As the USCIS begin to receive applications for H-1B visas for 2020 fiscal year, the program has been attacked. Employers, politicians, and employees have expressed a high level of frustration towards the program, while since 2017, filings have reduced to 20%. More destruction is expected this year which has led to the wide speculation that the 29-old program may soon be headed for a complete crash.
What are the issues surrounding the fall in the H-1B application?
The availability of talented workers is excluded from such causes. China produces 10% of H-1B workers while 52% are from India. The workforce from these countries alone, excluding potentials from Canada, South Korea or Japan, is enough to meet the 85,000 H-1B visa allocations for 10 years and beyond.
As informed by a US Industry Trade group CompTIA, the unfilled IT jobs in the country is presently up to 732,000, as such, less demand for tech workers cannot be listed among the causes.
Some causes of the decline in filings of H-1B visas applications are
- Administrative bottlenecks before sponsoring foreign workers
- High cost - $1500 non-refundable fee, plus filing fee and other expenses incurred by firms which could tally up to $20,000 for a single application.
- Rigid enforcement of the president’s executive order – “Buy American, Hire American” which has led to the increase in rejections of visa applications annually.
Another significant blow will be a new policy which is still under consideration. According to reports, a recommendation has been drafted by the agency and forwarded to the white house office of management and budget to approve the annulment of H-4EAD visas which will hereby restrict the spouses of H-1B holders from living and working in the country.
According to a policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute, Sarah Pierce, the approval and implementation of such recommendation would be devastating to H-1B family members as they would either be forced to separate from family or self deport.
Furthermore, the greatest threat to the H-1B visa is the implementation of the current technology. Presently, robotic science, AI algorithm which does not need a visa, are replacing the workers who did IT jobs like applications developments, coding, IT services, etc. With this, the visa programme must focus on hiring talents in blockchain Technology, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, and the likes in order to remain significant.
The selection process of the current H-1B visa is scattered, and the tactical proposals by the USCIS to fix it endangers it the more. The administration should understand that H-1B visa or other potential future visa programs should be implemented in a way that will accommodate international talents and skilled workers, which will help promote the country economically.
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