"A $2,000 fee per visa may cut slightly into the bottom lines of these extraordinarily profitable firms but it isn't large enough to alter their business models," Hira said.
"The cost savings of importing a guest worker versus hiring an American worker is at least an order of magnitude higher than this additional fee, especially with L-1 visas," he said.
The $2,000 in additional revenue pays only a small fraction of the tax revenues lost due to the unemployment of underemployment "of American workers directly harmed by these visas," Hira said.
Hira said most significant is that the legislation is an acknowledgement by its sponsors that "that the H-1B and L-1 visa programs have loopholes that are being exploited to offshore jobs."
Bob Sakaniwa, associated director of advocacy at the American Immigration Lawyers Association, said what impacts use of the H-1B program "first and foremost" is the economy. The cap isn't being hit at anywhere near the same pace it was during better times, he said. The U.S. has received about 35,000 petitions for the 85,000 visas available this year.
The H-1B fee increase is only going to cover a fraction of the $600 million the Senate wants for border security. The largest H-1B user in 2008 was Infosys, which accounted for 4,500 visas that year. A $2,000 fee increase would have added about $9 million to its visa bill.
Patrick Thibodeau covers SaaS and enterprise applications, outsourcing, government IT policies, data centers and IT workforce issues for Computerworld. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @DCgov or subscribe to Patrick's RSS feed. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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