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October 26, 2005

American Businesses Call for a Reasonable Solution to H-1B Blackouts and Lengthy “Green Card” Backlogs

Here is the letter that you can send to your member of Congress;

October XX, 2005


We are writing to urge Congress to take immediate steps to address the crisis currently facing American businesses as a result of lengthy visa backlogs and an H-1B “blackout.” The Senate Judiciary Committee’s bipartisan budget reconciliation package would provide a reasonable and workable solution to both of these problems, and we urge you to give it your strong support, while opposing any attempts to weaken it.

As you are likely aware, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, on August 12, announced that the FY 2006 numerical cap limiting the H-1B program for temporary professional workers had been exhausted, nearly two months prior to the start of the fiscal year. This means that our companies will lose access for over a year to highly educated foreign professionals vital to our businesses. This is the third year in a row that the cap has been reached, and the seventh time since 1997.

In a parallel phenomenon, highly educated and skilled workers are currently faced with lengthy “green card” backlogs that will prevent them from becoming U.S. permanent residents in the foreseeable future. These employment-based immigrants already have been found to serve the U.S. national interest as a result of their achievements and skills. Our inability to hire them on a permanent basis as a result of these backlogs severely hinders our ability to remain competitive with foreign businesses, which are actively recruiting these talented professionals to the disadvantage of the American economy.

Couple these two crises and you have the makings of a “perfect storm” confronting American businesses. The Senate Judiciary Committee’s budget reconciliation package seeks to mitigate the impact of this storm. It would provide for the modest recapture of both unused employment-based visas from prior years and unused H-1B numbers dating back to FY 1991. Although we believe the annual recapture of 60,000 H-1B visas proposed in the Chairman’s mark would have more effectively addressed the current shortages, we nonetheless strongly support the compromise provision approved by the Committee allowing annual recapture of 30,000 H-1B visas. In addition to the visa recapture provisions, the proposal would impose new fees on employment-based immigrant visas, on the recaptured H-1B nonimmigrant visa numbers, and on L-1 visas.

While we remain concerned about escalating fees, we believe these increased fees represent a measured approach that, while satisfying the reconciliation target, would be implemented in the context of increased access to H-1B professionals and green cards for employment-based immigrants. We are more concerned about the increased fee on L visas because it is unaccompanied by any changes in service or access and we would be particularly concerned about a reconciliation approach that rested on steep fees, with no relief from today’s crisis-level shortages.

While these measures are in no way a substitute for comprehensive solutions, we urge their swift passage as important first steps toward creating an immigration system that channels the forces of the marketplace to America’s competitive advantage.


Posted by VisaLawyer at October 26, 2005 07:59 AM


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