Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Happy Fools' day!

How many of you have been fooled today? Feeling sad that you could be fooled so easily? Don't you worry. There's somebody out there who was fooled consistently by a huuuuge number of people for the last two years. Not by 10, not by 100, but atleast by 8,500 people who fooled it into believing that they have a job, when they actually don't! Who else do you think I'm talking about besides the United States Citizenship & Immigration Services, the USCIS, in short. Here's why...

Each year the USCIS accepts petitions for the much coveted ***H1B*** visa. This is perhaps the World's most sought after visa, as it gives a ticket to making $$$. :) For those IT professionals with Dollar dreams, there's one additional season besides Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter - & that is the "Filing" season. This season begins on the 1st of April every year. And for the last two years, this has been the shortest season of the year. Started on April 1st, and ended on the same day. Huh-oh!

A citizen of India, with a very good job back in Pune, I never dreamt of landing in the US. So, I didn't care about all these work visas. But after coming here, I was like Sheaaa!!! Is this the way the country, the World looks up to, issues work permits? To get a job here, you need a work authorization; and to get the work authorization, you need a job. Do you see the cyclic dependency? Sadly, our friend, the USCIS doesn't.

For the US-graduated students, they have the previlige of getting a short-term work permit that allows them to work for atleast 1year. So, it becomes easier for them to get a job, start working using the Student work authorization, and eventually get the employer file the H1B. But for the people on dependent visas, and for all those in India, there's a slim chance of finding an employer who is willing to file your H1B and is ready to wait till October 1st for you to join work. As a result, most of these people approach the DCCs (Desi Consulting Companies). Most of them are shady guys with a one room office, and with 100's of employees on the payroll. All they do is, take money from the candidate, offer him a "dummy" job and go ahead with the H1 application. Once the candidate gets the visa, and lands up a job, he becomes the hen that lays the golden eggs. The owner of the DCC can happily vacation in Hawaii, while his employees fill up his bank account. In the eyes of the USCIS, he is a legitimate employer. But hey, there was no real job offer while filing the H1 petition. How could the USCIS miss that?

Last year, I went the right way & got a "real" full-time job, and got my H1B filed without paying a penny. But since the USCIS is not smart enough to sift the "real" jobs from the total pool, I missed the lottery. This year, when I gave up (bad market-no one knows whether he'll be in business on Oct 1st) and started enquiring around for a DCC, there's this guy who offered to file my H1. Not too surprising, this is what he said: "I charge 4000$ for processing your app. I strongly recommend you to put atleast 5 other apps (What???). The more tickets you buy, the better the chances of winning the lottery. Right? Any amount you *invest* in H1B is priceless". My greatest regret is that his name somehow slipped off my mind. Had I remembered, I would have posted this in some legal forums.

Because of these DCCs, the applications out number the quota, thereby resulting in a lottery. All the while, I've been believing that your education, personality, experience, anything that is either a natural trait or one thats acquired with lots of hardwork, earns you a career. Funny thing is, in the US, its a lottery that decides whether or not you can work. Hows that??

Atleast 10% of the 85,000 visas are grabbed by the DCCs. If somebody fools you today, you realize it latest by the end of day. But it could take the USCIS anywhere up to an year to realize it was fooled by a DCC. It just rubs it off the shoulder, perhaps denies the visa at the Consullate, and gets ready to invite another set of applications. The System can't be more screwed up. Since its not possible to filter out the DCCs, some radical changes should be introduced in the way the work permits are issued.

That said, I'm asking again: Do you consider yourself the greatest fool? Think again!

In order to adhere to the Terms & Conditions (written by me :) ), I have to write something about a click or the kitchen. This being one of my Cloudy days, I'm posting my worst recipe ever. What's the point? Well, you'll know what not to cook :)

Remember the curry powder thingy I told you about? Cooking Capsicum with that is an awful recipe. Since I'm never going to cook it again, I don't have a suitable click. But, look at what I have for you :)

Beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel:


Inspired cooking   © 2008. Template Recipes by Emporium Digital