SAN JOSE, Calif. - The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) agency has received a sufficient number of H-1B petitions to reach the statutory cap for fiscal year 2011.
The numerical limitation on H-1B petitions for fiscal year 2011 is 65,000. Additionally, the first 20,000 H-1B petitions filed on behalf of aliens who have earned a U.S. master’s degree or higher are exempt from the fiscal year cap.
But on Dec. 22, 2010, USCIS had received more than 20,000 H-1B petitions filed on behalf of persons exempt from the cap under the ‘advanced degree’ exemption.
U.S. businesses use the H-1B program to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise in specialized fields such as scientists, engineers, or computer programmers.
The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) commented on the announcement from USCIS that it has received a sufficient number of H-1B petitions to reach the statutory cap of 65,000 visas for fiscal year 2011 since the filing window opened on April 1, 2010.
The nearly ten months it has taken to hit the FY2011 cap is indicative of the realities of the marketplace especially when contrasted with the mere week it took to hit the 65,000 cap during FY2005-2008 when the economy was booming.
“The economy, while recovering, is still slow and so the demand by business for any new workers is still low. It is no surprise that the demand for foreign workers is also less than it was five years ago and so65,000 H-1B visas lasted at least through 4 months of FY2011. But, during the boom, that number and that cap was clearly inadequate,” said AILA President David Leopold, in a statement.
“A common sense approach to high skilled visa distribution would be more flexible to keep in tow with our dynamic economy instead of pinning the visa numbers to a static limit that was determined by Congress in the last decade,” concluded Leopold.
“The master’s degree exemption hitting before the cap is just another illustration of the slow economy. While most businesses are cautious about hiring in a slow economy, those that truly need a specialized knowledge worker and can't fill that position with a U.S. worker will have to hire a foreign worker using the H-1B process,” added Crystal Williams, AILA’s executive director.
“But, what happens when the economy is booming? How many businesses will have to go without specialty knowledge? Under the current cap, it could be tens of thousands. It’s time to change the H-1B visa process,” said Williams.
"U.S. businesses use the H-1B program to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise in specialized fields such as scientists, engineers, or computer programmers"
...and then send them home!
H-1B is institutionalized brain drain--away from the US. It is, by definition, temporary employment. Several high tech US competitors (including Huawei) have learned a lot about US technology after hiring H1B engineers trained in the US then sent back home.
If we had a proper green card program then H-1B wouldn't (and shouldn't) exist. Millions of illegal immigrant farmworkers get amnesty and US citizenship, but the brightest engineers from overseas only get temporary jobs and then are sent away.
Sure it is often a stepping stone to a green card and eventual citizenship, but that's not what it was designed for and it causes nothing but years of grief and exposure to exploitation for these bright engineers.
If there is a shortage of engineers lets design a green card program that works, and drop this H-1B nonsense once and for all.
p_g's point concerning cultural work ethics is well made. I have experienced this first hand: the Japanese joke is that the work week is Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri, Sat, Sat, Mon... to the effect that there is no day off. Another Japanese engineer admired our 40-hour week. There is a dark side to working 60+ hours: some engineers do not see their kids during the week, at least see them awake. Is this good or bad? It's a difference, and in terms of competition, may give an edge to the firms that employ foreign-born workers who expect to work more than 40 hours.
Other thing I would say is that more than exploitation, engg from asia side tends to work hard. Its the life style difference.
I remember during recession when they were comparing CEO's of airline companies, Asian CEOs were traveling like ordinary passenger, paying for their own tickets where as other were using chartered planes.
If I imagine same thing is done by employee, then we can see it either as exploitation of H1B or may be their hardwork nature.
In a way, the initial exploitation (when it occurs) is a sort of dues paid to live here. Living in America is a desirable goal for many people (although I will admit, not all) and there's no reason that admittance should be free to all comers, despite historical antecedents. This is hardly an original observation, but that life here is a desirable goal is amply demonstrated by the long lines clamoring to enter Russia and China...
This is the American way and always been so, from 1800s when Chinese laborers were used in building railroad tracks. Go to any engineering school worth it's salt in this country and look at senior level engineering classes, and you will find mostly foreign students. That speaks a lot about what the American born youth considers important. Yes I think companies may take advantage of H1b cap to exploit workers, but these workers live here, pay taxes and work very hard, which in turn benefits the American economy as whole.
Very interesting to read you and to know from a US citizen that there is opportunity for improvement in such US fields as education, and I agree with you on saying that the parts involved aren't only schools but parents and the entertainment industry. But this is a struggle of life as a human being and always being fighting between dedicating our time for productiveness or for leisure. Nice reading the comments on this article... very opinion oriented.
I can't help but notice that some of the companies getting the most H1B visa employees are the same ones that are replacing the most existing domestic employees. Are there really no US employees available for those jobs? I'd predict that a good faith attempt to find local employees for those jobs would be successful. At worst, some geographical relocation might be required - but anywhere in the US is closer than Asia.
Phrased as you just did, I have little bone to pick. I will state (perhaps more clearly) that my opinion on H1Bs is complicated. I don't want to exclude the good guys. On the other hand, I don't want a flood of the mediocrities. I have had only tangential experience with the actual H1B process, but I have written job descriptions for such positions. It's a frustrating thing to have to start such a job search because there doesn't seem to be anyone "local" to do the job. Down below, Ovidu.Carnu takes me to task. He makes one good point: the educational system in the US is open to criticism. But the problem is bigger than that: the reasons that our schools graduate boobs from high school is that parents haven't done their job; schools haven't done theirs, and the modern entertainment industry has cheerfully filled the gap, with a thick, noxious substance. But this is way off the point. Let us have the cream of the crop of foreign engineers: they aren't trying to get here to get on welfare, that's certain... meanwhile, competition grinds on.
My company cannot go overseas; it cannot sell its product anywhere but the US, and it cannot use non-citizens nor non-residents. This is a special case, but more common than you might imagine. Companies do not move freely: the cost is enormous. Engineers cannot move freely: we are talking about the barriers. But I agree to this extent: valuable engineers should be able to come here and stay. As for the global economy, selling around the world isn't unimportant, but for many US firms, the market is right here. The description of any economy as "global" is basically meaningless. The various economies of the world don't exist on level playing fields, but on carefully segregated islands.
If H-1B workers are good enough to work here, then they are good enough to be full citizens as well. Instead of granting H-1B's, grant them full citizenship -- then they can be granted a job without fear of the company treating them like slaves. I have noticed that co-workers that are here under H-1B are overworked, underpaid, and discriminated against -- expecially women.
(H-1B employees work overtime and accept a lower pay since they know they will be thrown out of this country if they are unemployed -- even temporarily. The companies know this and take full advantage of this.)
By making them full citizens this would level the playing field and cause the companies to be fair in hiring (and paying comparable wages dependent on experience) to both long time citizens and any new citizens (that would otherwise be "enslaved" through the H-1B process.)
Don't tell me companies don't take advantage of the H-1B slaves. I've seen it and I hate it. The fairest thing to do - for both veteran citizens and the new hires - is to make them full citizens.
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