All posts by TheVisaCoach

H-1B Visas Hard for Foreigners to get in 2017 & 2018

On April 2, 2018, the annual H1B visa application season will open again with 65,000 standard visas and 20,000 US graduate degree only visas available.

The last few years after the Great Recession has seen the return of the H-1B visa lottery because of the massive (200,000+) visa petition applications received in the first few days following the April open date. This has meant both that the demands from the US economy and largely the private sector in growth areas like technology and the sciences are not being met but also that otherwise fine applications are being declined or not considered because they were just not being picked.

Well 2017-18 has brought a new dynamic that could bring down much of the most comprehensive professional employment visa in US immigration. President Trump and his administration have sought to undermine lawful US Immigration from the moment they have taken office with disastrous results and strong rebukes from the US Judicial system.

Unfortunately much of the US Immigration system is based on agency and individual personnel discretion. Therefore things likes denying a petition based on technicalities or just because a officer believes a petition is not “legitimate” or in the US national interest in some way. This could also be because of something obscure about the employer, the role or the foreigner can also result in denials. Additionally by slowing down the approval process itself meaning that both the foreign candidate and the employer might have to abandon the petition because of personal life circumstances and/or urgent business need.

So all of the above is already turning many employers away from hiring as well as the additional scrutiny likely coming over the prevailing wage requirement. Now the USCIS has said they are going to suspend the premium processing program which cost employers/filers an additional $1,225 USD. This program guaranteed a response one way or another 15 days following the official receipt of the H-1B petition application.

Many employers relied on this to be able to make business plans knowing that while an approval doesn’t official take effect until October 1 of the year, it meant that through programs like F-1 Visa OPT, ability to work during pending petitions with changing employers with the H-1B portability provision, during the renewal process or just general planning knowing that staff would be working soon, allowed business to continue.

Foreigners also relied on this for life certainty and then things like planning housing, children’s schooling, dealing with affairs in their previous location and just general life issues.

With the combination of longer overall processing times, extra overall scrutiny on visa petitions with roles/employers/employees, harsher interpretations of prevailing wage, the lingering uncertainty over the attempted travel and muslim bans and now this suspension of premium processing, we can expect a far worse H-1B visa season for all.

Ultimately the losers are everyone because as we have talked about before, foreigners are net positive contributors to the US economy and disproportionately are founders of the most successful US companies today as well as recipients of US graduate and PhD degrees and overall STEM degrees.

A sad time for us all …

Google orders H1B visa holders back to US

Imagine you are a H-1B visa holder or even a Green Card holder,. Maybe you were born in a war torn country in the Middle East in the 70s and at 2 yrs old your family fled taking you and your siblings with you arriving at the safe but unknown shores of New Zealand.

Like many immigrant families in western countries, your parents worked hard doing whatever jobs they could given their limited English skills trying to provide for you and your siblings to give you all a chance at a better life. While school life was tough because of the hard work ethic on which you were raised, you do very well and enter university and earn a Computer Science Degree.

Opportunity beckons in the US with a plethora of companies that are desperate for your skills and you manage to land a job offer with Google who look after you handsomely salary wise and set you up with the working H-1B visa. While you are in the US, you meet someone, fall in love and get engaged. However late one night you get the call everyone fears. Your mother has taken seriously ill back in New Zealand and may not have much time left.

You of course rush back to her side, with the full support of your manager and Google to take the time that you need. Suddenly while by her hospital bedside, in maybe her last days on the planet you get the email that you need to return to the US immediately. Not because of any work project or because your time off period has expired, but because Google is fearful that because of the new Presidential executive orders on Immigration you may be either barred from getting on a plane back to US or blocked at the border.

This seems strange in your mind as you are legal immigrant to the US and you are also a long time New Zealand citizen so why would there be any risk to you. Suddenly you realize b/c of the country of your birth, a country you have been unable to visit and thus don’t even remember let alone been in for over 30 years is putting you at risk.

Now you have a dying mother next to you, a fiancee back at home in California who also loves you and the general idea that whichever decision you make you may be stuck with for a while forsaking the other. You either may not see your fiancee and friends in the US again for who knows how long or you may be in the US but not be able to see your family. This is not to mention the situation with your mother.

This story is a hypothetical situation but as Bloomberg and others have reported today and from an internal Google memo, that they have ordered visa holder employee who are born in certain countries back to US before any potential 90 day or other moratorium on entry supposedly occurs.

There are already Green Card and H-1B visa holders who have been stopped from getting on planes or potentially worse right at the border after the afternoon directive from the Department of Homeland Security started to take effect.

Google are also concerned about Green Card holders who work for them who also happen to be originally born in those 7 countries identified; Syria, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen and Libya.

Finally other tech leaders like Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook are also starting to tentatively speak out in the last 24 hours against the Trump Administration’s crazy US Immigration orders.

It is really time for all tech leads including 5 of the top 7 ┬ámost valuable companies in the world; Apple, Alphabet (Google), Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook need to use their significant power, money and platform to speak out. These companies have been built of various generations of immigrants with Google’s CEO and Microsoft’s CEO both Indian and both Alphabet/Google and Facebook having immigrant co-founders.

This isn’t just about economics anymore for these organizations, it is now basic human dignity and for the fact you never want anyone to be in the position to have to choose between either seeing a loved one or never returning home.