June 17, 2012
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) announced this week that it had filled its annual H-1B visa quota for foreign high-skilled workers. The announcement comes about five months earlier than last year, signaling that U.S. businesses are expanding again. But many companies must now wait until next year to attempt to hire needed talent. This constraint is slowing their renewed growth, while unfairly disadvantaging small businesses that lack the resources necessary to navigate America’s complex immigration code.
As America’s technology and service-based economy has expanded over the last decade, its demand for high-skilled labor has increased greatly. Global competition requires access to the world’s best talent. Yet during this same period, Congress has allowed the H-1B quota for high-skilled workers to drop in half—from 195,000 in 2001 to 85,000 today. In 2006, the quota was tapped in less than two months. In 2008, it vanished in less than a day—nearly 125,000 applications were received in just two days.