Software Nerd

Monday, April 09, 2007

H-1 Visas oversubscribed on Day-2

The good news is that bright people want to come to the US. Every year, the "H-1" work permit quota or 65,000 people (mostly for skilled folk like software engineers) is filled up easily. Anticipating this, many firms that bring software engineers to the U.S. have tried to "game the system" with early applications -- in April, when the quota opens up for the year. Last year, over 65,000 applications were received in the first 2 months. With that experience, this year, the firms were all ready to file a host of applications of the very first day. By the second day of April 2007, the government had received over 100,000 applications.

The bad news is that the U.S. is stopping a whole lot of well qualified people from working here. These are not poor people who go on assistance. They're well paid folk, who -- if they stay -- tend to soon have family incomes almost twice the U.S. median.

There was a time when Indian programmers had few options. Now, however, every year sees more opportunities for technical people back home. Microsoft does a lot of work in India now, as do IBM India, and GE India, and SUN India, and HP India, and Dell India, or even companies like Goldman Sachs (India). Then, there are the local firms that have grown huge, like Infosys and Wipro.

The good news is that people will want to come to the U.S. next year too, and the next, and the next. The bad news is that it won't stay that way forever.

Aside: My pet peeve about the H-1 visa is that doctors cannot ordinarily use it to come to the U.S. to work. If the government is going to have a special category for skilled people that it thinks the economy needs, and if software developers are in that category, why are doctors excluded?

UPDATED (April 11th, 2007): I wanted to add a link to this by Thrutch. He points to a story about wage rate increases in emerging economies, and I can attest to that from what I hear from Indian friends. While salaries are still low in comparison to the US, the rate of wage-growth is much higher. It is not just inflation either; people can afford more stuff.



  • "back home"

    Are you an Indian too?

    By Anonymous Sid, at 6:30 AM  

  • Not just India, even China, perhaps Eastern Europe; and, any other countries that are experiencing the same phenomenon --where the next decade will see a fall in the relative attractiveness of immigration.

    I used to be an Indian citizen. That's one reason I know so many immigrants and that's one reason why I know how much the US is missing out with their immigration laws (which -- I should always add -- are still among the best in the world).

    By Blogger softwareNerd, at 6:52 AM  

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