H-1B Visa Losing Luster as Passport into U.S. Job Market

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2010-07-26 Print this article Print

Lego said that she suspects the tighter scrutiny is at least partly related to some abuses of the visa process in past years. She also said that the current immigration law needs to be changed, a feeling echoed by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle in Congress for the past several years.

Lego's position on the reduced numbers is clearly supported by the State Department's own numbers. The reasons for the reduced numbers are taken from anecdotal reports by her firm's clients. But I think the issue goes much deeper than a poor economy and bureaucratic resistance. After hearing and reading a number of horror stories of fear among legal visitors, of abuses of authority on the part of government agents, I suspect that a number of would-be H-1B applicants think the United States just isn't worth the trouble.

There was the time when the best in the technology business came to the United States to learn, to grow their skills and to provide skilled help to our companies in the process. But the mood in the United States has changed. Punitive procedures in states and counties in the United States make visitors fear for their freedom and for their livelihood.

In Prince William County, Va., which is in the Washington, D.C., suburbs, the police are required to confirm the status of any person who the individual officer thinks may be in the United States illegally. In the process, they subject legal visitors, as well as U.S. citizens to interrogations and threats to their freedom if they can't instantly prove that they're here legally.

Arizona has instituted a similar set of laws. While the authorities in Arizona may have reason for worry about the bloody violence of the incessant drug wars in Mexico spilling into their state, and while they may have a legitimate complaint that the U.S. government isn't doing enough, subjecting innocent visitors to detention and interrogation isn't the answer.

Likewise, independent, perhaps rogue, actions by law enforcement, such as the border patrol agents at the Newark airport, give the U.S. a decidedly anti-foreigner look. So perhaps the arbitrary actions by some government agents, the decidedly anti-immigrant policies in some political jurisdictions, labyrinthine bureaucratic processes and a lousy job outlook are really a perfect storm. With all of that, who in their right mind would want to come to the United States?

Editor's Note: The editors have temporarily removed the comment section from this piece. We apologize for any inconvenience. 

Wayne Rash Wayne Rash is a Senior Analyst for eWEEK Labs and runs the magazineÔÇÖs Washington Bureau. Prior to joining eWEEK as a Senior Writer on wireless technology, he was a Senior Contributing Editor and previously a Senior Analyst in the InfoWorld Test Center. He was also a reviewer for Federal Computer Week and Information Security Magazine. Previously, he ran the reviews and events departments at CMP's InternetWeek.

He is a retired naval officer, a former principal at American Management Systems and a long-time columnist for Byte Magazine. He is a regular contributor to Plane & Pilot Magazine and The Washington Post.

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