US companies have issues on hiring H-1B visa holders
Apr 29, 2016 05:13 AM EDT
Ahead of the US presidential election, US companies have to grapple with the issue of hiring H-1B visa holders.
In a recent Republican debate The Walt Disney Co. was singled out as an example when in 2014 it fired 250 IT workers at Walt Disney World and enlisted a contracting firm to replace them. Included among the new hires were foreign workers with H-1B guest-worker visas, Variety reported.
Donald Trump and Marco Rubio said the incident reflected the trouble with the H-1B program which allows companies to temporarily hire foreign workers in "specialty occupations." Rubio said the program was being "abused" with American workers losing their jobs to foreigners.
The debate did not touch on the issue being addressed by the program. It is estimated that 600,000 jobs are unfilled due to lack of local workers with the required skills. While Silicon Valley is the most visible user of H-1B visa holders, Hollywood depends on them as well, especially in technical functions in studio operations and in highly specialzed fields of visual effects and animation.
The H-1B debate is also expected to hurt India's $146B IT sector as it is the beneficiary of Silicon Valley's ever thirsty appetite for Indian IT workers, said The Economic Times of India. Employees working in client locations in the US have H-1B visas with a limit or cap of 65,000 each year.
There is a proposal to triple the cap to 195,000 visa each year but there is a growing discontent among American workers who view the H-1B program as a way of taking away jobs from them. They feel companies abuse the program to hire cheaper foreign workers.
The US Immigration and Citizenship Services outlines the requirement for meeting a specialty occupation. The position must require at least a bachelor's degree or higher, or the job is so complex or unique that it can only be performed by someone with at least a bachelor's degree.
The H-1B program allows companies to draw on foreign talents which they otherwise could not hire. Without the visas the American economy could starve and fail to grow to the detriment of American workers themselves who would have more jobs to choose from if US companies expanded.