Tuesday, April 1, 2008

I Want My H1B

Well, not for me. I'd like one for my coworker. He's a great guy whose been here on a student visa and began interning for us a few years ago. I believe we're hoping to get him one of these visas and I really worry what will happen if we don't. He wants to stay and work with us, but he has to do that legally. This whole situation is a mess.

The federal government on Tuesday begins accepting H-1B visa applications. The government grants 65,000 visas by a lottery system — mostly to tech companies so they can hire highly skilled workers from outside the U.S. Last year, it received more than double that number in applications — on the first day.

The funny thing is, we're not just looking for cheap labor or to replace all of our programmers. [At least I really hope not, because that would include me.] What we want to do is keep a good worker around. He's someone who positively contributes to the company and, I'm sure, the community. We think he's worth the effort to try to obtain a visa, so our HR people have been working on it.

Interestingly, he is not displacing American workers. Last year he took a four month hiatus from the company due to a lapse in his work visa. We tried to hire during this time, not to replace him, but to augment our team and to help fill the gap during his leave. After hundreds of resumes and dozens of interviews, we found no one who wanted the job and fit our needs. It isn't for lack of trying, we just need our guy.

He's far from the best programmer, and I've done everything in my power to ensure he's not the cheapest. The crux is that he's part of our team. I'd hate to see the team suffer because of stupid immigration laws and greedy, abusive companies. I'd hate to see my coworker suffer, too.

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