Most agree that economic growth is an important factor in propelling the nation forward. A commonly overlooked economic stimulus is immigration – in particular the H-1B visa.
The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa for foreign nationals seeking temporary entry into the United States for employment in specialty occupations. Applicants are selected for adjudication via lottery, and are subject to a cap on the number of visas which will be approved.
The H-1B has allowed our leading U.S. tech companies to recruit the talent needed – especially in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics – allowing America to dominate the world in the arena of technical innovation.
The cap on H-1B visas currently stagnates at 85,000 with 20,000 of those reserved for master’s degree holders. A study published in the Cato Papers on Public Policy reveals that an expansion of the H-1B program could generate an extra 2 percentage points of wage growth for highly educated Americans over the next 20 years.
In particular, data from the Heritage Foundation shows that raising the cap to 195,000 visas would increase revenues across all industries by $69 billion over the next eight years.
A study from the American Enterprise Institute and the Partnership for a New American Economy notes that each H-1B visa holder creates 1.83 jobs for Americans. The economic impact of these visa holders is vast.
A report from the American Immigration council remarks, “Research indicates that an increase in H-1B visas could create an estimated 1.3 million new jobs and add around $158 billion to Gross Domestic Product in the United States by 2045.”
Even past H-1B visas are still creating jobs in today’s economy. It is estimated that by 2020 H-1B visas granted between the years 2010 and 2013 will have created more than 700,000 jobs for American workers.
H-1B visas create jobs for Americans and raise the average wage. H-1B dependency is not a strong determining factor accounting for differences in wages. According to the American Immigration Council,
“Factors such as gender, marital status, and ethnicity play a larger role than citizenship or immigration status for wages in the tech and finance industries—industries that use many H-1B visas. A worker’s geographic region also accounts for significant differences in wages.”
Despite this evidence, our elected leadership seeks to further curb the issuance of these visas which would chill growth, take away jobs from Americans, and restrict the freedom of American companies to hire the best.
Congressional bills such as Congressman Darrell Issa’s (R-CA) Protect and Grow Jobs Act and the recently Trump endorsed RAISE Act pose a potential threat to the economy by arbitrarily selecting lower caps for the H-1B visa without considering the full economic impact the visa has.
The economy stands to gain 1.3 million new jobs and add around $158 billion in GDP if the H-1B cap is increased. It’s important that Congress and the President do not let lie dormant this important catalyst for economic growth. We must tell our elected leaders to increase jobs and stimulate the economy not stifle growth based on short-sighted legislation that interferes with our companies’ ability to grow, compete, and maintain their status as the best in the world.