Outsourcing expert Ron Hira has called on Congress and the Obama administration to make immediate reforms to the H-1B visa program by eliminating loopholes that undercut American workers’ wages and working conditions, expedite the offshoring of jobs, allow foreign workers to be exploited, and ultimately harm the American economy. He also called for a more rational approach to the permanent immigration of skilled workers to the U.S.
The H-1B program provides temporary work permits for foreign workers who hold a bachelor’s degree or higher. In the recent BusinessWeek op-ed “It’s Time to Overhaul H-1B Visas,” Hira dispels the many widely held myths about the H-1B program. He argues that loopholes and lack of program oversight have allowed companies to misuse the H-1B system by paying below-market wages to foreign guest workers and facilitating the outsourcing of U.S. jobs overseas.
“The belief that granting H-1B visas helps prevent outsourcing of American jobs is mistaken; in fact it expedites it,” contends Hira, an assistant professor of public policy at Rochester Institute of Technology and a research associate with the Economic Policy Institute. “Through the program, companies use their U.S. operations to train foreign workers then rotate them back to their home countries where they can provide similar service for lower costs than their U.S. counterparts.”
To address the shortcomings of the program, Hira has called on the United States Congress to support a reform measure expected to be introduced by Senators Richard Durbin (D-Ill) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). The bill would require employers to pay H-1B workers market wages and bar companies from replacing American workers with H-1B holders. It would also create a random audit system to enforce compliance.
“Such common-sense fixes would provide employers with access to top foreign talent while treating foreign workers in a way that encourages them to settle in the U.S.,” says Hira. “We need to mend this troubled program and create a skilled-immigrant policy that helps our economy thrive.”
To view Hira’s complete op-ed on the subject visit http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/09_15/b4126063331942.htm?ch