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A Patch for the H-1B Visa System?

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The H-1B visa debate is heating up once again, as the government began accepting new visa applications covering the 2009 fiscal year on April 1. The H-1B visa is used by employers to bring highly educated and skilled workers into the country. If the past few years are any guide, visas are expected to go very quickly. Most business groups hope that Congress will grant more H-1Bs in the future. Meanwhile, the Programmer's Guild, an association of software developers, has a new scheme for making sure the current batch of visas is apportioned fairly, the Workforce Management blog reports: the guild suggests that visas should be given to foreign nationals based on how much they will be paid in the U.S. "In no case should a 'Ph.D. genetic researcher' lose out to a '$16/hour accountant,'" the guild said in a statement.

"Making a high wage a factor for getting a visa potentially raises costs for employers. Small businesses in lower-wage markets in particular might be squeezed by such a change," the blog observes. "But the proposal could help make sure the sharpest workers come in under the H-1B program, which is used heavily by the technology industry. It also could help prevent the underpayment of H-1Bs, which undercuts the salaries of U.S. workers and makes it less likely that American workers will enter fields that now rely on foreigners."

What do you think? Should H-1B visas go to the people who stand to get the highest salaries in the U.S.? If so, why?

Last updated: Apr 2, 2008




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