By: Shah Peerally Esq.

There is good news yet for those who have been having problems with H1B Visas. In an exceedingly happy turn of events, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) announced on January 28th 2013 that ‘he is open to wrapping a bill that would boost the number of visas available for high-skilled foreign workers into the broad comprehensive immigration framework that was announced on Monday.’
In what could be tremendous good news to most foreign skilled workers and US employers, a bipartisan group of four senators, including that of Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), is expected to introduce a stand-alone bill on Tuesday which if passed, will significantly increase the cap on the number of present H-1B visas issued for skilled foreign workers.

The H1 B Visa has always been a source of discussion because of the different kinds of restrictions and caps that are enforced on both the employers and the employed as a part of acquiring this Visa. Issued, by the United States Government on petition by US employers to employ foreign workers in certain fields of work, this visa allows trained foreign workers in the IT industry, mathematics, engineering, science, architecture, medicine amongst some others. Under the regulations of the H1B visa a US company can employ a foreign worker, under these categories for only six years even though some exceptions are applicable under sections106(a) and 104(c) of the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act (AC21).

People are mostly dissatisfied with H1B Visa regulations because:

– Individuals cannot apply for an H1B visa allowing them to work in the US.
– Only the employer can apply for the entry of the employee.
– H1B visas are subject to annual numerical caps, which are according to most opinions quite considerable low.

Currently the US immigration law allows up to a total of 85,000 new H-1B visas for each government fiscal year, including 65,000 new H-1B visas for overseas workers in different professional capacities. Additional 20,000 visas are available for who have an advanced degree from US academic institutions. The biggest hurdle here being that once this cap reached, the USCIS stops accepting all H1B Visa petitions.

In his statement, after a press conference McCain said, “We hope that that kind of legislation will fit into the comprehensive immigration reform.” Apparently he and group of senators had outlined a framework of principles that would now govern new immigration legislation. He added that, “We’ll have to examine it and get the Democrats” view of it and all that, but it’s always going to be part of the discussion and part of a comprehensive plan.”

Mr. Rubio’s support voiced in favor for allowing additional high-skilled labor into the U.S. with making changes in the H1B visa caps as also making changes in the suggested bill to reduce the backlog for green cards, is definitely a welcome gesture that will affect thousands of people belonging to the skilled worker group. If according to the suggestion, certain groups of people are exempted from the employment-based green card cap, such as dependents of employment-based visa recipients as also foreign-born graduates from U.S. universities, with advanced degrees, it would mean a very important announcement in what is probably going to change many companies and individuals would look at job and research opportunities in the US.

The Immigration Innovation Act, proposed to be introduced this Tuesday may well increase the cap for H-1B visas from the current 65,000 to a whopping and largely increased 115,000. It is encouraging for all US companies who hire foreign skilled employees under H1B Visa that the bill also would include a mechanism to adjust the H1B cap based on the market demand. This would allow additional visas to be granted to those foreign workers, who are willing and eligible especially if the companies file early on the year. The proposed number of H1B visa being issued is said to be sealed at 300,000 visas.

The Shah Peerally Law Group PC welcomes this bi-partisan move and urge the government to pass this bill. If enacted, this will be one of the best relief for skilled workers which has been enacted since a number of years.