Last week, Computerworld published comments from Senator Hatch in which he essentially called out Senator Grassley for being a protectionist and simply ignoring the economic realties of the global marketplace that exists in 2015 by virtue of his plan to prevent an increase in the H-1b cap without including unnecessary and onerous requirements. The proposals of Senator Grassley, though seemingly reasonable on the surface, would essentially destroy the H-1b visa particularly for IT staffing companies who are a large user of the H-1b program. Given Senator Grassley’s history of attacks on the staffing industry, his position should not be a surprise. It is refreshing to see Senator Hatch take a pro business and pro American position however, given Senator Grassley’s position as the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, he may have sufficient power to single-handedly prevent business immigration reform from happening. It should be noted that both Senators are Republicans and senior members of the Senate so this type of public exchange is a bit unusual. The back drop of this discussion is the upcoming April 1st H-1b cap lottery filing deadline at which, literally 1000’s of professionals, many of them with U.S. graduate degrees, hired by U.S. employers, will be rejected and told that their services are not wanted in the U.S. Last year, over 85,000 professional workers were rejected and many think this year, there will be even more. The 85,000 rejected workers would’ve been tax-paying productive workers and as countless economic studies have shown, H-1b workers serve to create U.S. jobs, not eliminate them. The continued insistence by politicians such as Senator Grassley, on building walls, rather than building the American economy remains troubling. The foreign outsourcing industry is grateful for his efforts though.
The Staffing Industry Analysts (SIA) published an article discussing the impact of President Obama’s Executive Action on staffing companies and HLG partner, Mike Hammond is quoted.
Senator Sessions (R-Ala) a long-time and outspoken opponent of the H-1b visa and any increase in the H-1b quota or an increase in legal immigration, hosted a policy discussion last week to denounce any increase in the H-1b cap. The premise of the discussion was that there were plenty of unemployed US workers with STEM degrees who were being bypassed for cheaper H-1b visa holders. Check out the summary of the arguments being made.
Earlier this week, a group of 8 Senator’s; 4 from each party, described their proposal to overhaul our broken immigration system. Their proposal addresses topics such as retrogression, STEM occupations, and the H-1b visa quota. We will keep you updated as developments occur.
The USCIS has released the H-1b cap count for filings received through May 25th. The Master’s number has reached 17,500 and the regular count has reached 48,400. We are estimating a week to ten days remaining until the quota is exhausted. We will continue to update the count as information is made available.
Most people are now predicting that the H-1b cap will be hit before the end of the month so please make sure you accelerate the filing of any cap subject petitions. We will continue to keep you updated as numbers are released.
Many people are wondering what caused the H-1b cap to be reached so much more quickly this year. Information that the cap would be met in November, two and a half months earlier than past years, caused many employers to scramble to submit petitions. At the Hammond Law Group, we believe that there are several reasons why the cap was reached at an earlier date. Perhaps most obviously, IT industry groups, such as TechServe Alliance, have noted consistent increases in hiring throughout this year. As a result, many IT organizations submitted an increased number of H-1b petitions this year for foreign workers who they hoped would fill these positions. In addition, the U.S. Consulates in India are denying a large amount of the L-1 visas. By decreasing the amount of L-1 visas available to Indian personnel, many organizations have resorted to using the H-1b visa to ensure that their personnel are able to enter the United States and work. Finally, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Mayorkas announced on August 2, 2011 that foreign entrepreneurs could use non-immigrant and immigrant visas to obtain status in the United States. It is possible that a number of H-1b visas were absorbed by foreign entrepreneurs. While all of these reasons likely contributed to the quick rate at which the H-1b visas were used up, we believe that the high rate of denials of the L-1 visa at U.S. Consulates in India and the increased hiring occurring in the IT industry caused the cap to be reached at an earlier date.
The USCIS has announced that the 20,000 quota allocated to graduates of US Master’s or higher degree programs for H-1b visas has been reached as of 10-21-2011. There are also less than 20,000 left in the regular quota and there has been a recent marked increase in the number of new filings. If the current pace continues, the cap will be reached in Dec, several months ahead of projections from only 30-45 days ago.
The USCIS is very near to reaching the H-1b cap. As of Friday, the USCIS had receipted 60,700 H-1b petitions. That leaves only 4,300 cap-subject petitions available for this fiscal year. It is expected that the cap will be reached before the end of this month.