The Skilled Visa Solution: A Better Policy or a Bigger Boat?

The Daily Caller
May 25, 2012

College graduations are in full swing across our great nation. As we have seen over the last decade, a significant number of U.S. degree-earners in science, technology, engineering, and math (the so-called “STEM” fields) are foreign born. Our policy leaders agree that keeping these talented students in the U.S. is essential to economic revitalization and job creation, but current policies and inaction on solutions are making other countries and even cruise ships better options as innovation hubs.

The issue is not a lack of jobs. The unemployment rate for graduates with bachelor’s degrees or higher is hovering at 4 percent – almost half the national average – and the rate’s even lower for STEM graduates. According to dice.com, there are roughly 85,000 high-paying tech jobs available in the U.S. Microsoft alone has nearly 5,000 U.S. job openings.

For foreign-born STEM graduates hoping to pursue their professional dreams in the U.S., arcane visa policies are a huge obstacle. Thanks to rising demand for temporary H-1B skilled visas, this year’s annual H-1B allocation will likely be used up by summer’s end, if not sooner. Last year’s allocation was exhausted in late November. In 2008, H-1Bs were spoken for in hours, not months. That’s no surprise. The H-1B visa program operates almost the same as it did in 1990, when Mark Zuckerberg was in 1st grade. The current H-1B visa caps are beyond outdated – they’re keeping the U.S. from realizing its job creation potential.

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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…