According to a USCIS report, in 2014 about 65 percent of the applications were for computer-related jobs. Because of an 85,000 annual cap on the number of visas awarded, which results in a lottery and delays after applications pass the limit in under a week. Even for workers inside the US, changing jobs or traveling outside the country could be affected while they wait to find out the result.
Financial Times quotes a lawyer saying that “close to 100 percent” of applications from companies like Microsoft utilize the option. Without it, the wait for a decision could linger for months into August or September.
Previously, Donald Trump has claimed he will “end forever” the use of H-1Bs for cheaper labor, and his advisor has suggested an issue with the number of Asian CEOs in Silicon Valley, increasing tension over the program. While Mark Zuckerberg’s tech lobbying group FWD.us has sought to expand the program, US senator Dick Durbin (D-Illinois), sent a letter this morning asking Trump to deliver on his campaign promise to crack down on H-1B visas.
Whatever the actual impact, the USCIS reasoning for suspending the program is interesting — back in 2001 when it was introduced, INS officials said it was needed to help clear the backlog of pending foreign high-tech worker visas. Now officials claim it’s being suspended for the same reason.