Friday, October 2, 2009

President Obama Needs to Stimulate Employment, Not Hinder Employment

The jobless rate reached 9.8 percent in September and the average hourly work week fell to 33. This is obviously a problem, since consumer spending accounts for about 70 percent of the economy and people who are out of work, or who have had their hours reduced, tend not to shop as much, for some reason.

At the same time, the Obama administration, using new programs such as eVerify and iCERT, and by imposing more restrictive employment eligibility verification requirements, is both forcing U.S. companies to fire workers and making it more difficult for U.S. companies to hire qualified workers. I voted for the man, and I'm still hopeful he can turn things around, but what he is doing to the job market mystifies me.

President Obama has decided that you and I should not be allowed to work unless there is an absolute guarantee that we are legally allowed to work in the job being offered. That sounds great, on the surface. In reality, however, it means that, even if you and I are, in fact allowed to work, an employer still can't hire us if the employer can't verify that we are legally authorized to work. Even if the employer is able to verify us, the employer may still be unable to hire us if the government can't verify the employer is authorized to hire people. These verification procedures rely on IRS and SSA databases which, the government admits, are neither perfect, nor up to date. As a result, people who are in fact legally able to work are being terminated, or refused employment, because these flawed databases can't provide the necessary verifications.

Although I certainly agree that undocumented workers are a problem that needs to be addressed, President Obama's timing, as well as his methods, need to be reconsidered. People who can work need to be allowed to work; employers who want to hire people need to be allowed to hire people. I have no problem with the concept of an employment verification process, but the current process is too much of an impediment to the hiring process; it takes too long, is too difficult, and still results in wrongful denials and terminations. With the jobless rate at 9.8 percent and rising, the current verification process is a really, really bad idea.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Approximately 18,300 H-1B Numbers Still Available

USCIS announced today that, as of September 25, 2009, only 46,700 cap-subject H-1B numbers have been used from the fiscal 2010 allotment of 65,000. This means approximately 18,300 numbers remain available.

USCIS' fiscal year runs from October 1st to September 30th, so fiscal 2010 starts today (Happy New (fiscal) Year!). This means, among other things, that people holding fiscal 2010 H-1B approvals are probably starting work today. Those still waiting for fiscal 2010 approvals can't start work yet, but now they can start immediately upon approval, provided their petition specified an October 1st start date.

The filing window for fiscal 2010 H-1B petitions opened on April 1, 2009, and approximately 42,000 petitions were filed almost immediately. In the 6 months since April 1st, only an additional 4,700 applications have been filed, an average of less than 800 applications per month. However, there were approximately 1600 H-1B filings in September, a dramatic increase over previous months. This increase could have been due to the imminent approach of October 1st, or it could be an indication of a recovering economy, or perhaps a combination, or perhaps something else entirely. Only time will tell, so I'll continue to monitor the filing numbers in the months ahead.

Whatever the reason for the increase in filings in September, if filings remain constant at 1,600 per month, we may not run out of H-1B numbers this year. That hasn't happened since 2003, when the allotment was 195,000. The allotment reverted to 65,000 in 2005.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Expanding Immigration Fraud Investigation in NYC

New York Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo has announced his office is issuing more than 30 additional subpoenas as part of the States expanding investigation into immigration fraud. You can read the press release here. Illegal and unscrupulous practices by non-lawyers such as "Notarios" and "Immigration Consultants" have been a huge problem in the immigration community for years throughout the U.S., not just in New York.

Monday, September 28, 2009

USCIS Provides Information on Employment-Based Backlogs

A lot of people have been waiting for a very long time for their greencards due to backlogs in employment-based immigrant visas. USCIS recently published Questions & Answers: Pending Employment-Based Form I-485 Inventory regarding this issue and also published its current (as of August 25, 2009) inventory of pending employment-based I-485's.

There are a lot of things we still don't know. For example, we still don't know how many visa numbers are allocated to each preference category each month. However this inventory information is at least more information than we had previously.