Increased fees for H-1B applications comes into effect

The steep hike in US work visa fees imposed under a new law signed by President Barack Obama, ignoring the Indian and American corporate concerns has come into effect.
The new law, which is aimed at raising $600 million for securing the US-Mexico border, is estimated to cost Indian IT firms that have been sending thousands of professionals on H-1B and L1 visas, an additional $250 million annually.
Now, an additional fee of $2,000 for certain H-1B petitions and $2,250 for certain L-1A and L-1B petitions will be charged and the rates will remain in effect till Sep 30, 2014, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced.
These additional fees apply to petitioners who employ 50 or more employees in the United States with more than 50 percent of its employees in the United States in H-1B or L (including L-1A, L-1B and L-2) non-immigrant status, it said.
The Indian government has protested to Washington against what it calls a highly discriminatory law that would largely affect Indian IT firms like Tata Consultancy Services, Infosys Technologies, Wipro and Mahindra Satyam.
Indian officials and the US-India Business Council, representing 300 top US firms doing business with India, have warned the new 'discriminatory' law could also hurt burgeoning India-US economic ties.
The USCIS said it is in the process of revising the Petition for a Non-immigrant Worker (Form I-129), and instructions to comply with the new law.
It has also advised all H-1B, L-1A and L-1B petitioners to include in their applications the new fee or a statement of other evidence outlining why this new fee does not apply.
The USCIS will work with its stakeholders to effect a smooth transition given this legislation's new requirements, it said.

Increase in visa fee aimed to curb misuse of H1B program

Defending the American decision to approve a very steep hike in the fees for certain categories of H-1B and L-1 visas, senior New York Senator Charles Schumer said the move was aimed at companies who hire foreign workers in a manner contrary to the original intent of the visa programme.
"Instead of raising the deficit -- which we do not do in this bill -- or diverting vital stimulus funds, the Senate ultimately agreed to pay for the border package by increasing visa fees on companies who hire foreign workers in a manner contrary to the original intent of the H-1B visa programme," Schumer said in the US Senate on Thursday.
Under the Emergency Border Security Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2010 - popularly called the Border Security Bill - the fee for certain categories of H-1B and L1 visas would increase by at least USD 2,000 for the next five years, which would help foot nearly $550 million out of the proposed expenditure of $650 million on increasing security along the US-Mexico border.
These fee increases would apply only to companies with more than 50 employees and for whom the majority of their workforce are visa-holding foreign workers.
Indian and US companies have termed it discriminatory. However, Senator Schumer defended the decision of the Senate.
In 1990, the US Congress realised the world was changing rapidly and that technological innovations, such as the Internet, were creating a high demand in the United States for hi-tech workers to create new technologies and products.
Consequently, Congress created the H-1B visa programme to allow US employers to hire foreign tech workers in special circumstances when they could not find an American citizen who was qualified, he said.
"Many of the companies that use this programme today are using the programme in exactly the way Congress intended; that is, these companies, such as Microsoft, IBM and Intel, are hiring bright foreign students educated in our American universities to work in the United States for 6 or 7 years to invent new product lines and technologies so that Microsoft, IBM and Intel can sell more products to the American public and hire more American workers," he said.
"Then at the expiration of the H-1B visa period, these companies apply for these talented workers to earn green cards and stay with the company.
"When the H-1B visa programme is used in this manner, it is a good programme for everyone involved. It is good for the company, it is good for the worker and it is good for the American people who benefit from the products and jobs created by the innovation of the H-1B visa holder," Schumer said.

Non-immigrant visa applicants may apply anywhere in China

With immediate effect, non-immigrant visa applicants may schedule their visa interview appointments within any US Consular Section in China, regardless of the province, city or region in which they reside in.
Consular Sections are located within the Beijing US Embassy and the US Consulates within Chengdu, Guangzhou, Shanghai and Shenyang.
These changes have been implemented as a result of the amount of non-immigrantvisa applications last year. In 2009 alone, there were more than half a million non-immigrant visas granted within China.
As per the high demand of applications within China, the US Government is looking forward to increase the mutual relations between the two nations through peopleexchange and tourism by making the visa application process more convenient for Chinese Nationals.

Department of Labor launches website to help H-1B employers

The U.S. Department of Labor has unveiled a new tool to help employers understand how to comply with a controversial visa program for foreign workers in specialty occupations.
The website-, describes the H-1B visa program's standards and provides detailed information about employers' and workers' rights and responsibilities. The new site outlines notification requirements, monetary issues, worksite issues, recordkeeping, worker protections and enforcement.
"The new online adviser harnesses technology to help take the mystery out of the new rules, and it offers an important resource to workers and employers alike," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis in a statement.

Foreign IT professionals coming to California on the decline

The number of skilled, temporary foreign worker visas issued for jobs in California has declined since the start of the recession, according to new data from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
H1B visas have always been a hot topic in California. A large number of high-tech companies use them to fill positions, claiming that there's not enough available American help to fill the jobs. They've long infuriated local IT professionals who have been having trouble finding work.
But since 2007, the number of H-1B visas issued for work in California has fallen by 30 percent. In 2009, there were about 54,000 such visas issued, compared to 76,000 during 2007.
Nevertheless, California drew more temporary specialty foreign workers during 2009 than most other states, as the map below demonstrates. The District of Columbia has the highest per capita rate of these visas while Montana has the lowest.

Map showing H-1B visa distribution (click image to enlarge)

Current US H-1B visa count for 2010

US H-1B visas are one of the most popular temporary US visa categories for entry of professional level specialty workers to the US. In the past, many Indian IT specialists have gained entry to the US on the H-1B visa. When the US economy is doing well there is usually a shortage of US H-1B Visas.

Currently, there is still good availability of US H-1Bs. The last H-1B Count as on 9 July 2010:

If you have a bachelors degree or higher, and have a specialty level job offer in the US, your employer should consider applying for the US H-1B visa. The H-1B visa can be used for entry to the US for a start date of 1 October 2021 or later. Nobody can predict when the supply of US H-1B visas will run out. If you wish to work in the US it may be advisable to apply sooner rather than later for the H-1B visa.

Growth in H-1B numbers compared to last year

The number of H1 visas issued this year upto June 25, 2021 stood at 55,477, as compared to the 55,050 in the same period for the previous year.
Likewise, there has been an increase in L visas too, from 31,314 to 35,504 in the same period.
According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the quota for H1B visas for 2011 is anticipated to get consumed by August 2010 and the PhD and graduate students H1B quota will be exhausted by the end of July 2010.
Minister, Counselor for Consular Affair at U.S. Embassy, James W. Herman said, "We expect the rise to continue in the remaining months of this financial year. There was a bottoming out last year because of the economic downturn. But now there's an upswing,"
The work permit visa's 30 percent increase in China is due to the fact that, "The higher growth in China than India is probably because we issue shorter duration visas in China," adds Herman.
In order to restrict the cases of visa forgery, the U.S. department of homeland security has also included more people across India with honed skills in complex law enforcement procedures.


H-1B holders are paid more than Americans !

The H-1B visa program has often received flak for fall in American salaries. In fact, anti-H-1B visa activists have often complained that the programme depresses American IT workers' salaries and robs them of jobs.

However, a recent research from the University of Maryland claims that foreign IT professionals on H-1B visas earn more than their American counterparts.

The research which examined the IT salaries using data from online salary surveys conducted from 2000 to 2005, found that foreign IT professionals earned 8.9% more than American citizens.

According to the surprising report in ComputerWorld, Hank Lucas, professor of information systems at the University of Maryland's Robert H Smith School of Business, and assistant professor Sunil Mithas found that those on temporary visas, such as the H-1B and L-1, were paid 6.8 per cent more than those with US citizenship, and green card holders took home 12.9 per cent more than their American-born counterparts.

After adjusting for educational qualifications, work experience, and other individual characteristics, Lucas and Mithas found that IT professionals without US citizenship earned 8.9 per cent more than American citizens, says the news report.

Iranian diplomat denied US visa- Tehran protests

Iran has lodged a formal protest against Washington for deliberately preventing a senior Iranian diplomat from attending a key nuclear conference in New York.
Deputy Foreign Minister for Legal and International Affairs Mohammad Mehdi Akhoundzadeh missed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference, which kicked off on May 3, after officials in Washington refused to issue him a US entry visa.
In a letter addressed to the UN Committee on Relations with the Host Country, Iran's Ambassador to the United Nations Mohammad Khazaei said US officials "took advantage of their position as hosts of the world body when they decided to deny Akhoundzadeh an entry visa."
"By denying Akhoundzadeh a visa to the United States, Washington officials kept a high-ranking Iranian diplomat from participating in a major conference on the review of the 40-year-old NPT," he added in his Friday letter.
Khazaei said Akhoundzadeh's presence in the meeting was crucial, primarily because of "his role as supervisor of Iran's relations with the UN and secondly because of the meeting's sharp focus on Tehran's nuclear issue."
He further added that Washington had defied its statutory obligation to issue visas for envoys of all UN member states, seeking to press forward its political agenda and apply pressure on certain countries.


Illegal immigration in the US and the Arizona immigration law

An Arizona immigration law that requires police in the US state that borders Mexico to determine whether people are in the country illegally if there is "reasonable suspicion," has stirred a national debate and pushed the issue to the forefront of US politics.

Some very interesting facts about illegal immigrants in the United States, along with some of the policy initiatives by federal and state governments to address immigration:

* There were an estimated 10.8 million illegal immigrants living in the United States on January 1, 2009.

* Most were from Latin America, with some 6.7 million from Mexico and 1.33 million from Central American nations El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

* Arizona had a total population of 6.6 million in 2009, including an estimated 460,000 undocumented immigrants.

* The state is the principal corridor for illegal immigrants entering the United States from Mexico. The US Border Patrol's Tucson sector has made an average of 650 arrests a day so far this year. Phoenix police reported 357 extortion-related abductions in 2007 targeting people with ties to Mexican smuggling rings.

* President Barack Obama backs a comprehensive overhaul of federal immigration laws. Any reform is seen as unlikely to pass Congress this year and Obama has said lawmakers may not have the appetite to tackle it before the November congressional elections. Some Democrats fear delay could cause a backlash among Latino voters.

* Obama supports a system that allows illegal immigrants who have otherwise obeyed U.S. law to pay a fine, learn English and become citizens; as well as tightening border security and clamping down on employers that hire undocumented workers.

* The last attempt to overhaul the U.S. immigration system, by Obama's predecessor, President George W. Bush, in 2007, was torpedoed by Bush's fellow Republicans in Congress.

* Arizona's law is the toughest, but by no means the only immigration-related measure passed by U.S. states, which traditionally leave border security to the federal government.

* It requires state and local police officers to arrest those unable to provide documentation proving they are in the country legally. It also makes it a crime to transport someone who is an illegal immigrant and to hire day laborers off the street.

* In just the first three months of 2010, more than 1,180 bills and resolutions relating to immigrants and refugees were introduced in state legislatures across the country. Of those bills, 71 laws were enacted and 87 resolutions adopted in 25 states.


Iranian President seeks US visa

The President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has applied for a visa to visit the United States next week, the US government has said.
The application is apparently motivated by his wish to be at the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) review conference.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will be among more than 30 foreign ministers attending the opening day of discussions in New York.
The US says Iran is trying to build a nuclear weapon, but Tehran has denied it.
The US ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, said: "My understanding is that as of today he (Mr Ahmadinejad) has filed an application for a visa."
Tehran has always claimed that its nuclear energy programme is for peaceful, civilian purposes.
But the US and five other powers - Britain, China, France, Russia and Germany - are discussing proposed new UN sanctions against Iran for its refusal to halt uranium enrichment, a key step on the road to creating nuclear weapons.

FY 2011 H-1B Petitions continue to be accepted by USCIS

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that it continues to accept H-1B non-immigrant petitions subject to the 2011 (FY 2011) cap. USCIS has said that it will monitor the number of petitions received for both the 65,000 general cap and the 20,000 U.S. master’s degree or higher educational exemption.
USCIS has received approximately 13,500 H-1B petitions toward the 65,000 cap. The agency has received approximately 5,600 petitions for individuals with advanced degrees.
USCIS will provide regular updates on the processing of FY 2011 H-1B petitions. Should USCIS receive the necessary number of petitions to meet the cap, it will issue an update to advise the public, that the FY 2011 H-1B cap has been met as of a certain date (the “final receipt date”). The final receipt date will be based on the date USCIS physically receives the petition, not the date that the petition has been postmarked. The date USCIS informs the public that the cap has been reached may differ from the actual final receipt date.
To ensure a fair system, USCIS may randomly select the number of petitions required to reach the numerical limit from the petitions received on the final receipt date. USCIS will reject cap subject petitions that are not selected, as well as those received after the final receipt date.
For cases filed for premium processing during the initial five-day filing window of April 1-7, the 15-day premium processing period began on April 7. For cases filed for premium processing after the filing window, the premium processing period begins on the date that the petition is physically received at the correct USCIS Service Center.
Petitions filed by employers who are exempt from the cap or petitions filed on behalf of current H-1B workers who have been counted previously against the cap within the past six years will not count toward the congressionally mandated H-1B cap.


H-1B visa - No deadline announced by USCIS

The US citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has started accepting the H1B Visa applications for the next fiscal year.
A total of 65,000 applications are offered, excluding 20,000 H1B visas for applicants of US masters’ or higher degree.
The H1B Visa is the official and primary USA work visa accessible to people from all over the world. The H1B visa offered to greatly skilled International Professionals and International Students from the entire world for giving the possibility to live and work in the United States, and it is the most sought after and hunted US work visa. The most important benefit of the H1B Visa is that it is ‘dual intent’ visa which helps to apply for a Green Card.
USCIS has not insisted on any deadline for accepting H1B applications in 2010. A release from USCIS remarked: “Cases will be considered accepted on the date that it takes possession of a properly filed petition with the correct fee; not the date that the petition is postmarked.”

How to avoid problems when traveling to USA

The most common type of temporary visa to the US is the visitor or the B2 visa. The visa is used for a temporary stay in the US of less than six months. When traveling with a B2 visa, a traveler should understand that he/she should not have any prior immigration violations.
A B2 visa holder who previously applied for extension of his authorized stay in the US must ensure that his application was favorably granted. If the application was previously denied, the B2 visa holder must not have incurred unlawful presence. He should not have overstayed in the US, even for only a day.
The three-year and 10-year bars to admission are triggered if there is unlawful presence in the US of more than six months or one year, respectively. The traveler may not enter the US for three years if he previously overstayed in the US for more than six months but less than one year. Those who previously overstayed for more than one year will be barred from entering the US for 10 years. These are the penalty bars for overstaying tourists.

Airport-to-airport cases
For those who applied for extensions of stay and whose applications were denied, there is a possibility that they will encounter problems at the port of entry. Even if the three-year and 10-year bars do not apply to them, they may still be denied admission to the US if it is discovered that they had even just one day of unlawful presence.
While it is not the penalty bar, the legislation under Immigration and Nationality Act Section 221(g) provides for a cancellation of the visas at the port of entry. This is the reason some B1/B2 visa holders face deportation upon their entry to the US. Several travelers identify this process as the “A-to-A” or the “airport-to-airport” process, so called because the immigration officer will deny entry at the airport and compel the return of the visitor to his port of origin.
There are several reasons for subjecting travelers to the airport-to-airport process. The most common is the record of a prior overstay of the tourist in the US.
Common cases of an intending immigrant visitor visa holder are those involving registered nurses from the Philippines.
A tourist visa holder who happens to be a nurse will be questioned at the port of entry regarding her intention to enter the US. If it is discovered that she will take the nursing board or the NCLEX and plan to find a petitioner, the immigration officer may deny entry to this nurse even if she has a valid visitor’s visa.
It is also common for CBP officers to search a traveler’s baggage in a secondary inspection. If it is discovered, for example, that a nurse is carrying her diploma and transcript, she may be suspected of being an “intending immigrant.” She may be denied entry and sent back to Manila on the next available flight.
When the intention of the traveler is not clearly determined on first inspection, further questioning may be conducted. A visitor visa holder, for example, may say that she is visiting her US citizen fiancé for a few months. If, after further interrogation, this visitor admits that she is planning to marry her US citizen fiancé in the US, she will be denied admission. She will be told to obtain a fiancé visa because the visitor visa is not the appropriate visa based on her intentions.

Green card holders
While most B1/B2 visa holders are closely scrutinized in their intentions, the green card holders or permanent residents may also be asked detailed questions. If it is determined that green card holders stayed outside the US for many months and are returning to the US to stay only for a short period, there is a strong probability that they will be put in secondary inspection. The immigration officer will determine whether the holders intend to abandon their green cards.
Once a green card holder’s record shows that there are more months or years spent in the Philippines than in the US, there may be a finding of abandonment. When there is “abandonment,” the green card holder will be given the choice to give up his green card or fight his case before the immigration judge. The good news for green card holders, however, is that there is no expedited removal or “A-to-A” process. The green card holders have a right to a hearing, unlike the nonimmigrant visa holders.
Lately, green card holders who have had criminal cases in the past (even if they have already been dismissed or sentences have been served) may also encounter some problems at the ports of entry. It is always advisable to carry court records indicating a resolution of their criminal cases especially if there is no conviction. This will assist the CBP officer in determining whether the green card holder may or may not be subject to removal before the immigration judge.
The fact that a traveler has a valid visitor’s visa, a nonimmigrant visa, or even a green card, is not a guarantee that there will be no problem at the US port of entry. Prior immigration violations, unlawful presence, extended stays, or very old criminal convictions may still pose problems at the ports of entry.
Most of the port-of-entry cases may be avoided by proper planning and by understanding the consequences of one’s past actions. Stating accurate, honest intentions is very crucial. Carefree traveling is now a thing of the past. Taking proactive steps to avoid problems and expedited removal is key to a smooth and well-deserved vacation.


H-1B- Procedural changes and Frequently Asked Questions

Under the immigration law, the H-1B program allows US employers to hire foreign nationals in "specialty occupation" positions for which they require a bachelor's degree or the equivalent. Under the current law, there is a cap on the number of new H-1B petitions that are granted during each federal fiscal year. While current trends suggest the cap might not be hit as early this year as in some years, procedural changes related to prevailing wage requirements could catch employers off-guard and cause delays.

What Are the H-1B Cap Numbers?

During the boom, the H-1B cap was temporarily set at 195,000, but as of October 1, 2003, the cap has been returned to 65,000. Of those, 6,800 H-1B are allocated to citizens of Singapore and Chile under the recent trade agreements with those countries, reducing the number generally available to 58,200 for the remaining countries.
In December 2004, Congress carved out an exemption of 20,000 more “bonus” numbers to the H-1B cap, but reserved them for foreign workers with U.S. Master’s or higher degrees. For this Master’s  or  advanced  degree  cap,  the  first 20,000  qualifying  H-1B  petitions received for employment in FY2011 will not be counted toward the regular H-1B cap.
The quota is available starting October 1, and petitions can be filed up to six months in advance, that is, on April 1, 2010. The demand has outstripped the supply in recent years. In 2008, the Department of Homeland Security agency that processes H-1Bs, U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services, received more than 163,000 H-1B petitions by April 7, depleting the cap in one week.   USCIS resorted to randomly selecting which petitions would be accepted, and which would be refused and returned. The process is referred to as the “H-1B lottery.”
In contrast, for FY2010, while the Master’s cap was hit by June 2009, the regular cap remained unfilled until December 21, 2009. At that time, USCIS applied the random lottery selection process to the H-1B petitions received that day.

What Are the Procedural Changes This Year?

This year, there is a change in processing for the H-1B prevailing wage requirement. A preliminary step in filing an H-1B petition is to show that the employer will pay the prevailing wage by obtaining a certified Labor Condition Application (LCA). The Department of Labor, not the Department of Homeland Security, processes prevailing wage requests. Employers submit a Form 9035 online to the DOL through its web-based portal called iCERT. The Form must be submitted to USCIS, after submission to the DOL, along with the H-1B petition or the H-1B petition will be rejected.
For a time, LCA certification occurred more-or-less instantaneously. Under the current DOL system, Form 9035 LCA processing can take upto a week or more.   Therefore, LCAs should be filed well in advance to avoid delays and a risk that the cap might be hit.

Who Is Exempt From the H-1B Cap?

New employees hired in H-1B status are subject to the cap, unless they are exempt. Many people can still obtain H-1B status through exemptions to the H-1B cap, in particular the following:
•   Petitions for persons who currently hold H-1B status and seek an extension do not count towards the H-1B cap numbers;
•   An H-1B worker can move to a new employer without using an H-1B cap number;
•   In some cases, persons who previously held H-1B status can regain H-1B status without using an H-1B cap number;
•   Institutions  of  higher  education,  nonprofit  research  organizations  and  governmental research organizations are exempt from the cap; and
•   The caps carved out for citizens of Chile and Singapore are rarely hit.

What are the alternatives to an H-1B?

There are various alternative immigration options other than H-1B status, including, but not limited to the following:
•   L-1 intracompany transfers for persons who worked for a foreign entity related to a U.S. company for at least one year;
•   For Canadians and Mexicans, TN status under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA);
•   J-1 training and other exchange programs;
•   E-1/E-2 treaty investor and treaty trader status for numerous countries;
•   E-3 visas for Australians;
•   O-1 for extraordinary ability with degrees;
•   Returning to school for a higher level of education and work authorization;
•   Labor certification for permanent resident status under the “PERM” process as a first step toward “green cards.” However, there are processing backlogs for many types of permanent resident applications.

What Does This Mean for Employers?

An employer cannot hire a person in the United States without proper work authorization. While the person cannot work without work authorization, there are ways to tide the person over for short periods of time while waiting for adjudication. In particular, in some instances the employer can give the potential employee a “signing bonus” as some support for the person waiting for the adjudication, so long as the person does not work in the interim and has status to remain in the United States while waiting for the H-1B.
Employers who are considering hiring a foreign national in H-1B status should plan to prepare and send theie petition to USCIS on March 31, 2010, or as soon thereafter as possible, for the coming year’s H-1B quota.
Employers need to resist any temptation to have potential employees begin or continue working, even in what might be considered volunteer positions, without the proper work authorization. Hiring employees without the proper authorization can subject the employer to penalties and subsequent scrutiny under the immigration law.

Prepare for filing H-1B petitions- Acceptance date approaching

On April 1, 2010, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will start accepting new H-1B visa applications for employment that will begin on October 1, 2010. The H-1B visa is a very popular choice for companies who want to hire foreign workers to fill a "professional" or "specialty occupation" position requiring a minimum of a bachelor's degree or the equivalent.  
There are 65,000 H-1B visas available each year, with an additional 20,000 H-1B visas reserved for holders of U.S. master's or higher degrees. Although USCIS  normally reaches the quota in the first week of filing in previous years, the quota in 2009 was not filled until December 2009. Since we anticipate that the H-1B visa numbers will be filled more quickly this year as the economy starts to recover, an April 1st target date for filing H-1B applications will increase the chances of a successful H-1B petition.
To meet the target filing date of April 1st, it is recommended that employers start evaluating their needs for H-1B workers now. Unlike previous years, there is no longer the possibility of one-day approval from USDOL for Labor Condition Applications - which are required in order to file the H-1B petition with USCIS. The USDOL is generally taking seven days to process Labor Condition Applications and it is expected that this processing time will increase as employers prepare to file the H-1B applications.
Possible candidates for H-1B visas are current employees or potential new hires now working in F-1, J-1, L-1 and TN categories whose employment authorization will expire before October 2011.


Citizenship and Integration grant opportunities announced by USCIS

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced the availability of two different grants, totaling $7 million that are designed to promote citizenship education and immigrant integration in communities across USA.
“Each aspiring citizen represents a personal story of sacrifice and triumph,” said USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas. “This funding will increase opportunities for English language instruction, promote the rights and responsibilities that define our nation, and provide much-needed support for individuals on the path to citizenship.”
The first grant is aimed at strengthening locally-based citizenship preparation programs. The second grant will aim to increase the capacity of members or affiliates of national, regional, or statewide organizations to offer citizenship services in underserved communities. USCIS expects to announce an estimated 50 award recipients in September of 2010.
Those organizations planning to apply for either of the grants must send a mandatory letter of intent to by March 26, 2010. To apply for either of the programs, visit Applications for both grant opportunities are due by April 30, 2010.
During the fiscal year 2009, USCIS awarded $1.2 million in grants to 13 immigrant-serving organizations across the country. These awards are currently expanding services and outreach on U.S. citizenship, educational opportunities, and available resources to nearly 70,000 LPRs in 11 states.


US visa applications in China set to become paperless

US embassy officials in Beijing, China announced at a briefing that the US embassy and all the Consulates in China will implement a new online system for visa applications starting in March 2010, abandoning the old paper applications.
Linda L. Donahue, minister-counselor for consular affairs and consul general, said that the new system has already been launched in various US missions worldwide over the past few months, and that it has proven to be a "faster, easier and greener" method.
With the new system, applicants will be able to fill out their personal information online without having to download or print the application forms.
The visa officials at embassies will also save time by not having to manually transcribe applicants' information from paper to computer.
It is a smart system that will filter questions on the application form according to the applicant's visa application purpose. Under the new system, a user who applies for an F1 student visa will answer a different set of questions than a user who applies for a short business visit visa. One will also be able to find language options in the upper right corner and opt to have the form translated into his/her native language.
"With this electronic paperless system, we will save 2 million to 3 million pieces of paper in China alone," said Nancy E. Abella, first secretary in charge of visas, noting that the effort reflects the US desire to be more environmentally friendly, even abroad.
The number of US visas issued in China has been increasing every year. In 2009, a total of 486,000 US visas were issued.
"We expect to see more applications, more visas being issued in China and more Chinese visitors in the US," Abella added.


Revised approval notice for certain I-129 and I-539 forms

US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is alerting customers of certain Notices of Approval (Forms I-797) issued between Jan. 20 and Jan. 27, 2010, with incorrect or missing information. The form types impacted are Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker (Form I-129) and Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status (Form I-539).
USCIS has started mailing new approval notices with corrected information to the affected I-129 petitioners and I-539 applicants. The USCIS has advised petitioners and applicants who received incomplete or incorrect approval notices that they should not attempt to use them. USCIS estimates that approximately 500 incorrect Notices of Approval (Forms I-797) have been issued.

A couple of examples of errors on the approval notices of affected petitioners and applicants:

For Form I-129, petitioners who requested multiple unnamed beneficiaries were issued an approval notice that lists only one unnamed beneficiary.
For Form I-539, some applicants were issued an approval notice with no validity dates listed.

If you know or believe that your "Notice of Approval" was issued with incorrect or missing information, and if you have not received a revised Notice of Approval by Monday, Feb. 8, please contact USCIS.


Number of illegal immigrants in the US falls by 7% in 2009

The number of illegal immigrants in the US has fallen by seven percent in 2009, to 10.8 million, coinciding with the country's financial crisis, a Department of Homeland Security report has stated.
The majority of the country's illegal immigrants come from Latin America, specifically- with 62 percent from Mexico (6.7 million), followed by those from El Salvador (530,000), Guatemala (480,000) and Honduras (320,000).
Together with Filipinos (270,000), Latin Americans accounted for 85 percent of the total illegal immigrants in the United States in 2009, the Department of Homeland Security report said.
"The number of unauthorized residents declined by 1.0 million between 2007 and 2009, coincident with the US economic downturn," said the report, based on census data and extrapolations from the total foreign population in the US.
Of the nearly 11 million undocumented people in the United States in January 2009, 37 percent, or approximately four million, arrived since January 2000, 44 percent since the 1990s and 19 percent since the 1980s, the report stated.
The cutoff date of January 1, 2021 in the DHS's estimated tally of illegal immigrants corresponds to a grandfather clause in the 1986 US immigration reform law that extended residency to anybody living in the United States prior to that date.
In overall numbers, a little more than 31 million foreigners were living in the United States, legally and illegally, in January 2009, the report said.
California was the state with the most illegal immigrants, 2.6 million, followed by Texas with 1.7 million and Florida with 720,000.
"Between 2000 and 2009, the Mexican-born unauthorized immigrant population increased by 2.0 million or 42 percent," said the report, confirming earlier independent studies of that nationality.
However, the biggest jump in illegal immigrants from a single country went to Honduras, and their number almost doubled (a 95 percent increase) in the past decade.
Beside the US and global financial crisis, other reasons that the report inferred for the drop in the undocumented population include tougher border enforcement and a national crackdown on illegal immigrants.
Since his inauguration a year ago, US President Barack Obama has been prodding Congress to take up immigration reform seriously, after two failed attempts in 2006 and 2007.


H-1B visa holders questioned, and deported from airport

There’s been a lot of discussion about outsourcing and H-1B visas, amid a recession that is leaving a huge number of Americans unemployed. In these difficult times, the question why some have to benefit at the expense of others is quite relevant.
This paradigm has scaled new levels.
According to a report, many Indian professionals were deported upon their arrival at JFK and Newark airports due to a new rule. The new regulation states that foreign workers arriving in the U.S. on work visas should arrive at their workplace, say activists and immigrations attorneys.
Philadelphia-based immigration attorney, Morley Nair, said in a statement, "The airport deportations…have sent shockwaves through the H-1B community. H-1B employers, employees and their attorneys alike are flabbergasted by this brazen act of official highhandedness where individuals arriving on H-1B visas were singled out even before their primary immigration inspection, put through sham questioning, forced into making coercive statements, issued expedited removal orders, and sent back.”
Apparently, the problem is that workers with legitimate H1B visas are arriving at client sites or third party locations in the U.S. rather than at the employer’s office. A technicality that many feel has taken the issue of outsourcing jobs to foreigners too far.
"Fifty to 80 percent of Indian H-1B visa holders come for a consulting company. Their companies will send them to client sites. The new rule stipulates that the petitioner of the visa should be present at the work place," said Aman Kapoor, ImmigrationVoice founder. The organization is an activist group for Green Card applicants and H-1B visa holders.
Nair commented that the practice of H1B visa holders turning up at client sites is the norm and has been around since the visa was first issued. As long as it is shored up with appropriate papers, it is not in violation of the law.
According to Kapoor, the move to curtail HIB holders stems from a memo by the Associate Director of Service Center Operations of USCIS, Donald Neufeld. The memo has only been issued on January 8, but the shocking nature of the response stems from customs officers interpreting the memo far too overzealously, said Nair. In some cases, immigration officials reportedly hassled HIB visa holders with questions about their pay and why they were being paid more than their American counterparts.
Cyrus Mehta, an attorney in New York explained the situation: “On one fateful day, January 11, when Continental Airlines Flight 49 landed in Newark from Mumbai, we know that CBP officer Matt McGirr and his colleagues, hunted through the lines for Indian H-1B workers even before they showed up for primary inspection. Their minds were made up. No detailed questions were asked' reports
Those who have been subjected to expedited removal (ER) will not be able to return to the U.S. for another five year. However, those Indian HIB visa holders who revoke their application for entry into the U.S. may go back with their funds and reenter following a new visa stamp or a new employer.
Attorneys and immigration lawyers say that they are protesting against the actions of immigration officials with the authorities.


H-1B petitions- Establishing relationship between Employee and Employer

US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has issued updated guidance to adjudication officers to clarify what constitutes a valid employer-employee relationship, to qualify for the H-1B ‘specialty occupation’ classification. The memorandum clarifies such relationships, particularly as it pertains to independent contractors, self-employed beneficiaries, and beneficiaries placed at third-party worksites. The memorandum is titled: “Determining Employer-Employee Relationship for Adjudication of H-1B Petitions, Including Third-Party Site Placements:  Additions to Officer’s Field Manual (AFM) Chapter 31.3(g)(15)(AFM Update AD 10-24).” In addition to clarifying the requirements for a valid employer-employee relationship, it also discusses the types of evidence that petitioners may provide to establish that an employer-employee relationship exists, and will continue to exist with the beneficiary throughout the duration of the requested H-1B validity period.

Questions & Answers

Q:  Does this memorandum change any of the requirements to establish eligibility for an H-1B petition?

A:  No.  This memorandum does not change any of the requirements for an H-1B petition.  The H-1B regulations currently require that a United States employer establish that it has an employer-employee relations with respect to the beneficiary, as indicated by the fact that it may hire, pay, fire, supervise or otherwise control the work of any such employee.  In addition to demonstrating that a valid employer-employee relationship will exist between the petitioner and the beneficiary, the petitioner must continue to comply with all of the requirements for an H-1B petition including:
establishing that the beneficiary is coming to the United States temporarily to work in a specialty occupation;
demonstrating that the beneficiary is qualified to perform services in the specialty occupation; and
filing of a Labor Condition Application (LCA) specific to each location where the beneficiary will perform services.

Q:  What factors does USCIS consider when evaluating the employer-employee relationship?

A:  As stated in the memorandum, USCIS will evaluate whether the petitioner has the “right to control” the beneficiary’s employment, such as when, where and how the beneficiary performs the job.  Please see the memorandum in the links in the upper right hand of this page for a list of factors that USCIS will review when determining whether the petitioner has the right to control the beneficiary.  Please note that no one factor is decisive and adjudicators will review the totality of the circumstances when making a determination as to whether the employer-employee relationship exists.

Q:  What types of evidence can I provide to demonstrate that I have a valid employer-employee relationship with the beneficiary?

A:  You may demonstrate that you have a valid employer-employee relationship with the beneficiary by submitting the types of evidence outlined in the memorandum or similar probative types of evidence.

Q:  What if I cannot submit the evidence listed in the memorandum?

A:  The documents listed in the memorandum are only examples of evidence that establish the petitioner’s right to control the beneficiary’s employment.  Unless a document is required by the regulations, i.e. an itinerary, you may provide similarly probative documents.  You may submit a combination of any documents that sufficiently establish that the required relationship between you and the beneficiary exists.  You should explain how the documents you are providing establish the relationship.  Adjudicators will review and weigh all the evidence submitted to determine whether a qualifying employer-employee relationship has been established.

Q:  What if I receive or have received an RFE requesting that I submit a particular type of evidence and I do not have the exact type of document listed in the RFE?

A:  If the type of evidence requested in the RFE is not a document that is required by regulations, you may submit other similar probative evidence that addresses the issue(s) raised in the RFE.  You should explain how the documents you are providing address the deficiency(ies) raised in the RFE.  Adjudicators will review and weigh all evidence based on the totality of the circumstances.  Please note that you cannot submit similar evidence in place of documents required by regulation.

Q:  Will my petition be denied if I cannot establish that the qualifying employer-employee relationship will exist?

A:  If you do not initially provide sufficient evidence of an employer-employee relationship for the duration of the requested validity period, you may be given an opportunity to correct the deficiency in response to a request for evidence (RFE).   Your petition will be denied if you do not provide sufficiently probative evidence that the qualifying employer-employee relationship will exist for any time period.

Q:  What if I can only establish that the qualifying employer-employee relationship will exist for a portion of the requested validity period?

A:  If you do not initially provide sufficient evidence of an employer-employee relationship for the duration of the requested validity period, you may be given an opportunity to correct the deficiency in response to a request for evidence (RFE).   Your petition may still be approved if you provide evidence that a qualifying employer-employee relationship will exist for a portion of the requested validity period (as long as all other requirements are met), however, USCIS will limit a petition’s validity to the time period of qualifying employment established by the evidence.

Q: What happens if I am filing a petition requesting a “Continuation of previously approved employment without change” or “Change in previously approved employment” and an extension of stay for the beneficiary in H-1B classification, but I did not maintain a valid employer-employee relationship with the beneficiary during the validity of the previous petition?

A:  Your extension petition will be denied if USCIS determines that you did not maintain a valid employer-employee relationship with the beneficiary throughout the validity period of the previous petition.  The only exception is if there is a compelling reason to approve the new petition (e.g. you are able to demonstrate that you did not meet all of the terms and conditions through no fault of your own).  Such exceptions would be limited and made on a case-by-case basis.

Q:  What if I am filing a petition requesting a “Change of Employer” and an extension of stay for the beneficiary’s H-1B classification?  Would my petition be adjudicated under the section of the memorandum that deals with extension petitions?

A:  No.  The section of the memorandum that covers extension petitions applies solely to petitions filed by the same employer to extend H-1B status without a material change in the original terms of employment.  All other petitions will be adjudicated in accordance with the section of the memorandum that covers initial petitions.

Q: I am a petitioner who will be employing the beneficiary to perform services in more than one work location.  Do I need to submit an itinerary in support of my petition?

A:  Yes.  You will need to submit a complete itinerary of services or engagements, as described in the memo, in order to comply with 8 CFR 214.2(h)(2)(i)(B) if you are employing the beneficiary to perform services in more than one work location.  Furthermore, you must comply with Department of Labor regulations requiring that you file an LCA specific to each work location for the beneficiary.

Q:  What happens if I do not submit evidence of the employer-employee relationship with my initial petition?

A:  If you do not initially provide sufficient evidence of an employer-employee relationship for the duration of the requested validity period, you will be given an opportunity to correct the deficiency in response to a request for evidence (RFE).  However, failure to provide this information with the initial submission will delay processing of your petition.


Wipro, Microsoft, Intel, and Infosys take up the most H-1B visas in 2009

Even though job losses in the US are mounting, employers have stepped up the hiring of skilled workers from abroad, according to data from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services. The acceleration in recent weeks has put companies close to exhausting the 65,000 visas allotted each year for foreign workers under what's known as the H-1B program. Some 61,500 visas had been used as of Dec. 8, and the last visas are likely to be claimed within the next few weeks. Once that happens, companies won't be able to use the program to bring in additional workers until October, the start of the government's fiscal year.
"The numbers are surprising, considering the state of the economy," says Ron Hira, associate professor of public policy at Rochester Institute of Technology. "With 15.4 million people unemployed in the U.S., employers should be able to find qualified workers here." The H-1B program allows employers to sponsor skilled workers from overseas for up to three years, with the possibility of extending for additional years.


The mix of companies receiving work visas is changing in ways that could dull at least some criticism of the program. In past years outsourcing companies, including many based in India, have taken up a substantial chunk of the visas. That's led opponents to charge that the program was being used to send American jobs abroad, since many H-1B employees train at client sites in the U.S. and then rotate back to their home countries to handle similar tasks. But the number of visas received by many non-U.S. outsourcers is declining. Of the top 200 recipients of H-1B visas in fiscal 2009, ended in September, offshore outsourcers got about 22%, or 5,663, compared to 38% in fiscal 2008.
Non-U.S. outsourcers still claimed 6 of the top 10 places in fiscal 2009, although the numbers were off for the largest operators. India's Infosys Technologies (INFY) topped the list in fiscal 2008, with 4,559 visas, but last year got only 440. Wipro (WIT) was the largest visa recipient in 2009, with 1,964, down from 2,678 in 2008. Sridhar Ramasubbu, Wipro's chief financial officer for international operations, says the drop is the result of lower demand caused by the recession and changes in the company's workforce. "We're now operating in 58 countries," he says.
U.S. companies have become more active in the program. Of the top 200 recipients in 2009, American businesses accounted for 49% of the visas, up from 43% in 2008. Microsoft (MSFT) was No. 2, with 1,318 approvals, while Intel (INTC) ranked No. 3 with 723. The chip giant says it's using the visas to recruit for high-skill posts in software and component design. "We only use visas for job categories with a (domestic) skills shortage," says spokeswoman Lisa Malloy.
With the Obama Administration struggling to create jobs, politicians are debating whether the visa program needs fundamental change. On Nov. 19, Senators Bernie Sanders and Charles Grassley introduced a bill to bar major companies that lay off U.S. workers from hiring foreign labor through H-1B and other programs. The legislation, which faces significant hurdles, would apply to companies that have cut 50 or more employees within the past year. "We have a responsibility to ensure that companies do not use the temporary guest-worker program to replace American workers with cheaper labor from overseas," says Sanders.


For visitors to the US, ESTA rule takes affect

A new system of checks on all US-bound air passengers from the UK has come into force, with all travellers required to complete an online form before leaving.
The Electronic System for Travel Authorisation form (ESTA), which takes up to 72 hours to be approved, gives flyers prior approval for entry to the US.
It replaces the green I-94 card which passengers have previously filled in on their flight into the US. The scheme first came in a year ago but is now mandatory for all travellers to the US.
The ESTA form applies to all the 35 countries with US "visa waiver" status. An approved ESTA is valid for two years and can be used for multiple entries into the US.
Most people who fill in the form should receive approval from the US Department of Homeland Security within a few minutes. But British Airways and American Airlines Major are advising travellers to apply at least 72 hours in advance, to be on the safe side.
Both airlines have said people without valid ESTA forms will not be allowed to board any flights to the US.
The scheme is currently free but this may change as the US Senate voted in September to charge visitors from visa waiver countries a minimum of $10 (£7) to fill in the form and enter the country. The EU has criticised the Esta scheme, and it has received widespread criticism from all quarters.
The scheme was introduced in January 2009 but is mandatory from January 20, 2010. Airlines had feared the new rules could cause chaos at British airports but say the phased introduction should reduce problems. About four million Britons visit the US each year, so it is expected to have a huge impact.


Haitian immigrants in the US- Details of Temporary Protected Status

Federal permission allowing illegal immigrants from Haiti to stay in the US, given last week, came with a requirement that many might find hard to meet. The immigrants must be able to show that they were in the United States when the Jan. 12 earthquake struck their nation.
Today, immigration officials outlined how Haitian immigrants here illegally, many of whom lack official paperwork, can try to show they were here before the earthquake. They can submit documents such as affidavits from relatives testifying to their presence, letters from employers, medical bills, and baptismal certificates, the officials said.
"More is better," said Russell Owen, chief of staff for the New Jersey district of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. "Whatever documents they can provide to us for us to review for possible adjudication, submit."
In a national conference call and during meetings across the country, Owen and other immigration officials today reviewed the ins and outs of post-earthquake rules affecting Haitian immigrants. They offered other tips on applying for the "temporary protected status" that lets illegal immigrants stay at least 18 months; warned applicants to beware of unqualified scammers offering legal help; and stressed that Haitians who arrive here after the earthquake will be sent back.
The United States now grants temporary protected status (TPS) to qualifying citizens of six countries — Haiti, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Somalia, and Sudan — devastated by natural disasters, military conflicts and other problems. TPS allows illegal immigrants from a country to remain in the United States for 18 months, though the status is often renewed if conditions do not improve in a country. Those eligible for TPS do not automatically receive it. They have to apply for it. A total of between 100,000 and 200,000 people are expected to file for TPS.
Owen urged people who think they need help filling out their application to either hire an attorney or consult reputable community organizations. He warned against scammers who charge high fees and pretend to be knowledgeable about application procedures.
Reputable organizations, he said, "will not charge exorbitant fees and will process the applications properly and efficiently."
Immigration officials warned that anyone who arrives in this country illegally after the Jan. 12 earthquake will be slated for deportation.
"It’s very important to communicate that," Alejandro Mayorkas, director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, told community organization leaders in Newark and other cities yesterday, in a conference call. "Because from our experience the effort to leave Haiti by sea on one’s own is both dangerous and life-threatening. We’ve seen a lot of lost lives in these kinds of tragedies caused by that. And we will ... as a department repatriate those (Haitians.)"


More than 6,000 citizenship candidates to be naturalized

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will commemorate the 81st birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by welcoming more than 6,000 new citizens at citizenship ceremonies throughout the US and overseas for the week of Jan.15 through 22. Special ceremonies will embrace the theme, “Enriching the American Dream: The Celebration of a Legacy."
“We in U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services assist individuals who come to our country to experience the hope and opportunities that Dr. King helped define," said USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas. “It is an honor to recognize our new citizens, and what our country means to them, on the day that we honor Dr. King's legacy. It is a legacy that our new citizens will now help carry forward."
USCIS’ celebration of citizenship is highlighted by various special events, starting Jan. 15 with a ceremony at the King Center in Atlanta, Ga. with Elder Bernice A. King, the daughter of Dr. King.
This event will be followed by a Jan. 18 event with a special ceremony at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library in Washington, D.C., during which General Colin Powell, U.S. Army (Ret.) will deliver keynote remarks.
The events will culminate Jan. 22 at a ceremony in Providence, R.I. with Mr. Clifford Monteiro, President, NAACP Providence Chapter, who worked with Dr. King during the Civil Rights Movement. During these ceremonies, USCIS will honor Dr. King’s legacy of justice, democracy and hope.
It is a legacy that continues to enrich the lives of Americans to this very day.
USCIS will also hold a naturalization ceremony for service members at Yongsan Army Garrison in Seoul, South Korea.


Mason poses as GM to obtain a US visa

The Indian police have arrested a mason who posed as the general manager of a fictitious construction company at the US Consulate officials in Chennai to get a tourist visa.
S Joy (42), a native of Ernakulam (Kerala), walked into the US Consulate General's office on Monday after booking an appointment for a visa interview. The official concerned suspected Joy's credibility when he fumbled on questions relating to the company where he claimed to be working as the General Manager. On being grilled further, he spilled the beans, and told them that he was a mason.
Joy worked as a mason with a private builder in Ernakulam. He wanted to pursue his vocation in the US. In Ernakulam, he approached a travel agent, Sunil, who warned him that the Consulate would not grant him the visa if he applied for a tourist visa and mentioned his occupation as ‘construction labourer'. Sunil then forged the documents for Joy, creating a fictitious company where Joy was the GM. He was arrested by Royapettah police.


Immigration reform can hike the US GDP by $1.5 trillion over a decade

A new reposrt by the Center for American Progress says that an overhaul of U.S. immigration laws would increase the country's gross domestic product (GDP) by $1.5 trillion over the next ten years.
Providing a path to legal residence for the roughly 8 million illegal immigrants currently residing in the U.S. would lead to higher wages for both, them and other U.S. workers, increase tax revenue and result in a higher consumption by immigrants, the report concluded.
The $1.5 trillion figure is reached by a calculation that an immigration overhaul would increase U.S. GDP by 0.84% annually.
The study considered three scenarios: one where comprehensive immigration law changes are implemented; a second where only a temporary worker program is created and a third where massive deportations of illegal immigrants is pursued. The second would increase U.S. GDP by $792 billion over the next decade, while the third would cost the economy $2.6 trillion over the same period.
The report looks at the economic impact that followed the last time a significant immigration shake-up was concluded in 1986 during the Reagan administration as a basis for its findings of what would occur as a result of an overhaul of immigration laws this year.
The Center for American Progress is one of the many groups strongly pushing the administration to pursue immigration changes this year rather than waiting until 2011 after the mid-term elections in November 2010.
"The imperative is both a political one because of the elections, and a policy one because of the economics," Angela Kelley, vice president for immigration policy at the Center, said Thursday.
Immigration legislation was introduced in the House in December that has the backing of many liberals in the Democratic caucus. But given the difficulty of passing major legislation through the Senate, it is expected that any effort to tackle the immigration issue will begin there.
Given the bruising experience that the drive for sweeping health-care legislation has been for both the administration and congressional Democrats, there is some talk that they may not have the appetite for another significant fight before the November elections of 2010.


US government lifts 22-year-old HIV immigration ban

The United States government has changed a 22-year-old rule, lifting the mmigration ban which has stopped anyone with HIV or AIDS, from entering the country.
President Obama has said that the ban is not compatible with US plans to be a leader in the fight against the disease.
The ban was imposed at the height of a global fear about the disease, towards the end of the 1980's.
The ban had clubbed the United States with a group of just 12 countries, including Libya and Saudi Arabia, which excluded the entry of anyone suffering from HIV/AIDS.


Recent study: Most H-1B holders are from India, and under 35

The U.S. has finally reached the 85,000 H-1B visa cap late December thanks to a fourth quarter spike in demand.
And, according to data recently released by the AFL-CIO labor union, most of the visa-holders are less than 35-years-old and most likely come from India. About half os these work in computer-related occupations. The AFL-CIO compiled its numbers from a number of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) reports showing the breakdown of the H-1B visa users.
Since the H-1B cap has been reached for the fiscal year, the USCIS now won't accept new visa applications until April 1 for fiscal 2011, which begins on Oct. 1.
The government data studied by the AFL-CIO covers a number of years through the 2008 fiscal year and shows a largely consistent pattern of visa usage. For example, 54% of 2008 visa recipients were from India, close to the percentage from the past several years, according to the USCIS reports. Two thirds of H-1B petitions approved in 2008 were for workers between the ages of 25 and 34, compared to 48% in 2007 and 66% in 2006.
The relative young age of the H-1B petitioners is likely to reinforce the concerns of visa critics who contend that the pool of young of workers is helping to foster age discrimination in the IT workplace. Estimates by various industry groups puts the number of IT workers in the U.S. between 4 to 6 million people. The total depends on what occupational groups are counted.
Indian nationals are the dominant recipients of the H-1B visa. Of the total number of H-1B visas issued for initial employment in 2008, for instance, 61,739 were to workers from India, followed by 9,157, or 8.8%, from China. Canadians accounted for 3,968 visas or 3.9% of the total, and the Philippines, 3,957, or 3.5%.