Visa cut will force US firms to outsource, says think tank

June 12th, 2008 - 7:31 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, June 12 (IANS) The US decision to cut visas to skilled manpower from countries like India would not protect American jobs, but goad American companies to opt for outsourcing, a leading think tank has warned. In a report released Wednesday, RAND Corp., a non-profit global policy think tank, said curbing the inflow of foreign science and engineering workers would force US firms to outsource research and development or locate new facilities overseas.

“Rather than protecting jobs, this could lead to reduced investment and employment at home,” said RAND, known for its non-partisan analysis and policy recommendations.

The H-1B is a non-immigrant visa in the US under its Immigration and Nationality Act. It allows US employers to recruit foreign guest workers skilled in specialty occupations if an American citizen or resident is not available.

RAND opposes reducing the number of these visas because it feels the inflow of foreign students, scientists and engineers has been a “key factor” behind America’s edge in science and technology.

“Much of the concern about the United States losing its edge as the world’s leader in science and technology appears to be unfounded,” said Titus Galama, co-author of the report and a management scientist at RAND.

“But the United States cannot afford to be complacent. Effort is needed to make sure the nation maintains or even extends its standing,” he added.

According to its report, this could be achieved through allowing immigration of scientists.

It noted that researchers found foreign-born scientists and engineers were being paid the same as native born, suggesting their quality is on par. The inflow, it said, “has enabled the US science and engineering workforce to grow faster than the number of native-born scientists and engineers graduating”.

Against this backdrop, the report advised the government to make it easier for highly skilled labour to immigrate to the United States.

This would ensure that “the benefits of expanded innovation are captured in the United States”, and to “help the United States remain competitive in research and innovation”.

It also wanted the government to make it easier for foreigners who have graduated from US universities with science and engineering degrees to stay indefinitely in the country.

Additionally, the report also called for an increase in America’s capacity to learn from science centres in India, apart from Europe, Japan and China.

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