H-1B workers are workers in the U.S. under a visa to work in science, engineering and other skilled fields. The Obama administration is taking small steps to help their spouses.
The government proposes to allow H-1B spouses to work in the U.S. Under current rules they cannot.However, the holder of the H-1B visa must have applied for a green card before the spouse is allowed to work.
Countries all over the world are courting workers with skills. Advocates say America must do more to compete. A lawyer said, “Why not let every spouse of an H-1B worker, not just those on a green card track, be able to work.”
An immigration billed passed the Senate last year. The bill does give all spouses the right to work. The bill has not passed the Republican House.
As usual, there is opposition to even this small move. Republicans say the president does not have the power to make this change through executive mandate.
For others, the change raises bigger issues. There is still high unemployment among America’s middle-class work force. They ask, are there not resident Americans who can fill theses jobs?
Critics charge a high degree of fraud in the H-1B program. They also say the program is a way of keeping down the pay of skilled workers. They wonder, if workers are scarce, why aren’t wages rising.
It may well be that one group’s (H-1B spouses) gain is another group’s (unemployed Americans) loss. Trying to balance the interests of all is a hard task.
Source: The New York Times May 8, 2014