H1B visas still available for 2010: Another sign of the times

WSJ just reported that for the year 2010, H1B visas are still available….so all you international skilled workers – reach out to your potential employees and see if they knew about this and are more amenable to hiring you given your skill set than the next guy over. Also, not a bad time for  early stage entrepreneurs to see how they can hire the best of the best (technical talent) by employing foreigners. The difficulty in getting the due process completed may be much less now.

Contrast this to last year when these visas ran out within days. Yet another sign of the times we are living through. Not only are most firms not hiring, let alone hiring internationals who would need sponsorship (and associated legal fees/burden), but the availability of government funding (TARP, ARRA etc) also prohibit companies from hiring outside the US.

H-1B Visas Still Available for FY 2010

Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) said Wednesday that it still has H-1B visas available for fiscal year 2010, a week after it began accepting applications from educated foreigners.

This contrasts with last year when the agency was immediately swamped with more than 160,000 applications for visas, said Eric Thomas, a spokesman for Compete America, a network of companies and organizations that promotes recruiting talent to maintain a competitive workforce.

For fiscal year 2010, which begins Oct. 1, 2009, USCIS can issue up to 20,000 H-1B visas to applicants with a master’s degree or higher and up to 65,000 additions visas to those with bachelor’s degrees or similar training. The agency began accepting applications on April 1.

Mr. Thomas said he still expects USCIS to reach its ceiling, but it’s likely that most applications will come from people already on American companies’ payrolls, not new workers from abroad.

“We’ve found again from most of our companies that the employees that they file H1-B visas for, it’s sort of the only option for them as they wait for their green cards,” Mr. Thomas said.

He also pointed out that “it doesn’t seem to make sense to us to train them and educate them here and send them home to compete with American companies.”

That point of view has been met with opposition this year as Americans struggle to find work in an economy with an 8.5% unemployment rate. Congress already put in place some restrictions, like forbidding companies that receive funds from the Troubled Asset Relief Program from using H-1B hires until they can prove they were unable to recruit American workers.

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