H-1B Visas Already Running Out for 2005 & More on INFOPASS
September 30, 2004

H-1B Visas Already Running Out for 2005

H-1B work visas, the work visa used mainly by foreign national university graduates to fill professional positions in the U.S., are starting to run out. For fiscal year 2005, commencing October 1, 2004 and running through September 30, 2005, 65,000 H-1B visas are available by way of congressional mandate. But, according to officials at Citizenship and Immigration Services (formerly INS) headquarters in Washington D.C. the allotment of H-1B visas could be exhausted by the end of October, 2004.

So where does that leave these prospective workers, and the companies who seek to put them to work? There are movements in Congress to increase the yearly allotment of H-1B visas to the levels of years past, but of course, there are interest groups that have voiced strong opposition to such an increase. These workers are taking jobs away from U.S. workers, and/or are lowering the wages for U.S. workers – according to such groups.

On the other hand, the Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that there are still not enough U.S. students graduating with advanced degrees to fill highly specialized positions in the sciences and high technology sectors. And without allowing ready, willing and able foreign nationals to enter the U.S. job market, U.S. society will suffer, in terms our ability to develop new, innovative products, create new jobs, and compete in the global marketplace. Moreover, according to groups in favor of increased H-1B visa availability, many European nations are pushing their immigration laws in the opposite direction, so as to make it easier to attract the talented foreign national to fill positions in the sciences and high technology areas.

Among the remedial measures now being debated by Congress, is a provision that will allow H-1B visas issued to certain foreign nationals who have graduated from U.S. institutions (most as F-1 student visa holders) to be exempt from the H-1B cap.

Developments in this politically charged debate will continue to be featured in this column.

More on INFOPASS at CIS Chicago

As previously reported here, the Citizenship and Immigration Service’s Chicago District Office has recently implemented INFOPASS, a program where the public can arrange via the Internet (at www.uscis.gov) an appointment to meet a CIS information officer to discuss a pending immigration filing or just obtain general information. Unfortunately, no longer is walk-in traffic welcomed, except for certain emergencies, such as for the issuance of an advance parole travel document for eligible applicants whose permanent residence applications remain pending and emergency family or business circumstances require immediate international travel.

INFOPASS can be accessed in English of course, as well as 11 foreign languages, including Tagalog. For those who do not have Internet access, or do not know how to use the Internet, special electronic kiosks will be made available in various locations (such as in the lobby of the Chicago Public Library’s main location in downtown Chicago) so as to allow the easy booking of appointments.

At this time, INFOPASS users will find that there is an approximately 3 to 4 week wait for appointments at CIS Chicago. Office hours at CIS Chicago are as follows: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday: 7:30 am – 2:00 pm.; Wednesday 7:30 am – Noon.

Copyright © 2004-2008, By Law Offices of Richard Hanus, Chicago, Illinois