- Posted June 14, 2014 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Your immigration stories
How the American dream became a nightmare for H-1B professionals
I am an IT professional working in USA on H-1B visa. I'm writing this to bring to light the hardships that H-1B professionals in general, and Indian workers in particular, are facing in this country. I'm not a citizen of the United States; the First Amendment right “to petition the Government for a redress of grievances” is not available to me. I believe, however, that these concerns affect the lives of thousands of people living here and need to be discussed but are being overshadowed due to a lack of voice and awareness. I know first hand; these affected me.
The following issues apply to all H-1B professionals but affect the Indians more than any other nationals because of the Green Card wait times between 6 to 20 years. Hence, H-1B visas remain the primary means for an Indian national to work in the United States.
1) Consulting companies take advantage of H-1B professionals: In exchange for merely forwarding the resume, they keep roughly 20% to 40% of the hourly pay from client. Most consulting companies don't even offer PTO or sick days to compensate for the "burden" of sponsoring the visa. We're sometimes coerced to accept jobs that pay lower than the market rate only to keep our "status" intact. I’m not saying that the pay is lower than the prevailing wage; that’d be illegal. It is however, less than a citizen or a Green Card holder with similar skills would've received for the same job.
2) Spouses are forced to turn housewives: Spouses of H-1B workers are often just as qualified as their better halves, but are not eligible to work unless they independently find H-1B sponsors. Thus they are obligated to give up their career, dreams and ambitions and become housewives. This is a huge detriment to the spousal relationship and can go as far as the marriage falling apart. This is bad for the economy as well as both the Wall Street Journal and The Economist have asserted on their editorial pages that each H-1B visa creates five additional jobs.
3) We pay for social security even though most of us never see a dime from its benefits.
We've come here to pursue the American dream through hard work, perseverance and merit. We’re hurting. We deserve better. While the path to permanent residency or citizenship is a long one, there're steps that can be taken in shorter time to help improve the situation.
1) Legalize work for the H-1B spouses: If finding an American sponsor for the unemployed spouse is hard enough, and the other spouse is a H-1B professional, let them sponsor the visa for the unemployed spouse.
2) Bring forward the point when a Green Card beneficiary is free to change his employer: Currently, it is only allowed once a beneficiary receives his EAD, which may take more than a decade. Up to then, every time the employer is changed, the process needs to be restarted wasting thousands of dollar and number of years. This gives the consulting companies an undue leverage over the employee (c.f. issue #1). Letting the beneficiary change the employer with an approved I-140, which takes more or less 2 years, is a huge improvement against the painfully slow process of acquiring a Green Card.
3) Bring forward the point when a Green Card beneficiary is able to simultaneously work for multiple employers: As in point # 2, it is only allowed once a beneficiary receives his EAD. If the beneficiary is also a talented painter, writer or photographer, why shouldn't they be able to do what they love and also supplement their income from it?
Thank you for your time and consideration of my viewpoint on this matter.