an additional 1.8 million employees competing for jobs in a U.S. STEM workforce of about 5 million.


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