The slow pace of the economic recovery is dampening enthusiasm for the once popular H-1B visa.
The number of applications for the once-coveted H-1B visa, which
allow foreign nationals to work in the United States, has dropped significantly
this year as the pace of the country's economic recovery has stagnated, the Wall Street Journal reported
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services told the paper that 8,000
H-1B petitions were received from businesses in April, down 16,500
petitions in April 2010 and around 45,000 that were filed in April 2009.
The H-1B visa is highly coveted by employees in high-tech industries
and has been a mainstay of many companies looking to employ foreign
workers. However, after the financial crisis, the number of applications
dropped sharply-in 2008, before the financial crisis, all 65,000 visas
were snapped up on the first day they were available. The high cost of
obtaining the visa-fees and the cost of a lawyer can top $9,000-have
also put a damper on the number of applications.
In addition, a changing global economy, where upcoming nations such as
India and its booming IT industry are offering its citizens new
opportunities at home, is making potential immigrants rethink their
prospects in America. "Ten years back, I had this 'nothing will change
in our country' attitude," software engineer Nutan Kunduri told the
paper. "For an IT professional like me, India is the place to be, with
its booming tech industry."
In theory, the maximum duration of the H-1B visa is six years. H-1B
holders who want to continue to work in the United States after six
who have not obtained permanent residency status must remain outside
the United States for one year before reapplying for another H-1B visa.
frequently described as a program for highly skilled workers, the H-1B
nonimmigrant visa category specifically applies to specialty
occupations. Typical H-1B occupations include architects, engineers,
computer programmers, doctors, business managers and college professors.
Last week, Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis announced the
availability of approximately $240 million through the H-1B technical
skills training grant competition. The U.S. Department of Labor expects
to fund 75-100 grants through a single solicitation. Individual
grants will range from $1 million to $5 million and will be distributed
through two rounds of funding. The department said the projects to be
will help workers update current skills or acquire new ones so they can
enter career pathways leading to higher-paying jobs.
"This administration is committed to getting all Americans back to
work and into good jobs. These grants will create important
opportunities for those who may still be searching for work after many
months of unemployment," said Solis. "As they seek out new careers in
promising industries, our nation's workers need and deserve access to
quality training and employment services. The H-1B technical skills
grant competition will help make that possible."
The Labor Department also said it intends to award at least $150
million to grantees that provide on-the-job training to all
participants. The remaining funds will be awarded to applicants that
offer other training strategies. At least $45 million of the total will
be awarded to applicants providing training for occupations in the
health care industry and at least $60 million will be awarded to
applicants serving individuals experiencing long-term unemployment.