3. The indication that Congress would be willing to set restrictions on the H-1B visa program when it approved the $700 billion Trouble Asset Relief Program (TARP) in February. An amendment to the bailout bill by Sens. Grassley and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) imposed H-1B restrictions on banks that receive bailout funds. The restriction requires that the banks make a good-faith effort to hire U.S. workers, though it didn't limit their use of offshore outsourcing firms. The measure was driven by public anger over the bailout and fears of job losses.
4. The decision by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) to step up enforcement of the H-1B visa petition process, demanding more evidence from companies to support the need for foreign workers. The paper chase was launched following a USCIS report last fall that found nearly 20 percent of H-1B visa applications had problems, which included fraud.
5. A study by researchers at the New York University's Stern School of Business and Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania found evidence that H-1B use is reducing tech wages by as much as 6 percent.
6. Demand for H-1B visas declined, at least temporarily, in recent months. Randall Sidlosca, an immigration attorney at Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, PC in Miami, said the main reason for the decline is the economic downturn, though the TARP restrictions also played a role. The lack of H-1B jobs has prompted many foreign national students in U.S. universities to seek additional degrees, according to Sarah Hawk, who heads the immigration practice at Fisher & Phillips LLP in Atlanta.
7. The U.S. Department of Justice filed H-1B fraud charges against a dozen people and companies, alleging that they were "displacing qualified American workers," by avoiding prevailing wage laws, undercutting tech worker salaries, and treating H-1B workers as itinerant laborers. Some say it was the largest H-1B enforcement action ever taken by the federal government on the H-1B program.
8. President Barack Obama appointed strong supporters of H-1B visas to positions in his administration. The Obama administration has yet to outline its approach to the H-1B visa issue, but the views of his appointees, or at least the companies they have worked for, are well known. For example, Diana Farrell, deputy director of the National Economic Council, is a former executive at McKinsey & Co., a consulting firm that has produced research that concludes offshore outsourcing is a means to improving the U.S. economy. Janet Napolitano, the former governor of Arizona and now secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the USCIS, is another H-1B advocate. Google Inc. CEO Eric Schmidt, who has also argued against cap restrictions, was appointed to the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), along with Microsoft's chief research and strategy officer Craig Mundie. Microsoft chairman Bill Gates has been a leading proponent of ending the visa restrictions.