US Senator proposes increasing available H-1B visas

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US Republican Senator John Cornyn has proposed legislation to increase the number of H-1B visas that are issued to foreigners who have graduated with a master's and doctoral degree from a US university.

Senator Cornyn, the senior Republican on a Senate panel that oversees immigration, proposed a bill that would make an additional 55,000 visas available each year for graduates with master's and doctoral degrees from US universities.

Cornyn noted that the bill would not add to the overall number of US visas available. The bill if enacted would mean the end of the popular Green Card Lottery program. The 55,000 diversity visas from the Green Card lottery visa scheme would instead be allocated to the H-1B visa scheme. Ending the popular Green Card Lottery visa scheme could prove to be highly controversial.

Cornyn argued that the decision to increase the number of H-1B visas to enable foreign-born engineers, mathematicians, scientists and other with high-tech skills to work in the US is important to US technology companies. He said his bill would "bolster American competitiveness and provide a stronger foundation for long-term economic growth and job creation" in the US.

"We have to remember how this country was built. All of us are sons and daughters of immigrants that showed up here and made our way. We've cut off that flow," Cornyn said, adding that the US currently has around 2 million unfilled high-tech jobs.

For now, it is unclear whether other Republicans in the Senate would support Cornyn's proposed legislation.

Cornyn is also looking at legislation that would help children of illegal immigrants who want to attend US colleges or serve in the US military. There are an estimated 1 to 2 million illegal immigrant children currently living in the US.

US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that, as of 11 May 2012, it has already received 36,700 H-1B cap-subject petitions out of the 65,000 available visas. Additionally, they have already received 14,800 H-1B visa petitions for foreigners with US advanced degrees out of the 20,000 available visas. This means that on 27 April 2012 there were only 28,300 visas left under the H-1B regular visa cap and 5,200 for the H-1B visa advanced degree level visa cap.

Therefore, if you are considering filing a cap-subject H-1B petition as part of the FY2013 quota we encourage you to apply as soon as possible. Once the visa cap has been reached, USCIS will stop accepting H-1B petitions for FY 2013 and will not accept new applications until 1 April 2013. Even if you obtain an H-1B visa now you will not be able to start work until 1 October 2012.

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