Small Tech Companies Struggling Hardest With H-1B Visa Demands
Houston, TX (Law Firm Newswire) October 9, 2013 - Big tech companies are still clamoring for Congress to boost the cap on H-1B visas to allow them to hire foreign-born employees.
Companies need to address the need for developers, engineers and programmers. But even though the Senate has approved the raising of the cap, smaller companies say they are not able to lure the best H-1B employees, nor can they handle the complex paperwork involved, or have the significant funds needed for the legal expenses that are required.
"The complex issues surrounding H-1B have really had a cooling effect on a number of employers," commented Houston immigration attorney Annie Banerjee.
As little as 30 percent of the applications for an H-1B visa get past the preliminary screening stage. Most of the submitted applications come from small employers and startups, says the Brookings Institution, which analyzed available employee immigration data. Even changing the number of visas is not going to change the fact that the system is complex and expensive, prohibitively so to many employers.
The Washington nonprofit group, Bipartisan Policy Center, is calling for "simplified procedures" for H-1B visas so that smaller companies can get better footing in recruiting and hiring qualified foreign-born workers. According to a number of startup supporters, the most successful startups have faced issues when attempting to hire foreign programmers.
There are currently 65,000 H-1B visas each year available to first-time applicants, as well as 20,000 additional H-1B visas for applicants who hold advanced degrees. Last year, that cap was reached just five days into the application process. Most of the H-1B visas are awarded to computer-related and high tech workers from China and India, according to U.S. immigration agency data. Foreign workers who renew their H-1B are not included in the cap; those visas are often valid for six years. But H-1B visas, unlike green cards, are tied to the employer who applied for it on behalf of their workers. Approximately 70,000 employers applied for H-1B visas in 2011; 50 percent applied for just one H-1B visa, and the majority applied for fewer than 10, which indicates that most of them were small businesses or startups. Intel, Oracle and Microsoft, on the other hand, applied for thousands of H-1B visas in 2011.
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