The declining employer interest in the H-1B program (or some other flaw in the system) was unwittingly displayed earlier this month when the Department of Homeland Security announced a third iteration of its 2021 H-1B lottery.
This is a complicated story but it shows the DHS’s wholehearted belief that the 85,000 new worker ceiling for the H-1B program, is not a limit but a target – a demand that every one of the 85,000 jobs must be taken out of the American labor market and given to aliens.
As background, there seems to be a pattern on the part of some employers – many of them based in South India – to say that they want to hire more H-1Bs workers than they really need. Every year there seems to be more filings than the two statutory ceilings of 65,000 workers, generally, and 20,000 more who must have an advanced degree, that usually is a master’s.
With this apparent imbalance in mind, DHS runs a lottery, that is easy and inexpensive to join, and always, seemingly, winds us with more applications than the 85,000 limit. If an employer wins a lottery (as about one out of three do) then he moves ahead and files a long application and pays some substantial fees.
In July DHS announced that an undisclosed number of the employers winning the lottery did not want the slots they had won, and had returned them to the department. Then DHS held a second lottery to distribute these once-rejected applications.
Last Friday DHS felt it had to announce a third round of the lottery, to dispose of the twice-rejected slots now available. No numbers were contained in the document, which, typically, appeared late on a Friday afternoon.
If the department would simply run a lottery once, and let the unused slots remain unused it would open those jobs to citizens and green card holders.
A nice idea for the rest of us, but apparently a chamber of horrors to the government.