Beware the plot to increase the H-1B visa program

Unemployment is still high, but cash-rich tech companies and their allies in Congress want to expand the number of H-1B visas. Don't let them

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Remember, that's in addition to the 65,000 H-1B visa holders, making a total of 120,000 workers entering the job market every year. The San Francisco Bay Area alone lost more than 16,000 tech jobs in 2009. At that rate, all too many IT pros will be donning paper caps and asking, "Want fries with that?"

Issa, by the way, has introduced similar bills before, but now that the Republicans control the House, there's a better chance of passage.

Tech workers won't share in the recovery
It's likely that we've bounced off the bottom of the recession. There's a general feeling there will be some increase in tech spending, but additions to the tech labor force "will be modest," says Aftab Jamil, a partner at BDO, the firm that commissioned the CFO study.

How infuriating -- companies across the economy, including tech giants like Apple and Intel, have been posting record earnings and are awash with cash. According to the BDO survey, tech companies expect revenue to jump by about 10 percent this year. How will they use all those dollars? More than three-quarters of the CFOs surveyed said they expect M&A spending to increase significantly this year, with software in the lead. And 68 percent expect an increase in IPO activity.

Tech mergers are almost always followed by layoffs; the bigger the companies involved, the more jobs get the axe. IPOs, on the other hand, often create jobs as capital is raised, but whether the boost to employment will be at all significant is far from clear.

The bottom line: There's plenty of money to throw around, but don't expect to see much of it heading your way in the form of increased employment opportunities or raises.

There's no easy answer to ending the unemployment crisis in technology, but there's an easy way to make it worse: maintaining and even expanding programs like H-1B. Smart foreign workers have made real contributions to our country, but until we're back to something resembling full employment, they need to wait their turn. Let's suspend H-1B this year.

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This article, "Beware the plot to increase the H-1B visa program," was originally published by Read more of Bill Snyder's Tech's Bottom Line blog and follow the latest technology business developments at For the latest business technology news, follow on Twitter.

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