THE LEGAL VISA CRUNCH
May 30, 2007
If the Senate wants the United States to keep attracting the world's best and brightest, the Senate immigration bill is an odd way of showing it, says the Wall Street Journal.
Last month the supply of H-1B temporary visas for foreign professionals not only ran out in one day, but did so six months before the October start of the 2008 fiscal year. It's the fourth straight year that companies have exhausted the supply before the start of the year, which is a clear market signal that the cap should be raised, if not removed, says the Journal:
- The Senate bill would increase the supply of H-1B's by 50,000 to 115,000 and put in place a market-based escalator that couldn't exceed 180,000; that's an improvement, but it will still leave too many firms in the lurch.
- The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects growth of about 100,000 jobs per year in computer and math science occupations between 2004 and 2014.
Worse, the visa increase is combined with other provisions that seem designed to make employing foreign professionals both costly and cumbersome.
- Larger companies can probably live with the proposed increase in the fee for each H-1B visa hire (and renewal) to $5,000 from $1,500.
- But companies would also be forced to prove for the year surrounding the hiring of a foreigner -- six months before and six months after -- that a U.S. worker has not been displaced.
- This requirement is so burdensome that under current law it's used to punish companies that have been caught violating program rules.
- The Senate bill would needlessly apply it to everyone.
Source: Editorial, "The Legal Visa Crunch," Wall Street Journal, May 30, 2007.
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