H-1B visa program hits cap in only five days
SAN JOSE — H-1B visa applications have reached the program’s annual cap in just five days, federal officials said Friday, as corporate America’s demand for employing skilled foreign workers in the United States remains robust.
“U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has reached the congressionally mandated 65,000-visa H-1B cap for fiscal year 2018,” the federal agency stated on Friday.
Applications opened on April 3 for the 2018 federal fiscal year.
U.S. businesses use the H-1B program to employ foreign workers in jobs requiring specialized knowledge, including science, engineering and computer programming.
The program has become controversial because skeptics say the use of foreign workers erases opportunities for American-born workers to land well-paying jobs, including technology positions.
In January, U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa, whose congressional district includes portions of Orange County and San Diego County, has proposed legislation aimed at curbing abuses of the visa program and clamping down on outsourcing of American jobs.
“In order for America to lead again, we need to ensure we can retain the world’s best and brightest talent,” Issa said in January. “At the same time, we also need to make sure programs are not abused to allow companies to outsource and hire cheap foreign labor from abroad to replace American workers.”
The Issa bill is H.R. 170, also known as the Protect and Grow American Jobs Act. The House Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security is considering the legislation.
FWD.us, a group created primarily by technology leaders, noted the significance of how quickly the H-1B cap was reached.
“For the fifth consecutive year, the H-1B visa application window closed in just five days, showing that demand for talented high-skilled workers continues to dramatically outpace supply,” FDW.us President Todd Schulte wrote in a blog post.
Silicon Valley leaders and executives from other tech hubs have pressed to gain access to foreign workers. The FWD.us group’s founders include Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder of Menlo Park-based Facebook; John Doerr, general partner at Menlo Park-based venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers; and Bill Gates, co-founder of Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft.
“FWD.us continues to call on Congress to reform the H-1B visa to crack down on bad actors and to lift the arbitrary visa cap that is stifling wage and job growth for U.S. citizens,” Schulte stated.
The Trump administration has already indicated it will police the program more strictly to prevent abuses.
“President Trump wants to tighten the requirements for the H-1B visa, to make it harder to use that kind of visa for an entry-level job,” said Mark Vitner, senior economist with San Francisco-based Wells Fargo Bank.
Despite some indications of misuse, tech companies and others have captured benefits from the H-1B program.
“A lot of companies wouldn’t have been able to fill positions without an H-1B visa program,” Vitner said.