Giveaway to H-1B Employers Opens Huge Hole in USCIS Budget

By David North on April 16, 2014

The huge giveaway to H-1B employers previously described does major damage to the budget of USCIS.

Earlier we had reported that the agency was refunding H-1B employers something like one-third of a billion dollars a year in connection with fees previously paid for failed applications for H-1B slots, while not making similar repayments to ordinary naturalization applicants who had failed their citizenship tests.

Routinely almost all of the costs of USCIS operations are recovered from fees laid on aliens and employers seeking benefits from that agency; however, in the current version of the agency budget, as passed by the House Appropriations subcommittee, there is also an allocation of $111,974,000 in tax funds.

This use of taxpayer dollars would be totally unnecessary had the agency not needlessly decided to refund more than $300,000,000 to H-1B employers whose applications cannot be utilized this year because of an overage of applications beyond the H-1B ceiling of 85,000.

So a major opportunity to reduce the debt – and the deficit – is going to be lost as USCIS caves to the financial demands of the exploitative H1-B employers.

Other Impacts. There are other direct and indirect impacts of the over-run of the statutorily-set ceilings in the program (65,000 new visas for most H-1Bs, and 20,000 for those with advanced high-tech degrees from American educational institutions).

The first is to underline the advantaged position of those H-1B applicants with advanced U.S. degrees, usually master's. The way USCIS runs a lottery in years in which there are more applications than slots of the program is that the advanced degree lottery is run first. Applications left over are then mixed in with the others in the 65,000 category, meaning that those with American advanced degrees have two chances of being selected, not just one.

The second by-product is to make the whole process more worrisome for the applicants either outside the U.S., or inside this nation in the F-1(student)/OPT/H1-B visa sequence seeking H-1B jobs within the 65,000 and 20,000 ceilings. Now an employer can promise that he will file for the H-1B visa, but cannot promise that he can produce one, unless the job is ruled to be university-connected, and thus outside the numerical ceilings.

For more on how the multi-step process from student to green card status works, or doesn't work, for individuals, see here.