U.S. Inaction on Immigration

By: Ann All

Craig Barrett, chairman of Intel, minces few words in his opinion piece regarding the European Union's so-called Blue Card.

In the piece, which was recently published in The Washington Post and other major newspapers, he lauds European leaders for advancing a plan to create a temporary but renewable two-year visa that should make it easier for foreign workers to seek employment in EU countries. In contrast, he writes, the current “byzantine system" in the U.S. “increasingly threatens America’s long-term competitiveness" by making it difficult for companies like his to employ foreign-born professionals.

As I blogged back in October, Europe trails the U.S., Canada and Australia in attracting foreign workers to its shores. EU officials believe that making work requirements more consistent between its 27 member countries and increasing employment benefits will help change that.

While that may be true, a major hurdle still remains.

The Blue Card proposal hasn't yet been approved by EU countries — a fact that Barrett doesn’t mention until the final paragraph of his piece. And approval is far from assured, as a story on Deutsche Welle makes clear.

According to the story, Germany's interior minister worries that the plan may result in the EU eventually imposing immigration quotas. The Czech Republic and Bulgaria want native workers to receive employment priority over immigrants. Several other countries are asking for clarification on elements of the proposal, and Britain has opted not to participate and introduced an alternate plan of its own.

In India, home to many workers with the kinds of engineering and technology skills that the Blue Card proposal seems designed to attract, interest from the IT industry has been “lukewarm," reports The Business Standard.

An executive from Satyam Computer Services tells the newspaper that Europe "is not a very glamorous proposition for Indians — compared with being in India." The cost of living is generally higher in Europe than in the U.S., he says, and there are more language difficulties.

According to the Economic Times, Indian officials would like the EU to include Blue Card provisions specific to IndiaFree Articles, such as waiving proposed requirements for a minimum one-year work contract and certain salary requirements.

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