Contradiction between Globalization and Migration

The subject of out-sourcing and off-shoring evoke strong emotions even with euphemisms like right sourcing and best shoring. At a certain level of abstraction such emotions seem to defy logic. Before globalization became a palpable reality businesses depended, in addition to the domestic workforce, on skilled immigrants. These immigrants needed visas with suitable work authorization. So, the foreign worker needs a H1B visa to work for in the US. But what about the worker who does almost the same work while located outside the US? I find it strange that if I had to, say fix code, sitting in US soil I would need an H1B but I can do the same work by sitting in an office in the outskirts of Chennai without convincing the Government of the USA that I am qualified to do the job.

The subject of out-sourcing and off-shoring evoke strong emotions even with euphemisms like right sourcing and best shoring. At a certain level of abstraction such emotions seem to defy logic. Then there are these statutes, laws of state, on migration. Googling the phrase “migration globalization contradiction” resulted in over 67000 results the last time I checked. There is however one aspect I find most funny that I would like to talk about.

But before I do so I will touch upon definitions of some words that are liberally used in this context. These are all sourced from http://www.dictionary.com. The first two are outsourcing and off shoring.

Outsourcing is a practice used by different companies to reduce costs by transferring portions of work to outside suppliers rather than completing it internally. Off shoring is the practice of moving business processes or services to another country, esp. overseas, to reduce costs. Both of these have gained prevalence in this era of globalization.

Globalization is the process by which the economies of countries around the world become increasingly integrated over time. The term also refers to phenomenon of businesses expanding their operations beyond national borders. Globalization has become serious business since computers became serious.

Before that businesses depended, in addition to the domestic workforce, to skilled immigrants whenever the scale of operations surged. Immigration is migration into a country of which you are not a native in order to settle there. Most of the times you need visas to get in.

A visa is an endorsement made by an authorized representative of the country appended to a passport of a visitor, permitting the visitor to enter and travel within a particular country or region. In the US, like in most of the countries, the visitor would need work authorization too if he or she wanted to work in exchange of salary.

For example, (as the USIS website says) the H-1B visa, commonly referred to as the “professional worker’s visa,” is reserved for people within “specialty occupations,” who are considered for admission to the United States on the basis of their professional education, their skills, or both. The H-1B visa permits U.S. companies to employ highly skilled foreigners in order to enhance their workforces.

So, the foreign worker needs a H1B visa to work for in the US. But what about the worker who does almost the same work while located outside the US? I find it strange that if I had to, say fix code, sitting in US soil I would need an H1B but I can do the same work by sitting in an office in the outskirts of Chennai without convincing the Government of the USA that I am qualified to do the job.

I would often need to convince the client company, though. So there is globalization thumbing its nose at immigration statues. The other interesting angle is that migration is movement of individuals across national – or political – borders. Globalization is, however, an economical imperative necessitating distribution of work across such borders.

1 thought on “Contradiction between Globalization and Migration”

  1. My comment is related and limited to the statement – ‘I find it strange that if I had to, say fix code, sitting in US soil I would need an H1B but I can do the same work by sitting in an office in the outskirts of Chennai without convincing the Government of the USA that I am qualified to do the job’

    In my opinion, in allowing somebody to migrate to US (or for that matter, any other country) the Government needs to consider something more than technical dexterity or managerial expertise; political association, criminal background, history of travel to non-ally countries, deportation history etc. to name a few. When the person is not physically located in the country most (if not all) of these headaches are borne by another government. If a company is able to get the work done without going thru ‘migration’ route, a lot of leeway is (and should be) given to the individual corporate. In case of migration, disregarding the above issues (political association, suspicious origin – like an Iraqi checmical engineer for example) the government has two choices as far as setting a bar for the tech/managerial expertise is concerned
    – set the bar much higher than is required for offshoring work (to have reasonable assurance that they would still find work here if laid off by the corporate involved)
    – set the bar at the same place, but take away the corporate’s right of laying off the migrants they hire; this option is not practicable in my opinion.
    In lean times, the people laid off may become a liability of the government. It usually doesn’t happen with us who are from India, but many people from many other countries have to have been deported at the expense of the government – hence the justified disparity.

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