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Annual H-1B Visa Cap Met In One Day 473

CNet is reporting that the door has closed on the H1-B visa application process for this year, one day after it began. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services said that it had received 150,000 applications as of yesterday afternoon. 65,000 H1-B visas can be issued for foreigners with bachelor's degrees. The USCIS will choose randomly from the applications to determine the winners.
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Annual H-1B Visa Cap Met In One Day

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  • by jcr ( 53032 ) <jcr.mac@com> on Wednesday April 04, 2007 @12:09AM (#18599231) Journal
    Those spots should be auctioned off. The more an employer is paying for an H1-B visa, the more highly-skilled the worker in question is likely to be. IOW, we really will be getting those people with skills we can't find here.


    • by Chandon Seldon ( 43083 ) on Wednesday April 04, 2007 @12:21AM (#18599339) Homepage

      That sounds like a good idea, as long as you ignore the feedback effect of any government auctions. I'm not sure that making H1B visas a revenue source is really conducive to fair policy decisions in the future.

      • by khallow ( 566160 )
        They already are a revenue source. Just not for the federal government.
      • by jcr ( 53032 )
        That would depend on whether the revenue went to the agency that decided how many visas to allow. There would be several factors at play, including corporate pressure on congress to increase the number of visas (as we have now), and also to restrict the number of visas (with the usual xenophobic arguments).


    • by StikyPad ( 445176 ) on Wednesday April 04, 2007 @12:23AM (#18599351) Homepage
      That's a classic catch-22, since first we'd need people with the skills to implement such an idea.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by jcr ( 53032 )
        Piece of cake: just outsource the app to implement it to InfoSys in Bangalore.


    • The profits from the visa auctions could be used to retrain/pay unemployment for the workers getting replaced. Just like the 'lotteries paying for school' thing all those states do. And we know they'd never, ever raid that cash for other stuff... right?
    • by Lewisham ( 239493 ) on Wednesday April 04, 2007 @01:14AM (#18599703)
      You aren't wrong, but getting the H1-B is difficult enough already. The company has to want you really bad to burn up an application, without a guarantee of success, that only happens once a year, and if I remember right, have proof that an American applicant couldn't have filled the position. For the applicant it's all those things plus convincing the company you're worth it and probably having to fly there to see said company in person.

      I don't see what else this would achieve without just being a way of gouging money, and further screwing job-seekers who actually want to pay taxes, contribute to the economy and the growth of American companies. I don't subscribe to the idea that skilled workers take American jobs, I believe they help companies grow and generate more jobs in the long-term.

      I think that IT is indeed a global economy, and if America is not willing to take on the view that companies can benefit from cherry-picking out of an international workforce, someone else, like Canada or Sweden, will, and companies there will grow.

      Disclaimer: Yes, I am a bitter UK citizen with a Masters degree that can't get a visa to live with his Californian girlfriend that I met during my year of study in the USA. We had to come to New Zealand for us both to continue being together without getting married.
      • by kevin lyda ( 4803 ) on Wednesday April 04, 2007 @01:26AM (#18599765) Homepage
        Never been to NZ, but from what I've seen/heard it sounds like you got a better deal.
      • Same situation, opposite side. I'm the American. My girlfriend was lucky enough to get an H1-B early on in the process last year. I'm sorry to hear about your difficulties. It is no fun being the American in this equation either. Best of luck.
        • by iamacat ( 583406 )
          Not thinking about marriage, even a sham one if you guys are not ready to commit otherwise? Would solve visa problems and she can get citizenship after 3 years.
      • by Malggi ( 791997 ) on Wednesday April 04, 2007 @07:38AM (#18602187)

        ...and if I remember right, have proof that an American applicant couldn't have filled the position.

        Unfortunately, you remember wrong. The Economic Policy Institute has a great article on this that should probably be submitted to the main page. You can find the article here: http://www.sharedprosperity.org/bp187.html [sharedprosperity.org]

        To quote the linked article:

        The most significant design flaw is the absence of a labor market test. The U.S. Department of Labor recently expressed the practical implications of this fact in a straightforward manner when it stated that "H-1B workers may be hired even when a qualified U.S. worker wants the job, and a U.S. worker can be displaced from the job in favor of the foreign worker." Simply put, an employer does not have to test the labor market before hiring a foreign worker on an H-1B.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by JimBobJoe ( 2758 )
          Simply put, an employer does not have to test the labor market before hiring a foreign worker on an H-1B.

          It was eliminated for good reason however. Labor market tests are well-known to be a bureaucratic exercise of pointlessness--companies who sincerely attempt the labor market test end up falling prey to an outcome which is "ambiguous" and doesn't necessarily meet the immigration criteria. Companies who don't care about being sincere adjust their said requirements so that only one candidate in a million ca
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by cluckshot ( 658931 )

        I personally think it should be bid out and not a lottery. We sell access to airwaves in this way, why not this?

        To be quite frank the whole issue is a trade war the USA is running against its own citizens and the tax evasion of certain employers in that trade war. Its really quite simple: The USA taxes away (state local and federal) about 65% of the income of its workers. The foreign workers come into the country without the embedded tax cost of about $300,000 (varies on the degree) of tax exempt inves

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by BVis ( 267028 )
          OK, you need to explain your concept of "tax cost". Are you saying that the taxes that both I and my employer pay are "losses" that must be "made up" in order to be fair? If that were the case, it would seem that you're putting that in the same light as, for example, education loans or mortgages. If you're meaning something different, I think the community might benefit from a citation or two fleshing out your point of view. (I think I've been reading too much Wikipedia discussion.) Personally, I look
    • by mwvdlee ( 775178 ) on Wednesday April 04, 2007 @02:56AM (#18600369) Homepage
      Give us your rich, your lucky, your highly educated masses longing to be exploited...
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by CRCulver ( 715279 )
        Hmm, maybe the selection of immigrants by lottery will make American an increasingly lucky country, just like Larry Niven's tongue-in-cheek hypothesis in Ringworld [amazon.com] that through a birthright lottery evolution would select for luck and eventually human beings wouldn't have to fear any accident.
  • by gkozlyk ( 247448 ) on Wednesday April 04, 2007 @12:13AM (#18599267) Homepage
    Batchelor degrees, eh? Didn't know you could get those too.

  • We need more (Score:5, Insightful)

    by phathead296 ( 461366 ) on Wednesday April 04, 2007 @12:15AM (#18599281) Homepage
    Is there anyone else here who thinks this is an indication that we need more Visas?

    While millions of unskilled illegals flood our borders every year, stressing our social safety net, the people we want in this country can't get in. We need more skilled workers who want to work within the system and work here legally and fewer unskilled workers who end up with a free ride at taxpayer's--mine and your--expense.
    • Re:We need more (Score:5, Insightful)

      by illegalcortex ( 1007791 ) on Wednesday April 04, 2007 @12:22AM (#18599343)
      It's questionable what percentage of these H1-B workers would be as desirable if they were here on regular visas. H1-B puts the employee in a certain position that very advantageous to the employer. I wouldn't mind finding out, though. I'm all for ditching the H1-B system and allowing full, unlimited immigration to highly skilled workers.
    • Re:We need more (Score:4, Insightful)

      by eln ( 21727 ) on Wednesday April 04, 2007 @12:24AM (#18599355)
      Please explain how letting in more highly skilled workers would keep low skilled workers from entering the country illegally. Unless you're suggesting hiring H1-B workers as border patrol agents, I don't see it.
    • Is there anyone else here who thinks this is an indication that we need more Visas?

      We? Who's "we"?
    • I've been saying that since day one. Get tough as nails about illegal immigration, but otherwise give visas to anyone who has a job lined up, valid as long as they are employed.

      And then you'll start seeing everyone's hypocrisy rising to the surface! The "pro-immigration" crowd is okay with immigration as long as it's poor Mexicans wanting the jobs "no one else wants", but they'll scream bloody murder when it's middle class Indians after *their* jobs.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by cdrguru ( 88047 )
      What the heck is wrong with the idea that Americans can be doing American jobs?

      Sure, many employers would rather hire someone that needs permission to change jobs and can pay them something less than someone born in the USA. Why do we want to give them that privilege?

      This has nothing to do with illegal immigration. The illegals are being exploited in the US almost as much (but not quite) as they were exploited and abused in their home country. But given that the reward of working in the US is so much hig
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by moosesocks ( 264553 )
        If there were Americans to fill these spots, I wouldn't doubt that they'd be filled by Americans. It's a far cry from "throwing open the borders" (which I would imagine would apply more to unskilled jobs than skilled jobs anyway)

        The H-1B process is so costly, time-consuming, and unreliable that an employer would be insane not to.

        Instead, in effect, you end up with a talent-shortage. Americans are still out of a job, and companies are unable to maintain an edge in order to stay competitive in the internat
        • Re:We need more (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Jah-Wren Ryel ( 80510 ) on Wednesday April 04, 2007 @01:57AM (#18599989)

          If there were Americans to fill these spots, I wouldn't doubt that they'd be filled by Americans.
          In a free market, if demand increases while supply remains constant, than prices will rise. Yet we've seen near static wage levels in the computer industry since the end of the dot-bomb years. This empirical evidence shows that there are plenty of Americans available to fill these spots.

          If we can't fill our jobs with our own people, then there is something seriously wrong with our education system that needs to be addressed immediately. Basic economics indicates that opening the job market up to competition would be the fastest and most effective way to make this happen.
          No, there is nothing terribly wrong with our education system. It is the incentive system that has something seriously wrong with it. The guys going into college know that the job market for computer engineers sucks, so they've been studying other disciplines, enrollment in computer science courses is at record lows [techtarget.com] all across the country but general college enrollment is climbing. [ed.gov]

          Make it an attractive career, not one where the suits take advantage of the geeks, and you'll see plenty of increased interest. But if the industry continues to undercut its current people, they will eventually find themselves in a situation where they really do need tons of H1Bs for their talent and not for their effect on wages. Or they'll find that other countries need these guys more than the US does because we've lost our edge.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Throwing open the borders isn't a solution, it is just a suicide pact. All that does is transform the culture of the US into being another corrupt, graft-driven Central American country.

        You're going to have to do better than just assert that if you want people to believe you, because it makes it sound like you are either a racist who thinks that the culture of central america is inherently dishonest, or you are a poor economist who thinks that open borders will lead to massive depression such that the major

    • "While millions of unskilled illegals flood our borders every year, stressing our social safety net, the people we want in this country can't get in"

      Given that few Americans are interested in the kind of unskilled work illegals do and there's no shortage of unemployed engineers and programmers who are US citizens and willing to work, I'd say we need the unskilled a lot more than the skilled.

      ".. fewer unskilled workers who end up with a free ride at taxpayer's--mine and your--expense."

      What "free ride" are yo
    • Actually, illegal immigrants contribute more than they consume.

      He belongs to a big club. As the debate over Social Security heats up, the estimated seven million or so illegal immigrant workers in the United States are now providing the system with a subsidy of as much as $7 billion a year.

      (source [latinbayarea.com])
    • How are unskilled workers getting a free ride? I'm pretty sure they're working for a living. The skilled immigrants have more chance of making a living back in their own country than the unskilled workers anyway.
    • Re:We need more (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Realistic_Dragon ( 655151 ) on Wednesday April 04, 2007 @06:59AM (#18601913) Homepage
      The US certainly needs to do something.

      There is currently a 4 year+ queue for people over 21 with a US citizen parent to obtain a green card. If they get married during the wait they go to the back of an EIGHT year queue.

      Oh, and their spouse dosen't get a visa when they do, there is another 5 year wait on top of that. If they chose to apply as the spouse as an LPR (instead of waiting for citizenship) then during the 5 year wait their spouse can't even enter the US.

      This is true even for citizens of affluent countries with technical degrees and well paying jobs who would, but for ITAR and the difficulty of the H1B process, be happy to move them to the US.

      Because of this I have been unable to get married despite being engaged for over a year, and once we do manage to get married we won't be able to live together for at least five years.

      The US system is at present seriously broken.
  • by cperciva ( 102828 ) on Wednesday April 04, 2007 @12:20AM (#18599319) Homepage
    There's a simple solution to the H-1B visa problem: Open offices in Canada, where a skilled worker who can speak English and has a job offer is practically guaranteed a visa. Vancouver in the same time zone as Silicon Valley, only a 2 hour flight away, and has a lower cost of living than any large city on the US west coast. Add to that two great universities, a moderate climate, and some of the best skiing in the world, in addition to all the usual amenities of a large city, and it's no surprise that Vancouver is routinely rated as one of the best places to live in the world. What are all [amazon.com] you [yahoo.com] guys [google.com] waiting for?

    (This post brought to you by I-want-a-job-and-don't-want-to-move-to-California. )
    • by loconet ( 415875 )
      "Open offices in Canada, where a skilled worker who can speak English and has a job offer is practically guaranteed a visa."

      Guaranteed a visa "maybe", but not a job related to their profession. Like many others in Canada, I've had my share of chats with PhDs driving cabs.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by cperciva ( 102828 )

        "Open offices in Canada, where a skilled worker who can speak English and has a job offer is practically guaranteed a visa."

        Guaranteed a visa "maybe", but not a job related to their profession. Like many others in Canada, I've had my share of chats with PhDs driving cabs.

        If you have a job offer related to your profession, then you are indeed guaranteed a job related to your profession. If you come to Canada on the basis of a job offer for a job which you don't want, well, you get what you deserve.

        There a

    • by JimBobJoe ( 2758 )
      a job offer is practically guaranteed a visa

      Which is not strictly speaking untrue, but Canada's immigration system is notorious for being slow [bcchamber.org].
    • Google has offices in Toronto and Montreal.
      • Google has offices in Toronto and Montreal.

        And in Waterloo, if you happen to be a wireless developer (gee, I wonder why Google is hiring wireless developers in RIM's home town?). But judging by the jobs on offer, it seems like Google's Canadian offices are small and mostly sales and marketing, not anything really technical or related to Google's core operations.
    • by tbo ( 35008 )
      (This post brought to you by I-want-a-job-and-don't-want-to-move-to-California . )

      As a Vancouverite who's now living in California (in the Bay Area), I can tell you it's not a hard transition. Yes, the Sierras are farther away than the Coast Mountains (it's always nice being able to see the mountains from your window), but Yosemite is really, really amazing. Other pros are the availability of good, cheap Mexican food, and a better subway system (BART beats SkyTrain, although Vancouver's buses are pretty go
      • It's always nice being able to see the mountains from your window

        It's also nice to be able to see trees -- by which I mean forests of 50m tall Cedars, Hemlocks, and Douglas firs, not puny 3m high shrubbery.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      There are tech companies all over the place. I live in Lancaster, PA and I work for Mapquest.

      You don't have to live in a place where 1200 square foot houses cost $500,000 to get a great job with a company somebody's heard of.

  • Just thought I'd mention the E-3 visa [wikipedia.org] for any Australians that happen to be reading this and want to work in the US. It's a handy little visa specifically for Aussies who can find work in a 'specialty occupation' (jobs which require a degree) in America.

    There's practically no demand for them at the moment which makes it much easier to get them, since they'll never use up the maximum allotment per year (10,500). The application process is a pain in the ass (I'm here on one), but I imagine that's the case

    • You don't happen to know of an equivalent for UK citizens do you? It seems that I'm not eligible for the green card lottery, and I haven't found a UK-specific visa like the E-3 for Aussies.
      • by Builder ( 103701 )
        The only thing that even comes close is an L1, but that requires that you work for a company with a presence in the UK and the US for at least 1 year, and then have an offer to work for that same company in the US. And it's non-trivial to get, unlike the E3.
  • The idea that visas are allocated to help big companies recruit cheap workforce is ridiculous for many reasons, including the fact that government should help (as in maintain opportunities to succeed) individuals rather than corporations. Let companies work with local universities instead. On the flip side of the coin, a job is the least of the reasons most people (including me) come to US. Rather, it's a milder form of political asylum. Maybe you will not be killed for your beliefs, race or personality tra
  • by btarval ( 874919 ) on Wednesday April 04, 2007 @01:37AM (#18599843)
    This H1-B Visa issue limit is pretty much of a scam. Cisco for one uses tons of L1-B's from Wipro to by-pass this restriction regularly. I imagine that others do too.

    Add to this the fact that there's really no effective enforcement going on, this "limit filled in one day" just reeks of political fodder to push for more Visas.

    Surprisingly, there are indeed some actual real numbers published on the number of H1-B admissions into the U.S., from the Department of Homeland Security. These numbers appear to confirm that there are a lot more H1-B's entering the country than the Visa limit would suggest.

    The DHS document (The 2005 Yearbook of Immigration Statistics) is at: http://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/statistics/year book/2005/OIS_2005_Yearbook.pdf [dhs.gov]

    I'm quoting the following from a discussion on dice.com at: http://seeker.dice.com/olc/thread.jspa?threadID=49 2&tstart=15 [dice.com]

    "Temporary workers and Trainees:" Specialty Occupations(H-1B):

    YEAR - H-1B visas Admitted
    1996 - 144,458
    1997 - 240,947
    1998 - 302,421
    1999 - 355,065
    2001 - 384,191
    2002 - 370,490
    2003 - 360,498
    2004 - 386,821

    There are a number of other excellent quotes on the above thread on Dice. It's well worth reading.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TeckWrek ( 220789 )
      The answer you are looking for is in the DHS document that you linked to. The table 26 on page 64 (where you picked the yearly number from) specifies in the header 'Non Immigrant Admissions (I-94 only)....'. The H1B visa has a maximum validity of 6 years. New visas are issued every year, but the ones issued in previous years (up till last 6) are still valid. All those people can go in and out of the country. Each time they do so, they are issued a new I-94. As a keen eye and some basic analysis will prove t
  • Way out.. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by univgeek ( 442857 ) on Wednesday April 04, 2007 @01:46AM (#18599907)
    Pick the H1B candidates according to salary. The people with the highest salaries get H1Bs first. The market will ensure that H1B's go to the candidates most in demand. Spread the cap over every month, with a backlog. This way, companies know the minimum that has to be paid as salary to get a H1B employee.

    Also IMO, a lot of this demand is drive by the Indian IT companies - TCS, Infy, Wipro, etc. They have HR teams who apply for as many of their employees as might be required to go onsite in the next year. And since a normal company can't usually afford to apply for, and hire, a person 5 months ahead of his possible entry into the US, the Indian IT companies are making hay.

    There are also students who are on their OPT who can apply for a H1B and work on their OPT until they get their H1Bs. These two'd probably be the biggest sets of applicants.

    This leaves a lot of companies in the US which might like to bring someone in on a H1 in an impossible situation.

    I'm an Indian, in India, and not going for a H1 any time soon. But I've seen a lot of my friends having problems because of H1. And the visa situation and general atmosphere after 9/11 was partially what made me come back after my MS.
    • by akintayo ( 17599 )
      I think you'll find demand is not that closely tied to salary. Someone working in a high cost of living area is going to earn more than someone in a lower cost of living area, regardless of demand. Likewise the pay in some fields are going to be higher, even if the demand isn't. Simply put, a real estate consultant is going to make more than a software developer.
  • I have to say, that I'm not American, but I'd like to work in the US, but sorry, I don't have a "batchelors" (funny stuff :) , instead I have a phd.

    IMHO, these numbers limiting the legal work visas/year are just ridiculous. For two main reasons. Countless numbers of illegal aliens flow into the US every year, yet their main concern is limiting the number of people who want to work legally and pay taxes. Then, no matter how low or high you put that limit, there will always be more requests than places. Solut
  • by loudici ( 27971 ) on Wednesday April 04, 2007 @01:25PM (#18608083) Homepage
    There is one part of the H1B program i have not seen mentioned which I think explains why the industry likes them so much. H1B workers are pretty tightly linked to their job and won't quit, because they would jeopardize their visa, and later their Green Card application process. I have seen a lot of H1Bs working for years maintaining crappy legacy code while they were waiting for their visa number. Americans on that team would ask to be transfered to another project or quit.

    The other hidden face of that program is that a lot of H1B workers are employed by staffing companies who are taking advantage of them ruthlessly.
  • by RexRhino ( 769423 ) on Wednesday April 04, 2007 @03:50PM (#18610625)
    Remember the nightmare, back before the U.S. restricted immigration!?!?!

    We had the scurge of people like Einstien, and John von Neumann! We had the evil of people like Enrico Fermi, and Nicoli Tesla, and Alexander Graham Bell, stealing up all those jobs that should have gone to hard working Americans! And it is about time we kick that evil job-stealing bastard Linus Torvalds from this great U.S. of A. to whatever Scandinavian hell-hole he is from!!!

    Think how much more advanced and successful the U.S. economy would be if it wasn't for these people ruining everything!

God help those who do not help themselves. -- Wilson Mizner