Newsletter June 2012 – High-Skilled Worker Visas: No More to be Had This Year, To the Dismay of Many Businesses

IN THIS ISSUE
The U.S. Naturalization Civics Test
The Latino Vote, the “Sleeping Giant:” Key to the 2012 Presidential Election?
Obama administration will not deport Undocumented, law-abiding young people and will be Granting Work Permits: It’s About Time Mr. President
A Quick Reminder: The 2012 Summer Olympics Will Take Place in London
The Faces of US Immigrants: Ariana Huffington, Columnist and Author
Recipes From The Melting Pot: Japanese Style Deep Fried Shrimp
Quote of the Month

High-Skilled Worker Visas: No More to be Had This Year, To the Dismay of Many Businesses

According to Elise Foley of the Huffington Post, many companies looking to hire high-skilled workers from overseas are no longer able to this year since the government has already reached a cap on one visa category this month.

The government usually allotts 85,000 H1-B visas to per year to foreign workers with specialized knowledge, with about 25% of these visas dedicated for graduates of U.S. universities. This year, they were used up by June 11. To put this in perspective, in 2011, the cap was reached in 33 weeks; this year it took 10 weeks. This also means that a lot of applications were rejected.

According to the National Foundation for American Policy, the drying up of visas spells bad news for many companies since reaching the cap early in the year means either deferring or losing job candidates who they have been recruiting for months. This also comes at a time when other high-skilled worker visas are difficult to obtain.

Employment-based visas, which come in five categories, are impeded by immigration law issues like per-country limits, which make it more difficult for workers to emigrate from nations like China and India. For certain visa categories, wait times can be up to 70 years for Indians and 20 years for Chinese nationals. The National Foundation for American Policy Workers also adds that people with advanced degrees from India or China are likely to wait about eight years to be granted a visa.

There are several bills before Congress that are meant to address this issue but are still awaiting a decision, despite intense lobbying from businesses. The House of Representatives voted on November 2011 to eliminate per-country limits on employment-based visas, but the measure has yet to be approved by the Senate.

And as Ms. Foley reported, for companies like Microsoft, problems with the current high-skilled visa system mean trouble finding the workers they need, given shortages within the United States. Karen Jones, vice president and deputy general counsel of HR for Microsoft said that her company recruits heavily within the U.S. and has invested in educational programs, but finds fewer computer professionals than needed. She said, “If we could find the workers here, we absolutely would prefer it. It’s a lot easier, we don’t have to go recruiting; we don’t have to incur the cost.” She further added, “Unfortunately we just aren’t yet there in the U.S. We hope we will, we hope our efforts to skill up the workforce will be successful, but in the meantime we have to be able … to bring the talent in that we need from other places in the world.”

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