Meet Jennifer Wedel, the woman featured in the Google+ Hangout video conference with President Obama. She followed up on President Obama’s offer to take her husband’s résumé and try to find him a job. I have since talked to her online and apparently that wasn’t her point. Although her husband is actively and aggressively pursuing corporate employment in Texas, Jennifer is fighting for his cause by taking a critical view of government work visa policies in the US. Jennifer runs a support web site for the middle class unemployed as well.
These work visas for professionals come in two flavors. The H1-B visa is by invitation only. It allows immigrants to work in the United States provided they are sponsored by a company. The company has to illustrate that it is not viable to hire an American for the position due to insufficient qualified candidates. The L-1 visa requires that a candidate work for an American company, in a subsidiary in their home country, for a year before they can be transferred to the United States within that company for up to 3 years on the visa. These can provide a path to a green card in the US. L-1 visas were designed to be granted due to the same shortage of skilled Americans as the H1-B.
This has led to a series of abusive collaborations with foreign interests by American companies to water down immigration restrictions and hijack American jobs. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has tried to combat these abuses by tightening restrictions, but is fighting an uphill battle. Despite the influx of offshore candidates flooding waning American jobs and the economy, there has not been any reduction in the cap for H1-B visas. Incoming H1-B visas are capped at 80,000; but F-1 student visas in demand fields can be converted to H1-B visas upon graduation thus bypassing the legal cap. To get around these restrictions, corporate America is turning to the L-1 visas to funnel lower wage professionals into America. There is no cap on L-1 visas. These offshore people then take the experience gained back home to export more of America’s industry and wealth offshore.
American companies are citing reports that say American workers are paid less than visa workers. However the reports skew the USCIS numbers by using artificial age and education level projections to justify their numbers. As a result, American companies are lobbying the US government heavily on behalf of foreign concerns to allow foreign dumping; exploiting H1-B and L-1 visas using the hackneyed excuse that the government is smothering innovation. Apparently, these companies believe Americans are incapable of the innovation they seek. Senators Richard J. Durbin (D-Illinois) and Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) have been pursuing a bipartisan effort to reform the H1-B cap and the uncapped L-1 visa that is being favored to export American jobs. The L-1 visa is particularly nefarious because it favors outsourcing firms that provide porous access to American jobs and industries from offshore body shops. Jennifer is working with these senators to curb the foreign dumping that is going on in our most competitive technical industries.
This is not, at all, about getting the most qualified people into positions that are difficult to fill by Americans. It doesn’t take a postgraduate degree to write C++ or Java code; or any other substantially technical position. This is about siphoning America’s equity to other countries by discounting professional services through an offshore employment black market. A foreign productivity base is counterproductive to a thriving domestic economy. Apparently America is the only industrialized country that hasn’t gotten this message.