Rapid Exhaustion of H-1B Visa Cap Shows Need for High-Skilled Immigration Reform
Statement from inSPIRE STEM USA Executive Director Beneva Schulte
Washington, D.C. – This year, the nation’s allotment for H-1B visas was depleted within just five days – nine weeks sooner than last year. This rapid exhaustion of the H-1B visa quota this year proves that the high-skilled immigration program is in dire need of reform.
That we’ve hit the H-1B cap in just five days and will have a lottery for these visas for the first time since 2008 shows the need for reform of the high-skilled visa program and the need for America to invest now in producing more home-grown talent to fill these jobs in the future.
As the American economy grows stronger, the number of high-skilled positions in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) and computer science fields increases substantially. However, the U.S. is not producing nearly enough graduates in these fields to meet the rising demand.
Because it would solve the current STEM jobs crisis and help build a strong STEM education pipeline, the inSPIRE STEM USA coalition is supporting the Immigration Innovation Act of 2013 (I-Squared). I-Squared will increase the cap on H-1B visas from 65,000 to 120,000 and fluctuate each year based on market demands. The cap of 65,000 was last set in 1990 and does not meet America’s needs for highly-skilled workers in the technical STEM fields.
The coalition has asked Congress to include the STEM fund, supported through fees from the H-1B visa and green card program, in comprehensive immigration reform. The fund will help train teachers in STEM so the U.S. can produce more graduates in this growing career field that is becoming an essential component to the future economy. Both the STEM Fund and the investment in STEM careers is a long term approach to keeping America on the forefront of innovation in an increasingly competitive global world.
Until our policymakers make this investment, American companies will continue to be forced to rely on the H-1B and green card process to fill the pipeline of available jobs here in the U.S. The I-Squared bill gives us the opportunity to remedy the decades-old approach, which is nothing more than a band-aid. The current cap on H-1B visas is holding America back from being a leading innovator in the global economy. If the U.S. is to remain competitive worldwide, elected leaders must reform our high-skilled immigration program to keep up with the expansion of our country’s job market.
Contact: Tony Welch