Effort to save companies money on H-1B may backfire

In an attempt to stem the tide of too many H-1B petitions and too much company spend, the USCIS is proposing some changes.

In 2009, the government received 163,000 petitions for H-1B slots. The problem was the cap was only 85,000. The overflow lay around, waiting to be filed. Businesses had to spend thousands of dollars in legal fees to file the petitions which, in this case, only meant they would survive a lottery held to make the final selection.

In order to keep this from happening again, the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services is proposing a new process for filing H-1B visa petitions.  But some critics warn that the government proposal would also create a new way to game the H-1B visa system.

Here is the proposal, according to Computerworld:

Under the proposed rule, employers would initially register electronically by completing a relatively simple form in a process that should take about 30 minutes. The electronic registrations would be used by officials to create a first cut of full registrants. A waiting list would be created if the number of H-1B registrations exceeds the cap limit.

The USCIS says that the "main benefit that will result from this rule is that employers that want to hire an H-1B worker will be able to forgo the time, effort and expense associated with the preparation of a full H-1B petition" and completing U.S. Department of Labor paperwork, "until USCIS notifies the H-1B employer that space exists under the cap."

The problem is that a handful of U.S. employers are the ones who use the majority of H-1B visa numbers every year. The concern is, voiced by The American Immigration Lawyers Association, is that the new system will create a rush of registrations and flood the USCIS with unnecessary or unqualified registrations just so those employers can basically shut out other businesses from getting their valid petitions through.

There has been an attempt by Congress to slow the H-1B petitions coming in by applying a $2,000 fee to each one. However, U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, (R-Texas), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said at a press briefing that he would support doubling the H-1B cap.