The US proposes to drastically reduce the amount of employment visas it offers to “highly qualified” employees from 195,000 to 65,000 by the month’s end. This reduction will be implemented October 1, unless Congress acts to change the directive. Most experts, however, do not believe Congress will do anything to stop the reduction.
This change will affect the amount of H1-B visas issued per year. H1-B visas have been traditionally used to import high-tech employees to the U.S.; most of these employees come from the South Asian subcontinent.
The reduction in issued H1-B visas, according to Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT), is a means to address the high level of unemployment in the U.S. “Given the weakness of our current economy, and the rising unemployment we have experienced under President Bush’s stewardship,” says Leahy, “many who supported the increase in 2000 now believe that 65,000 visas are sufficient.”
But high tech employers feel the reduction will do more to hurt the U.S. economy than help it. Employers assert that foreign workers are necessary in today’s economy, and that it is an impossible feat to find enough American workers with the advanced education, skills, and expertise needed to fuel high-tech industries based in the U.S.
It is expected that immigration attorneys will be faced with an exorbitant amount of requests from companies seeking to apply for H1-B visas prior to the reduction.