Over the past few years, US companies have lobbied aggressively to reduce restrictions on H1-B work visas and immigration labor advertising, but to no avail. In 2013, many companies, mostly in the tech industry, came under fire for doing an end around Department of Labor regulations that encourage American companies to conduct thorough searches for employees domestically before broadening their search to include the global market. While many believe that the regulations are there to safeguard American jobs, others see the regulations as reducing America’s competitiveness in the global market by focusing on current citizens instead of future ones. While both arguments have their merit, the fact remains that in the case of highly skilled labor, such as that which is required in the tech industry, having access to more workers means that potential employers have a larger skill set to choose from.
Part of the problem is that some of these regulations are obsolete. With tech becoming more and more specialized, and the technology we use on daily basis becoming more and more sophisticated, it requires many years of research and practical skill in order to advance the field.
“What ends up happening in a situation like this is that government policy actually speeds up the offshoring of jobs overseas,” says one economist. “Companies that bring extremely qualified workers, engineers, and field experts over from India, China, or anywhere else, not only make American companies stronger, but they also train others in the field. Their innovations are absolutely pivotal to the competitiveness of the American tech industry, and they’re more than happy to go through the process of immigrating here. We want to bring in skilled workers from overseas, and that’s a good thing.”
On the other hand, some legislators fear that the demand for foreign laborers has nothing to do with the providing industries with skilled laborers they can’t find here in the US, and is more about underpaying skilled laborers from elsewhere as a means of cutting costs and raising profits.
“There’s a reason why the regulations exist, and that’s to protect American workers,” says one economist. “There’s a process that the Department of Labor asks employers to go through before they try to recruit abroad, and so long as that process is followed, and conditions are met, companies are free to do so. The problem comes into play when American workers are being overlooked for key positions in their field because companies think that by hiring foreign workers they can save a buck. That’s not good for the American economy at all. So of course we want skilled laborers to come here and contribute their talents, but the process is rife for abuse. That’s why the regulations remain relevant.”