USCIS ANNOUNCES H-1B CAP FOR FISCAL YEAR 2005
Hello Everybody. This is Cyrus Mehta. Welcome to my new edition of Immigration Matters with Namaste America where we provide you with updates on the latest developments in US immigration law.
On October 1, 2004, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it had received enough H-1B petitions to meet the 65,000 cap for the fiscal year 2005. Indeed, the cap was reached on the first day of the new 2005 fiscal year.
Congress has set an annual H-1B cap of 65,000 of which 6,800 are set aside Chile and Singapore under separate free trade agreements between the US and these two countries. The earliest date a petitioner requesting fiscal year 2006 H-1B visa numbers can file would be April 1, 2005. Fiscal year 2006 will start next October 1st.
Note that not all H-1B filings are subject to the cap. USCIS will continue to process petitions filed to:
· Extend the amount of time a current H-1B worker may remain in the United States;
· Change the terms of employment for current H-1B workers;
· Allow current H-1B workers to change employers; and
· Allow current H-1B workers to work concurrently in a second H-1B position.
Furthermore, petitions for new H-1B employment are not subject to the cap if the H-1B worker will be employed in an institution of higher education or a related or affiliated non-profit entity or at a non-profit research organization or governmental research organization.
The H-1B cap reached on the first day of the new fiscal year will surely hurt US companies, and consequently the US economy. According to a report of the American Immigration Law Foundation, “Progress in science and engineering in the United States is heavily dependent upon the contributions of foreign professionals, many of whom enter the country on H-1Bs or remain on H-1Bs after entering as students and completing their studies at US universities. As a result, the current limits on the H-1B program may be undermining the preeminence and international competitiveness of the United States in a wide range of scientific and technical fields that are vital to the economy and security of the nation.”
Unfortunately, the H-1B program has also been viewed by opponents of a liberal immigration policy as taking away jobs of US workers and depressing wages. However, that is clearly not the case as the program has in-built protections that ensure against paying lower than market wages to foreign workers. Moreover, there is clearly a demand for foreign workers in science and engineering fields as well as a variety of other fields such as teaching and healthcare occupations. It is hoped that the US Congress acts soon and increases the H-1B cap or eliminates it altogether.
Finally, this commentator has always argued that the cap has no relevance to actual usage. When the cap was set at 195,000 between 2001 and 2003, all the visa numbers were never utilized because the economy was experiencing a recession. If the H-1B quota determined usage, then all the 195,000 visas would have been used up. Now that the cap has fallen to 65,000, the H-1B program has been rendered totally ineffective in light of a growing economy.
This segment is brought to you by Cyrus D. Mehta & Associates, PLLC. If you have any questions on this or related matters, please contact us at 212-425-0555. The number once again is 212-425-0555. You can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website at www.cyrusmehta.com. We are located at 67 Wall Street, Suite 1801, New York, NY 10005. This is Cyrus Mehta wishing you a wonderful weekend. See you again in 2 weeks!