US citizenship and immigration servicesTwo weeks ago, the H-1B visa filing season kicked off and, within five days, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services received about 175,000 H-1B petitions for 65,000 available H-1B visas, plus 20,000 H-1Bs set aside for foreign nationals who hold U.S. advanced degrees. Clearly, employers are looking to hire – at least highly skilled workers who hold a bachelor’s degree or higher. The situation was the same last year – within five days, USCIS had received enough H-1B petitions to meet the annual quota.

Who are these folks? To qualify for the H-1B, they must have a bachelor’s degree or the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree. Their prospective employers had to promise to pay them at least the prevailing wage, as determined by the U.S. Department of Labor or a wage survey that meets DOL standards. Because the annual H-1B quota only applies to foreign nationals who have not held H-1B visas in the past, there is a good chance that the foreign nationals attended university in the United States on student visas. Otherwise, they are looking to move to the United States. The graduates of U.S. schools may already be working for their prospective U.S. employer on a temporary work authorization available to foreign students. Granted, some of the 175,000 H-1B hopefuls may work for overseas consulting firms that plan to send them to the U.S. as consultants for U.S. businesses, but many of those folks probably have dreams of working directly for a U.S. employer and becoming a permanent resident of the United States. All of the H-1B candidates have some specialized knowledge and should all earn at least the same pay as their similarly situated co-workers, assuming the would-be employer is on the up and up.

Based on how many and how quickly the USCIS has received H-1B petitions the last few Aprils, it suggests that the U.S. economy is looking up for degreed workers with specialized knowledge. It is also clear that there is a lot more demand for H-1B workers than the U.S. immigration system currently allows. I have my doubts whether we will see immigration reform in an election year. It seems silly not to make room for those we have educated in our schools and the best and brightest of the foreign-educated who want to live and work in the U.S.


Glenn Rissman hopes you will join us at Stearns Weaver Miller’s 24th Annual Labor and Employment Law Seminar on Thursday, May 1, 2014 at the Trump National Doral Miami. With over 300 attendees expected and a roster of Stearns Weaver Miller presenters and guest speakers lined up, this year’s seminar promises to be another fantastic event. Please click here for further details.