Annual H-1B Visa Rush Shows Need for Immigration Reform | Business Roundtable


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Annual H-1B Visa Rush Shows Need for Immigration Reform

Apr 2, 2015

Business Roundtable's recent analysis, State of Immigration: How the United States Stacks Up in the Global Talent Competition, reports that the United States ranks 9th out of 10 top economies in policies that encourage balanced, growth-supporting immigration. Included in the report -- which covers many types of immigration, including high-skilled employees, entrepreneurs, intra-company transfers, and low-skilled workers -- is this summary of U.S. policies on temporary visas:

The supply of H-1B visas for high-skilled foreign nationals has been exhausted every year for more than a decade due to low annual quotas, which prevent employers from hiring individuals that can help them grow and innovate inside the United States.

This week's opening, and soon-to-be closing, of the application period for H1-B visas drives home the point, as it does most every year. A sampling of news coverage and advocacy for a more balanced, economy-supporting visa policy follows:

Wall Street Journal (subscription), "Visa Demand for High-Skilled Foreigners Is Likely to Prompt Lottery":

U.S. employers are expected in the coming days to apply for far more visas than are available for foreign workers in fields such as science, engineering and computer programming, likely prompting a government lottery for the prized visas.

Each year, starting April 1, companies can sponsor 85,000 foreigners for so-called H-1B visas. The bulk, 65,000, are for people with at least a bachelor’s degree, which doesn’t have to be earned in the U.S. The remaining 20,000 are set aside for foreign nationals with advanced degrees from U.S. universities.

Employers are expected to exhaust this year’s quota within days, say government and company officials. If that occurs, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the federal agency that runs the program, will use a computer to randomly select petitions. 

More news ...

And making the case ...

Partnership for a New American Economy, April 1, "New Ad Campaign and New Research Highlight Need for High-Skilled Immigration Reform":

“The H-1B high-skilled application window opened today and there are only 65,000 visas allowed,” said Ron Conway, Founder of SV Angel. “We know based on last year that close to 200,000 visas is the demand. We need an immigration system that matches the economic needs of the United States. We have the solution in front of us, and we need to urge Congress to act now.”

“Highly-educated immigrants generate tremendous gains for the American economy. They patent, innovate, create new technologies, and start new firms at high rates,” said Chad Sparber, Associate Professor and Chair of the Economics Department at Colgate University. “By doing so, they increase native-born American wages, employment, and productivity. As with other productive resources, it doesn’t make good economic sense to reduce the number of skilled immigrants.

Key findings from the Partnership's research brief include:

  • By 2020, 700,000 American jobs will be created by the high-skilled foreign workers awarded H-1B visas between 2010 and 2013.
  • More than 20 states will see more than 5,000 American jobs created by these H-1B workers by 2020.
  • Two of the top ten states – Michigan and Pennsylvania – gaining the most jobs from recent H-1B workers are in the Rust Belt, an area hit particularly hard by the recession.

The Partnership's ad campaign features Pierre-Jean “PJ” Cobut, an entrepreneur from Belgium who will have to move his company and U.S. jobs abroad if he does not get an H-1B visa. PHJ's op-ed in The Hill is here and there's a video spot, part of a #LetPJStay campaign.

From The Associated Press, March 19, "Google's Eric Schmidt says H-1B visa changes would help economy":

Schmidt said he believes the United States is better off having more immigrants, not fewer, but he particularly is focused on allowing more immigrants into the U.S. with specialized technical skills.

"We take very, very smart people, bring them into the country, give them a diploma and kick them out where they go on to create companies that compete with us," Schmidt said. "Brilliant strategy."

Finally, we note that Germany ranked No. 1 among developed economies in BRT's analysis of pro-growth immigration policies. Yet, even with its advantages, top Germany officials are reacting to the global competition for talent by proposing reforms to support economic growth. From The Wall Street Journal, March 3, "German Officials Propose New Immigration Rules to Lure Skilled Workers":

BERLIN—German officials unveiled a proposal to overhaul the country’s immigration system to lure more skilled workers at a time of rising migration.

The plan—presented by the center-left Social Democrats, the junior party in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition—seeks to address a growing shortage of skilled labor in Germany’s export-driven economy, the consequence of one of the world’s lowest birthrates.

Party officials say the plan also aims to better control and integrate the increasing numbers of immigrants who are arriving in Germany.


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