Every year, the US Congress issues 65,000 H-1B visas to foreign workers with bachelor’s degrees and an additional 20,000 H-1B visas to people who hold master’s degrees. This program is meant for high skilled foreign nationals who seek to work in America. However, foreign nationals cannot file H-1B visa applications for themselves and the US employers who are in need of foreign workers will have to file applications. The demand for H-1B workers is increasing every year and the tech companies want the US Congress to increase the H-1B visa cap. The immigration reform bill of the Senators would increase the H-1B visa cap and the US employers who are in short of workers are happy about this bill.
There is a need for skilled workers in the United States and the United States has to remain competitive. In order to maintain and strengthen the country’s innovation industry, the country has to attract high skilled foreign workers. H-1B visa program, in particular, is being used for STEM fields and this is the only program that permits US employers to hire high skilled foreign workers. The shortage of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, STEM talent, in America is growing. At the same time, opportunities in the innovation industry are also growing and the United States is unable to fill the labor gaps. To strengthen the innovation industry, United States must attract and retain STEM graduates.
Many foreign students study in America and obtain advanced degrees in the so called STEM fields. Such talented individuals return to their home countries as they are unable to obtain permanent resident visas. United States must retain such skilled graduates, in order to fill STEM labor market gaps. More than 40 percent of the job openings in America require STEM knowledge and as the US employers are unable to find STEM graduates, such openings go unfilled for several days. That is the reason why US employers look forward to hire H-1B workers for such hard-to-fill jobs. This H-1B visa program protects the US workforce and safeguards of the program require US employers who hire H-1B workers to pay the actual wages that they pay the US workers.
The American innovation industry lacks STEM skills and the H-1B visa program helps the country to fill the gaps in the labor market. The lawmakers who are aware of this issue, have included provisions in their immigration reform bill, that would increase the cap on the H-1B visa program and issue visas to STEM graduates. According to a provision included in the Senate immigration reform bill, foreign students who graduate from US universities would be issued Green Cards while they receive their degrees. Likewise, the cap on the H-1B visas would be raised from 65,000 to 110,000 and depending on demand, the cap would be increased, in future. The Senators are debating on the amendments that were filed to the immigration reform bill and they will soon finish marking up the immigration reform bill.