While the Senate is leading the way on "comprehensive immigration reform" to deal with the United States' illegal immigration problem, another immigration crisis goes almost unnoticed. The H-1B visa program for highly skilled legal immigrants has reached its maximum yearly cap less than a week after opening:
A surge in the number of petitions for H-1B visas this year has led to the annual cap being exceeded in just five days, triggering a lottery, according to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services or USCIS.
The agency announced it had received more than 65,000 petitions for the financial year starting October 1 by Friday, exceeding the statutory cap for the work visas. The number of H-1B applications from those holding advanced degrees from US universities and exempt from the statutory cap has also exceeded the limit of 20,000 for this category. The USCIS said it would no longer accept H-1B petitions in either category for fiscal year 2014.
The USCIS had started accepting H-1B petitions on April 1, and had indicated last month that it expected to hit the annual cap in its first week. This is the fastest the cap has been reached since 2008, before the economic crisis hit later that year. A lottery was also last held in 2008 to award H-1B visas.
The last time that immigration reform for highly-skilled immigrants, it was killed by Democrats who maintained that a "diversity quota" immigration system had to be maintained at all costs.
Alas, the legal immigration system for high-skilled immigrants is likely to go unreformed with most of the politicians in the Senate focused on illegal immigration. We'll await the introduction of a "comprehensive immigration reform" bill but we won't hold our breath that the most common-sense reforms will be enacted.