Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Paradox of H1B

This article was published at Definitely Filipino, March 11, 2011.
An educator, who is also a mother and a wife possesses an H1B visa.
And her family carries an H4.
H1B is a kind of U.S. visa given to foreign nationals, who choose to take their chances in the U.S. employment, provided that they fall under a specific category of “professional in specialty occupations.” These may include educators, researchers, medical practitioners, social scientists and other professional talents in fields of Information Technology, accounting, marketing and the Sciences.
“The existence of H1B visa allows U.S. employers to fill a position requiring the minimum of a baccalaureate in particular fields with a qualified worker from abroad. In some cases, a combination of studies and relevant experience may substitute for the degree if it is determined by a credentials expert to qualify the foreign professional.” (Murthy Law Firm,

Part of the “visa package,” is the opportunity of the single H1B visa holder to get multiple members of his/her immediate family (husband/wife and children under 21 years of age). Members of the family are given H4 visas. In this condition, there is a “principal-dependents” relationship in terms of visa categories. With the sole principal carrying an H1B visa, and one or more dependents carrying H4 visa/s.
The H1B visa holder is the ONLY person, who is given the legal right to work for a U.S. sponsoring institution or company, plus the chance to enjoy other benefits including acquiring Social Security (which is definitely essential in almost all major U.S. transactions), setting up basic household services, renting an apartment, purchasing a house, opening a bank account and taking hold of a credit/debit card, among others.
Meanwhile, writing for an online site which pay, doing the all in-door/household chores, cleaning the backyard, strolling, buying groceries at Walmart or Sam’s, paying the bills online, taking care of the young ones, answering surveys with pay and many others — comprise the “valid extent,” or shall we say limitations that H4 visa holders can only do. This leaves H4 visa holders with no choice than to do activities, which do not require legal authorization to work unless they decide to take the risk of getting over-the-counter jobs. Once caught, the entire family including the principal may face tremendous legal penalties with the H1B visa holder’s work authorization and license suspended, if not revoked depending on the degree of committed violation.
Others say, in order to invite optimism among H4 visa holders, aside from doing activities which do not demand work permit, they can might as well look for a U.S. sponsoring institution or company, which will transform their H4 visas into H1B working visas. This is possible. And this is what H4 visa holders who have seriously had enough of non-working lives, are all hoping for (aside from acquiring Green Card status).
Until the so-called Obama Act came. This act says, a U.S. sponsoring company may sponsor foreign applicants if and only if there is no U.S. citizen who applies for/qualifies for a position. This sort of an “American First” policy, brings H4 holders a blur chance (though we are not saying that there are really no chances at all) to win possible job vacancies.
Viewing the current economic status of the U.S., taking into account the unemployment rate it inherited from previous governments, how can we possibly predict the chances of H4 visa holders, if U.S. citizens themselves are not employed?
Let’s just say their chances depend on the basis of qualification alone, how sure are we that human resource/personnel departments do not adjust their preferences, in favor of co-Americans to subscribe first, to the Obama Act and second, to the American nationalism?
If this is the case, why give H1B visas intended for foreign nationals, if there are no U.S. companies/institutions ready to provide sponsorship at all? False hopes or merely a part of U.S. recovery efforts? By the latter means the government admits its failure to achieve an acceptable standard, in terms of economics. To date, there are still no instructions that temporarily prohibit the provision of H1B, so we expect more casualties coming for the next quarters.
Critics including H1B holders themselves are saying that Obama’s resolution on the matter directly contradicts the provisions of the Equal Employment Opportunity and the United State’s principal role in advocating globalization, which means being in subscription to the free market of labor and workers. (H1B Visa and Employment, published September 21, 2010)
The agony and hopelessness that foreign visa holders experience will definitely strengthen their cores. But more than anything else, this clearly shows a piece of evidence that America is suffering from many different insecurities, a direct contradiction to its superpower facade.
For H4 visa holders, we shall say, analyzing their situation is like looking at a glass, half-full or half-empty.

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