In the past few weeks the word H-1B that has hit the headlines in the American media and the Indian media alike has quite evidently sent as much shock ripples. The shock is reserved to the working class Americans, especially those in the information technology sector.
H-1B is the non-immigrant visa in the United States under the Immigration and Nationality Act that enable the American employers to recruit temporarily non Americans especially for ‘highly skilled jobs’. This work permit though has a validity of three years can however be extended up to a period of six years. This sanction is aimed at overcoming slackening in production in any sectors due to the shortage of ‘special and highly skilled’ employees.
Of all the sectors Silicon Valley is taking the worst burn. Of the reported 545,000 tech jobs vacancies remaining to be filled most of which are from the Silicon Valley. Quoting that it is becoming increasingly difficult to find and recruit American nationals on such skilled tech jobs, the American IT industry on May 27th has called for raising cap on H-1B visas. Besides it is also said to find right candidates for the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields.
If this is the picture that the industry paints, pro-employees side tells us another story. It blames the American firms and Corporate exploiting the loopholes in the US’s laws pertaining to the H-1B visas, to hire more immigrant techies. This is just a cost cutting strategy that the employers are eying at since the immigrant workers can be hired for lesser salaries compared to an American counterpart, so we hear from the employee’s camp.
A couple of recent examples worth quoting are the Disney’s and Edison’s. Recently the Southern California Edison, an electricity supply company and the largest subsidiary of Edison International which turned to Infosys for H-1B workers after having laid off 540 workers had sparked a controversy and a heated debate on the topic. More recently following the footprint of the former Disney laid of its American tech workers replacing them with H-1B workers has only fueled the tension. The worst part is those former workers were reportedly said to have been forced to train the new recruits who later replaced themselves.
Owing to the severity of the issue the United States has probed into the two largest suppliers of H-1B work force, TCS and Infosys, suspecting visa rule violations last Thursday. This was received bitterly by the Industry body NASSCOM (National Association of Software Services Companies) saying attempts were being made to portray the Indian negative sector without paying attention to facts and logic. PTI on Jun 14th has also reported that the Communications and IT ministry has said to intervene if need be.
It’s a double trouble for the American Government beyond doubt. Everyone knows about the corporate funding that runs into the American elections. Especially with the elections round the corner Uncle Sam is certainly finding delicate to handle this and act diplomatically so as to win the trust of sides, the employers and the employees. We shall wait and watch.