Today is April 1st, the first day that USCIS is accepting petitions for H-1B visas in Fiscal Year 2015. Today alone, it is expected that enough applications will be submitted to reach the annual cap of 85,000. Thousands of applications will be rejected, not due to qualifications of the applicant or necessity of the position, but because of the arbitrary cap. Today a number, with no real meaning, decides who businesses should hire and how many jobs can be created in the next year.
To highlight this, Compete America, of which the NAM is a founding member, released a jobs calculator highlighting the jobs lost due to inaction on immigration reform in the highly-skilled sector for 2014. The calculator looks at not only at losses due to visa applications that were rejected last year because the cap was reached, but also includes applications that were never made because of the limited cap numbers. Using the conservative estimation that four new jobs are created for each H-1B visa issued, the calculator estimate that in the past year, since April 1, 2013, the US has forgone 500,000 jobs.
In a time when job growth is a priority for our nation and Congress, this is represents a lost opportunity. We should be taking advantage of every opportunity we have to keep the innovators and the job creators in this county, not driving them away with outdated policies. In fact, in a report released last month, CBO estimates H.R. 2131, The SKILLS Visa Act, which takes steps towards updating the system, would “increase revenues by $118 billion over the 2014-2024 period. That increase, largely reflecting additional collections of income and payroll taxes, would result primarily from an expansion in the size of the U.S. labor force.” We are now not only losing jobs, but also costing ourselves additional revenue.
Even more regretful, this only captures one portion of immigration reform. The dysfunctional system is causing workforce problems for all employers, leaving jobs open for months at a time and reducing productivity. Our current system is not working for anyone. It is detracting from American job growth and productivity.
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