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Immigration in 2007 – Gas Prices Went Up, Priority Dates Went Down

Murali Bashyam

It was an interesting year in the world of immigration. In April, we had over 130,000 H1B applications filed for less than 65,000 H1B cap numbers. That showed how much our economy depended on and needed professional workers from overseas. Then the Department of Labor issued a Visa Bulletin that showed the first three employment-based categories as being current, only to revoke it a short time later. Of course, they then reinstated that Visa Bulletin and hundreds of thousands of immigrants were finally able to file their adjustment of status applications and obtain Employment Authorization Documents. And finally, after months and months of debate on illegal immigration and employer sanctions for hiring illegal workers, our government failed to pass a bill on comprehensive immigration reform. This shattered the hopes of millions of immigrants who hoped to legalize their status, as well as the hopes of employers who wanted more H1B numbers and immigrants who wished for reform in our outdated and ineffective immigrant visa number system. That was 2007 – a tough year for immigration but one that had some bright spots as well.
As we move forward into 2008, we need to continue to press our government to change the things that caused problems in the past. We need more H1B and immigrant visa numbers. We linked to the January 2008 Visa Bulletin in our last newsletter, which showed that employment-based category two (EB-2, which applies to advanced degree professionals and aliens of exceptional ability) for Indian Nationals had retrogressed to 2000, even further back than employment-based category three (EB-3, which applies to other professionals and skilled workers)! The EB-2 category is even expected to become ‘unavailable’ in the coming months. This would delay decisions on adjustment of status applications indefinitely. Our country cannot continue to keep our companies at a competitive disadvantage with their counterparts in other parts of the world, nor should it tolerate a system where a hard-working immigrant who ‘plays by the rules’ is kept in limbo for many, many years. With all of our advances in science and technology, the United States ought to have a system where immigration applications are processed quickly and efficiently. This will be the challenge in 2008 – to persuade your U.S. Representatives and Senators that the immigration system needs to change. Without your voice being heard, changes that help businesses and foreign workers are unlikely to happen. We here at BSE Immigration Law Group will continue to keep you updated on legislative news in 2008, as well as work tirelessly to help make change happen.