Excellent lead editorial in today’s Washington Post on the need to reform the H-1B visa system. The Post notes that the annual limit on U.S. employment visas for “specialty occupation workers” in areas such as computers, engineering and medicine is 65,000. And on April 2, the first day for visa applications for fiscal 2008, the quota was reached in just a matter of hours.
The tens of thousands of H-1B rejects will constitute some of the world’s best and brightest, and America is foolish to block them from the U.S. economy. After all, according to the National Science Foundation, a third of all science and engineering doctorates awarded in the United States go to foreign students (whose numbers are not limited). And according to the National Venture Capital Association, over the past 15 years one out of every four public companies backed by venture capital was started by an immigrant (including Google and eBay). The current H-1B cap is outdated, having been set by Congress before the Internet boom and the related blossoming of high-tech companies.
Every day delayed in fixing this problem is a day more talented foreign college graduates return home, taking talents, skills and ambitions back with them. And making it much less likely they will ever return to the United States. America’s economy — and society — is poorer as a result.
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