USCIS Involves White House as It Streamlines H-1B Process

By David North on March 2, 2011

The USCIS involved the White House in its announcement at five this afternoon of a proposed rule that would save H-1B-using corporations millions of dollars a year.

The proposed rule, which would not go into effect for 12 months, will not affect the basic rules of the program nor the various ceilings set by Congress, but it would potentially cut costs for employers, presumably making it even more attractive to corporations than it is now.

Currently, when the H-1B limits (65,000 new admissions for college graduate high tech workers, and 20,000 for such workers with master's degrees or doctorates) are reached USCIS finds itself with an excess of full-fledged applications that cannot be considered. These have been drawn up at some expense by the would-be users of the program, and would go to waste.

The new system, as I understand it, sets up an electronic lottery system before hand, rather than afterward, sparing the corporations the costs of preparing petitions that would never be adjudicated. The USCIS press release is here.

On the one hand the new system appears to be simply more efficient than the old one; on the other hand, its invention, implementation, and announcement all represent major investments of public resources (USCIS staff) to reduce costs to the private sector.

It is yet another signal from the Obama administration how much it wants to enhance immigration, no matter that this program routinely shoulders aside American workers who would like these jobs, and reduces wages for other workers.

I would have preferred seeing this much high-level executive energy used to reduce the population of illegal aliens, or to sort through more carefully those applying for immigration benefits.

Usually USCIS arranges its own teleconferences to announce such matters. This time it was done with some White House involvement, and it was called a "White House Immigration Call". A young woman from the White House Office of Public Outreach introduced USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas at the start of the call.

I asked if this new development would do anything for American high-tech workers wanting these jobs, and was told that the basic rules of the program would not be changed, but that they would be handled with greater efficiency.

Unfortunately, streamlining foreign worker programs simply encourages their utilization.