In the days since the USCIS announced the large number of H-1b cap petitions filed this year, numerous articles have been written on the topic discussing the need for immigration reform and an increase in the number of H-1b’s available each year. Here are a few to read: BloombergBusinessWeek ; Computerworld; and our friend and fellow immigration attorney Cyrus Mehta published an insightful blog post on the subject.
Today, the USCIS announced that they received approximately 172,500 H-1b cap petitions. The lottery was completed today and 85,000 lucky petitions were selected for further processing. The remaining 87,500 rejected petitions will be returned. We expect to start receiving receipts and rejections in the next week. Premium processing of cases is expected to start no later than April 28th. Earlier this week, President Obama made a speech declaring how important it is for U.S. economic growth to keep the best and the brightest in the U.S. and to encourage entrepreneurship. With today’s announcement that over 50% of the best and brightest, as selected by U.S. employers, are being rejected for jobs in the U.S., it may provide the impetus for House Speaker Boehner and the Republicans in the House to stop holding CIR hostage and give appropriate consideration to the Senate bill which was passed in the summer of 2013 with wide bi-partisan support but, has not even been considered in the House.
The StarTribue recently reported that Cargill, a giant in the agribusiness world, has announced that it will outsource a portion of its information technology services to India. This will affect 900 jobs worldwide, including 300 in the Twin Cities. These jobs will be outsourced to Tata Consultancy Services, a large IT outsourcing firm in Mumbai, India. Some of the affected employees may be offered new positions at Cargill, others may be offered positions at Tata, and the remainder will be laid-off. With three percent unemployment in the information technology industry, we don’t blame Cargill for outsourcing these jobs to India when our outdated immigration laws prevent companies from employing specialized workers here in the U.S., especially when the H-1b cap is reached in just five days. We encourage our readers to contact their Congressional representatives to urge that new immigration laws are passed.
The H-1b cap filing season officially opens today and the USCIS once again expects a lottery with the end result being that literally tens of 1000′s of professionals, some of them holding US graduate degrees will be rejected and told to go home ! As this unfolds, tech leaders from the Silicon Valley have made a push in Washington to pass immigration reform emphasing the job creation that is a direct result of H-1b workers.
Pursuant to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, the USCIS last week released data regarding the adjudication of L-1 petitions. This data reveals that the denial rate of L-1 cases rose over 10% from FY 2012 to FY 2013 and in FY 2013, an astounding 35% of all L-1 petitions filed were denied. This data covers all sectors of employment from manufacturing to IT. Anecdotal evidence from attorneys that handle L cases for manufacturing companies, reveal an almost 100% rate of approval while those handling IT cases report a denial rate exceeding 50% and some even claim to be seeing a rate of denial as high as 75%. The data produced from the USCIS reveals an RFE rate of over 47%. In FY 2013, the USCIS approved approximately 12,000 petitions. Contrast this to FY 2005 during which the USCIS approved over 40,000 petitions. The practical result is that many IT projects which would be completed in the US employing a mix of L-1 and US workers and generating tax revenues, consumer spending, etc are now being completed overseas with no benefit to any US worker or the US economy. Instead of opening our arms to entrepreneurs and innovators and welcoming all jobs that benefit the US economy, our immigration policy, not dictated by Congress but, rather dictated by the policy desires of a few is most assuredly a closed door policy.
The Department of State (DOS) has released the March Visa Bulletin and the rapid forward movement has slowed. The DOS also made predictions for future months. These predictions include: further EB3 worldwide (all other countries) may not move forward and in fact, if demand materializes, actually see a retrogression; EB2 India will see no forward movement; EB3 Philippines should expect 3-6 weeks each month. Retrogression remains a serious impediment to legal immigration to the U.S. and needs a legislative solution.
On Tuesday night, President Obama gave the annual State of the Union address and immigration and CIR were not featured very prominently and that may be a good sign. If you did not catch the address, here is what President Obama said about the need for immigration reform,
“Finally, if we are serious about economic growth, it is time to heed the call of business leaders, labor leaders, faith leaders, and law enforcement – and fix our broken immigration system. Republicans and Democrats in the Senate have acted. I know that members of both parties in the House want to do the same. Independent economists say immigration reform will grow our economy and shrink our deficits by almost $1 trillion in the next two decades. And for good reason: when people come here to fulfill their dreams – to study, invent, and contribute to our culture – they make our country a more attractive place for businesses to locate and create jobs for everyone. So let’s get immigration reform done this year.”
The lack of specifics and a seemingly deferential attitude toward allowing the legislative process to work, a stark contrast to other portions of his speech and certainly not characteristic of his Presidency, gives us hope that he believes the two sides are close and an agreement is possible. Comments made later by influential Democrat, Nancy Pelosi echo this sentiment. Although this may all be wishful thinking, in the midst of a bitterly cold winter, wishful thinking is often all we have.