Promises, Promises

While watching the last presidential primary debates, I was amazed at how little agreement there was among the candidates on the various issues except for one thing – the importance of accommodating American businesses in their need to employ highly educated foreign nationals to make U.S. businesses more competitive in the world economy. At that time, many of the needed changes that were discussed were included within the proposed “Comprehensive Immigration Reform” (CIR). Unfortunately, this omnibus legislation contains so many highly controversial changes to our immigration laws, that it was probably doomed from the beginning. The obvious thing that has to be done at this point is to take the pro-business changes out of the very broad legislation because most everyone agrees that these changes are good for the country. Not surprisingly, the main groups opposed to dealing with these pro-business changes as a separate issue appear to be those in favor of treating CIR as a complete package because the votes of pro-business Republicans and Democrats would be needed to pass CIR.

Yet here we are, about to begin our next H-1B filing season, and the problem has not been resolved. The number of H-1B visas was reduced several years ago from 195,000 to 65,000 (it’s actually less!). The economy has improved since last year when about 1/3 of those who filed during the initial filing period had their applications rejected. Many immigration experts are predicting that the rejection rate will be even higher this year.

What is being accomplished by the failure to meet the need for “professional” workers by the business community? Are we telling U.S. employers who desperately need highly educated university graduates that they should either hire foreign-based companies on an outsource basis or move their operations outside the U.S. (like Microsoft did in Canada)? Are we telling foreign nationals who may have spent in excess of one hundred thousand dollars to earn a U.S. degree(s) that maybe they should have studied in Canada or Europe? Canada and many European countries welcome highly educated professionals with open arms because of what they can do for their economies.

Perhaps when the results of this year’s H-1B filing season are announced there will be some public outcry, by our business leaders in particular, that may influence Congress to act. This issue should really be a no brainer since the majority of congressional representatives on both sides of the aisle agree on its importance.

Contrbuted by Charles M. Goldsmith

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