The Real State of the Union: Immigration Law

The Real State of the Union: Immigration Law

"The problems with the U.S. immigration system affect everyone, from farmers to tech billionaires.  But they can seem especially frustrating to those with money to burn.  That explains why Mark Zuckerberg and other outspoken CEOs are so active in the immigration reform movement.  We can break down the current problems into four main categories: processing delays, antiquated rules, fraud protection and quotas.

The delays are self-explanatory.  Simply put, the system for obtaining work visas is slow, and the rules are confounding.  The main structure of current U.S. immigration law was cemented by Congress in the 1950s, and although business practices, international corporate law and the Internet have transformed the way we work, reforms have been marginal.  As a result, businesses suffer because they can’t bring over workers as fast as they need to.

When it comes to fraud, U.S. immigration authorities started off with good intentions when they tried to reduce scams. Implementing fraud protection is a good thing, but very often Citizenship and Immigration Services goes too far — for instance, by asking Fortune 500 companies to provide more evidence that they really exist.

This brings us to quotas.  When the H-1 visa for professionals of “distinguished merit and ability” was created in 1952, there were no limits on how many people could be admitted in that category.  Congress added quotas in 1990, and now the 65,000 annual H-1B visa cap is reached within days of the application date.

Some of these problems, such as processing delays and fraud protection, can be solved with bigger agency budgets and more training.  But the core problems — the quotas and antiquated rules — need a complete overhaul.  Legislative changes should include more visas in every category and simplified and more flexible rules.  But when being (or appearing) tough on immigration is deemed essential by legislators seeking re-election, such rational changes are unlikely to see daylight." - Daniel M. Kowalski, Jan. 28, 2014.