H-1B: The voices behind the visa

The H-1B visa is such a heated topic, its impact on individual high-tech workers often gets lost in the debate. Here, five people tell their H-1B stories in their own words.

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I have been on a review panel for NASA, the Department of Defense and the National Science Foundation. I am a program director for The Project Management Institute. I have 11 papers published. I don't say all this to imply that I will be named a Nobel laureate; I say it because I have a couple of very strong points to put forward and I want people to understand my credentials.

At the top technology companies, especially at [the software and services corporation], 60% to 70% are H-1B, Indian or Chinese. This was happening as far back as 2006. This company retains the title of being No. 1 in the world because they are getting the brains of the world, the best of the best.

If we stopped H-1B, IT would crash. It would affect at least 50% of the people with the niche skills that cannot be easily replaced. The U.S. has a lot of talent, but wherever people are outstanding, the U.S. should try to help them into this country, to choose from a pool of talent worldwide.

H-1B holders cannot negotiate easily. If your company doesn't sponsor you anymore, you have 15 days to find someone else to sponsor your visa. In this job market, no way.

Consulting companies can hire and fire you with no obligation. They try to take advantage of this kind of employee, they promise something and don't deliver. In a lot of places they treat you as a second-class citizen. It's very easy for any citizen to put the blame on the contractor and fire them.

H-1Bs pay Medicare and Social Security taxes. Is it right for the government to collect that money? I don't mind paying the taxes that the government needs to run, but paying tax that I will not be entitled to, is that fair? I wouldn't mind paying toward citizenship. There should be a classification. They could ask, what is your future plan? Do you want to stay in this country? And based on that they could take the money.

America is the No. 1 country in the world. People who are in India are ready to do everything and anything to come into this country. If you go to another country, they say, "Oh, he worked in the United States." It is assumed you have very good skills.

Innovation will happen in other places, not in the United States, if we do not continue to get talent from the whole world. People come here for the great research facilities and the universities. They follow Bill Gates. If we lose them, we will lose a lot of talent.

America for me feels like a second birthplace. I feel I have a debt to this country. I perform social work. I volunteer. I add value to the society. If I go back to my country, the investment from me in the U.S. will be zero.

One time on a contract job, a guy said to me, "Why don't you go back to your country?" I said, "The day I cannot find a job or the government says 'We don't want you,' I will go."

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