For Our Country’s Future, We Need More High-Skilled Immigrants
The H-1B Story
USCIS began accepting application for H-1Bs on April 1, and less than a week later, had more than filled the caps with a total of about 233,000 H-1B applications.
On April 7, 2015, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services announced that the 65,000 H-1B cap, as well as the 20,000 H-1B masters cap, had been reached for the 2016 fiscal year. Congress sets these caps.
The year prior, USCIS received 172,500 total applications by April 7. So how do they select the lucky winners to be accepted (not approved, at this point – just selected for adjudication) for a chance to get an H-1B visa? A lottery is conducted to fill up the 20,000 masters cap, and then those not selected under the initial masters cap lottery are included in the general lottery for the remaining 65,000 spots. Only foreign-born students who have earned a U.S. master’s degree or higher may apply for the masters cap.
This means that the U.S. rejects the majority of these applications. H-1B visas are given to individuals who are looking to enter a specialty occupation in the U.S., with at least a Bachelor’s degree, and have a prospective employer filing on behalf of the employee. The U.S. conducts its computer generated random lottery, and then returns the tens of thousands of applications back to those not fortunate enough to be selected, rejecting their filing fees, which can range from $500 to over $1000. They even pay for the postage to send the thick filing packets back. So basically, the government is spending money to send back money that the applicants are eager to pay.
Even after being selected and approved, H-1B recipients have a ridiculously complicated and inefficient road ahead of them that can get complicated just from something as simple as moving or switching jobs. Then, H-1B visas are only temporary for a maximum of six years (unless they meet specific requirements to take steps to pursue a green card), so the immigrants must find another visa option, leave, or attain a green card. Processing times at USCIS take months that can lead to years. For example, Mike Krieger, the creator of the mega hit app Instagram, was a Brazilian citizen, and it took him longer to get his H-1B visa approved than it did for him to create the application, Instagram, almost giving up his dream in the long process. (See the Bloomberg article link below.)
We Need Skilled & Entrepreneurial Immigrants, and They Want To Help
In the last few years, the vast majority of H-1B visa recipients work in Systems Analysis/Programming and other computer-related occupations. These include some of the most innovative and skilled people behind many of the U.S.’s largest and most relevant companies in this day and age, such as Microsoft, Facebook, and Google.
As a country, we are rejecting skill, money, job-creators, innovation, motivation, hard work, competition, and more, by rejecting these immigrants. There are simply too many barriers for skilled immigrants to come to the U.S., and it’s even harder for them to stay in the U.S. permanently to help the country grow.
One of the most common arguments against increasing immigration in general, and that certainly applies to these higher-skilled workers, is that immigrants take away jobs from U.S. citizens. Interestingly, from the entrepreneurial side, we find the following:
- Immigrants start businesses at twice the rate of U.S. born citizens.
- Immigrant-owned businesses generate $755 billion gross annual sales
- Immigrant-owned businesses generate $126 billion in annual wages to U.S. citizens
- Immigrant startups accounted for 52% of startups in Silicon Valley from 1995 to 2005.
Our current immigration policies are hurting us as a nation. The motivated, brilliant, entrepreneur who wants to startup the next revolutionary company or idea, the next Facebook or Google, cannot even attain a visa or green card because he or she is self-employed and has no one to sponsor them.
From creating jobs for U.S. citizens, to keeping us on pace in the international scene in today’s technological age, skilled immigrants want to come and remain in the U.S., and we need them. Congress must make changes to U.S. immigration policy to allow us to help immigrants, so that they, too, may help us as a nation. How about Congress start with increasing quotas and eliminating or simplifying the unnecessary hurdles?