Faith in the H-1B visa program may be diminishing as applications for the temporary worker immigration program slow significantly compared to the program’s historic trend.
“Legal immigration is a vital tool for U.S. businesses and plays a major role in helping our country remain competitive in a global economy,” says Dick Burke, president and chief executive officer of Envoy. “However, this year’s 1 percent increase in petitions USCIS received, compared to last year’s 35 percent year-over-year increase, isn’t an indication of waning demand, but rather reflective of what we heard from certain companies — that many of them are giving up hope on the program after years of being turned away.”
The total number of cap-eligible visa petitions submitted for fiscal year 2017 was 236,000. While the number didn’t increase much from the previous cycle, 64 percent of petitioners will have to secure other means of acquiring talent to fill their workforce gaps. Some will qualify for other employment-based immigration programs such as the TN, E-3, H-1B1 and L-1 visas — but many will have to postpone filling open positions, impeding company growth and sending dollars down the drain.
“In light of this, our customers increasingly speak of the need for sensible reform of the H-1B visa program. Such reform could include raising the cap, prioritizing companies that are hiring directly and penalizing those companies that are found to abuse the program,” Burke says. “Additionally, the program could focus on geographic areas of economic need or particular industries of national importance, such as clean energy, health care and cybersecurity.”