With the election of Donald Trump to the presidency, the Immigration community is left wondering which, if any, of his proposed policy changes will come to fruition. One issue that has the support of several key congressional leaders is restricting H1-B visas.
The H1-B visa is specifically for foreign workers in “specialty occupations” which require “theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge in a field of human endeavor.” Currently, demand for H1-B visas is much greater than the supply; only 65,000 slots are available each year (and this is technically and actually higher than those approved) while hundreds of thousands of people applied in the past year. Because of this outsized demand, every April the United States Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) commences the process of applications for H1-B visas by holding a “lottery” of all applications filed on April 1 to select the 65,000 foreign workers to be reviewed for approval.
Representative Darrell Issa of California has been one of the most vocal opponents to H1-B visas, as a member of the House Judiciary Committee, targeting companies like Disney and Fossil, who have made extensive use of the H1-B program.
In order to educate the public, it is important that the myths about H1-B visas be debunked:
- The H1-B workers do not pay taxes: This is false. H1-B workers file Federal and State Tax Returns and pay into the Social Security and Medicare systems, even though they may never benefit from them.
- The H1-B workers take jobs away from United States Citizens: The vast majority of H1-B workers who enter the country to work are employed in positions that would otherwise have been left unfilled.
- The H1-B workers depress American wages: Companies that hire H1-B workers are required to pay their foreign workers the prevailing wage in the industry.
- The H1-B workers take advantage of the system: H1-B visas are non-immigrant visas, starting with a three-year visa, and an extension of 3 more years.
The H1-B visa fills an important niche in the American economy. These skilled, specialty occupation workers are in high demand, and it is no wonder that they come from all over the world in order to help U.S. companies thrive—and ultimately produce more jobs for Americans.