Tech companies calling for more visas for skilled workers

Tech companies are advocating increased H-1B visas for skilled workers to fill jobs in their businesses that they have difficulty filling with U.S. workers.

February 21, 2014

Immigration reform is a hot topic in the U.S. Pres. Obama addressed the topic in his 2014 State of the Union address, and many are hoping that Congress will pass legislation reforming the U.S. immigration system by the end of the year. Technology companies are weighing in on the issue, advocating increased H-1B visas for skilled workers to fill jobs in their businesses that they have difficulty filling with U.S. workers.

H-1B visa program

The H-1B visa program was introduced as part of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952. These temporary work visas are specifically designated for non-immigrant foreign workers with skills in the science, math, engineering and technology, or STEM, fields. Workers with H-1B visas need to be sponsored by employers and can stay in the U.S. for up to seven years, including extensions.

These visas are highly-sought after by businesses. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services received a total of 124,000 applications for 2014 H-1B visas. The USCIS issued the statutory cap of 65,000 visas for 2014 within the first week that employers could file for the visas.

Businesses call for immigration reform

Business leaders from the technology industry are urging Congress and the president to include reforms that address the high-skilled immigration system when tackling immigration reform in 2014. A group of over 100 executives from technology companies sent a letter to Pres. Obama and congressional leaders advocating increased -- or even unlimited -- visas for highly skilled workers and for a more streamlined application process. They also proposed not counting spouses and children against the visa cap.

They argue that many skilled workers have to leave the U.S. before they want to, or do not even bother applying for a visa, because of the lack of mobility and visa shortages.

These business leaders also note that jobs remain unfilled because of visa caps and frustrating application processes. In just four companies, IBM, Intel, Microsoft and Oracle, there are 10,000 job openings, according to the letter, each one of which has the potential to lead to more jobs.

Speak with an attorney

While Congress deals with potential immigration reform for the future, employers and skilled workers need to deal with the current visa process. The H-1B visa application process can be complex and employers should seek the assistance of a skilled immigration attorney with broad experience obtaining these visas for employers to assist with the process. An immigration attorney can help an employer determine if his or her employment needs meet the criteria for H-1B visas and guide the employer through the application process. If you have questions about business immigration, talk to an immigration attorney soon.

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