Monday, June 25, 2007

The big Indian immigration scam

Let me clarify that I have nothing against being an Indian.  However, I do hate the fact that there are some among us who deserve to be labeled "scamsters".

This post follows my previous post on immigration, in which my essential point was that the US is ignoring the issues of legal immigrants and pursuing a self-destructive path.  Here, I take an alternative view as to how Indian firms have essentially exploited the loopholes in the US immigration rules to export thousands of Indians to this country.

After years of contemplation, I have decided to write on something that I feel strongly about - the perils of the H1 system.

I first heard about a H1b visa back in 1997 when my mother's colleague gave up his job in an Indian bank to pursue the american dream. He found a "consultant" who trained him on SAP and sent him to the US to work on a project with a US client.  Later I heard that his project was over and that he was on the bench. " Bench" essentially means that this individual does not have a job with a US firm directly, but is on the payrolls of an Indian consultancy firm that will pay him a meagre salary (800 USD a month at times) till they can find another job for him.

Eventually, the consultant managed to find another project and the individual moved to another firm.  This process continued for over a 6 years and meanwhile the Indian consultant filed a permanent residency application on this person's behalf and at the end of six years this person got a job.  I have nothing against it as long as it does not affect me.  Let me explain how this affects me.

I came to this country in 2002 to pursue a PhD.  By the time i finished my PhD and can get in line for immigration, there are thousands of individuals, such as the person I wrote about, who have already filed for their immigration through Indian consultancy firms. H1Bs are supposed to be issued for those jobs that cannot be filled up by american born persons.  But what are the Indian consultancy firms upto ? All they do is hire Indians and get them to the US, even through they technically don't have a job yet.  This is sheer exploitation. Why are these H1Bs being allowed to enter this country when they don't "technically" have a job yet?  The federal government has no clue. The consular generals back in India have no clue.

People like me who have pursued advanced education in the US and seek immigration through employment are suffering the consequences of this scam. The Senate has made a few moves in addressing this issue by questioning Indian firms on their hiring practices.  Indian firms do not hire americans, period.  They just get ill-trained individuals to this country and dump them her - much to the disdain of people such as me.

I have to admit that some of my own friends, relatives and well-wishers have been beneficiaries of such scams. But, that does not make it right! What about doing the right thing? What about people like me?

I say, the US should move to a point based system.  A system that values education, job and contribution to society before prioritizing the immigration applications. Do not let individuals who do not work directly for US firms apply for immigration.  That is where the exploitation essentially lies!  Screw the Indian IT consultants!

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