IMMIGRANT VISA NUMBERS RETROGRESS - SOMETHING NEEDS TO BE DONE!
Hello everybody. This is Cyrus Mehta. Welcome to this week's edition of immigration matters.
The H-1B cap has been reached. INS will announce how it will handle pipeline cases. INS has also advised that it will not count any over issuance of H-1B numbers from fiscal 1999 against fiscal 2000 numbers, but cannot say at this time whether it might apply that excess issuance, if there are any, against future years.
The State Department Visa Bulletin for April 2000 has announced that visa numbers for India in the employment-based immigrant category have retrogressed. The cut-off date for the India employment-based second preference is January 1, 1999 and the cut-off date for the employment-based third preference is January 1, 1997.
This will affect a lot of people on H-1B visas who are reaching their sixth year, especially those who have applied under the third preference. Even if the labor certification or immigrant visa petition was filed and approved after these cut-off dates, the Indian national employee would have to wait until his or her cut-off date becomes current.
It is therefore important that the Indian business and professional community lobby to pass legislation that would allow oversubscribed countries like India to use unused visas of other countries.
There are a total of 140,000 employment-based immigrant allotted by law every year for the five employment preferences. However, less than 70,000 visas were used last year. This is because the second and third preferences are entitled to 40,000 visas per year respectively. Each country, within these preferences, is also subject to a quota. But countries like India and China demand more visas than the per-country quota, while most other countries do not use up the entire quota.
Fortunately, a non-profit organization called Immigrant Support Network (ISN) comprising mainly Indians on H-1B visas has been formed to advocate for revamping of the employment-based immigrant system. According to Mr. Shailesh Gala, founder of ISN, more than 150,000 H-1B visas have been issued to Indian nationals in the last four years. If one counts spouses and children, there are at least 300,000 Indian nationals on H visas. If most of them are applying for green cards, the current per-country limit for India in the second and third preferences would never be able to support such a huge demand. According to Mr. Gala, the India numbers could go back by several more years in the near future.
It is therefore important that you join the lobbying efforts of the Immigrant Support Network, and you can find out more by visiting the website at www.isn.org. If greater numbers advocate for more efficient and rational immigration policies, the chances of positive results would increase as the collective voice is more powerful than the individual, and there can also be better funding toward advocacy efforts.
Following the introduction of Lamar Smith's restrictive H-1B bill, roundly rejected by business immigration advocates, a bi-partisan group of Representatives are expected to shortly introduce another bill called "Helping to Improve Technology Education and Achievement." The bill, among other things, would increase the limit on H-1B visas to 200,000 for FY 2001, 2002 and 2003, and set aside 10,000 of the 200,000 visas for employees of higher educational institutions, and government and non-profit research institutions, and 60,000 visas for individuals who hold masters or higher degrees (or their equivalent). The bill also would deal with problems, resulting from the per-country limits in business immigration, by allowing unused visas to spill over to oversubscribed countries. It would also allow an extension of H-1B status of those hitting the six-year limit due to INS or Labor Department delays. The bill would also increase the H-1B training fee from $500 to $1,000.
Because of the strong bi-partisan support for this bill, it is likely that this bill would become the House companion to the original Abraham-Hatch initiative in the Senate. Of course, arch immigrantion restrictionist Lamar Smith might try to thwart the progress of this bill in the House.
This bi-partisan effort, along with support to increase the H-1B cap from key economists and Federal Reserve Chairman, Alan Greenspan suggests it makes sense to move this legislation as quickly as possible. Everyone on an H-1B1 visa should support these efforts by joining ISN.
I hope you found this segment informative and helpful. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call the Law Offices of Cyrus D. Mehta at 212-686-1581. The number once again is 212-686-1581. You could also e-mail us at email@example.com or visit our website at cyrusmehta.com
This is Cyrus Mehta wishing you a wonderful weekend. See you again in two weeks.