Monday, April 16, 2007

Hmm, is London IT?

Recently, I had been thinking about a backup plan. I had originally planned on applying for a job in the US after I graduate. However, looking at the US visa situation, I've had to think of a backup plan as well.

The US has a special visa, the H-1B visa for high-tech foreign technology workers. The annual cap on these visas is 85,000 (if you include the ones reserved for US graduates). A few weeks ago, they opened the visa application for the year 2008. On the very first day itself, they had to close the applications as they had already received applications of more than twice the number available. Furthermore, the US government is unlikely to raise the cap on the visas even though the technology companies are all lobbying for it.

So, I was forced to think. How am I going to land a job with any US technology company if the visa applications are so over subscribed. So, there has to be a backup plan. Getting the job isn't going to be the problem. Getting a visa to work there is.

One possible alternative is to not get a technology visa. This would mean that my job application would not be for a technology job. Well, this is certainly one possibility. However, it would severely limit my choices. Another alternative would be to look for technology jobs elsewhere.

So now, we've got this article in BusinessWeek that extols the virtues of the technology industry in the UK. Over here, they have the exact opposite problem. Growth in the local IT industry is out-pacing the supply of technology workers by up to 8 times. Where once, NASDAQ was the place to be, these days, it's the LSE. There are more technology IPOs in London than anywhere else these days.

So, maybe one option would be to apply for a technology job in the UK. Although there are less major tech companies here than in the US, there are a few big ones. I can already think of a few companies, ARM being on top of the list. Heck, them being head-quartered in Cambridge makes it easier on the application process as well.

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