H-1B workers are skilled workers brought in from overseas under an H-1B visa. As Reynolds (2007) explains, “Employers often need H-1B professionals to provide special expertise in overseas markets or on projects that enable U.S businesses to compete globally” (pg. 243). This is in conjunction with employer’s need to fill positions for which there are few qualified U.S professionals, or simply not enough IT professionals to fill all positions needed. Of course, in order to hire from overseas IT pools employers need to work with the Department of Labor to ensure that U.S IT workers aren’t being snubbed for offshore help.
The advantages of using H-1B professionals is that U.S companies are maintaining the highest standards of IT work possible through hiring the best irregardless of location. Another reason that companies often cite for hiring H-1B professionals is that thousands of dollars and extensive time would be required to train their workforce to have all the necessary skills for a critical position. Instead of taking all this time, it’s better to hire an overseas professional who already has the training and expertise necessary (Reynolds, 2007). Thinking short-term, this solution provides companies the immediate relief needed to complete or undertake a project. Unfortunately, it also presents a number of ethical issues.
One of the most controversial issues surrounding the use H-1B professionals to fill U.S IT positions that these overseas professionals are taking jobs that U.S IT workers need. As Reynolds (2007) puts it, “…displaced workers challenge whether the United States needs to continue importing thousands of H-1B workers each year” (pg. 244). Recent IT graduate and those laid off from positions may find themselves searching for a position longer than expected, or being snubbed for an H-1B worker due to better qualifications. It seems that companies need to be willing to spend the extra money to train U.S workers to meet the needs of their companies in order to create a better and more competitive U.S IT workforce. This in turn will require fewer overseas hires and more IT positions for graduates that may simply lack the necessary skills and experience of current employment standards.
Another ethical issue surrounding H-1B professionals rides along a similar line as aforementioned. Since companies are hiring help that has a time limit on it, six years max for a H-1B visa, and one year away before re-applying, companies aren’t building up a permanent and strong IT base in the U.S (Reynolds, 2007). Instead, they are continually hiring and losing workers, thus creating a temporary and unstable IT environment. Short-term this places the U.S on top, however, it leads to deficiencies in company growth and potential for capital increases.
Lastly, H-1B professionals hired under unethical companies can suffer from their choice to work in the U.S. While the Department of Labor and the Visa Reform Act of 2004 seek to create equal working standards (i.e. salary, working hours, duties, etc) H-1B professional can end up with less than they bargained for. If their jobs are under-described they can end up making an entry level salary while holding a specialty position. If prosecuted companies can face strict fines and penalties, including compensating the worker and becoming ineligible for any further overseas hiring (Reynolds, 2007).
Reynolds, G. (2007). Ethics in information technology. 2nd edition. Boston, MA: Thomson Course Technology