The issue of whether to increase the number of H-1B visas allowed in the U.S. each year provokes strong feelings, on both the pro and con sides of the fence. For proof, see the reader comments that follow my previous blog post on the topic.
My husband was particularly taken with the reader who called me a "dump ass." (Thanks, honey.)
There seems to be one indisputable fact in the highly-charged debate: Demand far outpaces supply for the visas, which allow U.S. companies to employ skilled foreign workers.
An attorney specializing in immigration issues quoted in an InfoWorld article advises companies to waste no time filing applications for the visas. Those that wait until April, when the U.S. Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) begins accepting them, likely will lose out. "It's sort of like a race," she says.
Sort of? Last year, the supply was exhausted just two months after the USCIS started taking applications. The cap for visas open only to foreigners with advanced degrees from U.S. universities was reached just two months after that.
While an earlier InfoWorld article reported that some lobbyists see the recent change of Congressional leadership, from Republican to Democrat, as a logical time to revisit the issue of allowing more H-1B visas each year, the latest article says that at least some incoming Democrats are on the record as being opposed to such an increase.
The IEEE-USA, part of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, is pushing for improvements in oversight of the visas. For instance, it wants the Department of Labor to gain more authority to audit employers. We definitely think this is a great idea, particularly since a recent Government Accountability Office study found many errors in petitions for visas reviewed by the department.