'You Can't Tell the Players Without a Scorecard!'

By David North on March 21, 2011

That was the repeated call, if I remember correctly, of the guys selling scorecards at the big league ballparks of my youth.

What they offered was the crucial recording system that they said you really needed to understand the game.

Well, that's often my reaction to Immigration Daily, a publication written for immigration lawyers and other more-migration advocates.

Sometimes a governmental announcement does not make any sense – at least not to me – until you hear what the immigration lawyers, writing for ID, have to say about it.

In the instant case my eyes glazed over as I read a USCIS announcement of earlier this month that said "H-1B Cap Exemptions Based on Relation or Affiliation".

My initial, unknowing reaction was that I thought that relations were involved in family preferences, not in work-oriented programs. A friend, who knows the H-1B program better than
I do said it probably related to easing the paperwork.

Now, that's bad enough. Any time that USCIS "streamlines" a procedure it means that the process is easier, probably cheaper, and thus is more likely to be used, thus producing still more migrants, or more applications against a numerical ceiling, thus creating more pressure for the lifting of that ceiling. In short, program streamlining is bad news.

It reminds me of a conversation I had with the then uber-lobbyist for the H-1B program, some years ago. He said that an awkward, time-consuming application process for the program was a good thing, "because it keeps the riff-raff out of it."

His clients were clearly not the riff-raff of the industry, and it was the riff-raff, in his view, that sometimes created messy situations, causing needless problems to him and to his clients.

Clearly, on the H-1B caps, I needed a scorecard, so I turned to the March 17 issue of Immigration Daily and got the inside baseball concept I had been seeking. The author was Greg Siskind, a careful observer of the scene (from a different point of view than mine). His headline said it all:

USCIS Backs Down on Controversial Teaching Hospitals H-1B Cap Interpretation

So what had happened was that USCIS had offered some useful sort of regulatory twist that would, I guess, have made it a bit more difficult for the teaching hospitals to avoid both the 65,000 and the 20,000 caps on new H-1B visas. Universities and their affiliates, like teaching hospitals, can get all the new H-1B visas they want, without regard to any numerical limitations but have to show some kind of documentation that they are, in fact, related to universities.

True to form, USCIS had both buckled to pressure (or, as their press release put it, "in response to recent stakeholder feedback . . .") and described that surrender in opaque prose so that one truly needed a scorecard to understand the state of the play.

And Immigration Daily served as that scorecard.