Electronic Design

The H-1B Visa—The Hottest Ticket In Town

In April, the U.S. government received 133,000 applications for 65,000 H-1B visas on the day it started accepting applications for high-skilled jobs that won’t start until October. But it’s really not such a large bottleneck.

Although Congress mandated the 65,000-visa limit for the agency, the limit doesn’t apply to current H-1B visa holders. Also, 20,000 additional visas can be granted to applicants who hold advanced degrees from American universities. The government said it would use a computer to select visa recipients randomly.

Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) introduced a bill at the end of March that would impose a number of additional obligations on employees hiring H-1B visa holders. For starters, it requires employers to pledge they made a “good faith” effort to hire an American before an H-1B worker. Companies would also have to advertise job openings for 30 days on the U.S. Department of Labor’s Web site before applying for H-1B visas. And, they would be prohibited from advertising positions only to H-1B visa holders.

Grassley said the bill would close “loopholes that employers have exploited by requiring them to be more transparent about their hiring,” and it would ensure more oversight of the visa program. Groups that represent thousands of American engineers, like the IEEE-USA, generally support the legislation.

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