By attorney Beau Russell
In just a week, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS or Service) has reached its limit in the applications it is allowed to receive for the H1-B visa. Every year on April 1st, the Service begins receiving H1-B visas for potential employees who will begin work on October 1st of the same year. The H1-B visa allows individuals with a bachelor’s degree, or its foreign equivalent, to work in a specialty occupation. A specialty occupation is one that requires the skills of an employee who possesses at least a bachelor’s degree and meets other specific requirements. This visa is wildly popular for businesses who wish to hire educated and qualified foreign employees. In 2014 alone, 239 Danish nationals received this visa.
The Service announced yesterday that it had received more than 85,000 applications for visas. Therefore, the Service stopped accepting any new applications. The final total is unknown for now. Last year, however, the Service received nearly 233,000 applications for the same number of visas. This year that number is expected to increase as the U.S. economy continues to grow and hiring increases. It is likely that the Service will have over 250,000 applications for 85,000 visas. To solve this problem, the Service holds a lottery. If an applicant is selected in the computer generated random lottery, they “win” the ability for their application to be reviewed by an immigration officer. This means that some 165,000 possibly qualified individuals’ applications will never made it to an immigration officer. The company’s investment, the individual’s hope and their attorney’s work will be wasted.
The inherent unfairness created by this broken system underscores the importance and need for real and forward thinking immigration reform. Simply put, the United States must review their immigration policies and pass reform that includes an increase in the visa limit. What is also important to consider in light of this news, is the challenge companies and attorneys face to explore other immigration options. These options often include Intra-Company Transfer (L) and Treaty Investor (E) visas among other options that are not subject to this cap. Fortunately, most Danish businesses are in a position to manuever their international employees into one of these categories. Ultimately, it is a matter of positioning your potential international employee in a manner that will have the high chance of approval. The professionals at Thomas Martin Law are available to consult with you to discuss how this can be done so that you do not leave your immigration needs to chance.
Beau Russell is a U.S. Immigration attorney located in the Copenhagen Area. For the past several years in California he has helped hundreds of individuals solve their U.S. Immigration issues. Beau joined THOMAS MARTIN in 2015 and works from our Copenhagen Offices. His specialty is assisting businesses and families obtain non-immigrant/temporary visa and permanent/immigration visas (“green cards”) to the U.S.