Highly-Skilled H-1B Worker Visas Still In Limbo

By September 14, 2013H1-B

Many business leaders are expressing confusion and irritation that getting highly-skilled workers into the U.S. continues to be such an ordeal. Workers from India, China and Canada typically report that they have been waiting five, six, even seven or more years to hear if they can travel to the U.S. to work on an H-1B visa.

According to Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), more highly-skilled workers may be able to become employed in the U.S. in a shorter time frame – within a year. That could happen if immigration reform becomes a reality. Hatch joined a roundtable discussion on immigration reform, where he acknowledged that workers who travel to the U.S. for higher education degrees often want to stay in the U.S. and work at high tech and other high-skilled companies and in high tech industries, only to have to move back to their home countries due to visa restrictions.

Hatch said that there was an ongoing push to change outdated U.S. policies on high-tech immigration issues. Meanwhile, business leaders across the country have expressed their frustration attempting to hire more high-tech skilled workers for their firms.

Sen. Hatch has co-sponsored the Immigration Innovation Act of 2013. The Act hopes to raise the highly-skilled worker visa cap from 65,000 annually to 115,000 annually, though business leaders say even that is not a large enough number of visas for their job opportunities. The capped amount would have some flexibility, allowing for as many as 300,000 H-1B visas annually, if there is a proven need for that increase.

The visa expansion debate was part of larger immigration reform battle in Washington earlier this year. The Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act was hammered out for months and finally passed this June in the Senate. It is currently still waiting for approval in the House. But House Republicans have been combing over the Act, taking apart the pieces they do not ant and attempting to stitch together their own version, which would put a greater emphasis on border patrols, specially the U.S. /Mexico border.

Senator Hatch stated that there was a sort of “de facto amnesty” currently at work – people are being employed if they are a good fit, regardless of their citizenship status. Hatch has stated that U.S. citizens are encouraged to contact their congressional representatives with support for immigration reform.

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