Imagine a series of instant replays of a rough-and-tumble ground game involving evenly matched teams at the Superbowl. Hulks and behemoths line up on each side of the scrimmage line. The players wait for the snap of the football. The waiting seems interminable. Rage and pent-up energy build without release.

This slow-motion scene resembles the first week of April in the love-hate battle that is the H-1B visa program:

  • Graduating university students and captains of industry, with their petitions now on file, wait for word of whether the paltry annual H-1B quota will be reached in the first five days of the fiscal year, thereby relegating business and career success to the vagaries of a government lottery. Whether or not a lottery is held, another year-and-a-half blackout on the hiring of new H-1Bs by for-profit businesses will soon ensue.
  • Senators Grassley and Durbin are poised to gather supporters for a protectionist bill that globalists oppose. The bill would require that all employers wanting to hire H-1B workers (not just TARP or Fed funds recipients, “willful violators” of the Labor Department’s rules and H-1B “dependent” employers) must first search for and instead hire any “equally qualified” American workers.
  • Proponents and detractors toss surveys at each other proclaiming, respectively, the benefits and harms of the H-1B program. The Wall Street Journal tries to referee the numbers game and concludes that both sides’ studies are seriously flawed.
  • The Fraud Detection and National Security Division of USCIS has bulked up their ranks and is fanning out accross the country searching for employment-based immigration fraud and abuse — no doubt to add fuel to the legislative fires stoked by the good Sens. Grassley and Durbin.
  • USCIS is reevaluating eligibility criteria for H-1B workers employed by consulting firms at customer sites, perhaps to renounce a decade-and-a-half worth of policy guidance that blessed the practice.

Harken back now to the football field as the players foresake direct attack and instead doff cleats and hurl them at their foes, the frail and beleaguered H-1B visa and its kissing cousins, innovation, entrepreneurship and business growth. Alas, it’s a sad week of waiting as April dawns and shoes are dropped or hurled in the battle for the H-1B.