The US government has already completed its process for the H1-B visa lottery and those lucky enough to be among the 85,000 winners will be intimated soon. There were more than 172,000 foreign citizen applicants. And, the winners among them will be granted a 3-year H1-B visa to work for the companies who have sponsored them for the visa. Many of these workers are already present in the US. Also, some of them include those who are recent graduates from US universities and hold a Bachelor’s degree or higher in technological or scientific fields and which requires highly specialized training. These specialized fields typically include fields such as IT, Engineering and Science.
The H1-B program was begun in 1990 when the US Congress passed the Immigration act. Currently, the legal cap for the number of visas that can be issued is 85,000. A USCIS spokesperson stated that both last year and the current year, the mandated cap of 85,000 have been used up or during the first week after the start or beginning of the visa lottery. He noted that the H1-B program is becoming more competitive every passing year. But, he advised that foreign employees as also foreign employers should not be discouraged.
There have been supporters as well as critics of the program and the program has become a contentious one. US Senator, Orrin Hatch is among those who is a staunch supporter of the H1-B program. He actually contends that more alien workers should be given visas through the program. Thus, he argues that within such a short time, the quota for the H1-B visa seekers has been filled and so, but many of those who have high skills, knowledge and expertise would like to come in, but are not being allowed inside the US to work because of the visa cap. He further noted and stated that these visas are short-term visas and expire fast and thus the US is actually losing those very people the US needs, if and as the H1-B holders return home.
He also added that among the applicants is a pool of people who have been educated and trained at US institutions of learning. And that this pool of people is eager to help US companies to grow and retain their technological edge. But, there are harsh critics of the H1-B as well, some of who disagree with the above arguments. Thus, some of them argue that according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Department of Education, there are more number of highly qualified people than are needed in the US. Others argue that, typically, employers pay less to those who work on H1-B visas (i.e. they constitute cheaper labour or work force) than others (e.g. US natives) and since this constitutes significant savings for the company, they opt for it.
Thus, it can be surmised that though the continuation of the H1-B program is not in doubt, what form it may take in the future is a matter of debate and unknown.