February 15, 2011
This is the third post in four-part blog series that will review the current H-1B visa program. (Part I can be found HERE and Part II HERE.) In Columbus there are numerous businesses and employees impacted by what has become a flawed process and we hope this analysis will help shed light on some of the problems.
Following a detailed overview of the program, the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) proposed a series of modifications based on their review as well as the feedback it received from 34 companies that were interviewed. The intent of the modifications would be to streamline the visa application process and strengthen the structure and organization of the entire program. The state of the current H-1B program is hurting the specialty industry workforce in the United States in addition to hindering immigration.
The GAO listed two suggestions for improvement by the Department of Homeland Security. First, the data system must be updated so that Homeland Security can track the number of visa petitions every year. The GAO mentions that if the USCIS linked its digital records system with that of the Department of States, Homeland Security would have constant access to the critical information.
Second, the USCIS should explore options to simplify the H-1B Visa application process without hurting the integrity of the program. Based on suggestions from the 34 companies, the GAO mentions a series of options for streamlining the application process. Allowing a company to rank applications based on necessity would help to ensure that important workers are accepted first. Also, distributing visa applications quarterly would give employers the opportunity to seek H1-B workers throughout the year. Finally, GAO emphasizes that Homeland Security should consider an honor system that takes a company’s track record and reliability into account in order to shorten the application process.
In regards to the Secretary of Labor, the GAO states that the Labor Condition Application (LCA) posting requirement must be enforced according to the specific standards that are in place. The review explains that the Employment and Training Administration could develop a public website where each company would post its intent to hire H-1B Visa workers. The posting would have to include the employment category as well as the location of the business. In addition to meeting the posting requirement, the public website would allow data to be recorded and analyzed in order to track companies’ compliance with the visa program’s rules. The GAO explains that the Employment and Training Administration would give the Department of Labor access to the website in order to monitor company activities and enforce rules when necessary.
The GAO explains that suggestions have been made in the past with the intent of improving the H-1B visa program. In a previous report the GAO suggested that the application process needed to be streamlined, particularly the requirement for employers to submit the LCA to the Department of Labor. The GAO explained that the USCIS conducts an LCA review, so the requirement of submitting it to Labor only prolonged the entire process. Congress listened to the GAO and combined the Department of Homeland Security with the USCIS, but the application process as a whole was not amended or streamlined.
The GAO report also mentions the important observations of the various companies that were interviewed during the review process. It was noted that inconsistencies exist between processing centers around the country. Companies explained that some processing centers were more efficient than others. Also, the reasons for visa application denial were not always logical or clear. The GAO explains that the inefficiency of the processing centers as well as the reasons for denial must be analyzed and corrected accordingly in order to restore the integrity and dependability of the H-1B Visa program.
The conclusion of the GAO’s report explains that the current state of the H1-B visa program is hindering entrepreneurship within the United States. Specialized industries require skilled workers from other countries in order to succeed and grow. The current visa program limits the development of certain specialty business sectors due to a weakness in the immigration system. The reputation of the H-1B program has been compromised greatly in the United States as well as internationally.
The necessary adjustments must be considered, refined, and enacted in order to restore the reliability of the immigration system in addition to strengthening the workforce in specialized industries throughout the United States.
For more information, speak to our H-1B visa attorneys today.