I recently received the following email. I’m not too familiar with the H-1B guest worker program, but did read the Wikipedia entry of the program and controversy and was a bit surprised at just how strict the program is… how restrictive it is on the workers who come here and how they pay all the taxes we pay without any of the entitlements. It seems to me that if someone is here, working and pulling their own weight and paying all their taxes they should receive the benefits they pay for… or don’t tax them. People shouldn’t be charged for what they don’t receive.
I found your website through the Burlington Free Press. It appears that you are involved with immigration issues and have a great passion for such. I am a recent immigrant from Sweden, having gone through the H-1B guest worker program. Are you familiar with the H-1B visa? It seems like the current immigration debate only focuses on illegal immigrants. However, because the H-1B program is a virtual prison due to its extreme restrictions, leading to employer abuse of H-1B workers and problems traveling, I hope that this program gets an overhaul as well in Congress under the current bills. Currently, H-1B is an ignored aspect of US immigration. I am passionate about the H-1B issue due to the inhumane and cruel consequences this visa type has on its beneficiaries. Please consider bringing this up as well if you have an opportunity to communicate your thoughts on immigration to legislators, community members, or media. If possible, I would love to speak on this issue to an audience should that opportunity present itself. The Free Press is doing a story on this very visa profiling my experiences, which I hope will serve as a wake-up call to others how messed up the LEGAL immigration system is, including the existing H-1B guest worker program. My goal is to raise awareness about the H-1B visa problems that keep being neglected.
For more information on H-1B Visa:
May 1, 2006 @ 12:00 am
I just received the following in response from Bjorn Norstrom….
Below is a crash course on H-1B and the factual restrictions that beneficiaries face when on such visa. Clearly, many more restrictions exist, but these are some highlights.
H-1B Visa Overview and Restrictions
The H-1B visa program is a guest worker program for specialty occupations that require at least a bachelor’s degree as the minimum qualifications. It is a six year visa that is divided into 2 three year increments and must be renewed following the initial three years. An employer must sponsor the H-1B beneficiary and get approvals by both the Department of Labor and USCIS before the H-1B worker can start working.
*Below are some restrictions that make the H-1B program a “virtual prison.”*
· H-1B visa is employer and position specific. If one wants to change jobs within the same employer or to another employer, the employer MUST apply for an H-1B visa by going through the Department of Labor and USCIS for necessary approvals. Thus, employer abuse of the H-1B employee is much more likely than for US workers because of this restriction.
· If/when laid off from an employer while on H-1B visa, the USCIS immediately considers the person out-of-status (illegal). Thus, employer abuse of the H-1B employee is much more likely than for US workers because of this consequence.
· In order to travel overseas, an H-1B person must have a valid visa passport stamp issued by the
embassy in the native country to be granted reentry into the US . A visa appointment must be scheduled several weeks in advance and if missing the appointment for some reason, one may not be able to obtain the visa stamp, thus being denied reentry into the US . Thus, many H-1B workers avoid traveling abroad in order to prevent not receiving their reentry visa stamp. US
· A spouse of an H-1B via holder is NOT authorized to work but must obtain their own H-1B visa in order to legally work.
· The USCIS issues only 65,000 H-1B visas annually, all which are claimed even before the new fiscal year begins.
· H-1B workers pay taxes, social security, etc., but unless they become permanent residents H-1B workers are NOT entitled to their social security benefits in the future that they pay towards. Thus, many H-1B workers pay taxes that they can never benefit from in the future.
· Following the 6 year H-1B visa duration, a person can no longer live in the
legally unless obtaining another type of visa status or having the employer sponsor a Permanent resident Card (Green Card). Thus, employers can systematically replace one H-1B visa holder with another H-1B visa holder for the very same position while none of the H-1B holders may ever obtain a Green Card. It becomes a government authorized guest worker mill, encouraging employers to recycle through temporary workers on a regular basis. United States
Best, Bjorn Norstrom