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A lack of H-1B visas sends some employers elsewhere

Dealing with the day-to-day practical implications of not having effective immigration reform in place, many start-up companies in the state of Florida and beyond are looking offshore for a quality workforce. Employment visas are harder to come by than ever, forcing some companies to outsource their work even though they'd rather keep it in the U.S.

Congress only allows 65,000 H-1B visas to be issued each year for foreign skilled workers, despite the fact that American universities are producing close to 150,000 in-demand employees at the same time. Close to 30 percent of foreign students enter into STEM degree programs, and those are the ones that many tech companies would prefer to hire. However, the cap on employment visas and the long wait time makes hiring foreign professionals impractical.

That’s why many tech industry insiders are invested in the immigration reform issue. Other countries, Canada included, are changing their own laws to encourage the hiring of skilled foreigners, while the U.S. debates the issue. And as legislatures discuss such topics, more and more start-up companies are outsourcing work to employees unable to get employment visas.

On the outside, the scenario of relying on foreign workers may resemble the outsourcing trend of decades past, but some argue that the situation is very different now. Instead of bringing the best and the brightest international minds to companies in the U.S., those employers are forced to go to the workers. And unless the U.S. immigration reform bill passes and ups the number of employment visas issued in this country, outsourcing tech positions may continue to be a practical solution to a major problem.  

Source: USA Today, “Silicon Valley not waiting for U.S. immigration reform,” John Shinal, July 4, 2013

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