Serving Both Businesses And Individuals

Silicon Valley leaders push for increase in H1-B visa availability

Illegal immigrants may have an unlikely ally in Congress this year helping push for immigration reform. Famous Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and even the late Steve Jobs have criticized the nation's immigration policy. Their primary frustration: a lack of H-1B visas for qualified math and science workers.

Zuckerberg and Jobs were not alone in their frustrations. Other leaders in Silicon Valley are dissatisfied with the nation's current policies. "Immigration exodus" and "reverse brain drain" are phrases being used to describe the current immigration system by tech leaders throughout Silicon Valley. In an attempt to help encourage change, executives and founders from Google and Yahoo have joined Zuckerberg in forming a group designed to encourage legislative change.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is also joining these measures to encourage reform with an online campaign called "March for Innovation." According to The Hill, a Congressional newspaper, the campaign will make use of a "virtual march on Washington." This "march" will utilize social media by way of tweets, Facebook posts and emails to increase awareness of the system's current flaws and call for change, focusing on increasing the cap placed on H1-B visas.

H1-B Visas

H1-B visas, also referred to as specialty visas, are used for science and math professionals such as engineers, researchers and computer programmers as well as other specialties. The number of visas available in this category for 2014 was limited to 65,000. The cap was reached in less than a week and an additional 20,000 H1-B visas were issued to individuals that were exempt from the cap.

A large number of applications were rejected. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) received over 120,000 applications for visas in this category alone.

Proponents for change argue allowing more of these applicants to enter the U.S. would result in increased jobs. This argument is based on the idea that many of these applicants are entrepreneurs who will start new businesses in the country. Critics argue some H1-B visa holders are helping ease businesses transition to outsourcing American jobs. These workers learn the job and return to foreign countries, establishing the jobs in tech centers overseas.

Congress will continue to consider immigration reform. Regardless of whether reform is enacted, the difficulties of obtaining a visa will likely remain. As a result, those applying for a visa should contact an experienced H1-B visa lawyer to help put together a successful visa application.