Even a reduction of 55 percent from last year in the general quota and 35 percent in the advanced degree quota would do it
Philadelphia, PA (PRWEB) March 4, 2009
As the Fiscal Year 2010 H-1B visa quota filing starts on April 1, 2009, Philadelphia, PA-based immigration lawyer Morley J. Nair is urging potential petitioners to file the cap-subject petitions on the first day itself. Though it is widely believed that the recession would cut down the number of H1B petitions this year, Attorney Nair thinks that there is a good possibility that the quota will get capped right after the filing opens as was the case in the past two years.
The H-1B program has been providing US employers access to top-notch professional talent from overseas, including foreign students educated in US universities. These visas are granted by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to foreign nationals to work in "specialty occupations" that require a minimum US bachelor's degree or equivalent. Currently the worldwide annual quota of H-1B visas is 65,000, out of which 6,800 are reserved for nationals of Singapore and Chile. Additionally, there is a special quota of 20,000 visas for holders of advanced degrees from US graduate schools. Further, certain employers (mainly in academic and research areas) are exempt from this quota. The Fiscal Year starts on October 1, and petitions can be filed up to six month ahead of the start of employment, so the filing opens on April 1.
"In 2008, USCIS received about 163,000 petitions including 31,200 against the US advanced degree category in the first five days of filing, so a random lottery was conducted, as was done in 2007," Attorney Nair said. "This year, with the economy in a recession and in view of widespread layoffs, the general expectation is that there may not be as many petitions as the previous years."
Even with a drastically reduced number of petitions, Attorney Nair pointed out, there was the likelihood that the quota would get capped in the first couple of days, if not on the first day itself. "Even a reduction of 55 percent from last year in the general quota and 35 percent in the advanced degree quota would do it," he said. "So, I would urge potential employers to be proactive and get ready to file the cap-subject H-1B petitions on April 1 itself."
Another factor is the presence of thousands of foreign students in the US whose advanced degree category petitions were not picked in the lottery last year and who would be candidates again this time, in addition to those graduated later, putting more demand on that category.
The Law Offices of Morley J. Nair, founded by Attorney Nair has processed thousands of H1B petitions and hundreds of permanent residence (popularly known as "Green Card") cases on behalf of both corporate and individual clients all over the US, during the past 11 years.
Attorney Nair noted that the H-1B program has been under a lot of criticism lately because of the economic downturn and large-scale layoffs. But the critics often ignore the fact that US employers still need specific skills that cannot be found in the US job market. "It is critically important that US employers remain competitive in the global arena if they have to survive in these tough times," he said. "And, contrary to what critics allege, the H-1B program is not meant to undercut the US wages, because there are stringent regulations in place to ensure that these professionals are paid equal to or above the prevailing wage."
The total US workforce is estimated to be 145 million and, compared to this, the number of foreign workers allowed in through the H-1B program is minuscule, not even one-tenth of one percent. But this seems to be a minor detail to critics.
"Remember, the filing that opens on April 1 is for employment to start on October 1," Attorney Nair concluded. "By then, we will be in the fourth quarter of 2009, and there is widespread anticipation that the economy would be on its way to a recovery and the market would be able to readily absorb these new H-1B employees without impacting the general US job market."