It seems bizarre and wholly irrational that law-abiding H-1B visa holders whose permits expire after six years — one three-year term and one three-year extension — have no means of remaining in the USA as legal and productive citizens.
Still, that’s the reality, as experienced by thousands of foreign technologists who are forced to leave the USA after finishing the maximum six-year terms allotted under the H-1B visa system. For these typically well-educaed, well-trained, and professionally skilled individuals, no recourse exists for them to remain legally in the country, much less to gain citizenship.
The Canadian province of Alberta is attempting to capitalize on the situation by aggressively recruiting H-1B visa holders whose permits are set to expire.
Alberta cannot be blamed for its opportunism. The province has a fast-growing, vibrant economy — supercharged recently by the high prices of oil and other natural-resource commodities — and it has a clear need for IT professionals that can assist in application fields such as the computerized discovery, extraction, and refinement of natural resources. Alberta, of course, also has a growing IT industry, represented by scores of software companies, nanotechnology concerns, and HP’s VoodooPC unit.
Alberta’s pitch to H1-B visa holders can be found at this government website.
The US H-1B system appears to be serious broken. It probably won’t get fixed until a new president is in the White House, if then.