America needs to update their immigration system
Survival of the fittest
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This tweet by George Hotz hits home as I am someone who has been experiencing this VISA process for years now.
Let me give you an example. If you are an Indian Citizen who has studied in a pretty good engineering college in India and wanted to come study and/or work in the US, the process is quite intimidating and it doesn’t end. First, you get an F1 visa for studying and then once you graduate first you work on OPT (which has certain years you can work on) in parallel, you apply for your H1B, which is a lottery-based system, which is capped at 85000 per year (60000 for general and 20000 for higher education). Close to 500k people apply each year for H1B.
Now once you have an H1B, it’s not over because it’s only valid for around 3 years. Every 3 years you have to renew - submit a lot of documents and if you go out of the US, you have to get a stamp on your passport. This process is so painful since you have to fill out online forms every time.
And if you change your job, your visa needs to be transferred to the new company. H1B is tied to your employer.
Ok, so what about Permanent Residency? If you are an Indian in an EB2 category, you can forget about getting a green card. Legally on H1B, you can’t earn money from other jobs and if you get laid off, which has been happening quite frequently, you just have 2 months to find a job otherwise say goodbye to your American Dream.
In addition to all of this, you are always tense about your visa status, travel, etc.
Even though I just described how the process is for Indians, I think the general work VISA process applies to a lot of other countries.
Now why am I talking about the VISA process? Well, people want to come to America to pursue their dreams for multiple reasons: Good quality of life, access to capital, hustle culture, and a lot of great diverse-minded people to work with. So even though the VISA process is so stressful and painful, people still want to come here and build great things.
But recently the rules of the game have been changing. Why?
General globalization and access to most things over the internet
COVID-19 pandemic has proved that people can work remotely and they don’t need to physically be present in the office to be successful
The rise of countries like India and China has seen capital moving toward Asian countries
Because of the changes, people have started evaluating that is the process worth the pain or if they can achieve whatever they want in their home country or any other country. The rules of the game are changing and the US Visa process to let people come in is still old and not keeping up with the pace of the changing world. Particularly somehow it’s becoming hard for people who are highly skilled to have more opportunities.
There are also some concerns about more seamless immigration
What happens to the American people? Do they lose their jobs?
People only immigrate to only few cities like San Francisco, New York, Seattle, etc., driving the prices up and pushing the less skilled people out of that area
I agree those are valid concerns but the solution is to not make high-skilled immigration hard. America is the land of immigrants. Maybe government should try to incentivize people to move to tier-2, and tier-3 cities and provide good infrastructure for someone to up their skills. With a lot of issues bubbling up with respect for China, maybe America can bring up more manufacturing industries.
Let’s be clear about one thing - the world works on survival of the fittest. If an adult person doesn’t up their skills game (considering government provides enough access to good infrastructure) then they will not survive. If America doesn’t attract highly skilled people from all around the world to come work in America, sooner or later innovation will move out.
I think it’s worth making sure America remains what is has been, a place for great technological innovation. I believe America does needs a lot of great leaders in higher government positions who, instead of stopping finding ways to curb the speed of innovation, can push innovation faster. The world will not stop and America needs enough manpower to roll with it.