Will Limiting H-1B Visas Help African American Tech Workers?

By | February 3, 2017

While President Trump’s executive orders on immigration and border control have stirred the passions of many, for now, it seems the H-1B visa program is safe. Yet, is that a good or bad thing for African Americans?

The H-1B visa program allows citizens of other countries to come to the United States to work. It is an employment-based visa that does not classify these workers as “immigrants.” An employer has to offer a foreigner a job, and then apply for that person’s visa though the U.S. Immigration Department.

The top industry for hiring H-1B workers is technology. The 2017 H-1B Visa Report ranks computer systems design and related services as the industry sponsoring the most H-1B visas.

The argument for H-1B visas is to fill a tech-skills vacuum. However, many Silicon Valley industries have been accused of using the visa program to hire cheap labor. Some claim that Hewlett Packard, Toys ‘R Us, Xerox, Pfizer, and Microsoft use H-1B workers to reduce payroll costs.

Lending weight to these accusations is the existence of businesses set up as H-1B visa farms. They are often operated under the guise of staffing or recruiting companies, and many are in India. Perhaps not coincidentally, 86% of H-1B visas for tech companies in the U.S. went to Indians in 2014. (Black Enterprise)

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