Current Cap on H-1B Visas Greatly Underestimates the Need for High-Skilled Workers in the US

March 30, 2007
CONTACT: George Tzamaras

WASHINGTON, DC, March 30 - In another striking example of a broken U.S. immigration system, American businesses looking to hire professional workers from abroad are gearing up for an expected frenzy on April 2, the first day on which an employer can request a visa for an H-1B worker under the quota limit for the fiscal year 2008 that begins on October 1, 2007.

The number of H-1B visas, capped at 65,000, was reduced from 195,000 by Congress in fiscal year 2004.

Because of the annual cap on the number of H-1B visas, many expect the allocation to be exhausted on the first day that applications may be filed, which is six months prior to the start of the fiscal year. If an employer does not get its application in before the limit is reached, it will lose a window of opportunity to apply that won't reopen for another year. And, once that window does reopen, it will be yet another six months after application before the needed employee can start work.

In fiscal year 2007, the supply of such visas lasted less than eight weeks after the filing period opened. "The shortage of H-1Bs is hitting a critical point and that isn't good news for U.S. employers who may now have to cancel projects or send the projects overseas," said Carlina Tapia-Ruano, President of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. "These high-skilled workers are vital to U.S. competitiveness, and we should welcome their contributions to U.S. economic growth."

The H-1B visa program is utilized by U.S. businesses and other organizations to augment the existing labor force with foreign workers in specialty occupations that require expertise in a specialized field. Typical H-1B occupations include scientists, architects, engineers, computer programmers, teachers, accountants, and doctors. H-1B workers are admitted to the United States for an initial period of three years, which may be extended for an additional three years.

"Congress needs to realize that the current cap on H-1B visas greatly underestimates the need for high-skilled workers in the US, and this blunder will only impact our economy in a negative way," concluded Tapia-Ruano. "The most expeditious way to resolve this crisis is for Congress to pass a comprehensive immigration reform measure as soon as possible."

The American Immigration Lawyers Association is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice, and enhance the professional development of its members.

For more information contact George Tzamaras at 202-216-2410 or Brooke Hewson at 202-216-2435.

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 07033060.