Foreign Worker Poll Points to Paradox

Most respondents favor restricting H-1B visas, even though they believe it'd hurt US business

August 8, 2003

1 Min Read
Foreign Worker Poll Points to Paradox

A disturbing conclusion could be drawn from the 929 votes so far cast in Light Reading's current Poll on Foreign Workers -- namely, that the majority of readers would like to keep foreigners out of the U.S. even if it means damaging the prospects of U.S. hi-tech industry as a whole.

Presumably, they think the jobs gained from barring foreign workers would outweigh the jobs lost from American companies shifting operations overseas and facing tougher foreign competition.

At least, it's tough to think of another explanation for the paradoxical way in which the votes have been cast to date.

On the one hand, 54 percent of respondents think the annual quota for H-1B visas should be slashed to 10,000 from the 2002 level of 197,537. The same proportion think L1 visas, allowing American companies to transfer staff from overseas offices to the U.S., should be scrapped altogether.

On the other hand, an overwhelming majority of respondents recognize that such restrictions would end up indirectly costing American jobs:

  • 81 percent acknowledge that foreign workers help the U.S. preserve and develop its world leadership in hi-tech.

  • 82 percent think restricting H-1B and L1 visas would end up strengthening foreign competition.

  • 79 percent think restricting H-1B and L1 visas would encourage American companies to shift operations overseas.

Another large proportion of respondents -- 76 percent -- also acknowledge that the U.S benefits from not having to pay for foreign workers' education.

Opinions are pretty much balanced on whether U.S. companies exploit foreign workers on H-1B and L1 visas by forcing them to work for less than Americans.

To take the poll yourself and see the latest results Click here.

— Larry, The Thinking Man's Monkey, Light Reading

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