San Francisco immigration lawyer Vaughan de Kirby regularly follows the news—especially as it affects his clients. Recently, officials at Intel weighed in on the issue of visas for foreign STEM workers—those with a science, technology, engineering, or math background. The company says it is necessary for the U.S. economy to hire foreign employees with high-tech skills.
Shankar Devasenathipathy is one such employee whose life was changed with an H-1B visa in California. Devasenathipathy came to the U.S. from southern India to pursue a Ph.D. at Stanford. He was able to transition his student visa into an H-1B visa when he was offered a job at Intel in 2006. Five years later, he was granted U.S. citizenship.
Devasenathipathy says that although things worked out well for him, there were many immigration concerns along the way. His wife, Geetha Shakar, was in the U.S. on a student visa when her husband joined Intel. He moved to San Francisco over a year before she was able to join him.
Processing the green card application is handled by the employer—Intel in this situation. Devasenathipathy was worried that he might not make it into the annual cap on the number of visas issued. However, he says that, “Intel was very fast in getting it through. I was lucky it worked out well.”
In 2007, Shakar was also sponsored for an H-1B position at Intel in environmental health and safety.
Intel’s government-affairs manager Jason Bagley says that the current visa system is inflexible and highly flawed—the visa caps prevent much-needed foreign talent from entering the U.S. technology market.
“It really doesn’t accommodate the need that U.S. businesses have to enable us to innovate and be competitive,” Bagley said. “We hope that Congress will be able to act and do something to help move the needle on this, which we desperately need to have addressed.”