U.S. Chamber, Allies Call for H-1B Visa Reform
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A market-based cap on H-1B visas and a streamlined green card sponsorship program for highly educated professionals are among the employment-based immigration policy recommendations in a study by the U.S. Chamber’s Labor, Immigration & Employee Benefits division and the American Council on International Personnel (ACIP).
“The best policy for the United States is one that sides with freedom and innovation, not restriction. It is a policy where the H-1B cap is either eliminated or set high enough that we can let the market decide on the number of new skilled foreign nationals who work in America each year,” according to Regaining America’s Competitive Advantage: Making Our Immigration System Work, released on August 11. The study also recommends making it easier for top foreign-born talent who graduate from U.S. universities to gain a green card.
The study shoots down an AFL-CIO report saying that highly educated foreign nationals are underpaid and not needed in the U.S.
“Critics who insist H-1B professionals are hired to ‘save money’ fail to note that in addition to the legal requirement to pay H-1B visa holders the higher of the prevailing wage or actual wage paid to comparable U.S. workers, employers must pay significant legal and government fees,” the joint study found. ACIP estimates that the combined H-1B and green card sponsorship costs (government/legal fees) can exceed $35,000 for one individual.
The study shows that fears that H-1B professionals hired by Indian technology companies threaten the American workforce are unfounded. In FY 2009, Indian tech companies used approximately 4,800 new H-1B visas, which equals to 0.003 percent of the U.S. civilian labor force, less than 1/100th of 1 percent.
It also point out that the Economic Policy Institute, a research group closely aligned with the AFL-CIO, concluded in a recent study that “the estimated effect of immigration from 1994 to 2007 was to raise the wages of U.S.-born workers.” Studies by University of California, Berkeley, economist Giovanni Peri reached the same conclusion.
A copy of the full analysis is available here.