A news item in the April 13 Immigration Daily reports that on April 9, USCIS carried out the "random selection" lottery for cap subject H-1B visas. If last year is any guide, the lucky comparatively few people (probably around 25 percent for the regular cap - hopefully somewhat higher for the US master degree cap) whose petitions were picked should begin to receive filing receipt notices shortly.

The following comments are Part 1 of some of my thoughts as an H-1B lawyer about what must be going on in the minds of some of the people who are anxiously waiting for the results of the (computerized) roll of the dice which will determine in many cases whether they will be able to have a career in their field of specialty in the United States, or whether they will have to look for some other country which, hopefully, might have a less irrational and hostile attitude toward well -educated skilled and professional workers.

It is also important to keep in mind that the barriers which America put up against accepting skilled and professional workers are not only in place at the front end of our system, in the form of the acute shortage of available visas, but also at the back end, when, each year, thousands of H-1B workers who have contributed their skills to our economy and society and, in most cases, become fully American in all but their citizenship, are forced to leave the United States because their six years are up and they have not been able to find a green card sponsor.

This is against a background of two Republican presidential front-runners who, evidently in order to make clear that America's latest epidemic of nativism and xenophobia affects not only less skilled or educated "illegal" immigrants, but highly educated skilled and professional lawfully present ones as well, are committed to eliminating the H-1B visa, either in its entirety, or in large part, if either one is elected this fall.

Too much of our immigration debate is based on abstract, negative and dehumanizing stereotypes and slogans, such as that Mexican immigrants are mainly "criminals" and "rapists"; Muslim immigrants are all potential "terrorists", or H-1B professional and skilled workers are "job stealers" and "cheap foreign labor". We would gain a better understanding of our immigration laws, however, if we stopped looking at immigrants as mere stereotypes and started looking at them as actual human beings.

In the case of H-1B skilled workers and professionals, we are dealing with people who are not only human beings just like those of us who call ourselves American citizens mainly through the accident of birth, but they are people who come especially close to the ideal of what an ideal immigrant to America should be like. By definition H-1B immigrants tend to be more educated and have more skills than the average.

They also have more potential to create jobs for US workers and to help American companies compete in the global marketplace. Because of their high levels of education, they usually have superior English skills and ability to assimilate to American culture and society.

Then why should they be subjected to absurd and unreasonable restrictions which not only cause unnecessary hardship, but in some cases can ruin their careers and even their lives?

In Part 2, I will look at three such cases, involving anonymous, but real, people who are struggling, not just with the visa lottery, but with other aspects of our current irrational, punitive and dysfunctional H-1B system as well.
Roger Algase is a New York immigration lawyer and a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School whose practice is concentrated primarily in H-1B and O-1 work visas, J-1 training visas and green cards through labor certification and opposite sex or same sex marriage. He has been helping mainly skilled and professional immigrants with work visas and green cards for more than 35 years.

Roger's email address is algaselex@gmail.com