Companies Circumvent H-1B Visa Restriction By Filing Multiple Applications for Same Person

July 7, 2015

Immigration lawyers are helping companies to circumvent H-1B visa restrictions by filing multiple visa applications for the same person, the Wall Street Journal reports.

According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), in 2015, the United States was restricted to granting 85,000 H-1B visas.

In order to circumvent the low odds of success for any one application, firms in the United States are beating the H-1B visa lottery system by filling out multiple petitions for individual applicants. The USCIS announced on April 7, 2015, that it had received 233,000 H-1B petitions. According to WSJ, of the 233,000 petitions, it isn’t known how many were duplicates. Attorneys believe it could run in the thousands.

"Immigration lawyers involved in the process say they have helped firms file multiple H-1B skilled-worker visa applications for the same person. Some workers, meanwhile, are accepting offers from multiple employers, each of whom files a petition on their behalf, the lawyers say," reported the WSJ.

"Such practices, which aren’t illegal, likely have occurred in the past without public notice but appear to be proliferating as the economy rebounds and competition for the coveted visa intensifies, immigration lawyers say. Smaller businesses say such moves disadvantage them because they can’t afford to match them. Lawyers charge $2,000 to $4,000 to prepare each petition," reports the WSJ.

"It is no surprise that with the system the way it is today, a lottery based on chance rather than a rational system addressing need, companies are using all legal means necessary to fill their business needs," Elizabeth Hyman, executive vice president of advocacy for CompTIA, an IT-industry group, told WSJ. "Companies are struggling to fill their open high-skilled positions and the H-1B lottery system isn’t working."