Monday, November 11, 2013

When immigration policy fails

A frequent topic of discussion with my international friends in the USA was our visas.
We were comparing, evaluating, estimating our "alien status" as if we were talking about our own babies. If you think about it, a visa is a process that has nothing to envy to a pregnancy. It takes time and preparation. And once you are delivered with it, you suddenly are charged with joys and responsibilities. Welcome to the craziness of the visas' world!
Once you are hooked up in the carousel of visas and you think you are all set, think again! You have to learn all the limitations that come with you visa,  about leaving or not the country, having to leave the country or not. Do you think things get easier once you get the green card? Wrong again. Two friends of mine married to American citizens, said just forget about it! They went through a lot to get their green cards, eventually moved back to their countries, respectively France and Brazil, and never bother to maintain their green cards, which among many things imply having an American address and spend X amount of time per year in the USA. Guess what?! They are happy people even without it! To tell the truth though, I wish I had it only to avoid the endless line at the airport when you fly in. After such a long flight, another nightmare is about to begin: all non US-passengers are lined up like cattle and treated like suspects. Guys seriously, do you look at me? After a 9-hour flight my neurons are not even connected. Not only do I look like a zombie but walk and talk like one: I could kill for a bed and some sleep! And for the record, it is only a figure of speech...
But let's go back to visas. There are too many and I am only familiar with few of them.
In my previous post entitled "I have been offered an H1B visa" I warn my young readers against fab offers, sometimes too good to be true, and in this article I will still talk about H1B visas in this time of worldwide economic crisis.
Getting an H1B visa is not an easy job. Very often people who get to this stage are those ones who, after graduating from an American university, find a company that will sponsor them, investing in their skills. But not all degrees are the same: a scientific and technical background is highly requested and valued, whereas humanities are not equally considered; so if you studied electrical engineering, you are more likely to get a job than if you ended up with a degree in literature. Sadly this is true everywhere.
But being a foreigner is twice as hard when applying for a job, especially in a time of economic strains. Instead of helping out the economy in these tough times, immigration policy does the opposite by tightening up its immigration laws, slowing business's growth and targeting foreign workers inefficiently. When immigration policy dictates times and ways to companies and business in general, it is really slowing down and jamming their productivity. On this issue, you might find interesting these articles on CEOs asking for strong action about immigration policy:


Having assessed though the needs of big companies to have international qualified workers, now let’s see the same issue from the worker's perspective.
As I already said in previous posts, for a worker whose paperwork is in order, it is frustrating to be limited within the law by the law. Rather than tackling the real issue of illegal immigration, immigration policy goes after qualified, legal workers. By the way, this has created a lucrative "spin off business" where immigration lawyers charge an arm and a leg to both companies and foreign workers to deal with the paperwork!
But let's face it: it is easier to go after those ones who are "visible" to the system than chasing the "invisible" who are a commodity for the American economy. The invisible, illegal workers, are underpaid and do jobs that Americans don't want to do. Hence, it is convenient to turn a blind eye on the whole issue, swiping the dust under the carpet. Both contenders in this game win because both get what they want: the pragmatic, cynical America has cheap, un-insured labor so that it can afford to keep motels and restaurants open 24/7 and on the other side, the illegal workers who have their "dream" to work for. The only loser in this game is legality and the other side of those foreign workers who comply with the rules. 

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