Spring Is In The Air, And So Are H-1B Visas - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

IoT
IoT
IT Leadership // CIO Insights & Innovation

Spring Is In The Air, And So Are H-1B Visas

Get your engines running! It's almost time for the H-1B visa race to begin! The U.S. government starts accepting petitions on April 1 for the 85,000 visas allotted annually, and if history repeats itself, those visas will run out in a flash. So make sure all your T's are crossed and I's are dotted on those forms now.

Get your engines running! It's almost time for the H-1B visa race to begin! The U.S. government starts accepting petitions on April 1 for the 85,000 visas allotted annually, and if history repeats itself, those visas will run out in a flash. So make sure all your T's are crossed and I's are dotted on those forms now.Not only are employers getting their paperwork ready for the H-1B lottery, tech industry lobby groups are again ramping up efforts to convince Congress to raise the visa cap. Last April, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services received more than enough H-1B petitions to hit the 65,000 limit on the first day it began accepting the paperwork. By day-two the agency had gotten more than 133,000 petitions before it stopped accepting any more. USCIS also last year hit the cap by April 30 on the additional 20,000 H-1B visas exemptions for foreign students with advanced degrees from U.S. schools.

Last week, Compete America, a coalition of tech industry companies and groups that's been pushing to raise the cap for several years now, sent a letter to members of Congress, including House speaker Nancy Pelosi, urging them to provide "immediate high-skilled immigration relief and resist efforts to pass enforcement-only immigration legislation."

The letter from Compete America chairman Robert Hoffman said:

"As was the case last year, not only is the annual supply of H-1B visas virtually assured to be exhausted on the very first day applications are accepted, half of those applying will lose out in the visa lottery, denying U.S. employers access to tens of thousands of highly skilled and badly needed professionals who could contribute to economic growth and job creation in this country. Today's arbitrary and unrealistic limitson H-1B visas and employment-based green cards sends the message that America's doors are closed and that these highly-skilled individuals, many of whom have been educated in U.S. universities, should look for opportunity elsewhere."

In other words, Compete America--whose members include Oracle, Microsoft, HP, Sun, Google--as well as Boeing, Coca Cola, and NAFSA: Association of International Educators--wants the current cap raised in time for this next wave of H-1B visa applications allowing companies to hire H-1B visa workers for fiscal 2009 starting on Oct. 1.

But the lobbying doesn't stop there. Next Wednesday, the technology industry's best recognized advocate will plea in-person for Congress to raise the cap. Bill Gates is slated to testify before the U.S. House Committee on Science and Technology "on the future of innovation and U.S. competitiveness."

A Microsoft statement says "Gates will focus on issues of U.S. competitiveness, including education and workforce development and the need for immigration reform to allow for highly skilled workers to remain in the U.S." Gates made a similar appearance on the Hill around this time last year.

Comprehensive immigration reform legislation died in Congress last summer, and with it died proposals to raise the H-1B visa cap, reform green card processes, and fight visa abuse and fraud. So, in this Presidential election year, what's the likelihood that Congress will approve--and Bush will sign--any immigration reforms, like raising the cap on H-1B visas? Not good.

And with the economy looking like it's headed into a recession, isn't it possible that there could be more unemployed U.S. IT professionals looking for jobs in the near future? If that's the case, then maybe companies should consider taking some of the money they're planning to spend on H-1B visa fees and legal services (for foreign workers they probably won't be able to hire any way) and divert those funds to training programs for U.S. tech workers. (Speaking of the economic slowdown and it's impact on IT plans, please take our survey.)

With the economy stagnant and a Presidential campaign on high gear, seems to me the H-1B hot potato could be way too hot politically for Congress to pass around right now. What do you think?

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Commentary
Get Your Enterprise Ready for 5G
Mary E. Shacklett, Mary E. Shacklett,  1/14/2020
Commentary
Modern App Dev: An Enterprise Guide
Cathleen Gagne, Managing Editor, InformationWeek,  1/5/2020
Slideshows
9 Ways to Improve IT and Operational Efficiencies in 2020
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  1/2/2020
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Video
Current Issue
The Cloud Gets Ready for the 20's
This IT Trend Report explores how cloud computing is being shaped for the next phase in its maturation. It will help enterprise IT decision makers and business leaders understand some of the key trends reflected emerging cloud concepts and technologies, and in enterprise cloud usage patterns. Get it today!
Slideshows
Flash Poll