High-Skilled Labor

There are many discrete changes to our current high-skilled immigration policies that would benefit American employers, American workers, and the U.S. economy as a whole, including:

  • Increasing the arbitrarily low temporary and permanent visa caps: There were more than 230,000 H-1B applications in the first week for just 85,000 spots in 2015, resulting in a random lottery for visas for the third year in a row. Meanwhile, the caps on employment-based green cards (140,000 total for principals and their dependents) have been fixed since 1990, despite the fact that our economy has tripled in size since then. We should have enough temporary H-1B visas and permanent employment-based green cards to meet the talent needs of our companies and our economies.
  • Allowing the visa caps to fluctuate based on the condition of the U.S. economy: There should be more high skilled temporary visas and permanent green cards in economic boom times when our talent needs are greatest than there are in slower growth periods where we have fewer jobs to fill.
  • Protecting American workers: Update existing enforcement laws like the 1998 American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act to ensure that visas are going to workers who are hired for their particular skill and expertise and not for wage reasons.
  • Investing in STEM education at home: Use any additional revenue from increased visa fees towards investment in STEM education in the U.S.
  • Give work authorization to spouses and dependents of H-1B visa holders: Allow spouses and dependents to work in the U.S. during the visa period.
  • Give deference for visas renewals: Companies applying for renewals of H-1B visas should get deference for approval if there have bee no material changes in the application.
  • Grant H-1B workers the ability to change jobs: Make it easier for H-1B holders to change jobs within the visa period.
  • Protect small businesses: Allocate a specific pool of H-1B visas for small businesses to ensure that all businesses have access to the talent they need.
  • Give foreign-born students a path to stay after graduation: Allow foreign-born students to seek permanent residency while still on a student visa to provide more certainty after graduation. This would remove the need for many students to be on the H-1B visas program.
  • Create a start-up visa: Create a new pool of visas specifically for entrepreneurs who meet certain investment, revenue, and job creation metrics so that these entrepreneurs would not have to apply for an H-1B.

About NAE

New American Economy is a bipartisan research and advocacy organization fighting for smart federal, state, and local immigration policies that help grow our economy and create jobs for all Americans. More…