AILA: H-1B Cap Reached Signals Change Needed

American Immigration Lawyers Association

February 18, 2004

Contact: Judith Golub
(202) 216-2403
or Julia Hendrix
(202) 216-2404

H-1B Cap Reached Signals Change Needed
AILA Calls on Congress for Immediate Change to Visa Program

The U.S. Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services yesterday announced that it will not accept any more new applications for the H-1B visa program, stating that the congressionally mandated FY 04 cap of 65,000 workers had been reached 5 months into the fiscal year.

Many U.S. companies, as well as medical and educational institutions, utilize H-1B visas to employ highly educated foreign professionals in the United States, making the H-1B program vital to America's economy. These highly educated foreign professionals allow U.S. employers to develop new products, create groundbreaking research, implement new projects, expand operations, create new jobs, and compete in the global marketplace.

The H-1B visa program allows U.S. employers to hire, on a temporary basis, highly educated foreign professionals for "specialty occupations." Examples include doctors, engineers, professors, accountants, researchers, medical personnel and computer professionals. Besides using these foreign professionals to obtain essential skills or rare and unique knowledge, U.S. employers use the program to acquire special expertise in overseas markets, trends or distribution (therefore allowing U.S. businesses to compete in global markets), or to alleviate temporary shortages of U.S. professionals where they occur in specific occupations.

The H-1B visa is a tool to keep the U.S. economy vibrant and keep jobs in America. As evidenced by reaching the cap so early in the fiscal year, H-1B professionals remain essential to fill specific positions in companies across the country. As the U.S. economy improves and demand increases, U.S. employers will need increased access to these professionals. If the H-1B program cannot give U.S. employers such access, the consequence could be detrimental to America's economy. Such rigidity would limit America's supply of these important professionals, thereby hampering our nation's economic vitality. The result will be American jobs lost and American projects losing out to foreign competition.

AILA calls on Congress to fix this untenable situation by supporting an H-1B program that reflects our nation's need for these professionals and allows U.S. employers access now and in the future to the talents of these highly educated foreign professionals.

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Founded in 1946, AILA is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that provides its Members with continuing legal education, information, and professional services. AILA advocates before Congress and the Administration and provides liaison with the DHS and other government agencies. AILA is an Affiliated Organization of the American Bar Association.

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 04021865.