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April 1st marks the first day when U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin accepting applications for the H-1B visa petitions for 2015. This is a race for immigrants, employers and immigration lawyers trying to apply for this type of visa since the program stopped taking applications only after four days last year because of the large influx of petitions. This year is not predicted to be different because of the slowly recovering economy.
H-1B visas allow a company to hire and create a job for a skilled foreign national who would be allowed to stay and work in the U.S. for a minimum of three years. The majority of skilled immigrants who work in the U.S. come here on under this type of visa program which includes 65,000 individuals with at least a bachelor’s degree and 20,000 with at least a master’s degree. Unfortunately, the cap is set at 85,000 visas annually and the applicant pool is way over this number. Last year, the government received 124,000 applications in just four days according to the Wall Street Journal.
The government is expecting at least as many visa applications as in the previous years, but no rise in the cap is anticipated. The current immigration system is making it difficult for professors, companies, and research institutions to be able to hire more capable people. Immigrants working in the STEM fields (Science, technology, engineering, mathematics) have contributed significantly to the U.S. over years.
“Foreign-born individuals make up about 20% of today's U.S. STEM workers with bachelor's degrees and 40% of those with advanced degrees.” Companies founded by immigrants have created over 450,000 jobs for people and generate over $50 billion in sales. Even if there is not a comprehensive overhaul of the immigration system which many were hoping for, with the visa program shortchanging so many who wish to emigrate, companies hope the cap on the H-1B visas can at least be raised for the time being until a better method can be established.
If you have questions regarding applying for a visa or immigration laws, contact us at 314-961-8200 or visit our contact page.