What Will H-1B Visa Restrictions Mean for Silicon Valley? | NBC Bay Area
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What Will H-1B Visa Restrictions Mean for Silicon Valley?

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    The hubbub over proposals to make changes to the H-1B visa program is worrying to highly skilled workers, who are recruited in droves by Google, Facebook and other Silicon Valley bigwigs, and need the visa to work in the U.S. Scott Budman reports. (Published Saturday, Feb. 4, 2017)

    The Bay Area is watching Washington D.C. closely.

    Why? For the government’s take on H-1B visas.

    Largely used by the tech industry to bring skilled workers into the U.S., the visa program is especially important to Silicon Valley. Companies are nervous that the number of people allowed to come in on the highly-sought H-1B visas is going to be cut.

    But, it turns out, that it’s not just tech companies that might be affected. If tech companies have fewer people to hire from other countries, those potential employees will, among other things, buy fewer homes, and we're already starting to see that fear affect the market.

    Even rumors that President Donald Trump may cut back on the H-1B program are felt “like an earthquake” in Silicon Valley, said Ajay Arora, the CEO of Vera Security.

    Arora says immigrants both built and run his company.

    “I mean, if you look around here, you would say most of the people in our company are from somewhere else – either directly or one generation from that. So, it's felt very deeply,” Arora confirmed.

    And as for the Bay Area's red-hot housing market, real estate agent Karen Yang said, “I think we have an issue.”

    Yang of Fling Yang & Associates says she's recently seen people pull out of high-end home buys because of visa concerns and uncertainty that they will be able to stay in the U.S. and continue to work here.

    Conversely, the H-1B visa program has also been criticized by some who say it's a way to bring in cheap labor from other countries. But CEOs that talked to NBC Bay Area said that it’s actually much more complicated and expensive than that.

    They say they would like to hire American engineers – if they can find them. Fodder for a debate in itself.

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