About 172,500 H-1B work visa petitions were filed for 85,000 annual slots in the first week of April, which means that the business community has a 50% chance of securing their share of global talent, and that is only if they happened to file in the first week of April. New numbers won't be available until 2015. See the USCIS Announcement. I am in Washington D.C. this evening, and as I look out to the brightly lit Capitol building (a picture I took just now is below), I shake my head. I know Congress will not act in time to avoid tragedy for businesses and those global professionals who seek to contribute to our economy.
Congress set the limit on the number of H-1B visas in 1990 and has only added 20,000 to that number since then, bringing it to 85,000. It is proven that for every H-1B worker hired in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math fields that more than two U.S. jobs are created as a result. It is also a fact that our U.S. universities are not producing enough STEM graduates.
As a policy matter, Congress should not be telling businesses, just when the economy is recovering, that they must stop hiring global talent. The world is not flat, and American business cannot compete internationally when artificial caps are imposed limiting the H-1B visa. As this problem persists from year to year, businesses will increasingly send jobs overseas where the talent and business climate for global talent is abundant. Businesses will continue to fail to achieve their full potential with the edge that global talent brings. Contrary to common misconceptions, H-1B workers do not take jobs from Americans. Workers in H-1B status must be paid the same or higher than U.S. workers, and the high costs associated with hiring an H-1B worker mean that businesses seek to utilize global talent only when domestic talent is not available for niche positions. Congress must act to eliminate the H-1B cap, because there are already sufficient labor protections built into the H-1B system. In order to do this, Congress must enact comprehensive reform, and embrace a pathway to citizenship for the undocumented population. The family separation penalty must be eliminated, and families reunited.
Congress has no business telling American companies they cannot have the global talent they need to grow their business. Congress should be told to stop, listen, and enact comprehensive immigration reform.