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Wednesday, April 09, 2008

A Lottery for High-Tech Workers

A lottery? Is this really the best means for setting and running policy that has a direct and important impact of U.S. high-tech firms?

H-1B visas allow professional, often tech-savvy workers to enter the country to meet growing demand from U.S. businesses. The Sacramento Bee reported yesterday:

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services said Tuesday that it has received more than enough applications to fill the 65,000 annual limit on H-1B white-collar guest worker visas. The filing period for the visas was between April 1 and 7.

The agency said it also received more than enough petitions to fill 20,000 additional H-1B visas filed by U.S. employers on behalf of people with advanced degrees -- beyond the annual 65,000 cap. The final selection of who will get the visas is done by computer-generated lottery.

So, there are far more applications than positions allowed under the law. And a lottery will be used to see which businesses get the workers they need.

This is a screwy system that can do real damage to businesses and the economy.

What to do? That’s simple. Expand the number of H-1B visas to meet market demands.

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