What is happening with H-1B Visas?

The H1-B Visa is a program that allows highly educated, foreign workers to find long-term employment in the United States. Each year, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services selects 85,000 applicants through a randomized lottery to receive the visa.  

This 85,000-person cap has remained the same since 2004. Once selected, applicants are either approved or denied at this stage. Last year, the lottery pool consisted of over 300,000 applicants, which means roughly only one out of four applicants would be accepted. 

While leading tech companies like Amazon, Facebook, and Google claim the program allows them to find top talent overseas, the program has become the subject of debate as to whether it limits increase in wages and prevents American-born workers from finding jobs, among other issues. 

During the Trump Administration, the H1-B visa program saw a higher denial rate after the lottery was completed. The administration claimed the visas took jobs away from American-born workers, so they introduced stricter rules to the process.  

However, The New York Times found that “when the Trump administration introduced additional scrutiny of H-1B applications, companies often shifted workers or hired elsewhere instead of filling the roles with American workers” according to their interviews with immigration lawyers and H-1B visa applicants 

Even further, The Times writes… 

Seven current and former employees of Amazon, Facebook and Google, which are among the top H-1B users, told DealBook that if they weren’t chosen in the lottery, the company would provide the option of transferring them to an overseas office and asking them to apply for an H-1B visa again the next year. Six immigration lawyers and immigration consultants confirmed that this was a typical strategy. Amazon and Google declined a request to comment on the practice, and Facebook did not respond to a request to comment. 

The New York Times

So, in reality, lowering the acceptance rates of H-1B visas not only hurts those coming to America for a better chance at life by sending them out of the country to keep the same or similar job remotely, but it also hurts American-born workers’ chances at those jobs as they become transferred overseas to other branches of the companies. 

The solution is complex, but as the data shows, simply reducing the amount of accepted H1-B visas does not result in more jobs for American-born workers. Disrupting foreign workers’ plans for employment and residency does not result in more jobs for Americans. 

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