VISANOW Predicts 2008 Immigration Trends

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<p><strong>Chicago &mdash; Nov. 16</strong><br />Following a summer of intense immigration reform debate, lack of movement on the H-1B visa cap and the recent revisions to the employment eligibility program, what can HR professionals, recruiters and legal departments across the country plan for in the coming year? Immigration service provider VISANOW shares valuable insight on what HR, recruiting and legal practitioners can expect in 2008 regarding immigration trends.<br /><br /><strong>H-1B Visa Cap</strong><br /><br />The H-1B visa cap will continue to be a critical issue for employers desperate for skilled workers in 2008. The H-1B cap, as it stands today, significantly impacts the ability of U.S. companies to grow and compete because it doesn&rsquo;t come close to meeting the demand for skilled workers. This year, on the first day corporations could file for 2008 visas, more than twice as many H-1B applications were filed for the 65,000 available visas.  It&rsquo;s important to note that this allotment was designed to last over an entire year and theoretically should match the level of demand for U.S. employers. <br /><br />&ldquo;The cap on the number of H-1B visas annually available is grossly mismatched with the need of U.S. companies,&rdquo; said Bob Meltzer, CEO of VISANOW. &ldquo;Moreover, the possibility of a significant filing fee increase for this highly sought-after visa could further limit the ability of smaller organizations to compete in the global environment.&rdquo;<br /><br />With the increased demand and the memory of 2007&rsquo;s events, employers should not only prepare their applications in advance, but should also explore options to the H-1B visa. As the opportunity to hire workers on these visas becomes more limited, it is likely that those companies with strong alternatives in place will gain a competitive advantage when trying to attract top talent.<br /><br /><strong>&ldquo;No Match&rdquo; Program</strong><br /><br />As demonstrated by the introduction of the &ldquo;No Match&rdquo; program by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), revisions to employment eligibility processes create significant obstacles for U.S. employers, affecting industries that employ a significant number of undocumented workers, such as construction, farming, cleaning and food preparation. According to the Washington, D.C.-based Pew Hispanic Center, almost a quarter of all farming jobs are held by undocumented workers. For cleaning and construction, respectively, 17 percent and 14 percent of workers are undocumented.<br /><br />Following protests by numerous business groups and unions, a preliminary injunction was granted in October by a U.S. District Court Judge in Northern California temporarily halting the implementation of the &ldquo;No Match&rdquo; program. This preliminary injunction is not the final action on this matter. There is a real possibility that the &ldquo;No Match&rdquo; program could eventually be enforced; moreover, its progression through Congress could be a bellwether for immigration legislation to come.<br /><br />The uproar across industries by the introduction of these regulations highlights the impact of immigration reform legislation and the role it will play in defining &mdash; and possibly limiting &mdash; our nation&rsquo;s future workforce in 2008 and beyond. <br /><br /><strong>Comprehensive Immigration Reform</strong><br /><br />According to the Pew Hispanic Center, there are 12 million illegal immigrants living in the United States today. Following this summer&rsquo;s congressional debates on Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) legislation, the implications for employers and their human resource departments became clear. The CIR bill &mdash; which would provide a path to legalization for the millions of illegal workers in the U.S. &mdash; could cripple existing immigration processing systems, causing immense strain on U.S. businesses and government organizations, alike.<br /><br />Says Meltzer, &ldquo;Based on the tone and outcomes of this year&rsquo;s congressional debates, corporations must continue preparations within their HR and legal departments to handle the significant compliance and regulatory issues they will face when legislation is passed.&rdquo; </p>

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