New rules may bring 'false H-1B demand'


The USCIS ended the comment period on the proposal rule last month.

This USCIS proposal was borne out of the crush of the H-1B petitions the agency received in the pre-recession years. The pace of demand has slowed since then.

As of last week, the government has received 13,100 H-1B petitions toward its 65,000 cap, and 9,000 petitions toward the cap of 20,000 that's set aside for advanced degree holders. It's expected that the USCIS will reach the fiscal 2012 cap for the year, though it's still months away from doing so.

The relative fall-off in demand is blamed on a still weak economy, as well as a recent move by Congress to impose a new $2,000 fee for H-1B petitions on companies, mostly offshore firms, that rely heavily on holders of U.S. visas.

Offshore firms may be shifting to other visas, such as L-1, as well as improving the efficiency of their onshore operations, and/or boosting U.S. hiring, to reduce the need for visa holders. But some in Congress believe that the slowdown in H-1B visa requests will be short-lived.