On May 26, 2009, the USCIS announced that it has received only 47,000 petitions for H1-B visa classifications subject to the cap. This means that the USCIS has room for almost 20,000 HI-B visas for the 2010 fiscal year. This is amazing for a number of reasons. First, in the past few years, the 65,000 H1-B visas available annually were usually used up within a few days of their availability--by the first week of April. But this year, and this late in the period, we still have up to 20,000 visas available! Second, this announcement shows that the H1B visa process works. Employers will file petitions for professionals and skilled workers depending on need, not just for immigration purposes as opponents of the program allege. The decision to employ a foreign national and file immigration petition is clearly a business decision. The downturn in the economy has dictated what employers do, who they hire, and when. It should remain this way even when the economy improves. Third, it goes to show that the numerical limit on H-1B visa is arbitrary, artificial and has no place in today's economy. When economy improves, employers should and must have the flexibility to seek and hire talents wherever they are. That is clearly one way the U.S business can remain competitive.
This same argument applies to the rest of the employment visa categories. We have consistently argued in this blog and elsewhere for elimination of numerical limitation on various categories of employment based visas. Certainly, it is counter intuitive to advocate for more progressive immigration policy under the current economic and political environment. But, this is exactly the right time to advance such policies--it helps individuals and businesses with all the tools needed to move ahead once the economic environment improves. Businesses need to have the tools for the competition before the real game starts. To wait for the economy to completely improve may be too late.
Peace to all people of good will.