Visa Forces US Firms to Relocate Abroad

The strict visa rules set up by the US government in the wake of the 9/11 attacks and a chronic shortage of home-grown skilled workers are forcing US companies to relocate overseas.

Visa Forces US Firms to Relocate Abroad

The strict visa rules set up by theUS government in the wake of the 9/11 attacks and a chronic shortage of home-grownskilled workers are forcing US companies to expand or even relocate overseas tospare themselves the entrance hassles facing qualified foreigners.

"When I hire an Indian PhD today, I hire him inBangalore, notSan Jose," T.J. Rodgers, chief executive of Cypress Semiconductor Corp,told Reuters.

"Now I can hire all I want and not have toworry about the vagaries of government decrees. They've made it less tenable todo business here, so we do business elsewhere."

This week, a record of 150,000 skilled workersapplied for visa to work in the USunder the H-1B visa program.

The USgovernment will grant only 65,000 H-1B visas this fiscal year to people with atleast the equivalent of an undergraduate degree and expertise in a specializedfield such as engineering or computer programming.

An additional 20,000 visas are reserved for thosewith advanced academic degrees.

That quota is "woefully inadequate,"warned Ted Ruthizer, head of the business immigration practice for New York law firm KramerLevin Naftalis and Frankel.

"I think everybody was caught off guard. It's amess."

Jack Krumholtz, head of Microsoft's Washington,D.C. office, said US companies are now turning tooff-shore.

"If we're not able to hire these people, itputs increasing pressure on us and other companies to do that workabroad," he said.

"It has the perverse impact of encouragingoff-shoring."

Closures

The imbalance between granted visas for foreignskilled workers and the market needs also force small businesses to shut down.

"The problem, obviously, is that not everycompany has that ability to relocate people overseas," said RobertHoffman, vice president of government affairs for business software makerOracle Corp.

"A lot of small companies rely on H-1Bs,"added Hoffman, who is also co-chair of Compete America, an industry group thatadvocates easier rules on foreign workers.

"A lot of companies were started by those whowere here on H-1Bs."

Internet entrepreneur Rakesh Mathur agrees.

"The demand for talent is very real," hesaid. "And there is a shortfall of trained talent in the United States."

Last month, Bill Gates, the Chairman of MicrosoftCorp, the world's biggest software maker, urged Congress to find ways to keepskilled foreigners in the country.

"I see the negative effects of these policiesevery day at Microsoft," Gates said.

At Stake

The visa hassles are also putting at stake thecareers of many foreign students who study in the USor receive American education in native countries with the hope of lucrativecontracts in the US.

"I'm concerned that this will be discouragingto international students," Kay Clifford, associate director of the International Centerat the University of Michigan, toldReuters.

"They are worried about their futures. They areworried about the impact on their careers."

In most cases, the US government allows foreignstudents to stay in the country for a year after graduation, granting them anF-1 visa to work in a field related to their area of study.

As a result, US employers shy away from hiringgraduates unless they can get them an H-1B visa from the start of theiremployment, said Ruthizer.

If an employer hires a graduate this spring and isnot able to get an H-1B this year, the employee will only be able to work inthe United Statesfor 12 months.

Even if that employee manages to get an H-1B whenthe window opens again in April 2008, he or she would not be able to start workagain until October 2008, leaving a gap where the worker would have to go onleave or work outside the country.

The visa restrictions do not only scare away killedworkers or students, but also others including patients, who used to spendholidays in the US.

Middle Easterners are singled out for close scrutiny,which drove many of them to turn away from the USto more Arab-friendly environments in Europe and Asia.

US Commerce Department figures show that visits bySaudi tourists, for example, sharply fell to 18,573 in 2004, from 72,891 in1999.

Tourist dollars, consequently, dropped as Saudivisitors spend three times more per person than any other group of US touristswith $9,368 per trip.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16
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