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IT offshoring: Romney vs. Obama

Patrick Thibodeau | July 6, 2012
Offshore outsourcing, from the manufacturing to call center industries, has become a major issue in the 2012 presidential race.

McKinsey has long argued that offshore outsourcing brings benefits to U.S. firms.

What would either candidate do on the H-1B visa issue?

The H-1B visa is important in offshore outsourcing because the companies need access to temporary work visas to conduct work in the U.S. As may as half to 90% of offshore outsourcing company workers have such visas.

Romney's platform is clear: "Raise visa caps for highly skilled workers."

Romney sees foreign workers as critical to U.S. innovation, and doesn't draw a distinction between H-1B or permanent residency green cards.

Obama has generally avoided talking about the H-1B visa but has voiced support for making it easier for foreign students with advanced degrees to remain in the U.S. with a green card or permanent residency.

When Obama took office, the H-1B visa had become a non-issue due to the recession. For the first time since the recession started, the available H-1B visas were exhausted at a relatively rapid pace in 2012, bringing the issue back to the political arena.

However, Congress, not the president, controls the visa cap. Former President George W. Bush supported increasing the H-1B cap, but was stymied by Congress.

Whoever is elected president in November will face the same obstacle.

Computerworld editorial projects manager Mari Keefe contributed to this story.


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