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Charting H-1B Users, as Attention Shifts to L-1

Computerworld (03/28/12)

The U.S. Congress has not yet changed the H-1B visa cap, which stands at 85,000, including 20,000 visas for individuals with advanced degrees. A separate legislative move to make green cards somewhat automatic for individuals with advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering, or math-related subjects has also stalled. However, use of the L-1 visa has been increasing. There is no L-1 cap, although L-1 visa applicants must have specialized knowledge, which is defined by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services as “beyond the ordinary and not commonplace within the industry.”

USCIS is considering broadening the definition of specialized knowledge. However, the Economic Policy Institute cautions that a broader definition could result in job losses for highly skilled American workers and exert downward pressure on wages. EPI says its data indicate that top users of the L-1 program are outsourcing companies “whose business model is to first hire L-1 workers to learn the work done by Americans, then to transfer that work overseas.”