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Two Charts Which Show How America's Dysfunctional Visa System Is Harming The Economy

Walter Hickey

Hamilton Place Strategies has issued a report explaining the economic impact of increased visas for highly skilled foreign workers.

The verdict? Not only do these highly qualified foreign worker do no harm to American jobs, they actually create more of them and enable Americans to go into the workforce. Not raising the cap is holding the economy back.

For example, tech companies — one of the brightest sectors of the U.S. economy — are currently hamstrung by low visa caps:

Innovative tech companies such as Microsoft (4,109 requests in 2010), Intel (1,510), IBM (1,468), and Google (1,009) are most harmed by the cap. In  fact, almost half of  H-1B requests come from computer occupations. Looking through the number of  requests across more than 20  fields, Ruiz, Wilson, and Choudhury concluded that  there is  “ significant continued demand for high-skilled foreign  workers with  employer requests annually outpacing available slots."

The caps have caused major problems for employers looking to make financially sensible hiring decisions. 

Even more, this hurts Americans by denying them jobs that would have been created had the foreign born innovators been allowed into the country:

Bill Gates testified  before Congress that for every immigrant hire at  Microsoft, an average of four  non- immigrant employees are  hired  as a result of the innovations by high-skilled  immigrants. [...] A  2011 study by the Partnership for a New American Economy found  that first gener ation immigran ts and their chi ldren had a foundi ng role in 40 per cent of Fortune 500 companies. 

This chart — explained further in this article — shows the ever-decreasing window that major U.S. corporations have to hit when trying to recruit highly qualified foreign workers:

Note that in 2008 and 2009 it took less than a week for the visas to run out. While the recession expanded the window, the recovery has become so robust that in 2013 the U.S. ran out of H-1B visas for high skill workers in a mere two and a half months. 

The issue is that even though America is producing more college graduates than ever, the number of STEM graduates has remained unchanged. The U.S. graduated fewer engineers in 2010 than in 1986, and only marginally more graduates majored in math, statistics, and computer and information science. 

New college graduates are overwhelmingly majoring in the liberal arts, and the H-1B visa compensates for the dearth of math and science college graduates needed to drive the tech industry:


The point is visa caps are hurting the U.S. economy: 

The evidence is  clear: from high-skilled to low-skilled, visa caps  and issuances miss an  economic  opportunity for the U.S. Moreover, current policy lacks institutionalized provisions  that ensure ou r immigration  system can keep u p with the cha nging nature  of the  U.S. economy. In order to  capitalize upon the economic benefits of immigrants and  to address the nee ds and dynamic natu re of our econom y, we must incr ease the  amount of visas issued  across the board and  institutionalize mechan isms to ensure  immigration levels support a growing U.S. economy.

Read the full article here >

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