THE GREAT H1-B DEMAND
In 2015 a surprisingly 233,000 applicants filed for 65,000 spaces which crushed the plans of many sponsoring US employers and of hopeful specialty occupation foreign workers. In fact, for the last 3 years, H1B demanded has consistently increased and greatly exceeded the 65,000 H1-B statutory cap:
|Year||Number Petitions Received||General Statutory Cap||Advance Degree Cap|
For at least past ten years, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has collected H1-B petitions during a period known as filing period. The period generally begins April 1st of each year, and tends to close on April 7th after the USCIS announces its has received ample applications to begin its selection process.
After the filing period closes, the USCIS uses a computer generated random selection process (lottery) to randomly select which petitions received would be used to meet the 65,000 statutory cap for the general category. For 2015 this meant that out of the 233,000 new petitions received only 65,000 got accepted for the general category and an additional 20,000 petitions under the advanced degree category.
H-1B VISA PROGRAM REFORM BILL UNVEILED IN RESPONSE TO ALLEGED ABUSE
Despite the lobbying of Mark Zuckerberg and other internet CEOs for increasing the H1-B cap, a bipartisan bill threatens to create even greater restrictions on the program. According to news sources, “Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Assistant Democratic Leader Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., unveiled legislation Tuesday that they say would reform the H-1B visa program to make it consistent with Congress’ intent and curb abuses of the system”. The Grassley website states: “The abuse of the system is real, and media reports are validating what we have argued against for years, including the fact that Americans are training their replacements.”
While the H1-B cap limits tech employers in the number of foreign workers, it also has the affect of curbing the influx of foreign workers in favor of American employees providing time for U.S. talent to fill U.S. jobs.
Under the proposed bill, employers would be required to make a good faith effort to recruit American workers before seeking to hire H-1B visa holders; prohibit employers from hiring H-1B workers if they are staffed by more than 50 employees and if more than half of their workers are H-1B and L-1 visa holders.
While the bill targets larger companies, startup companies could also be impacted by the heightened H1-B scrutiny called for by the proposed bill requiring additional costs and time in responding to requests for evidence.