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The H-1B Visa Lottery and Bad U.S. Immigration Law

US immigration law has become so inadequate that US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will reject up to 82% of H-1B records for highly skilled foreign nationals submitted in the latest lottery H-1B, according to the latest government data. . In contrast, there is no numerical limit for high-skilled temporary visas to Canada under the Global Skills Strategy, and many high-skilled temporary visa applicants are approved within two weeks. Despite this, many members of Congress have ignored the global competition for talent or, most notably, introduced measures to make it even harder for companies to employ foreign-born scientists and engineers in America.

H-1B visas are essential because they generally represent the only practical way for highly qualified foreign nationals, including international students, to work long-term in the United States. The process for obtaining permanent residency in the United States is flawed, with many Indian people waiting decades to receive green cards.

Immigration policy plays an important role in the choice of highly qualified people where to study and build their careers. “The number of Indian international students studying in Canadian colleges and universities increased by 182% between 2016 and 2019, while at the same time Indian student enrollment in Masters of Science and Engineering programs in american universities fell almost 40%,” according to a recent analysis by the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP). “Enrollment of Indian students in colleges and universities in Canada has increased by almost 300% between the academic years 2015-2016 and 2019-2020. The annual number of Indian immigrants to Canada has more than doubled since 2016.

Recording of H-1B ceilings for fiscal year 2022 and fiscal year 2023: USCIS uses a lottery each year when businesses file more H-1B petitions (or records) than the annual limit of 85,000 (65,000 plus an exemption of 20,000 for college graduates American). In 2021, USCIS received over 300,000 H-1B records for fiscal year 2022. Over 70% were rejected due to the low annual limit.

On April 15, 2022, USCIS reported that for fiscal year 2023, it received 483,927 H-1B records. USCIS will reject nearly 400,000, or 82%, of records for exceeding the annual limit of 85,000 H-1B requests. Even if more than one record has been submitted for some people, USCIS will still reject hundreds of thousands of highly qualified professionals. Technically, USCIS has screened over 85,000 registrations for fiscal year 2023 to ensure that enough applications are approved. (See here.)

It is widely recognized that Russia is losing a large number of information technology (IT) professionals – reducing the availability of technological talent – ​​is a disaster and a “brain drain” for the Russian economy. Why then would American policymakers think it good that the United States rejects so many applicants and prevents hundreds of thousands of highly qualified scientists and engineers from joining the American labor force?

Evidence shows that the H-1B visa category is vital to retaining and attracting talent to the United States. Critics have attempted to devalue H-1B professionals as people and diminish their talent by arguing that companies hire H-1B visa holders because they are “cheap labor” or that American law encourages the hiring of foreign-born people. As the data below shows, the reality is quite different and says more about those making the case.

H-1B Median annual salaries over $100,000: USCIS data shows the median annual salary for H-1B visa holders was $101,000 in fiscal year 2020 and $108,000 in fiscal year 2021. median salary for H-1B visa holders was $111,000 in fiscal year 2021. medium Salary for H-1B professionals in computer-related occupations in fiscal year 2021 was $118,000, according to USCIS.

Besides failing to cite such statistics, critics fail to compare H-1B professionals to American workers based on their level of experience or acknowledge the significant costs employers incur in filing H-1B petitions. A company can spend up to $31,000 to file an initial H-1B petition (for three years) and an extension for an additional three years, based on an NFAP analysis of government fees and attorney fees.

H-1B professionals are highly skilled: Nearly 70% of H-1B visa holders approved for first employment in fiscal year 2021 earned a master’s degree or higher, according to USCIS. When employers visit college campuses, here’s what they find: At U.S. universities, foreign nationals make up 74% of full-time graduate students in electrical engineering, 72% in computer and information sciences, and 50% 70% of full-time students. on-time graduate students in statistics, civil engineering, materials sciences and pharmaceutical sciences. It would be impossible to sustain graduate programs in key areas at many US universities without international students.

Lots of job vacancies and low unemployment in IT professions: There is little evidence that H-1B visa holders prevent Americans with the right skill mix from getting jobs. In March 2022, the US unemployment rate in computer science and math occupations was an extremely low 1.3%. An NFAP analysis of EMSI data found “more than 1.5 million job openings in IT occupations (as of December 6, 2021). . . nearly 30 times more jobs available in IT occupations than H-1Bs who fill these jobs each year.

Research finds that members of Congress and critics are likely costing US jobs by restricting the entry of H-1B professionals: The labor bloc fallacy is the mistaken belief that there is a fixed number of jobs or a quantity of work, which would mean that new people entering the workforce would cause someone to lose a job. else. This is not how a market economy works.

A study by economists Giovanni Peri, Kevin Shih, Chad Sparber and Angie Marek Zeitlin found that denial of entry to H-1B visa holders due to annual limits hurt job growth for native-born professionals. United States. “The number of jobs for American-born workers in computer-related industries would have grown at least 55% faster between 2005-2006 and 2009-2010, were it not for the denial of so many applications in recent H-1B visa lotteries,” the economists concluded.

“Cities whose employers faced high numbers of rejections in H-1B visa lotteries experienced significantly less job creation and wage growth for US-born IT professionals over the two years. that followed,” the economists noted. “Denying H-1B visas hasn’t helped the economies of American cities or their American-born workers. Instead, it cost their tech sectors hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions in missed wages.

Similarly, research by Britta Glennon, an assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, found that H-1B visa restrictions are pushing jobs out of the United States, concluding: “[A]Any policy driven by concerns about the loss of local jobs should consider that policies aimed at reducing immigration have the unintended consequence of encouraging companies to relocate jobs overseas.

Congress is unlikely to address the law of H-1B visa supply and demand, and may even decide to drive more talent and employer resources out of the country by passing new restrictions. A silver lining remains on employment-based green cards. A House-Senate conference committee could decide to strengthen national security and the U.S. economy by allowing foreign nationals with doctorates in science and technology fields or those with advanced degrees in critical industries to immigrate to the United States. United States.

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