Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Hulla Bulla H1-B

Back to the US and back to student life.
Missing India all the more now that I got a taste of it for 3 weeks. All said and done, C is the best place on earth! I even decided on the place where I want to spend my last days :) Though the time is far, far away!
Student life is fun, all said and done. Also, I'm yet to "really" start working (I hear,A, your voice asks me "when have you really worked?" So true!) but now I have lesser time to finish what I started and I better concentrate on trying to chip off the big block of cheese before me.
Enough of rambling updates about me.... on to the topic.

H1-B visa is a type of visa that allows foreign qualified employees to work in the USA for specific companies. Almost always, the company sponsors the visas. In earlier times, the number of people coming to USA from other countries was lesser and the visa restrictions were lighter. So, many people came in the immigrant visa directly. As competition around the world increased and with better and improved education in countries like India and China (not to mention the global village that our world has become, all thanks to Internet), the immigrant visa restrictions became tighter and people started looking for other visa types. H1-B was a good one in that it let you come to US and work(after all, man goes from one place to another in search of wealth aka money for most of the time. Since work directly translates to money, some visa that lets you work immediately was an attractive option). So, the competition for H1-B visas also increased. Last year's results are given here.

Now comes the interesting argument that has been waging since 2001. It has resurfaced now(in times of recession, people are ready to listen to any argument - a case of "ethai thindraal pitham theliyum?") and I wish to reason it out. Some people in US argue that companies should first employ US citizens and only then look for H1-B visa holders. Believe it or not, this argument is totally pointless simply because it is already being followed. Think from the company's perspective. They aim to increase profits. For that, one of the major requirements is to have a good team of employees. Also, they try to reduce the cost/employee thereby increasing profits. An American employee costs lesser compared to a H1-B visa holder. Lets run the numbers for it.

American H1-B visa holder
Salary Same Same
Other benefits Same Same
Visa cost 0 3000

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Total X X+$3000

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So, why would a company looking for increasing profits be willing to spend $3000+ more? The answer to it lies in the simple fact that the return from the H1-B visa holder is worth the extra cost. There were reports of a Senator asking Microsoft and other companies to first send out the H1-B workers during the layoffs. All companies would keep people that they feel are necessary for their growth and lay off others that they feel do not contribute to the growth of the company. Here, the discrimination of H1-B and non-H1-B workers does not come into picture. No company would be a fool to send off a more talented worker for such a petty reason that they have a particular visa. If a company does something like it, then that company is acting against the basic principles of "doing activities to improve the net worth of the shareholders of the company" which is the basis for the corporate world. In the long run, it would spell doom to the company.

It would be great if the people understand this fact and realize that only talent and hard work will stand the test of recession. No amount of unrealistic lobbying would help. Give your 100% to your current job, do better than the guy next to you and you would be fine. Best case, you would have your job even in times of recession. Worst case, you would know the work better --> have more knowledge about something than anyone else in your past team --> better job prospects when you lose your job. So, both cases, it is a win situation for you. So, instead of listening to all the politics surrounding the H1-B visa issue, it is time to roll up your sleeves and start working better than anyone else.

What is your stand on the H1-B visa issue? Do you think it is a welcome part of global village scenario or a visa that should be abolished or a "necessary evil" for a growing economy?


Arun said...

1) The salary for h1b and perm/citizen are not same, h1b on avg get substantially paid lower on average. this may not be true for big co's but they indirectly also have a "hold" on the employee like the GC etc.
2) In a global economy, quality per dollar is the true measure. so cheaper always wins. US can keep denying it and will lose out on the competition when the talent goes somewhere else.
3) The best thing a govt can do is not mess up the corp with ridiculous regulations like totally removing h1bs. Corp's are not charitable instiutions, they dont and shudnt care abt employment in US, all they shud care is profit. If they make more, they would likley invest more in US.
Republicans understand this.

alpine path said...

Arun, true! H1-B workers score in the quality/dollar criterion. And, I hope Democrats understand the importance of true capitalism, for that is the foundation of USA. We'll have to wait and watch!