By failing to address the need for immigration reform, America is losing its ability to attract and secure highly skilled workers, which negatively impacts this country’s economy and global competitiveness.
One example to this negative societal impact is the H-1B nonimmigrant visa, which allows U.S. employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations. Specialty occupations are defined as jobs that would normally require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in a specific field. In FY 2013, the top 10 H-1B occupations were:
- Computer Systems Analyst
- Computer Programmer
- Computer Occupations – All Other
- Software Developers – Applications
- Computer and Information Systems Managers
- Software Developers – Systems Software
- Accountants and Auditors
- Management Analysts
- Network and Computer Systems Administrators
- Financial Analysts
When the H-1B program was implemented, the US government restricted the number of H-1B visas allowed each fiscal year: 65,000 for individuals with a Bachelor’s degree and an additional 20,000 for individuals with a Master’s degree or higher. Due to the excessive number of H-1B applications received each year (172,500 applications for fiscal year 2015 were received within 6 days of the filing period being opened), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) initiates a computer-generated random selection process, or lottery, to determine whose H-1B petition is selected for adjudication. Applications not selected in the lottery are returned to the applicant, along with the associated filing fees. In April of 2014 (when applications were accepted for FY2015) this resulted in almost 100,000 applications being rejected by the USCIS.
Employers whose applications were rejected were forced send their H-1B candidates back to their home country, and search for new employees, resulting in significant loss of revenue, technological setbacks and deadlines not being met.
In addition to eliminating the ability of the American employer to secure a highly-specialized “player” to help further its business growth, the H-1B cap creates a significant lost opportunity for the American economy in that these highly-skilled immigrants want to come to our country and contribute. As many American industries still attempt to recover from the latest recession, the avoidance of additional job creation opportunities makes absolutely no sense. According to the Partnership for a New American Economy (PNAE), “H-1B visa denials in 2007 and 2008 caused these [high-tech] areas to miss out on creating as many as 231,224 tech jobs for American-born workers in the years that followed…[as well as] cost U.S.-born, college-educated workers in computer-related fields as much as $3 billion in aggregate annual earnings.”
Unfortunately, the H-1B cap issue is only the tip of the immigration reform “iceberg.” The United States must remain competitive, and the only way to do that, is to fix our broken system immediately.