36 U. Mich. J.L. Reform 815 (2002-2003)
On the Need for Reform of the H-1B Non-Immigrant Work Visa in Computer-Related Occupations; Matloff, Norman

handle is hein.journals/umijlr36 and id is 825 raw text is: ON THE NEED FOR REFORM OF THE H-lB
NON-IMMIGRANT WORK VISA IN
COMPUTER-RELATED OCCUPATIONS
Norman Madoff*
The H-lB program authorizes non-immigrant visas under which skilled foreign
workers may be employed in the U.S., typically in computer-related positions. Con-
gress greatly expanded the program in 1998 and then again in 2000, in response
to heavy pressure from industry, which claimed a desperate software labor shortage.
After presenting an overview of the H-1B program in Parts II and III, the Article
will show in Part IV that these shortage claims are not supported by the data. Part
V will then show that the industry's motivation for hiring H-lBs is primarily a de-
sire for cheap, compliant labor. The Article then discusses the adverse impacts of the
H-1B program on various segments of the American computer-related labor force in
Part VI, and presents proposals for reforms in Part VII.
I. INTRODUCTION
A topic of much controversy in legislation on immigration-
related issues in recent years has been the H-1B visa program.' This
visa category, which was established in the Immigration Act of 1990
(IMMACT90) to replace the old H-1 category, allows foreign na-
tionals to work in the U.S. for a sponsoring employer for up to six
years.2 The law    allows dual intent. Though       the H-lB    is a non-
immigrant visa, the worker may pursue avenues to attain U.S. legal
permanent resident (LPR, i.e. green card) status while holding
the H-lB visa. Typically this takes the form of employer sponsor-
ship.
The H-1B program quickly became a favorite of employers of in-
formation     technology     (IT)  workers, particularly      computer
programmers. This category of workers soon became the largest in
the program.
*    Professor of Computer Science, University of California, Davis; B.S. 1970, California
State Polytechnic University; Ph.D. (pure mathematics) 1975, University of California, Los
Angeles.
1.   In 2003, a similar controversy arose concerning another work visa program, L-1. See
Katie Hafner & Daniel Preysman, Special Visa's Use for Tech Workers is Challenged, N.Y. TIMES,
May 30, 2003, at C1. This issue arose too late to be included in this Article, but the problems
are very similar to those described for H-lB.
2.   Immigration Act of 1990, Pub. L. No. 101-649, 104 Stat. 4978 (1990).
3.   U.S. IMMIGRATION & NATURALIZATION SERVICE, CHARACTERISTICS OF SPECIALTY
OCCUPATION WORKERS (H-1B): FISCAL YEAR 2001, at 11 (2002).

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