Can Remote Work Help Curb H-1B Visa Use?
[caption id="attachment_138030" align="aligncenter" width="4913"] H-1B Visa[/caption] If you ask many domestic tech workers, H-1B is a problem. Ask the executives hiring foreign workers, and they often say there’s not enough talent stateside to keep business operations up and running. As the debate rages on, we’re left to wonder if a stronger remote-work culture might ease tensions. According to a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) study, nearly a quarter-million (237,837 if you’re interested) H-1B jobs went to those working in “computer-related occupations” during 2016. That’s 69.1 percent of all H-1B visas granted last year. Distilling the numbers a bit further, 203,025 H-1B visas went to workers in “systems analysis and programming.” Some 58.8 percent of all H-1B visa holders were in this category. Unfortunately, we can’t say which positions they actually hold. It’s a tricky situation. Legally, companies can’t pay an H-1B visa recipient any less than a domestic worker in the same position, so it’s not a cost-saving technique (at least in theory). But many critics claim there’s plenty of domestic talent, and that’s antithetical to sourcing overseas tech workers. Outsourcing itself is a related issue, and it’s typically a move to supplant entire departments or branches of an operation. That's in contrast to H-1B, meant for individual jobs, with workers brought stateside. They stay, too; the percentage of H-1B workers who are given jobs and continue in their positions year-over-year is nearly identical. Could a stronger remote culture help heal the issues related to H-1B and outsourcing? Ed Szofer, CEO of SenecaGlobal, said: “SenecaGlobal's team has done this successfully for close to 20 years, without ever tapping the H1-B model and without migrating any workers. Local talent in the US is supplemented with global talent, where everyone works from their own country. This model also ensures that American technology workers are not put at a disadvantage.” Szofer also notes subcontracting labor is a bad move: