Gloria Christie (US) - Does the US Lack of Qualified People Affect the World's IT Workforce? (Part 2)

In the second part of this article, Gloria Christie continues her discussion on America's effect on the world's IT workforce and delves further into the issue of the H-1B Visa.

This is the second part of an article by Gloria Christie on America's effect on the world's IT workforce. Part one can be read here.

What Is the H-1B Visa?

•    H-1B is for a person in a specialized field that requires advanced education. 
•    H-2A is for agricultural employees.
•    H-2B is for temporary non-agriculture employees.
•    H-3 is for those in non-medical/non-academic training to educate children with handicaps.
•    The ADE Cap (Advanced Degree Exemption) is available to those that graduate from a U.S. university/college with an Masters level or higher level degree

H-1B visas are issued on a first-come, first-served basis.  The H-1B Visa has its own website, Now those who would work in universities, specific nonprofits and certain research institutions are exempt from the annual cap.  The U.S.CIS (Immigration) indicated that up to 6800 visas are exempt from the 65,000 H-1B cap under the U.S.-Chile and U.S. Singapore free trade agreements. Any unused numbers will roll over for H-1B visas.

         Annual Trend 2012 Forecast 2010 Summary Report
                        2010            2011

Total Visas Filed            335,328        358,857
Total Certified                285, 117        319,532
Denied                      40,265        29,173
Total Companies Filing Visas           9,946            10,152
10+ Employees                67,779            64,819
100+ Employees            4,286            4716
250+ Employees            359            386
Salaries $50K+                90            16,622
Salaries $100K+            262,419        298,081
Salaries $200K+            47,727            56,351

•    In 2006 the H-1B visa cap increased from 65,000 to 85,000.  H-1B visas are issued on a first-come, first-served basis.  Easy access to the visa sponsorship employment search process. 
H-1B visa holders for the year at 2013 can begin work in 2012.
•    H-1B cap is 65,000 and the ADE cap is 20,000.
•    H-1B cap-exempt has no quota limit. (
The fee for the H-1B is higher now, and applicants must pay for a Fraud Prevention and Detection fee.
•    $500 to be submitted with a request for initial H-1B status or with a request for a beneficiary already in H-1B status to change employers (does not apply to Chile/Singapore H-1B1 petitions)
•    If anyone chooses to expedite the H-1B visa, Premium Process is available for $1,225.
•    $2,000 to be submitted by a petitioner which employs 50 or more employees in the United States where more than 50 percent of its employees in the United States are in H-1B or L-1 nonimmigrant status.

•    Employees waiting for green cards in the U.S. organizations can apply for a visa number even when a visa number is not yet available.   FORBES

The Future

At this time, regulatory policies, taxation and current immigration quotas favor offshoring and outsourcing.  So the question that runs parallel to outsourcing becomes, how does the U.S. maintain security?  It is a question that must be addressed now.

In February, 2012 U.S.CIS launched an Entrepreneurs in Residence program at an Information Summit in Silicon Valley, CA.  The purpose was coordinate high-level entrepreneurs, universities and federal agencies with the purpose of maximizing the U.S. immigration laws to attract foreign entrepreneurs.

Their goal was to streamline immigration pathways, recognize the many outstanding contributions from immigrant entrepreneurs and link business experts with U.S.CIS staff for three months.

Members of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness are working to change the H-1B 10-year wait.  According to the Kauffman Foundation, based in Kansas City, MO, U.S.A and expert in entrepreneurship, “Forty million jobs have been created in the past 25 years by high growth U.S. entrepreneurial companies.”


President Obama is committed to, “…fixing our broken immigration system to meet 21st century national security and economic needs.”  He advocates creating a "Startup Visa," strengthening the H-1B program, and "stapling" green cards to the diplomas of certain foreign-born graduates in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields.

Together these actions would help attract new businesses and new investment to the U.S. and ensure that the U.S. has the most skilled workforce in the world.

The Department of Homeland Security announced the Startup American Initiative, a series of administrative reforms to attract and retain highly-skilled immigrants.

In the recent State of the Union, President Obama noted that "Innovation is what America has always been about. Most new jobs are created in start-ups and small businesses."

The goal is to make the U.S. more attractive to highly-skilled foreign students and employees.

In comments during a visit to El Paso in 2011, he said, “In recent years, a full 25 percent of high-tech startups in the United States were founded by immigrants, leading to more than 200,000 jobs in America." Echoing this, the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness stated in its recent report, "Highly skilled immigrants create jobs, they do not take jobs."

Right now foreign students in optional practical training (Opt) have 12 months.  There has been a sustained effort to expand eligibility for 17-month extension of optional practical training (OPT) for F1 international students to include students with a prior degree in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

Unemployed and threatened technical workers have been encouraged to return to school to upgrade their skills.  However these scientific, technical, engineering and math jobs may not materialize.  The Obama administration has argued that the U.S. is in need of engineers, especially in high tech and has outlined a plan to train 10,000 new engineers.

Will the U.S. improve security and visa tracking?  Will the U.S. education efforts produce high-tech employees?  Will the high-tech jobs stay in the U.S. or will they be dispersed around the world?  Will H-1B visas integrate the best of all worlds?  Only time will tell.

By Gloria Christie, Partner at The Christie Group.