End urged to work-visa limit

Discussion in 'Immigration/Illegal Immigration' started by Angelhair, Jan 29, 2011.

  1. Angelhair

    Angelhair Senior Member

    Aug 22, 2009
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    Let market decide on engineering, science positions, dump quotas, opponents say

    It took 10 months to reach the government-imposed limit for H1B professional worker visas this year - the longest they've lasted since 2004.

    That's a stark contrast to fiscal years 2008 and 2009 when the 65,000 limit was reached within two days by U.S. companies petitioning to bring in high-skilled professionals from foreign countries to work for three years. The visa can be renewed for an additional three years.

    Petitions, which can be filed beginning April 1 for the next fiscal year, have slowed with the economic downturn - it took eight months to reach the cap in fiscal 2010, information from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services shows.

    The slowdown demonstrates that the 21-year-old quota should be scrapped to allow the visas to meet the labor demands of the U.S. economy, a coalition of U.S. companies, academic institutions and organizations that lobby for more legal employment-based immigration said.

    "If we can take the politics out of it and just make it a market-based system, that would serve our economy much better," said Eric Thomas of the Washingon D.C.-based Compete America coalition.

    But that logic doesn't make sense to a critic of the program who says business leaders argue for the abolishment of the cap in both good and bad economic times.

    "The fundamental question is: Should we even be giving out 65,000 H1Bs?" said Steve Camarota, director of research for the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington-based organization that advocates for slowing immigration. "It just makes no sense to be looking abroad to fill these jobs when we have an ample supply of labor here."

    But that's not true in some fields, such as engineering, Thomas said. He points to data from from the American Association of Engineering Societies showing that 64 percent of all engineering master's degrees and Ph.D.s awarded at Arizona's three universities went to foreigners during the 2008-2009 academic year.

    At the University of Arizona, 37 of 51 engineering Ph.D.s went to foreigners, the data show.

    Companies pay from about $5,300 to about $7,050 in filing and legal fees to obtain an H1B visa for a worker for three years, said Tarik Sultan, a Tucson immigration attorney who specializes in employment visas. Companies also have to pay a wage established by the Department of Labor based on the profession and location of the business, Sultan said.

    Sultan's clients would prefer to save the money and hire Americans but there aren't enough for certain jobs, such as engineering, Sultan said.

    The H1B visa program perpetuates the country's dependency on foreign labor, Camarota said. U.S. businesses should be trying to stimulate more interest in professions such as engineering among American students, not relying on foreign labor.

    "The solution is to fix the pipeline," Camarota said. "Don't let that pipeline atrophy."

    But Sultan said $1,500 of the application fees paid by companies for each H1B application goes to fund training programs to encourage more Americans to study science and technology. That adds up to more than $165 million from the 110,367 visas issued in fiscal 2009, State Department data show.

    The annual cap makes even less sense during a recession when government should be doing everything it can to stimulate job growth and bring people who will spend money, Sultan said.

    "Why would we hamstring our business this way?" Sultan said. "They are educated, they earn high salaries, they pay their taxes, they are law-abiding, they buy houses, cars, go to restaurants."

    The U.S. government caps new H1B visas at 65,000 a year while allowing another 20,000 "masters" visas to foreigners with master's degrees earned in the United States. Some organizations, such as four-year universities, are exempt from caps.

    End urged to work-visa limit
  2. gekaap

    gekaap BANNED

    Jan 25, 2011
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    If they want a market based system, then they need to start increasing what they pay, so as to attract more people to the field.

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