133k H-1B visa applications submitted in 2 days

That’s the front page headline of Information week (April 9,2007) Yes, I admit I am not the most current blogger around 🙂 I just received a notice that my greencard application has been received. Staying in this country has been a 10 year struggle. If you are American, you have no idea of the trauma and stress this involves (unless you are involved intimately with an alien..and not the flying green kind)

Its one of my pet peeves. Its a constant topic of discussion between foreigners living in the US. Every time we meet, ultimately the issue comes up. What’s your status? What kind of visa do you have? How much time do you have? What are your plans? When that 6 year H1-B limitations came up, I saw many of my friends leave the country. It was just too hard to stay. We are all tax paying people (most likely contributing more than 70% of the general population) We contribute to social security and unemployment knowing that most likely we will never see the benefits. We live in a state of impermanence unable to make long term plans.

At the back of our minds, we know that should we get laid off, we have 2 weeks to look for a new job that will support a visa. We make travel plans (or not) based on what is happenning with our visas. There have been many vacation and foreign wedding plans foiled because of the months spent waiting to hear back from INS.

Every time I pass immigration at the airport I have heart palpitations, worried that some disgruntled government worker will take out their foul moods on me and subject me to a full body search or even worse put me right back on a plane…

The H-1B visa enables professionals in “specialty occupations” to make a valuable contribution to the American economy. A maximum of 65,000 H-1B visas are issued every year. The H-1B visa is issued for up to three years but may be extended. This provides a maximum stay of six years. The H1-B visa holder can apply for a Green Card if a company wants to sponsor his/her application. – US Immigration support site

Luckily I no longer depend on a H1-B. But my heart goes out to all those who do. It is literally impossible to find a job in the US under those circumstances nowadays. What employer is willing to wait months and months to submit an application that has a window of 2 days and an approval process that make them wait another 3-4 months to start work? For many companies, if you need a visa, you are automatically cut out of the application process.

So who actually gets the benefits of a H1-B these days? Companies that can afford the wait to import employees from abroad. Namely IT companies that have offshore resourcing. They use the H1-B to train their employees and eventually ship them back. Does this benefit the US or US companies?

The number of applications (133,000 for 65,000 openings) seem to indicate that something needs to change. What about the highly trained, highly skilled individual who has contributed over 10 years in taxes who just really wants to stay? (like myself) Surely having us here benefits the US. We came to study and we never want to leave. Surely there must be an easier track to obtaining residency for these folks. Especially in an IT world where companies come and go must faster than the amount of time an employer sponsored green card application takes. It seems harder to stay here legally and continue to stay.

Often times immigration issues are more focused on illegal immigrants (and giving them amnesty) but there’s also alot of us here who are very legal and still having an extremely hard time.

Here are some stories that gives a different view the struggle of immigration.

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