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Current work-based visa program may limit economic growth

Individuals who are planning to immigrate to Florida on an employment-based visa may be interested to learn that the U.S. has received approximately 233,000 H-1B applications for the 2016 fiscal year. These applicants will compete for the Congress-mandated maximum of 85,000 work visas offered annually.

According to estimates from Compete America, the current caps limit economic growth and result in a loss of about 500,000 jobs in the U.S. every year. The advocacy group, which represents a number of tech companies, such as Amazon and Microsoft, has lobbied for an increase in the cap. However, one source suggests that reform is unlikely in the current political climate, and a number of labor organizations suggest that a cap increase would limit wage growth in the sector.

H-1B is a work-based visa that businesses use when seeking talent in engineering, science and computer programming abroad. The executive director for a lobbying group suggested that under the current cap, which includes 20,000 visas specifically held for potential employees with master's degrees, employers only had a 36 percent chance to receive an H-1B. Despite President Barack Obama's executive action that made it easier for foreign students to stay and work in the country after earning an advanced degree, industry groups suggest that more reform is necessary.

Despite the current limitations on work-based visas, it may still be possible for a person to gain lawful entry into the U.S. In order to better understand their options, a person seeking to immigrate might consider discussing their situation with a lawyer who is familiar with immigration law.

Source: Reuters, "U.S. has record number of applications for H-1B tech visas," April 13, 2015

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