Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Immigration Issues

Russian born Candian citizen Ilya Shapiro writes at TCS Daily of the trials and tribulations of people wanting H1-B visas to the US. An H1-B visa allows a foreign citizen working in particular high skilled professional occupations to work for a US employer for a period of three years, renewable once.

"The problem is that there aren't enough of these visas: Congress limits the number of H-1Bs that can be granted each year, and that magic number has been set at 65,000 for four years now. Before that, and in response to the technology boom of the late '90s, Congress temporarily raised the H-1B cap to 195,000. But that expansion expired in 2004, and the cap has been reached earlier and earlier each year since.

In 2005, that meant August. Last year, it was May 26. This year, the cap was reached on... April 2 -- the very first day you could file. Yes, by that Monday afternoon, USCIS had received over 150,000 H-1B applications. Officials quickly announced that it would randomly select 65,000 petitions from all those it had received April 2 and April 3."

So, Congress limits the number of high skilled workers with jobs waiting for them, but won't build a fence or crack down on employers who hire unskilled foreigners here illegally. Worse yet, the people that DO get H1-B's have to leave the US after six years no matter what - unless they happen to marry an American citizen. Being Candian, Shapiro does get one break - due to NAFTA, the number of H1-Bs available to Canadians is uncapped, but last only one year. None of the Immigration Reform bills now before Congress touch upon this issue whatsoever.

Brilliant, isn't it? As Shapiro says, it's like some sort of bad April Fool's Day joke - one that we cna't stop repeating.

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