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.

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H-1B Visa Season Started with Just 65,000 Available

By Peek & Toland on May 26, 2016

Applying for an H-1B visa is literally a lottery. On April 1, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced it would begin accepting H-1B petitions for FY 2017. By April 7, it announced it had received enough applications to reach the statutory cap of 65,000 visas for 2017.

USCIS said in a press release it had also received more than the limit of 20,000 H-1B petitions filed under the advanced degree exemption, which is also known as the master’s cap.

Only 65.000 H1-B Visas were available for 2017

Why You Would Apply for an H1-B Visa

The release stated USCIS received more than 236,000 visa petitions during the brief filing period. Just two days later, on April 9, USCIS selected enough applications to meet the caps by using a “computer-generated random selection process,” – in other words, a lottery. USCIS said it would reject and return all of the petitions it did not select along with their filing fees, with the exception of duplicate filings.

The speed with which the cap is exceeded highlights the importance of getting your application ready for the cap season, in plenty of time. There are important prerequisites that are needed first. For instance, a prospective employer in the U.S must file a Labor Conditional Application (LCA) with the Department of Labor before filing an H-1B petition. An LCA can take as long as three weeks to adjudicate.

Before you submit an application, it’s important to know what the visa is.

What is An H-1B Visa?

Skilled and qualified aliens who hold a Bachelor’s Degree can live and work in the United States by obtaining an H-1B visa in their specified field. The fields in question relate to ‘specialty occupations’ and could include research, defense projects, computer science occupations, doctors, engineers or architects. Find out more by clicking this link.

What is the Master’s Cap?

If you hold advanced degrees from a U.S. institution (master’s degree or higher), you have a greater opportunity of being selected. However, only the first 20,000 petitions received for those holding advanced degrees were exempted from the cap. Petitions received above the 20,000 counted toward the regular Bachelor’s cap.

What About Petitions Filed with Premium Processing?

If your H-1B petition was filed with premium processing, your employer and your attorney will know whether or not you have been successful, no later than May 16. USCIS will only notify the attorney you have on file and the employer who is petitioning for the application.

Applying for H-1B visas is often a headache, and the federal government is coming under pressure from business leaders to make more available. Our Austin-based immigration attorneys can smooth the process and make sure you are in compliance with all the conditions before you apply for a visa. If you need help with applying for an H-1B visa, please contact our office to talk to an experienced immigration attorney about how to proceed.

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