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My life as an H1B visa holder (related to Letter to Nancy Pelosi on Skill Bill)
From: David Farber <dave () farber net>
Date: Tue, 21 Nov 2006 12:47:40 -0500

Begin forwarded message:

From: john kemp <john.kemp () mac com>
Date: November 21, 2006 12:42:17 PM EST
To: dave () farber net
Subject: My life as an H1B visa holder (related to [IP] Letter to Nancy Pelosi on Skill Bill)

Dear Professor Farber,

In response to your post regarding the Skill Bill, let me offer my story
of being an H1B visa holder back in the '90s.

From 1990 to 1993, I was employed as a computer programmer/analyst by a
large company in England. I got paid something like £10000 a year for
that job. In 1993, I decided I'd like to come and see the United States,
and attempted to find a job in the New York City area, with the intent
of working and then touring the States for 18 months or so.

I was hired by a computer contracting company (at the time many of these
were known as "body shops") and was "rented out" to a large US insurance
company. My salary in those days was something like $30,000 a year (a
nice increase over my UK salary). At the time, I had no idea that the
company which had hired me was simply pocketing about the same amount as
I was for doing (what I saw anyway) as virtually nothing on my behalf.

Of course, I was not the only H1B visa holder who worked for that
company - there were probably hundreds of us. Certainly, my entire team
(10 people) were H1B visa holders, mostly from India.

I was one of the few who cared enough about being exploited (or was I
simply greedy to want the large amount of my salary being pocketed by my
employer?) that I actually quit the consulting company that hired me
after 2 months. I was surprised to be immediately picked up by the
company to whom I had been "rented" and had my salary doubled on the
spot. I'm still pretty sure I got paid less than the Americans with whom
I worked, even though I was probably as qualified as they for that job.

Now that I've been married to a US citizen for almost 11 years, and have
two American children, I can look back and smile about this experience.

I certainly agree with the post from Mr. Watson that increasing the
number of H1B visas available is an attempt to supply cheap labour to
American companies. The basic truth is that there are very qualified
computer professionals all over the world these days. And companies are
finding ways to use those resources more and more, whether it's via H1B
visa quota increases, or by opening operations in those countries that
can supply qualified people cheaper than the US can. The US government
seems happy to assist corporations in this matter.

There will be people who are willing to be "exploited" as long as there
is a gap in living standards between those who live in the US and those
who live in countries where education is good, but living standards are
generally lower than in the US. And in many cases, those people don't
even see it as exploitation.

The only long-term solution is to better equalize the living standards
of the US with those elsewhere. I only hope that living standards are
raised elsewhere, rather than being lowered here. But I'm expecting
something closer to the latter. And I believe that this bill is only a
symptom of the problem, not the cause.


- John Kemp

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