April 1 marked the start of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ annual acceptance period for new H-1B visa petitions.
These special visas allow American companies to create new jobs for highly educated foreigners.
This program accounts for nearly all of America’s skilled immigration, yet there is an annual cap of 85,000 imposed on new visas: 65,000 are reserved for applicants with at least a bachelor’s degree, and 20,000 for those with at least a master’s degree.
The outdated annual caps on H-1B visas are always quickly reached. In 2013, the government received around 124,000 applications in just four days — and then abruptly stopped accepting applications on April 5. During the first week of April 2014 USCIS received 172,500 petitions. The Congressional cap is continuing to prove harmful to the nation’s recovering economy.
Statistically, foreign workers make up about 20% of today’s U.S. STEM workers with bachelor’s degrees and 40% of those with advanced degrees. Since 1995, roughly one-quarter of high-tech firms established in the U.S. have had at least one foreign-born founder. Today, these companies employ 450,000 people and generate more than $50 billion in sales.
The cost of jobs lost is much larger than subtracting the 85,000 visas allowed from the overall number of petitions filed. Starting with the estimated 100,000 jobs lost directly this year from H-1B visa applications that weren’t filed or not approved beyond the current 85,000 cap. Then, add 400,000, a ballpark estimate from research of additional jobs not created at companies that hire immigrants and at these companies’ suppliers.
We’re now looking at 500,000 jobs lost thanks to restrictive U.S. immigration policy. Spread across 50, five-day workweeks, this translates into 2,000 U.S. jobs not created per day, meaning a new job is lost every 43 seconds.
Clearly, restrictive immigration policy has a real, tangible cost to the U.S. economy. More broadly, the cost is a little greater — forgone ideas, innovation and connections to the world.
Zulkie Partners is nationally recognized for its command of immigration law. We offer services that cover all aspects of corporate immigration law, including nonimmigrant work visas, permanent residence sponsorship and more.