Stimulus Package and H-1B Employers: Restrictive Amendment Really Necessary?

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Philadelphia, PA-based immigration lawyer Morley J. Nair feels that the US Senate has taken a counter-productive step in adopting an amendment to the pending economic stimulus bill requiring firms receiving Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) funds to operate as "H-1B dependent" companies if they file petitions for H-1B workers. The several hoops that US H-1B employers have to jump through before they can actually get an H-1B "alien" from a foreign country into the US to work for them should be reason enough for them to hire qualified and willing US workers if available.

What is the message here?

Philadelphia, PA-based immigration lawyer Morley J. Nair feels that the US Senate has taken a counter-productive step in adopting an amendment to the pending stimulus bill requiring firms receiving Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) funds to operate as "H-1B dependent" companies if they file petitions for H-1B workers, forcing them to give attestations about actively recruiting American workers, not displacing American workers with H-1B visa holders, and not replacing laid off American workers with foreign workers.

H-1B visas are granted by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to foreign nationals to work in "specialty occupations" that require a minimum U.S. bachelor's degree or equivalent. Currently the worldwide annual quota is 65,000 visas, out of which 6,800 are reserved for nationals of Singapore and Chile. Additionally, there is a special quota of 20,000 visas available for holders of advanced degrees from US graduate schools. Further, certain exempt employers are not subject to this quota.

The Law Offices of Morley J. Nair, founded by Attorney Nair, has been in existence for more than 11 years, and has processed thousands of H-1B petitions and hundreds of permanent residence (popularly known as "Green Card") cases, on behalf of both corporate and individual clients all over the US.

Attorney Nair said that the Senate's action seems accusatory. "What is the message here?" he asked, "How many of those likely beneficiaries of the TARP stimulus funds have been found to be misusing the H-1B program in the past?"

He added that the measure seemed to show the H-1B program in poor light labeling it as a short-cut to avoid hiring qualified US workers.

Attorney Nair enumerated the hoops the H-1B employers have to jump through before they can actually get an H-1B "alien" from a foreign country into the US to work for them. He wants the readers to ask after reading each of the following steps: "Would a likely recipient of the TARP stimulus package be foolish enough to go through this if a suitably qualified and willing US worker was readily available?"

First: Spend time, money, and resources to find the appropriately qualified and experienced worker ("alien") from the foreign country.

Second: Spend more money, time, and resources in preparing the H-1B petition with accompanying evidence.

Third: Spend even more money - to pay the USCIS filing fees (which have gone up more than ten-fold over the past 10 years under one pretext or the other) and the attorney fees if the processing is not done in-house.

Fourth: Ensure the petition is filed on April 1 (it is a madness much worse than beating the tax deadline) for a worker who would, if all goes well, be available to work not earlier than the following October 1.

Fifth: After the petition is filed, wait prayerfully to get the petition picked in the so-called "lottery", which has been a recent phenomenon resulting from a lop-sided demand-supply equation.

Sixth: If the petition is not selected in the random lottery, forfeit the resources/time/money spent (except the filing fees which will be returned); go back to square one; and wait for the next year to start it all over again with incurable optimism.

Seventh: If the petition is selected, face the possibility of the dreaded Request for Evidence, the complexity of which gets weirder each year, and go through the resultant frenzy to beat the deadline by satisfying boiler-plate demands for "additional" information and documents.

Eighth: If the petition is denied, either forget about it forfeiting everything including the filing fees and wait for next year; or appeal and spend more money and time and resources hoping for a favorable outcome.

Ninth: If the petition gets approved, undergo the next episode in the drama - that of getting the so-called alien's visa stamp from the US consulate abroad, which is quite an ordeal for some unfortunate employers and aliens, especially at a Consulate like Chennai, India.

Tenth: After the alien arrives in the US with an H-1B visa, go through the rest of the steps to get him/her to start working, ensuring his/her "lawful" existence in the US fulfilling the ongoing procedural responsibilities, and be eternally fearful of a possible Department of Labor audit any time for any number of reasons.

"Would a likely recipient of the TARP stimulus package (or any legitimate US Employer for that matter) be foolish enough to go through this if a suitably qualified US worker was readily available?" Attorney Nair asks. "And was it necessary to impose this amendment on the stimulus package and malign both the H-1B program and employers using the program?"

Contact:
The Law Offices of Morley J. Nair
215-744-5100
http://www.h1bplanet.com
http://www.visaworks.com

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