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.

Deloitte Offers to Buy BearingPoint Public Services Division

Many of you who know me or have followed my webMethods career probably remember that I showed up on the radar screen right before my trip to Australia.

I met a lot of great people who supported me when I worked "downunder" and because of their generosity I can sit here today and continue to write about webMethods, traveling and the consulting lifestyle.

In 2006, my career took a serious turn. The Army Reserves called me to duty in Afghanistan for 15 months. It was 15 months away from the technology that I love.

It took a lot of diligent reading and hands-on work to keep abreast of the changes webMethods (Software AG) released. And now, I am pretty fluid with the new product offerings up to and including 7.1.2.

Now, I am faced with yet another very interesting turn of events.

It all started with an article in early February 2009 that declared 15 companies that would not make it to the end of the year. In fact, it seemed as if Nostradamus wrote the piece, because the BearingPoint bankruptcy announcement came shortly thereafter.

Of course, everyone wants the Juicy Juice about what's going on behind the scenes. To tell you the truth, I've always avoided the office gossip. As a consultant, I stay out in the field, billing, racking up utilization points and staying clear of the politics.

But, there were stories. Stories of big companies swinging through the doors of BearingPoint, kicking tires and the such. Companies like Dell, Price Waterhouse Coopers (which turned out to be partially true.) Some of us speculated that it would be a private company with the proper backing that would eventually purchase the portions of the company that generates the most amount of profit.

I really didn't think about Deloitte as a suitor. I did think of CACI, SAIC, SRA and CGI. But Deloitte never really came to mind. And then the Price Waterhouse Coopers deal to buy out Commercial Services.

My work visit to Australia occurred during the timeframe where PWC sold their consulting business to IBM Global Solutions. I observed the transformation of PWC personnel to IBM. Not everyone was happy, but in the end, the integration completed and IBM absorbed all personnel.

Then, the layoffs came.

And so now, we face the music.

I mean, what is a corporate bankruptcy? Does it mean we close down? It could if the deal falls through. Will we? I dunno; let's see what the next several weeks bring forth.

Another suitor with a bigger wallet may show up and force a gentleman's bidding war.


Monday, March 16, 2009

Too long since I've posted

I know, it seems impossible that I'm actually blogging again. To tell you the truth, I've been huffing and puffing right along continueing the trek of running large integration projects.

To get everyone up to date, here's kind of what happened the last 12 months or so:

1. Quit BearingPoint and went independent; hated to do it, loved BearingPoint. It was a matter of principal.

2. Went to work on the Navy ERP Project in Annapolis; boring work but great pay. Seemed like every week I would run into my "X" MD from BearingPoint in the US Airways lounge at Reagan National. We started a dialogue about work and it eventually gravitated to my next steps.

3. I went back to BearingPoint. Seemed like the timing couldn't be better. The week I left Navy ERP, the team lead quit and they released a bunch of other sub-contractors. I smelled smoke but couldn't find the dang fire.

NOTE: My brother Robert joined me at BearingPoint; He's a TIBCO genius and has served as architect and lead delivery man across multiple industries and the government. He has also sub-contracted for TIBCO.

4. Went to work on the IGC DLA/US TRANSCOM project. Lockheed is the prime and BearingPoint (along with SAIC, DNC and smaller subs) the sub for the ESB team. I head up the ESB (SOA) team with several people scattered about working on various COTS products.

What I do want to do is change this blog to not only reflect the trials and tribulations of a traveling webMethods consultant, but also discuss some of my observations during my travels. I have been commuting back and forth to DC on and off for about eight years and during these weekly treks, I get to meet some real characters.

I have sat next to the CIO of Lockheed Martin (Mr. Joe Cleveland, now retired), the director of Kennedy Space Center, Senator Mel Martinez (many times), a smatering of Lockheed, CSC, SAIC and other "commuter" employees.

I've also made some great acquintances out of the airline flight crews since I see so many of them over and over, we are on first name basis.

So, the tone will change a little, but I hope the content will keep you running back to read more.