[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]T[/dropcap]his article is my take on the latest H1B/ L1 Bill to limit or stop Indian companies from excessively hiring Indian workers on H1B/ L1 visa. What qualifies me to take my own opinion too seriously? Quite a few points in my favour:
- having stood in line for H1B and F1 visa a total of six times across two centers
- having lived in the US for more than 13 years
- having worked in one Indian “body shopping” IT company and seen numerous friends and ex-colleagues dealing with them
- having had to even pay my own H1B fees and my wife’s H4 visa fees as against the company “sponsoring” my employment
- having waited a long time for that overrated Green Card
- having seen lesser educated folks get the Green Card sooner
- residency and amnesty for illegals
- randomness of green card process
- uncertainty of the US job market and companies
- fear of what you would do with your family if you are let go
The Visa Line
Anyone who has waited for Visa in the US consulate in Mumbai or New Delhi or Chennai would know exactly what I mean. Before the appointment system, one stood in line with all papers, with an umbrella & some food. One would wake up at 5:00 am in the morning, say a short prayer and get ready to go stand in the line. Issuance of visa was also largely dependent on the mood of the interviewer.
Standing in the line, I recall a kid from Gujarat who had a loud voice and had University admit from some university in Oklahoma. The kid had all markers to be refused for the visa. He had a B. Tech in Civil Engineering but an I-20 for admission in Computer Science. He had the most annoying attitude and US-bound desperation. He played out all his cards in public. His family had just enough money to get him through one year and there was no way this kid could become a Teaching Assistant or and Research Assistant. As expected, this kid got his turn for visa interview where he made a fool of himself and got rejected. What made things look pathetic was that he begged, pleaded cried for reconsideration and all that the visa interviewer was heard saying was “Don’t waste my time. NEXT”.
[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]A[/dropcap]nyone with a little bit of Nationalism and self respect would have been bothered with the visa line, the circumstances under which one had to wait, the attitude of the interviewer, the security and paranoid levels of the security staff and the general writing on the wall “You Goddamn Shameless Indians.” This paragraph is not to be mistaken to mean that Americans think of Indians like those in the visa line. I have been treated very well by most Caucasian, African-American and Americans of other ethnicities. Yes there have been the odd xenophobes but who can blame them? We have flocked their backyard and have started beating them in their game.
Job insecurity and the overrated American dream
The years 2000 until 2003 were the worst in the US job market in decades. The dotcom bubble burst and all of a sudden many people like me were jobless in mass layoffs. Sometimes these layoffs happened to individuals for up to three times a year. 9/11 made things harder for H1Bs and the torture of going through seven rounds of interviews with some nasty interviewers(Indians mostly) in failing startups who were in a better position for a green card, would leave many like me crestfallen. That said, within a two month timeframe after being laid off, one would get a job.
Vultures in the form of Indian IT Companies (One that I dealt with was also run by a former SVP of one of India’s great multinational Software Services Companies) would make the most and take in software engineers from India at $50000 per annum in the San Francisco Bay Area knowing the desperation of the Indian software engineer. With that salary how could one ever make ends meet with a family where the wife was on H4 dependent visa and could not work? I did go for one such interview set up by this “IT Company”. The client is a famous online company whose IT department was filled with Indians. I got to know of a chain of hierarchy where of the $70 per hour, all that came into my hands was $27 per hour amounting to $54,000.00 per annum. The rest of the money allegedly went as illegal “cuts” to many Indian folks in the hierarchy of the company from such “Indian Software Consulting Companies”.
[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]M[/dropcap]any Indian IT companies are known to get cheap Indian Software Engineers who slog like donkeys for a pittance. This is certainly not enterprise but exploitation. The option for such engineers to leave the US, return to India with their heads held high is really the honourable thing to pursue. While the H1B/ L1 Bill being proposed is with the American worker and interests in mind, I welcome it to attract young engineers to return to India and try their hands at some IT companies here. Hey no one can kick you out of India for losing your job. No one can exploit you with the threat of your visa status in India, your motherland. It is said that “One rather rule in Hell than serve in Heaven and LET ME TELL YOU India is no Hell and USA is certainly no heaven.” Self respect (Swabhiman) should be on one’s mind. India also offers opportunities for many to think outside the box much like she did for me.
I’m not claiming that I will never go to the USA on work. I may if fate took me there. Astrologically I was never supposed to return to India. However, I will go only if I have nothing short of a red carpet welcome and enough safety of the Green Card processing. I did give up my Green Card 5 years ago to return. They must need me. I don’t need them.
Lastly, I’d like to conclude by saying that it is extremely annoying, demeaning and hurtful to my Indian pride that the so called MNCs, Media & even NASSCOM folks beg for reconsideration of the H1B/ L1 limiting bill and cry foul as if it was their God Given right. It is about time that we show much self respect and stop begging for recognition. Do the right thing and it will come. Jai Hind!
Vijay has a Bachelors in Electronics Engineering from Mumbai University & an MS in Computer Science from UC Santa Barbara with a post graduate certification in Data Mining from UC San Diego.
Latest posts by Vijay Rajan (see all)
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