California is home to some of the most innovative companies in the world. And because technology is at the heart of many of these businesses, recruiting top-notch talent is not always easy. In some cases, employers must look outside the United States for the particular workers that will best meet their business needs.
In theory, hiring highly skilled foreign workers to work in the U.S. should be easy through the H-1B visa program. Unfortunately, many small companies looking to participate in the visa lottery cannot do so because huge global outsourcing companies are "stuffing the ballot box," so to speak, with thousands of visa applications.
About 85,000 H-1B visas are issued each year. In 2014, more than one-third of these were taken by just 20 companies. Because these companies put in so many applications right when the submission period begins, "employers who apply after a week are out of luck," according to the New York Times.
This isn't just an issue of simple fairness. While these giant companies are technically acting within the rules, they are often using the H-1B program to outsource jobs and displace (rather than supplement) highly skilled American workers. And smaller companies trying to use the H-1B visa program for its intended purpose may not even be able to enter the lottery.
At least two U.S. Senators are leading a bi-partisan effort to reform the H-1B visa program and make it more difficult for giant outsourcing corporations to game the system. But as with most legislative efforts, progress will likely be slow and uncertain.
In the meantime, most small business owners who want to hire foreign workers may find it beneficial to seek the help of a business law attorney who also has experience in matters of employment-based immigration.