USCIS visa and immigration reform is brewing in Congress, and this could be good news for foreign skilled workers. Current visa rules can make it difficult for companies, particularly young start-ups, to hire skilled overseas workers. As a result, some evidence indicates these workers are heading for other countries, like Australia, Canada, or the UK, where it is easier to obtain legal work status.
According to an article in the Chicago Tribune, entrepreneurs are lobbying Congress to implement changes in immigration to allow more skilled foreign workers to remain in the U.S., thereby boosting the economy. Tom Donohue, the president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, included immigration reform in his 2013 State of American Business Address. He stressed the need to retain skilled foreign workers, and was positive about the future of immigration reform.
If you are a foreign skilled worker, you stand to be directly affected by the proposed changes to USCIS visa and immigration changes. We cannot predict exactly what will happen in the coming months, but we do expect to see Congress take certain key issues into consideration.
Remove the USCIS Visa Country Cap
There are currently limits on how many H-1B visas can be awarded to each country. When that cap is reached, it creates a backlog of skilled workers who have to wait even longer before they can come work in the US. If the country cap is removed, immigrants from countries like China and India will have a better chance of obtaining an H-1B visa.
Expand the Number of Available H-1B Visas
Every year, 85,000 H-1B visas are made available, and they are snapped up almost immediately. As part of immigration reform, we hope to see a greater number of H-1B visas available to applicants. When there are not enough H-1B visas available, U.S. companies are forced to leave positions unfilled.
Path to Citizenship
The H-1B visa is a work visa. USCIS visa and immigration laws mean that an H-1B does not always lead to a green card for skilled foreign workers. One of the primary focuses of immigration reform is to facilitate a smoother path to citizenship for skilled immigrants, particularly those who have been working legally in the U.S. for several years.
Incentives for Graduates
The ‘Business for Skilled Worker Immigration’ Coalition, formed by the Greater Boston Chamber, has proposed a STEM Graduate Green Card. This would allow foreign graduates of U.S. universities to stay on in the United States, where they could contribute to the workforce or establish their own businesses.