Monthly Archives: May 2009

H-1B CAP COUNT UPDATE FOR FY-2010 (5/18/09)

According to a USCIS Update:  “USCIS has received approximately 45,500 H-1B petitions counting toward the Congressionally-mandated 65,000 cap. The agency continues to accept petitions subject to the general cap.”

Not much has changed since the last update.  H-1B visas are a great option for hiring eligible, qualified foreign-nationals.  If you are a recent college grad with a possible H-1B caliber job offer for which you qualify, your employer (or prospective employer) should “move it or lose it” as these numbers may not be available for much longer.

WHEN H-1B EMPLOYERS FOLLOW THE LAW – THEY ARE NOT GETTING “CHEAP LABOR”

The argument that H-1B workers are less expensive than American Workers has repeatedly been put forth by anti-immigration organizations and journalists.  I was never clear on this logic, and in any event it is a myth when the H-1B program is used as it is supposed to be.

In order to file an H-1B petition with the USCIS, an employer must include a certified Labor Condition Application (LCA) from the US Department of Labor (DOL).  When signing the LCA, the employer attests that the H-1B non-immigrant will be paid the higher of either the prevailing wage for the occupation in the particular geographic area or the actual wage, which is the wage paid to others who work for the petitioner in the same position at the location where the H-1B worker will be employed.

The prevailing wage is determined in one of several ways that are acceptable to the DOL.  The greatest protection for an employer is to obtain a Prevailing Wage Determination (PWD) from the State Workforce Agency in the state where the non-immigrant will be employed.  The job description on the Prevailing Wage Request should be accurate and complete to ensure the validity of the PWD in case of a DOL audit.

The DOL rules relating to the payment of wages of H-1B non-immigrants are strict.  Therefore, absent fraud, H-1B non-immigrants are far from “cheap”.  In addition to the requirement that the employers pay the required wages, they are also obligated to pay all USCIS filing fees which can total as much as $2320.00.  Legal fees for filing the H-1B petition can also be substantial.

USCIS ANNOUNCES EXTENSION OF THE J-1 ENTRY DATE FOR INT’L MEDICAL GRADS TO QUALIFY FOR “CONRAD 30″ WAIVER

According to a USCIS Press Release:  “U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reminds customers that Public Law 111-9, signed by President Obama on March 20, 2009, extends the date until Sept. 30, 2009 by which international medical graduates have to have been granted J-1 nonimmigrant status in order to later qualify for the “Conrad 30” program. Before this latest extension was granted, the most recent sunset date for qualifying J-1 admission was March 6, 2009.”

US GOVERNMENT LOSES IMMIGRANT ID THEFT CASE SUPREME COURT CASE

According to an article that appeared on latimes.com:  “In a 9-0 decision, the justices say the crime is limited to those who knew they had stolen another person’s Social Security number. The decision limits efforts to prosecute illegal workers.”

As with most crimes, intent is a key factor.  This decision should therefore come as no surprise.  What is surprising is that the government let it escalate to that level.  The tide is shifting with immigration.  The Bush era made a bad system worse and the Obama administration promises to make it more palatable.  The next few months will be telling.

The Ninth Circuit also recently came down with a decision that the Widow Penalty, that is denying or revoking the green card of a spouse of a US Citizen who dies within the first two years of marriage is unlawful.  We will see what guidance the USCIS comes out with on this issue.  Maybe they will take it to the Supreme Court as well since there have been differing opinions that have come out of various Circuits. 

RADIO HOST SUSPENDED FOR COMMENTS ABOUT MEXICAN IMMIGRANTS

According to an article on boston.com:  “Jay Severin, the fiery right wing talk show host on Boston’s WTKK-FM radio station, was suspended yesterday after calling Mexican immigrants “criminaliens,” “primitives,” “leeches,” and exporters of “women with mustaches and VD,” among other incendiary comments.”

Comments of this sort add nothing to the debate on immigration and are simply uttered to inflame.  As I posted yesterday, talk show hosts want ratings.  If Severin encouraged intelligent debate on the issue, his ratings would probably drop as the emotional reaction that comes from name-calling would be removed from the equation.  I believe this man’s show is local – however there are national television and radio hosts who have a much wider audience and also are adept at finding clever, catchy, inappropriate names to brand various immigrant groups.  Perhaps this man will appear on CNN’s Lou Dobbs Tonight to get a sympathetic shoulder to cry on – as well as some national exposure…not too bad.

From a practical point of view, someone I know was purchasing radio advertising spots for a company and was getting quotes from various local stations.  When an internet search showed that one of the stations was WTKK-FM, the station on which Severin’s show is heard, a decision was made to go with an alternative radio station.  These stations may be owned by the same company for all I know.  However, to have a radio personality turn off a potential advertiser to such a degree is simply bad for business.   If one owns a small local business – would they really want their commercials to air during the breaks for such a show?  Some do – but I personally would make a mental note to avoid them.