Record Number of H-1B Visa Applications Leads to Calls for Change

Another round of H-1B visa applications has resulted in a record-breaking 233,000 applications for only 85,000 H-1B visas. As a result, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has decided to hold a lottery for the spots, putting the immigration status of thousands of applicants in jeopardy. H-1B visas are temporary visas applied for through an employer, allowing employees in certain specialty occupations to live and work in the U.S.

While some opponents to increasing the number of H-1B visas are concerned that the program threatens the job prospects of Americans, it appears to be untrue that H-1B visa holders take jobs away from citizens. A recent Brookings institution study found that 43% of positions for which visa applications were rejected simply weren’t filled. Some companies that have been unable to obtain visas for critical employees describe being forced to move sectors of their company overseas in order to keep those employees on the payroll. Additionally, statistics show that immigrants with the education and skills necessary to qualify for H-1B visas tend to fill gaps in the current American workforce, such as in the sciences, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields, and are more likely to win patents and start their own businesses. These are all important factors in the continued competitiveness of the U.S. in the global business market. Critics nevertheless point to claims that foreign staffing agencies, especially those in India, issue a flood of applications for their employees, in order to increase the share of visas they obtain. Also, a U.S. Senate committee is currently investigating claims that utility company Southern California Edison laid off a number of American employees in order to fill the positions with foreign workers.

Many business leaders, including Google CEO Eric Schmidt, Yahoo CEO Marissa Meyer, and Microsoft founder Bill Gates, are backing an immigration reform lobbying group named FWD.us, founded by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. These companies employ a number of H-1B visa recipients and are seeking to ensure the job security of these workers seen as integral to the continued success of their organizations.
Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg has also added his name to the fight for immigration reform, via his organization Partnership for a New American Economy. This group has been raising awareness through the story of Pierre-Jean “PJ” Cobut. Cobut, a Belgian health care device entrepreneur, will be deported after his student visa expires if he is unsuccessful in receiving an H-1B visa via the lottery. Cobut has announced that if his H-1B visa application and that of his Israeli co-founder are rejected, he will be forced to relocate his business to Canada. Proponents of visa reform are drawing attention to the debate through the Twitter hashtag, “#LetPJStay.”

Don’t attempt to navigate the complex world of U.S. immigration alone. Consult the experienced and knowledgeable Texas immigration attorneys at the Lozano Law Firm, PLLC, for a consultation about your immigration issues. We are available to help you secure your and your family’s futures with multiple offices across the state of Texas. From the San Antonio area, call 210-932-3600; in and around San Angelo, call 325-227-6736.

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