April Fools Day is a big day in employment-based immigration. It is the culmination of the “H-1B season.” Companies who have waited all year to hire foreign nationals must rush to get their H-1B visas in the mail and delivered to the USCIS no later than April 7. Conceivably, the H-1B season could extend beyond April 7 if fewer than 65,000 visas are received at USCIS.
The H-1B is one of the more controversial visas in the US immigration scheme. US technology workers often complain that the visa is abused by unscrupulous employers. While there are certainly instances where abuse occurs, neither the USCIS nor the DOL bring many cases against employers, which could lead one to conclude that the complaints are overstated.Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren is the Chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Citizenship, Refugees, Immigration, and Border Security, and as is the case with one who holds this position, the nation’s most important voice on immigration. In today’s San Jose Mercury News, Rep. Lofgren speaks on the state of the H-1B visa.
“Even in this grim economy, there are some jobs in which we don’t have enough people — for example, we still have a nursing shortage,” said Rep. Zoe Lofgren. Rep. Lofgren doesn’t note that very few RN positions qualify for H-1B visas.
Rep. Lofgren’s long-standing goal has been to push a comprehensive immigration bill that attempts to solve many of the US’ immigration problems. She doesn’t think that piecemeal legislation is the best way to legislate on the issue.
The problem with this approach is, of course, that the nursing shortage is here today. For three years niche occupations and employers who have lobbied Congress have been told to wait for Comprehensive Immigration Reform. By the time that Congress is able to get around to passing a comprehensive immigration policy, my hunch is that the legislation will solve last decade’s problem, not the problem that the country needs solving at that date.
Ms. Lofgren should recognize that the needs are today’s problems, not tomorrow’s. She also ought to recognize that there is little likelihood for comprehensive immigration reform; there are too many interested agendas and tempers run too hot when immigration is discussed. The American public needs healthcare workers and this fact calls for targeted niche immigration reform. Holding out for CIR is a fools’ game.