H-1B Visa Abuse Limits Wages and Steals U.S. Jobs
Editor’s Note: H-1B visas allow more scientists and engineers to be drawn from other countries, leaving American workers unemployed. There are too many scientists and engineers unemployed in this country. The ability to easily bring in foreign workers drives down U.S. wages. H-1B visas are another lose-lose policy helping big business and hurting America.
This is definitely not a plan that guarantees a better life for young Americans.
The H-1B visa program was created in 1990 to allow companies to bring skilled technical workers into the USA. It’s a non-immigrant visa and so has nothing at all to do with staying in the country, becoming a citizen, or starting a business. Big tech employers are constantly lobbying for increases in H-1B quotas citing their inability to find qualified US job applicants. Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates and other leaders from the IT industry have testified about this before Congress. Both major political parties embrace the H-1B program with varying levels of enthusiasm.
But Bill Gates is wrong. What he said to Congress may have been right for Microsoft but was wrong for America and can only lead to lower wages, lower employment, and a lower standard of living. This is a bigger deal than people understand: it’s the rebirth of industrial labor relations circa 1920. Our ignorance about the H-1B visa program is being used to unfairly limit wages and steal — yes, steal — jobs from US citizens.
There are a number of common misunderstandings about the H-1B program, the first of which is its size. H-1B quotas are set by Congress and vary from 65,000 to 190,000 per year. While that would seem to limit the impact of the program on a nation of 300+ million, H-1B is way bigger than you think because each visa lasts for three years and can be extended for another three years after that.
At any moment, then, there are about 700,000 H-1B visa holders working in the USA.
Most of these H-1B visa holders work in Information Technology and most of those come from India. There are about 500,000 IT workers in the USA holding H-1B visas. According to the US Census Bureau, there are about 2.5 million IT workers in America. So approximately 20 percent of the domestic IT workforce isn’t domestic at all, but imported on H-1B visas. Keep this in mind as we move forward.
H-1B is a non-immigrant visa. H-1B holders can work here for 3-6 years but then have to return to their native countries. It’s possible for H-1B’s to convert to a different kind of visa but not commonly done. The most common way, in fact, for converting an H-1B visa into a green card is through marriage to a US citizen.
H-1B isn’t the only way for foreigners to work in America. They can work to some extent on student visas and, in fact, many student visas are eventually converted to H-1B for those who have a job and want to stay but maybe not immigrate.