While there’s been much emphasis on “hiring American” since April 2017, the demand for skilled immigrant workers continues to grow. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that the annual cap of 85,000 new H-1B visas was reached within the first five business days of the fiscal year 2020. This year saw an increase in petitions, with 201,011 as opposed to last year’s 190,098 total.
The cap has remained the same since 2004, with 65,000 petitions available for those with a bachelor’s degree and 20,000 for those with a master’s degree or higher. However, the sheer number of petitions proves that there is enough demand for foreign workers to justify increasing the visa limit.
“This is the seventh year in a row that demand for H-1Bs has outpaced the supply,” AILA Executive Director Benjamin Johnson said. “We know that the demand for these visas responds to market needs because during the recession, the number of petitions dropped below the cap. With the economy going strong and unemployment continuing to drop steadily — now at the lowest point since 1970 — the lack of adequate visas is only hurting American businesses and workers.”
When we turn away these foreign workers, we risk losing highly sought after talent to other countries and in turn may negatively impact our own economy. The average American worker is not equipped to take on the jobs that require immigrant workers applying for these visas, and the rapid growth within the technology sector points to the need for a cap increase.
We know that foreign workers bring economic opportunity to the table, as immigrants founded nearly half of Fortune 500 companies. We also know that immigrant workers actually complement their native-born counterparts. Only with comprehensive immigration reform can we begin to meet the demand for these skilled immigrant workers and boost our economy.