Facebook's First Female Engineer Speaks Candidly About Worker Visas

Ruchi Sangvhi talks about uncertainties immigrant tech workers face.

Aug. 8, 2013— -- Ruchi Sanghvi was born in India and came to the U.S. to study at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. She spoke candidly about her experience with worker visas at the west coast premiere of Jose Antonio Vargas' documentary "Documented" in San Francisco on Monday.

Sanghvi, who went on to become Facebook's first female engineer, says the uncertainties that come with worker visas affect the immigrant worker's professional and personal life.

“When you get a job, it’s really difficult to switch jobs, it’s even really difficult to change your job titles, it’s difficult to actually get a raise and change your salary, especially if you’re on your way or in the process of getting a green card," Sanghvi explained.

The H-1B visa program, launched in 1990 to allow highly trained professionals like Sanghvi to work in the United States, is a controversial part of the latest immigration bill.

The program has critics from both conservative and progressive leaders, who argue the H-1B program takes jobs away from U.S. citizens or that it excludes a large portion of the immigrant population that provide manual labor.

In order for an H-1B application to be approved, employers recruiting the potential employee have to prove that the specific duties are "so specialized and complex" that the role cannot be filled by a resident in the U.S.

Sanghvi, along with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, is one of the founders of FWD.us, a political action committee lobbying for comprehensive immigration reform. Fwd.us is one of several U.S. tech companies that are putting millions of dollars in to passing immigration reform.

The current immigration bill would improve worker mobility that Sanghvi references.

FWD.us says they’re working to “reform the country’s archaic and broken immigration system to attract innovators, and build prosperous neighborhoods with strong families and good jobs.”