~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Let's Compromise ~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Fixing Skilled Worker Visas
Adjusting the H-1B and L-1 Visa Programs
The current system is a hammer, when a screwdriver would be more appropriate
Although I would like to see the H-1B and L-1 visa
programs completely abolished, I realize that some
sort of compromise may be in order if
solutions or improvement are to come anytime soon.
Most problems tend to center around a
"lack of balance" in many areas,
including mobility, age, and skill sets targeted by visa
workers and the visa laws. The current system is a
hammer, when a screwdriver would be more
appropriate. Below are some suggestions that could
reduce some or most of the problem areas of the visa
- Avoid flooding any one profession
by permitting a more balanced in-flow of skills. For
example, after the dot-com bust and growing
programmer unemployment, the number of visa
software developers actually increased against the
downward demand trend. This
is partly because India was still ramping
up their computer-related education and personnel
promotional institutions against the dropping demand.
A commissioner of some sort should be assigned to
manage and monitor the skill mixes permitted to enter this
nation. This commissioner would be
"the Alan Greenspan of visas", lowering the quotas on specific
professions or skill sets if demand decreases. The commissioner
could monitor job ads, unemployment insurance filings,
college degrees applied for, and degrees received.
Perhaps a portion of the
H-1B fees can be allocated to skill monitoring and
balancing. Note that technology demand is
- Require coordination with state
unemployment offices to see if they can find or
recommend citizen matches for requested visa
- Perhaps use the existing immigration
program to bring in those with allegedly
hard-to-find skills rather
than a separate visa system. This
may reduce the "indentured servant" problem with the
current visa programs. Full immigrants would also be
more likely to have or bring families with them to
consume local products and services, and be able to
shop around for better wages without fear of
deportation, better balancing their impact on jobs,
wages, and the economy.
- Require a more "natural" level of ages for
visa workers. Age discrimination is common in many
technology fields to due various stereotypes of
seasoned workers. Requiring a more natural range
of ages in visa applicants may result in less
"replacement" of older tech workers with younger
ones that appears to be going on in many companies.
This might be a little tricky because many countries
have only just begun formal training in technology.
But, it might also encourage such countries to offer
training to a wider range of ages.
- Avoid recognizing combinations of
skills in the "skill shortage" visa claim form slot.
Manipulation of combinations of skills appears to be
one of the larger sources of deception and trickery
among visa filers, and make it hard to verify shortage
claims. For example, claim forms should state
something like "Oracle DBA" as the (alleged) skill in
short supply, rather than "Oracle DBA, Fortran, Java,
WebSphere, MS-Access, C++, C#, XML, SAP", and
so forth. Narrowing the skill claims may also make it
easier for citizens to know what is in short supply in
order to obtain training in areas of high demand.
Investigators have been hard-pressed to find patterns
under the current visa programs, and the few they did
find contradicted unemployment patterns.
- Better monitoring of pay rates and
complaint follow-up. Although officially the visa
program is to supply hard-to-find skills, many of us
feel that it is an attempt to avoid paying "full" wages
or to replace older workers with younger ones, who
traditionally earn less. A portion of a visa application
fee can be used to finance a monitoring program. This
could be similar to the "skills commissioner"
- The "training fee" of the current system does
not work very well, and needs to be overhauled. The training
is going toward entry-level positions instead of the specific
skills cited as in short supply by visa sponsors. Part of the
problem is that there is no decent feedback on what specific
skills are in shortage (see above).
The industry changes so fast that by
the time any useful statistics are out, the given skill set
may already be flooded due to various dynamic market forces.
Faster reporting times are needed.
- Require reciprocal behavior on the other country's
part. They must allow at least an equal number of visa
workers into their country from the U.S.
- Require that visa requests be made available to the
public electronically. Every visa opening should be made
available to potential citizen job hunters so that they
have an opportunity to apply.
- Review programs for citizens allegedly displaced and unemployed
or underemployed. Unemployed citizens who may qualify for positions
given to visa workers should have a right to challenge visa
positions for their own employment. Perhaps at least require the
employer to interview the unemployed citizen and produce a
written document of why they don't qualify and could not
qualify with minor specific training. The citizen should also
have the right to review or call for auditor review of
the actual work being performed by
the visa worker to see if it meets the written description.
However, care must be taken to make sure intellectual
property is not at risk.