Intercontinental Coding: A Challenge to Policy Domains

Alexandra Samuel


In the American debate over the 1995 Immigration Reform Act, the software industry clashed with information technology professionals over proposed reductions in visas allowing programmer immigration. The debate over visa restrictions obscured the relationship between coder immigration, largely from India, and offshore software production, primarily in India. An examination of industry practices shows that the immigration of Indian programmers and the India-based production of U.S. software firms form one coherent, intercontinental coding system. This system has grown out of the investment policies of the Indian government, the immigration policies of the U.S. government, and the technological developments that allow U.S. software firms to make effective use of both offshore and immigrant coding. The 1995 Immigration Reform Act debate reflected the way in which intercontinental coding has eroded the boundaries between existing policy domains, and continued controversy shows that effective policy requires an understanding of the relationship between programmer immigration and offshore software production.