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H-1B: the voices behind the visa

Tracy Mayor | Nov. 17, 2010
This article is part of our special report on the 20th anniversary of the H-1B visa, which also includes first-person accounts from five IT workers who have been directly affected by the H-1B program and visual and interactive tools to help you analyze H-1B visa data.

[A federal research center] considered hiring me as well, but it was denied. They were having a recession and couldn't [justify putting] international students in those programs.

I had some calls from [a global processor corporation] to go and do coding, but that was not acceptable to me. I am a designer and a researcher. My specialty is in speech processing, digital signal processing.

Finally I got a job, at [a worldwide software and services corporation], and later at [a global vendor of software and hardware systems]. Very briefly after that I went back to India, but I was soon hankering for change. In India, at a midmanagement level, you have no power to bring about change. So I came back.

I have been on a review panel for NASA, the Department of Defense and the National Science Foundation. I am a program director for The Project Management Institute. I have 11 papers published. I don't say all this to imply that I will be named a Nobel laureate; I say it because I have a couple of very strong points to put forward and I want people to understand my credentials.

At the top technology companies, especially at [the software and services corporation], 60% to 70% are H-1B, Indian or Chinese. This was happening as far back as 2006. This company retains the title of being No. 1 in the world because they are getting the brains of the world, the best of the best.

If we stopped H-1B, IT would crash. It would affect at least 50% of the people with the niche skills that cannot be easily replaced. The U.S. has a lot of talent, but wherever people are outstanding, the U.S. should try to help them into this country, to choose from a pool of talent worldwide.

H-1B holders cannot negotiate easily. If your company doesn't sponsor you anymore, you have 15 days to find someone else to sponsor your visa. In this job market, no way.

Consulting companies can hire and fire you with no obligation. They try to take advantage of this kind of employee, they promise something and don't deliver. In a lot of places they treat you as a second-class citizen. It's very easy for any citizen to put the blame on the contractor and fire them.

H-1Bs pay Medicare and Social Security taxes. Is it right for the government to collect that money? I don't mind paying the taxes that the government needs to run, but paying tax that I will not be entitled to, is that fair? I wouldn't mind paying toward citizenship. There should be a classification. They could ask, what is your future plan? Do you want to stay in this country? And based on that they could take the money.


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