A reader writes:
I'm an immigration attorney and can verify that this is absolutely true. Here's another indicator from the opposite direction: This year, for the first time in recent memory, the H-1B cap still has not been reached for FY2010. Historically, it is reached the first day one is allowed to file petitions for the following fiscal year: April 1. This was true as recently as last year.
Of course the economy has played a significant role in the drop-off in companies' willingness and ability to sponsor highly-skilled and professional foreign workers for H-1Bs. But the hassle and expense ($2320 in USCIS application fees alone - that doesn't even take into attorney fees, which can run several thousand dollars) of securing even these temporary work visas (not to mention the nightmare of the green card process) has certainly also played a role in making the H-1B less attractive for both companies and foreign workers.
Just ask Microsoft, which opened its new software development center in Canada last year because the company came to the conclusion that dealing with the Alice in Wonderland world of U.S. immigration was no longer worth it.
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