H1-B visas

H-1B Visa Lawyer Advice on the Future of the Program

By Peek & Toland on February 2, 2017

President Donald Trump’s stance on H-1B visas remains unclear but there are plenty of indications the program will be restricted. In this blog our H-1B visa lawyer looks at some of the possibilities.

The H-1B visa program is likely to be undermined by Trump’s insistence that American workers are offered jobs first and his view that companies are using the H1-B visa program to bring over skilled workers and pay them less than Americans.

Many of the big tech companies have denied this. They point to a local skills shortage in some key areas. The H-1B visa program is used to bring over people with the right skill sets, particularly from countries like India.

An H1-B visa lawyer can help with your application

Trump’s harshest comments on these visas were made in March 2016. He said.

“I will end forever the use of the H-1B as a cheap labor program, and institute an absolute requirement to hire American workers first for every visa and immigration program. No exceptions.”

Although these comments do not seem ambiguous business leaders have pointed to some evidence of Trump flip-flopping over H-1B visas. Our H-1B visa lawyer has some questions about how the program would be restricted.

The Washington Post accused Trump of changing his position on these non-immigrant temporary visas.

However, even if H1-B visas survive, change is likely. Trump has spoken of raising the wages associated with the visas and adding a recruitment requirement on firms to seek out American workers before hiring foreign ones.

Talk to An H-1B Visa Lawyer if You Are Seeking Indian Workers

An article in QZ.com pointed out Indian workers are likely to be hit the hardest by changes to the H1-B visa.

Over the last couple of years, Indians have been the recipients of the highest number of these skilled visas that allow foreigners to work full-time in the United States for up to six years.

Inevitably, supply outpaces demand for H-1B visas. An H-1B visa lawyer can help you with your application and ensure you don’t make any mistakes that will impede you before you enter the visa lottery in the spring.

Of course, there is no guarantee of success in the lottery. Last year the visa cap of 65,000 was hit in just a week. Given the likely future restrictions to the program, it’s vital that you get your application prepared as soon as possible.

Our visa lawyers can help you in this respect. Call us today at (512) 474-4445 or contact us here.

Posted in Immigration, Visas

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Tech Industry Pushes Immigration Visa Reforms

By Peek & Toland on October 11, 2016

Tech giants like Facebook, Microsoft and Amazon are reported to be heading a drive for immigration visa reforms amid claims there is a shortage of skilled American workers.

The visa in question is the H1-B visa. The visas are used to bring over highly skilled workers from abroad and are prized in the tech industry.

The claims have also sparked a political furor. The right-wing website Breitbart branded claims that the U.S. education system is insufficiently preparing students for the tech industry as “insulting.”

Teach companies back visa reforms

It picked up comments from an article written by two attorneys from the Immigration Reform Law Institute, a body that has taken a hard line on immigration.

The Institute took issue with the claims of a labor shortage from big tech. It claimed the companies are passing over American workers because they want to bring cheaper labor in from overseas.

Calls for immigration visa reforms followed a rush by tech companies to secure the limited number of H1-B visas available in the spring.

The Wall Street Journal reported the comments of Adams Nager, an economic policy analyst at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. Nager said the date when applications opened on April 1, wasn’t so much a start date as a starting gun to secure skilled labor.

U.S. companies could sponsor 65,000 overseas workers who held a bachelor’s degree or higher and an additional 20,000 foreign nationals with an advanced degree from U.S. institutions. We noted how the cap for H1-B visas was quickly reached and exceeded.

The fact that demand was so much higher than supply points to major problems with the H1-B visa lottery system. However, there is little consensus about visa reforms.

Congressman’s Visa Reforms Would Tighten up the Rules

The tech companies are calling for more visas to be available. However,  a congressman has submitted a bill that would further restrict visa supply at the end of August.

The Chicago Tribune reported that Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) wants to restrict loopholes in their application process.

The report stated Southern California Edison Co. laid off approximately 400 employees last year. It replaced them with workers hired through consulting companies that were heavy users of H1-B visas.

Firms of more than 50 workers that have large numbers of H-1B employees (15 percent or higher) must submit paperwork with the visa applications proving they advertised the job to American workers and looked at their applications. Firms can be exempted from the paperwork requirement. However, an employee must hold a master’s degree or receive a salary of more than $60,000 annually.

Issa’s bill would remove the loophole for employers who apply for visas for master degree holders.

The H1-B visa application process is a controversial and complicated one. If you are considering making an application it’s important to know it’s difficult to secure these visas. Indeed, one misstep in the application process can invalidate your hard work. An experienced Texas H1-B visa attorney can help maximize your chances and save you considerable time and trouble. Contact us today at (512) 474-4445.

Posted in Visas

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Hillary Clinton Promises to Retain High-Skills H-1B Visas

By Peek & Toland on September 20, 2016

The lack of H-1B visas for workers with high skills rankles Silicon Valley. In response, Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee, is allaying fears that it will become harder for hi-tech companies to hire skilled workers in the future.

Earlier this summer, Clinton vowed to uphold the high-skills visas that are prized by the tech industry, Think Progress reported.

Hillary Clinton to consider reforms to H1-B visas

The lack of high-skills visas limits the numbers of skilled workers who can work for IT companies from countries like India. Earlier this year, we noted how the cap on these visas for 2017 was met in matter of days.

The season for H-1B visas opened up on April 1 and the cap of 65,000 visas achieved in under a week by April 7.

In a speech this summer to the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), Clinton noted the need to reform the visa system. She said immigration reform should be comprehensive. The tech industry favors immigration reform and is a strong proponent of the H-1B visa program.

An article in Vox expressed concern about Clinton’s agenda. It claimed her immigration reforms would prioritize Hispanic immigrants rather than the needs of the IT industry.

Moves to Meet High Demand for H-1B Visas

It said some people in the tech industry hope that Congress will expand the high-skilled visas program while sidestepping the more contentious aspects of immigration reform. During President Obama’s first term, Congress considered bills to expand the high-skilled visa program. The moves were ultimately voted down by Democrats.

Immigration has become a very partisan issue. Democrats are championing an overhaul of the current system. Republicans, to an extent, are cherry-picking high-skilled visas as the one component of the current system that should not only be protected but expanded.

Donald Trump, the Republican presidential candidate, has adopted an anti-immigration stance. However, the report stated he embraced the H-1B visa program as a way of creating more jobs in the U.S.

H-1B visas remain controversial. Some commentators claim they pit American workers against those from overseas.  Some of the tech companies such as Apple and eBay have been accused of “wage theft” by underpaying foreign workers brought over on these visas.

Clinton criticized the H-1B visa program in her Vox interview. She warned the program could be used to displace local workers with cheaper one from abroad.

However, the tech industry points to a skills shortage that cannot be met locally. If your company is using H1-B visas, it’s important to hire a skilled Texas immigration law firm to help you through this minefield.

See our checklist for the skilled visa cap season here. If you intend to apply for one of these visas, please contact our office to set up a consultation. An immigration employment attorney can give you an assessment of your eligibility for an H-1B petition.

Posted in Immigration Reform, Uncategorized

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H-1B Visas Hike Has Not Hit Level of Requests

By Peek & Toland on August 22, 2016

India is one of the leading pools of overseas labor for U.S. companies that seek to bring skilled workers here on H-1B visas.

However, the Indian IT industry recently raised concerns about a recent hike in the H-1B visa fee.

An increase in the fees for certain for certain H-1B and L-1 petitioners was enacted in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016 signed into law by President Obama last December. These petitioners have to submit an extra fee of $4,000 for certain H-1B petitions and $4,500 for certain L-1A and L-1B petitions that were submitted post-December 18, 2015.

These additional fees apply to U.S. petitioners with 50 or more employees if more than 50 percent of those workers hold H-1B or L nonimmigrant status. Further details are provided here by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

The Economic Times, an Indian publication, noted the hike had raised fears in the Indian IT sector that fewer U.S. employers would want to hire skilled Indian workers.

Joseph M Pomper, Minister-Counselor for Consular Affairs at the US Embassy, recently said this doubling of the fee had not dampened interest in the visas.

Hike in H1-B Visa Cost Has Not Deterred applicants

India has a massive outsourcing industry. The hike in visas is expected to tax it to the tune of about $400 million.

As well as the increase in the cost of H-1B visas, the fee for certain L1 visas, which are used for intra-company transfers, was raised to $4,500.

The scramble for visas this year suggested the hike has had little effect. Pomper said about 70 percent of all H-1B visas and 30 percent of L1 visas go to Indian companies. He said in the interview.

“The fact that more Indians happen to use that visa category is why they feel it more. It has not impacted H-1B or L1 applications at all.”

We note on our website that demand for these specialty occupation visas is growing all the time and demand outstrips supply. The statutory cap for the financial year 2017 was reached in just under a week in April.

We set out what you will need to do if you are applying for an H-1B visa here in this blog.

At Peek & Toland , we are familiar with the high competition for these skilled worker visas and all of the detailed requirements that you will need to complete. We can help you or your company to avoid the pitfalls. Call us today at (512) 474-4445 for a consultation.

Posted in Visas

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Why the H-1B Visa System is Dysfunctional

By Peek & Toland on July 5, 2016

We are becoming increasingly concerned about the dysfunctional nature of the H-1B visa system after the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services was inundated with demand for the visas for skilled foreign workers, leading to a “random selection,” process – in other words, a lottery.

These types of visas are often used by fast-growing technology companies. Demand exceeded the whole year’s mandated supply in a mere five days.

The H1-B visas system is dysfunctional

USCIS said the number of petitions it received quickly exceeded the 85,000 made available since the process started on April 1.

The chances of having your application for an H-1B visa accepted are about 25 percent, although somewhat greater under the master’s cap that applies to applicants with masters degrees.

This lottery process is far from satisfactory for applicants or employers alike. If you run an IT company, for example, in Austin, New Braunfels, San Antonio or anywhere else in Texas, you may be frustrated with the process because you have failed to obtain the skilled overseas workers you wanted to fill a skills shortage.

There are many downsides to the H-1B visa system. Even if you are successful in obtaining a visa and then make a valuable contribution to the US economy, you will have to leave after six years unless you have found a green card sponsor. There’s also a danger that the present xenophobia of some politicians against immigrants will impact the H1-B visa process by branding foreign workers as job stealers, thus making it even more difficult for companies to fill their skills gaps with overseas workers.

There is a clear need for reform and we have written previously about a bill by Arizona senator Jeff Flake to pilot a 10-year visa program for overseas workers who are less qualified than degree level.

If American companies are constrained by a shortage of skilled labor, it could affect our global competitiveness, which is why the issue of reform is so urgent and should not become embroiled in the greater immigration debate that is being fought in the Supreme Court. If you were unsuccessful in obtaining an H-1B visa this year, it’s important not to give up. The fact that the cap for FY 2017 has been met means it’s not too early to be working on an application for FY 2018. Petitions may be submitted on April 1, 2017, for employees who would be hired on October 1, 2017. To find out more about what you should be doing, follow this link.

If want to use the H-1B visa process for an overseas hire of if you are a skilled foreign worker seeking to move to Texas, it makes sense to contact a seasoned Austin immigration attorney for help in your application. Call us today at (512) 474-4445.

Posted in Uncategorized, Visas

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