The H1-B visa hand-waving flap and what happens next

A lot of vague talk today about “H1-B visa program abuses”, but no specifics are being cited. Whenever I read vague waffle like this, I start to wonder about the rationale for any proposed changes. The cynic in me says that “abuse” is simply code for “too many damn furriners”.
There seems to be a naive assumption underpinning many of the job protectionists’ thought processes that if the H1-B visa program is scaled back, all of the IT jobs currently filled by foreign nationals will suddenly be available for Americans.
That is not likely to be the outcome. If we consider the Indian “pure plays”, who have large numbers of Indian nationals in the USA on H1-B visas, the rules may oblige them to move those nationals back to India. However, most IT work can be performed from just about anywhere in the world, unless there are certain restrictions such as national security (and H1-B holders and Permanent Residents can’t get security clearances anyway).
If the pure plays have to repatriate their workers from the USA, they will go to their clients and offer them pretty much the same range of support services as before, probably at lower rates, since they will now be back to paying Indian salaries, not lower-tier US salaries. Corporations increasingly see IT as a commodity service, so they will most likely continue to use the Indian pure plays, only this time instead of 800 people in a warehouse in Upper Podunk, they will have 800 people in a warehouse on the outskirts of Bangalore, or Hyderabad, or Chennai.
The only way that the corporations will be deterred from taking that course of action will be if they are prevented by law, or other financial disincentives like tariffs or fines, from using overseas corporations to deliver services to the USA.
There is also another reality check angle that needs to be factored into this equation. If 60,000 Indian IT workers disappear from the USA, there are unlikely to be 60,000 US replacements of equivalent experience and skills available on a short timeframe. This will result in a mad scramble for replacements, which might benefit me in the short term since it is likely to increase salaries. However, it will be damaging to US businesses in the medium term. The more likely outcome is that the US corporations will manouver to keep the workers, this time overseas.
This structural change in the job market is also unlikely to benefit many of the electors who voted for Donald Trump. (As a long-term tech worker, I can tell you that in my corporate and personal circles, open Trump supporters are in a small minority). The people in beat-down rural areas who supported Donald Trump will not see any short term benefit if the USA starts expelling tech and IT workers. Rural areas are simply not significant sources for IT and tech people. Anybody with ambitions to work in those sectors is already elsewhere, like in a major tech city.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Healthprose pharmacy reviews