US Immigration reform is a much discussed issue among the tech companies across the world. President Obama addressed the immigration reform too in his ‘State of the Union’ address. Many are of the opinion that the US administration will pass the legislative reforms by the end of this year. Tech companies are mulling over this topic, and are advocating that they are having difficulty in filling the jobs in the US with skilled workers and want to increase the number or quota of H-1B visas.
H-1B visa was introduced in the year 1952 as a part of the Immigration and Nationality Act. These are temporary work visas and are designed especially for foreign workers with expertise in maths, science, technology and engineering, or STEM fields. H-1B visas have to be sponsored by the employers, and the sponsored employees can then stay for a total period of 7 years and this includes periods of/for extensions of visa.
H-1B visas are very much sought after by companies. For 2014, US citizenship and immigration services has received 1,24,000 applications for H-1B visas. USCIS had issued a statutory cap of 65,000 for the fiscal year 2014, and the employers then filed for the visas within the first week itself.
Industry leaders from the technology sector are seeking to influence the President and the Congress to take account of reforms that tackle the issues of the high skilled immigration system. Over 100 executives from technology industries have sent a letter to congressional leaders and to President Obama with a plea to increase the quota of H-1B visas for highly skilled workers and to streamline this process. They have also petitioned them to not count children and spouses against the cap of visa.
They have also stated that many skilled workers who are leaving the US are not even bothering to apply for a visa before they want to leave, for the reason that there is a lack of visas i.e. shortages of visas and also lack of mobility.
Business leaders have also stated that many of the jobs remain unfilled because of the frustrating application process and visa caps. There are over 10,000 job openings from just about 4 companies Intel, IBM, Oracle and Microsoft, according to the letter sent from the business leaders.