Wednesday, March 25, 2009

So What Happens to the Green Card Holders?

In my last post, I chronicled about the possible Deloitte purchase of BearingPoint's Crown Jewel, the Public Services Division.

One interesting item that has roared mightily during this phase is the issue of H1B Visa Holders (herein called H1Bs): What will happen to them and what options do they have?

H1Bs are Non-Americans (Foreign Nationals) who migrate to America and take a job on the basis that there is NOT a qualified American to fill the spot.

Companies are on the hook in each and every case to prove that the job the H1B possesses could NOT be filled by a qualified American. This is pretty easy to prove, after all, you are dealing with government workers. Nothing more needs to be said.

But the implications are much greater than that.

For companies, they can secure labor at a much cheaper cost basis and for seven years, the companies can hold the H1B literal hostage. You see, it takes seven years to get through the visa process to qualify for a transition from H1B to Green Card Holder. I have observed several companies take this to the extreme and in some cases, threaten to pull the status of people who do not cooperate, work long hours for no extra pay, or in some cases have forced them to move from job site to job site.

For the H1B, they are practically married to the company. After all, if they change jobs, or even divisions within a large company, it's like starting the process all over again. And time is not on their side. Also, a great many of these H1Bs do not command the same salary even though they may perform at the same or higher level then their American counterparts.

Am I on the side of H1Bs?

Not really. I hate to give up jobs that Americans should hold. But that doesn't mean that I don't think the H1B program is appropriate.

America faces a great series of problems. I don't need to recap them here.

I will state my case for H1Bs though. With the unemployment rate rising about 10%, we need to take action. An immediate way is to reduce the number of H1Bs we are allowing in and to put a freeze on Green Card Processing for those who have not yet spent the requisite amount of time in the USA to qualify.

Is this fair? Well, probably not. These folks have worked hard and believe that they have earned their Green Card. Because, once they obtain the Green Card, they soon qualify for citizenship.

That's the real focus.

So, to wrap this up, if the Deloitte deal goes through, in all probability, BearingPoint employees will become NEW Deloitte employees.

So following the logic outlined above, in some cases, especially for those time stricken, it could end the H1B's visit to the USA.

Also, Deloitte is likely not obligated to continue the sponsorship of the BearingPoint H1B employees. Only time will tell if Deloitte will support the continued sponsorship.

I hope the best for the many friends I have made so that things work out the best for them and that they find a company that will sponsor them.


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