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Dear Editor:

 Gary Endelman says my letter overlooked the fact that the new H-1B bill allows an H-1B worker to change jobs once his/her adjustment of status application has been on file for 180 days or more.  No, Mr. Endelman, I didn't overlook anything.  I simply stated that the bill's provisions will bring only a moderate improvement in the plight of the H-1Bs, and that indentured servitude will continue to be alive and well in this program. 

For those readers who are not immigration lawyers, I must point out that the provision Mr. Endelman is citing in the new bill applies only to the very last stage of the H-1B's green card process.  Before that stage, they will continue to be de facto indentured servants, as they have in the past, since leaving their employer would mean starting the green card process from scratch again, an action which would be out of the question for most of them. 

As I stated, the actual amount of time each H-1B spends in indentured servitude should go down under the new bill (due mainly to the provision which in essence abolishes the per-country quotas).  My rough estimate is a total duration of 3 or 4 years (from LCA submission to attainment of the green card), certainly an improvement over the 5+ years duration prevalent in the last few years, but still long enough to continue to be of enormous appeal to employers who desire the “secure” feeling that their H-1B programmers won't leave them in the lurch by jumping to another firm. 

By the way, Mr. Endelman takes it for granted that there is a programmer labor shortage and H-1Bs are needed to fill the gap.  Yet the fact is that no study other than those by the industry and its allies has demonstrated a shortage of programmers.  On the contrary, plenty of independent data exists which shows that employers are overly picky, rejecting the vast majority of applicants, especially those over age 40.  

 And with all due respect to Mr. Endelman, I find it rather meaningless to debate the “shortage” charge with a non-techie (which I am presuming he is).  I've been in many public forums on the “shortage” issue, and it is disappointing to me that the representatives from industry in these forums are never the people involved in actual software development on the shop floor.  Industry always insists on sending their HR Director, or their corporate counsel, afraid that a real techie lacking PR worldliness would blurt out concessions harmful to industry's case for an H-1B increase.  (In one case, Intel apparently sent not only one lawyer to speak, but even sent another lawyer to watch the first one.)

 Sadly, Mr. Endelman resorts to ad hominem attacks, saying that I lack “intellectual honesty.” Does Immigration Daily really have to become a high-class food fight?  For the record, I'd like to point out that as far as I know, I am the only player on either side of the H-1B debate who has no personal stake in the outcome.  I do not make my living from immigration, as Mr. Endelman does.  So, let's stick to the issues, OK, Gary?

 Norm Matloff

UC Davis