As H-1B reform bills, such as one sponsored by North County Representative Darrell Issa, work their way through Congress, the bureaucracy is slowing the process sharply.
For years, foreign technical workers have gotten visas to come to the United States through the H-1B program, which allows non-American citizens to work here for up to six years. However, abuses are running rampant: longtime American workers are told to train the H-1Bs for their jobs and then they are terminated.
As reported regularly in the Reader, engineers are complaining that large companies, including San Diego's Qualcomm, use H-1B as a method for lowering pay of everybody in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics jobs.
Now, "reform by red tape" is slowing H-1B, according to bloomberg.com. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services this summer began challenging many H-1B applicants. The number of challenges to H-1B applicants, officially called "requests for further evidence," is up 44 percent this year, according to Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Peter Roberts, an immigration lawyer, told Bloomberg that many of this year's challenges are "beyond ridiculous, trumped up requests — no pun intended — issued either without legal basis or making no sense from a common sense standpoint." (President Trump has taken many anti-immigrant stands.)
Frida Yu got law degrees in China and at Oxford, worked at a Hong Kong firm, got a master's in business administration in the U.S., and had joined a startup. Then he got two requests for further evidence and was ultimately turned down. He wrote an opinion piece in the New York Times, saying "America is losing many very skilled workers because of its anti-immigrant sentiment.… [This] will also be a blow to the United States' competitiveness in the global economy."
Critics of H-1B say the reverse: if this visa process continues to lower engineers' salaries, fewer young people will go into the field and that will harm U.S. competitiveness.
News India wrote about Yu's piece in the New York Times. The India publication quoted Yu writing, "As I make plans to go back to China, I find myself wondering: 'If I am not qualified to stay in the United States, then who is?'"