US government agency's approval of unauthorized visas cuts US jobs

03/18/05

WASHINGTON (18 March 2005) -- IEEE-USA "is extremely discouraged to learn that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has accepted and approved more than 75,000 H-1B visa petitions for Fiscal Year 2005 even though they were capped at 65,000," said IEEE-USA Career Activities Vice President Ron Hira, an assistant professor of public policy at the Rochester, NY, Institute of Technology.

The IEEE-USA Vice President stressed: "We're not sure just how or why this excess in authorized visas occurred. But this certainly isn't the first time that the Federal agency charged with responsibility for administering the nation's immigrant and non-immigrant admissions programs has failed to enforce a very plain and straightforward law. How hard can it be to count to 65,000 and stop issuing visas?"

Dr. Hira continued: "This excess in approved visas defeats the purpose of one of the most important safeguards for American workers. By increasing the number of visas issued, the USCIS has unilaterally reduced job opportunities for American workers at a critical time, when the job market is still very soft." He also noted: "Several years ago, the USCIS predecessor agency -- the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) -- issued 20,000 more H-1B visas than it was supposed to have approved, and added this additional number into the following year's total."

IEEE-USA's Hira also applauded Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) and others in Congress "for moving quickly to hold the USCIS accountable for its actions." In a 7 March letter to USCIS Director Eduardo Aguirre, Senator Grassley expressed dismay that the agency seems to have ignored Congress' intent with respect to the visa cap. The senator also asked for the numbers of H-1B visa applications that have been approved, and called for an explanation of how the agency intends to ensure that issuance of more visas than authorized does not occur again.

The H-1B temporary work visa program was established by Congress to enable U.S. employers to hire foreign nationals with knowledge and skills deemed to be in short supply in the United States. H-1B visas are valid for up to six years and are currently capped at 65,000 per year. Educational institutions and related not-for profit research organization are not subject to the 65,000 cap. Late last year, an additional 20,000 H-1B visas were set aside for applicants with Masters and Ph.D. degrees from U.S. colleges and universities.

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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