Stakes rise in the 25-year-old H-1B battle

The visa program isn't supposed to 'adversely affect' U.S. workers, and yet it does, say IT pros who have had to train their replacements.

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The H-1B visa turns 25 this year, and while it has seen many ups and downs during that quarter-century, what hasn't changed is the fury IT workers feel after being displaced by people who hold H-1Bs.

Two recent cases, both in the utility industry, illustrate the problem. At Northeast Utilities (now Eversource Energy) in Connecticut and at Southern California Edison (SCE), IT workers trained their visa-holding replacements as a condition of layoff agreements. Both cases have garnered public attention, but similar actions involving offshore workers elsewhere get only scant attention -- or escape notice altogether.

If anything, the fight over the H-1B visa is ramping up. There is a new push in the Senate by lawmakers from both parties to raise the H-1B visa cap from 65,000 to 195,000 per year. This bill includes no restrictions on offshoring, and the IEEE-USA has said that, if passed, the proposal will "destroy" the U.S. tech workforce by making it easier to replace U.S. citizens with guest workers, mostly young men, who are paid less.

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