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H-1B lottery

Every year as winter starts to fade into spring, the Citizenship and Immigration Service receives thousands of petitions for H-1B visas. 236 thousand petitions last year to be precise. H-1B visas are used by US Employers to get highly qualified professionals, mainly in Science and Computer fields, from other countries. The Congress has imposed a quota on new H-1B visas of 65K every year (plus 20 K for US Master’s Degree holders). So every year in mid-April, the Citizenship and Immigration Service does a lottery and only the lucky 65K + 20 K get in.

The chances of getting into the lottery in 2016 is a little more than one in three. As our country grows, its needs grow resulting in more and more petitions and less chances for petitions to be selected. If an attorney prepares the H-1B file, the employer loses the attorney’s fees if they do not get into the lottery. Thus big companies like Google, Facebook, Microsoft and other Silicon Valley Billion dollar company can afford to lose money and file thousands of petitions every year. Google for instance filed 9280 petitions last year. That’s like buying 9280 lottery tickets rather than one that the small employer can afford. And although the lottery probably is random, the probability for winning it is higher if you buy more lottery tickets. And yes, we business Immigration attorneys earn a lot of money during that process as well.
The Citizenship and Immigration Service always maintained that the lottery process was fair. However, two companies in Portland Oregon—-Tenrec Inc. and Walker Macy LLC has filed a lawsuit against the Citizenship and Immigration Service to make the lottery process more transparent. A federal judge has ruled that the plaintiffs have standing to sue. What the plaintiffs’ are asking for though, is to not close the accepting of Petitions for the first 5 business days in April, but prolong it year long. That might actually be worse in creating log jams and increasing processing times for H-1B petitions. And American Immigration Lawyer’s Association has also filed a FOIA suit to make the lottery process more transparent.
Although greater transparency is desired from any Governmental organization, mere transparency will not solve the H-1B problem. The market place works on a supply and demand theory. The artificial quota system demands that employers project their need in the beginning of the year, think about the lottery and apply as many petitions as possible. Similarly highly educated tech employees in India and elsewhere seek out employers and in many cases pay them to file their cases. But doing away with the quota requires a Congressional Act, and as we all know, Congress does not act.

For more information call Banerjee& Associates.

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