The H1 visa is used to cover labor shortages in the area of degreed individuals. In the past, the annual quota was rarely met until the end, whereas now the quota is met on the first day of applications, April 1st. Approximately 3 times as many applicants apply as the number of visas available, 85,000. In 2016, a record 236,000 persons applied for the H1 visa.
The H1b visa has been the subject of much controversy and abuse. Rather than serving its purpose, it has become a way of importing labor to outsource to other companies at a profit. The biggest problem, states Steven Riznyk, a business and immigration lawyer, is that we require a technology-based visa of its own. What happens with the H1 visa, states Mr Riznyk, is that it is overrun by the tech sector, and persons of many other skills who would bring their talents to our country go elsewhere. This is due is part, to the lottery system, states Steven Riznyk. It is extremely disruptive on the lives of the applicants and prevents them from furthering their careers, monitoring their children’s education, buying or selling their homes, and a host of other tasks that must be accomplished when contemplating a move to another country.
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If we had a tech visa, proposes Steven Riznyk, we could create guidelines within that category or sub-category that would make the system work more efficiently and supply our tech sector with its needs. For example, we could eliminate the “apply April 1st but work October 1st” rule as that slows down our businesses, letting the rest of the world have an undeserved advantage. The unfortunate part of the H1b system as it sits today is that it does not serve the business world and creates many hardships, states Steven Riznyk, who was a Fortune 500 consultant in Business Process Re-engineering after studying business in Boston.
The bifurcation of the H1b visa is inevitable, states Mr Riznyk. We cannot have a category that is swallowed by one sector, leaving out all the others. When this occurs, we have to witness the need for a new category, and one that is more effective at accomplishing its mission, something the H1 visa does not do at this time. Yes, the tech sector requires a visa, and yes, other industries must be able to compete. In 2014, 64% of the H1 visas went to the tech sector.
The H1 visa can last for up to 6 years and is meant to be temporary in nature. What a lot of the public does not realize is that it can lead to permanent residence. As it is what is called a ‘dual intent’ visa, one can remain here temporarily while applying for a Green Card and remaining permanently. Many H1s do just that, and it is advantageous for employers that find great workers. They can, however, work for one employer, while having a Green Card case filed by another one, and their H1 visa will extend past the 6 years allowable, until the Green Card is available.
There are many issues to be addressed, states Steven Riznyk, and it will require brainstorming not only from an administrative perspective, but also from a business perspective so that America’s goals are met.
Steven Riznyk is a business and immigration attorney who has been practicing for 29 years. He is an immigration author who creates cases for immigration lawyers as well as the public.