Take heart, skilled foreign workers. If your temporary U.S. H-1B Visa has lost its appeal, there’s always Alberta. In fact, the immigration website for Albert, Canada, is advertising the province as an alternative, permanent home for workers frustrated by their temporary U.S. H-1B visas and their myriad of restrictions. Canadian employers might well be more welcoming than those in the United States even if workers aren’t granted temporary visas.
H-1B, the non-immigrant, temporary status given to individuals in a “specialty occupation or profession” is difficult to qualify for, and in the end, it’s temporary.
Aliens (persons from other countries, not extraterrestrials) seeking an H-1B visa need to have completed a Bachelor’s Degree program, and if they’re from India, Pakistan, or several Asian Rim nations, they’ll need a Masters Degree. H-1B applicants will require licenses if the profession they’re in requires one. The number of new H-1B’s granted in a fiscal year is “capped” at 65,000. Potential employers of an H-1B worker must deal with stringent Department of Labor restrictions and write a detailed recommendation letter for each H-1B skilled worker. If an employer hires a significant number (more than 51) of H-1B workers, the employer is classified as a “dependent” employer and ends up with an avalanche of red tape. Finally, if an employee is actually granted H-1B status, it’s only for three years (although in rare instances it can be renewed for an additional six).
In March 2008, the New York Times reported on the difficulty U.S. companies face in obtaining the elusive three-year H-1Bs to bring in adequate numbers of skilled workers. “In 2007, the (Department of Immigration) agency received enough petitions to cover the annual quota (capped at 65,000) on the first day applications were accepted. About half of the total petitions filed were rejected because the supply of visas had run out.”
Plenty of companies are complaining because they can’t get visas for all the highly educated skilled workers they want to acquire. Skilled foreign workers are even more frustrated. According to Jai B., a doctoral candidate from India’s Punjab region denied an H-1B visa on three separate occasions since April 2007, “The American system does not reward honesty in any way. The truth is, if we were able to leave our home country to come into the U.S. or any other nation, it is because we have a spirit of excellence and we are not quitters or narrow-minded. We want to be assets to the U.S. economy. Unfortunately, we are not regarded that way by U.S. officials.”