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Annual H1-B visa lottery passes amid calls for change

Once again, the window to process applications for H-1B employment visas has come and gone. The annual lottery conducted to determine the 85,000 lucky applicants who will be granted visas has also passed, leaving the more than 170,000 applicants here in Miami and throughout the rest of U.S. to wait and see if they happen to be among that select group. This year followed the trend of recent years, with the application cap being hit within the first week. Now, those whose names aren’t drawn in the lottery are left to wait until next April to put their names back into the hat, along with an ever-growing pool of new workers hoping for the same thing.

Many have criticized the current process, calling it unfair and outdated. Some contend that this process is incentivizing companies to withhold jobs from qualified American employees in order to give them to foreign workers who, as many studies have shown, are paid less. Others question why the H-1B visa cap is so low given the number of qualified workers looking for jobs, particularly in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) sector.

Recent legislation introduced by lawmakers from both sides of the political aisle has proposed to raise the cap on employment visas to 300,000 annually. Supporters of this proposed reform hope that it would also make it easier for such workers to remain here longer and apply for citizenship. Currently, the H1-B visa lasts for three years.

While such proposals are being discussed, immigration experts advise applicants do all that they can to get a leg up on next year’s lottery. That includes quickly submitting an application. An immigration lawyer may be helpful in completing such an application in conjunction with one’s employer.

Source: Voice of America “H1-B Visa Lottery to Determine Fate for Thousands of Tech Workers” Ira Mellman, Terry Wing, Apr. 15, 2014

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