技术移民:美国绿卡的蓝调布鲁斯

技术移民:美国绿卡的蓝调布鲁斯

BAD as relations are between business and the Democrats, immigration was supposed to be an exception. On that topic the two have long had a marriage of convenience, with business backing comprehensive reform in order to obtain more skilled foreign workers.

民主党人在处理移民问题上并不像他们处理商业问题时一样笨手笨脚。在这个方面的共识早就已经达成,因为商业利益支持全面的改革以引进更多的高级外国劳动力。

That, at least, was what was meant to happen. In March Chuck Schumer, a Democratic senator, and Lindsey Graham, a Republican, proposed a multi-faceted reform that would toughen border controls and create a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants while granting two longstanding goals of business: automatic green cards (that is, permanent residence) for students who earned advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering or maths in America, and an elimination of country quotas on green cards. The quotas bear no relationship to demand, leaving backlogs of eight to ten years for applicants from China and India. Barack Obama immediately announced his support.

这个肯定是要发生的。三月份,Chuck Schumer这位民主党议员,Lindsey Graham,一位共和党人,共同提出了一个多方面的移民改革方案,即加强移民控制和为非法移民成为合法美国公民提供途径。同时,也给商业利益增长设置了优惠条件:给在科技、工程或数学领域取得高级学位的赴美留学生自动发放绿卡,并取消国家绿卡配额。正是这个配额使得来自中国和印度的许多绿卡申请积压了8-10年。这个提案很快得到了奥巴马的支持。

But the proposal never became a bill, much less law. Mr Graham developed cold feet and withdrew his support; he was concerned that the Democrats were moving too quickly, as the economic misery that has turned Americans against foreign trade spread to dislike of foreign workers. Last year Congress made it harder for banks that had received money from the Troubled Asset Relief Programme to hire workers on H-1B visas, the most popular type for skilled foreign workers. In January the Citizenship and Immigration Service barred the use of H-1Bs for workers based on a client’s premises instead of their own company’s, a move aimed at outsourcing companies, many of them based in India.

然而这个提案甚至都没有形成草案。Graham提前临阵脱逃了。他肯定是担心民主党支持率会上升太快,因为经济低迷使得美国民众从开始反对国际贸易进而反感国外员工了。去年,国会限制了领取“问题资产救助计划”救济金的银行雇佣持有H-1B签证的员工。而持有H-1B签证的员工往往是有能力的高级人才。1月份开始移民局禁止把H-1B签给那些应客户要求而不是其自己公司要求而拿签证的员工,而这些员工大多都来自外包公司,其中大部分来自印度。

In August even Mr Schumer, needing to look tough on outsourcing, pushed through a bill sharply raising H-1B fees on firms that depend heavily on the visas. Perhaps the most naked election-year hostility to foreigners appeared during the debate in September over a Democratic bill in the Senate that would have rewarded companies for firing foreign-based workers and replacing them with Americans. Charles Grassley, a Republican senator, responded with a proposal to prohibit any company that had laid off Americans from hiring visa workers at all. The bill did not win enough votes to break a filibuster.

到了八月,甚至连Schumer也要对外包行业表示强硬态度,只因为一个法案的通过。该法案旨在大幅提高依赖H-1B签证的企业的费用。也许大选年敌视外国人这句话就体现在九月份的一个针对民主党在参议院的草案的辩论,该草案旨在奖励企业解聘外籍员工和雇佣本国员工。共和党议员Charles Grassley甚至提议禁止解聘过本国员工的企业再雇佣外籍员工。这个草案没有通过。

Tightened restrictions, political aggravation and economic conditions seem to be having an effect. In 2009 the number of employment-based green cards and H-1B visas was the lowest in years (see chart). It took an unusually long time for the quota of H-1Bs for the fiscal year that ended on September 30th to be used up. Several Indian outsourcing companies have made a point of boosting local hiring at American facilities.

更加严格的限制、强大政治压力和低迷的经济现状的共同作用似乎见效了。2009年是近几年工作绿卡和H-1B签证最少的一年(见图示)。在9月30日,本财年结束前,恐怕H-1B签证配额很难用完了。许多的印度公司都转而利用美国的外包设施来提高本国的就业率。

This is partly the result of the recession, which has hurt demand for all types of workers. But in a recent report the Hamilton Project, a moderately liberal research group, notes that the number of foreign workers in America has been declining for some time. This might reflect America’s diminished appeal to the world’s most sought-after workers, as well as brightening prospects in their own countries. A survey for the pro-immigration Kauffman Foundation in 2007 found that only a tiny proportion of foreign students planned to stay in the United States. This almost certainly extracts an economic toll, since immigrants are more likely than others to start businesses or file patents.

这个结果一部分要归结于经济低迷,因为所有岗位的用工需求都在减少。然而,在Hamilton Project的最近的一份报告中指出,今后一段时间,美国的外籍员工数量还将持续减少。这反映出了一方面是美国对于优秀人才的吸引力在降低,一方面他们自己国家的吸引力在提升。一个考夫曼基金会(Kauffman Foundation)在2007做的针对依亲移民的调查显示,只有极少数的外籍留学生打算留在美国。这几乎就相当于不小的经济损失,因为相比其他人,这些留学生更有可能会开公司或申请专利。

America’s immigration policies have long put a higher priority on family reunification than on employment. Legal immigrants to the country are more likely to have failed to finish high school than either native-born Americans or immigrants to other English-speaking countries. Immigrants to Canada are far more likely to have a college degree.

美国的移民政策中,一直是家庭团聚比就业优先级高。外国合法移民完成高中学业的可能性比任何本土出生的美国人或其他英语国家的移民都要低。而加拿大移民更有可能拥有大学学位。

Legislators from both parties have at various times advanced proposals that would smooth the way for skilled migrants, but they have usually foundered on the more intractable problem of dealing with illegal immigration. “These two issues can and should be separate,” says Michael Greenstone of the Hamilton Project. “We are giving up economic growth by putting the two issues together.”

两党的立委在不同时期都提出过建议,以使先进的技术移民更加顺利,但他们通常在处理非法移民问题时,在更棘手的问题上搁浅。  Hamilton Project的Michael Greenstone 认为“这两个问题可以而且应该分开讨论,把这两个问题纠缠在一起等于放弃经济增长”。

Democratic Hispanic legislators oppose separating them for fear of losing business support for comprehensive reform. In principle, then, a Republican takeover of the House might increase the likelihood of a stand-alone bill on skilled immigration. That, however, is not the Republicans’ priority. Lamar Smith, the Republican who would probably become chairman of the House judiciary committee, is more focused on deporting illegal immigrants and strengthening the border.

为了不失去全面移民改革的经济支持而将增加技术移民和处理非法移民两个问题分开,这遭到了民主党拉美裔议员的反对。大体上,共和党接管众议院之后似乎更有可能增加一个技术移民的独立法案。然而,这并不是共和党的特权。拉马尔史密斯可能会成为共和党的众议院司法委员会主席,而他则更侧重于驱逐非法移民,加强移民管理。

Still, it would be premature to write off the odds of immigration reform. If Mr Obama is to accomplish anything in the next Congress, he needs to find common ground with Republicans on something. Business-friendly immigration reform might just qualify.

不过,取消移民改革是不成熟的做法。如果奥巴马是要在下届国会想要做点什么事情的话,他需要找到一些与共和党的共同点。符合商业利益的移民改革可能是符合他要求的选择之一。

背景知识

H-1B签证:

H-1B签证是美国移民局签发给具有“专业技能”的外国人的一种短期非移民签证。该类别的签证应该由雇主为雇员提出申请,雇员必须具备在任何国家内取得的本科(或以上)学历 (或同等学历)。

本科或以上的学历只是对H-1B签证的雇员的基本要求,满足了这个要求并不能保证H-1B申请的成功。为了保护本国劳工市场,美国政府要求可申请H-1B签证的职位必须是要求专业技术或知识的工作。此类工作要求受聘人员在本专业领域具有本科或以上学历(或相关学历)。申请H-1B时,职位头衔(job title)的选择与相关职位描述(job description)极为重要。 职位头衔和描述要清楚而令人信服地表明该职位必须要求一个本科或以上学历的专业人士才能胜任。同时,移民局对于受聘人员的教育背景以及以往工作经验是否和现在申请的职位相关也非常重视, 所以申请材料需要非常清楚的证明该雇员的资历和该职位要求基本吻合。

 

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