More Expensive Work Visas Unlikely To Slow H1B and Green Card Applications; Flawed Lottery System Will
Long-term work visas (H1B) and green cards through employment (L1) are available to skilled employees through employer's sponsorship. However, the revisions to the H1B and green card processes threaten to nullify the benefits these visas are designed to offer to the US businesses.
Robert Hoffman, in the opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal, describes a new developments in the long-term work visas in the U.S.
The massive budget deal that Congress passed last month is something of a grab bag. … For the next decade, the bill increases by $4,500 the fee on each new L-1 visa for managers and specialized professionals, and by $4,000 the fee on each H-1B visa for other skilled professionals. The higher fees also apply when a company seeks to renew workers’ visas. … [International] …companies rely on a skilled and mobile workforce, and thus, often relocate people to the U.S. temporarily or permanently. … Those who pushed to make temporary visas more expensive falsely believe that doing so will free up, save or create jobs for Americans. Recent evidence suggests the opposite: U.S. jobs will be lost. … The new taxes on temporary visas will be even more disruptive. American businesses have long benefited from collaborating with IT-services companies in the U.S. But now their costs will likely increase, and they might be forced to continue or expand that work abroad, which would mean fewer technology jobs in the U.S.
Missing from Discussion
While worthwhile discussion about effects on the U.S. economy through businesses (a lot of them happen to be information technology companies headquartered in India), the article does not mention one group that will most likely stand to gain from this development – U.S. immigration lawyers. Furthermore, although the article highlights the deterrent effects the higher fees would have, I believe it would be helpful to give a perspective on demand for such visa. For example, for the fiscal year 2016, USCIS received 233,000 petitions for H1B visas, while the cap stands at 85,000. In simple words, demand exceeds supply by more than 274%.
Higher fees is not the issue in our opinion. Caps, which disrupt the natural flow of supply and demand in economics, are the problem. In our opinion, the higher fees will not likely be a deterrent for businesses to bring in talented and productive workers. These workers create so much value for the businesses, it is worth paying the higher fees. Starting 2016, the USCIS started distributing H1B visas on a lottery basis. This means that even if a business submits an application for a specific employee, and pays the fee, there is a chance that no such employee will be granted the visa. This uncertainty of success, in the face of steeper costs, will likely be a higher deterrent for businesses.
Why is this relevant? H1B and L1 visas fall “in-between” categories of visas, which are neither non-immigrant (like B1/B2 tourist/visitor visa) nor immigrant visa. These two categories of visas allow foreigners to stay and work in the U.S. for years at a time. Furthermore, it is not unusual for the holders of these two visa categories to “translate” their visa into a green card through their employer sponsorship. These visas are stepping stones to green card.
Solution? Ease the caps and raise fees further, both for L1 and H1B visas as well as green card through work. Those companies and employees who are best committed to immigrating to the U.S. will pay the fees, work harder to succeed and benefit the U.S. society in general in a more profound respects.
We publish an e-guide to Green Card by Marriage at www.doityourselfgreencard.com. Please visit our blog at www.doityourselfgreencard.com/blog for further discussion of immigration and green card issues.