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Is H-1B really a problem?

The debate over outsourcing in the US is rumbling on. Regular readers will recall that there have been a number of controversies over the H-1B visa programme, whether it’s going to drive work to India, whether it’s good or bad for the US economy and soforth.

Essentially it’s a visa system that allows US companies to employ specialist foreign workers and bring them to work in the country. The rules say that this doesn’t apply when it’s taking work away from American citizens; common sense and practicality says this is a very difficult one to prove one way or the other. There is certainly a feeling around in certain quarters, which may or may not be politically motivated, that American jobs are being lost and H-1B is being abused.

And now HPC Wire is weighing in with an article querying whether this abuse is a real thing or not. Its conclusion, based on something written by the IEEE, appears to be that it is indeed and that the outsourcing industry in particular is bringing in workers and paying them less than the market rate would be for a US national.

On paper this may be correct – we don’t have wage data in front of us so can’t comment either way. The real issue, as always, has to be how many jobs are actually being saved. If an organisation is paying a low wage but it’s sustainable, whereas a higher wage would make it uncompetitive and bankrupt the company over time, then the lower wage will win out because otherwise nobody gets a job.

And once again we’re back to “difficult to prove one way or the other…”

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