WASHINGTON: Asserting that H-1B visa creates more jobs, a Silicon Valley-based CEO has urged US President- elect Donald Trump to reform the system and increase the quota of this speciality work visa, which would help in achieving his agenda of spurring growth in the country.
“So here’s a first step: reform the H-1B visa program to allow American companies to hire the high-skilled workers they need to grow and remain competitive,” Alan H Fleischmann founder, president & CEO of Laurel Strategies, a global business advisory and strategic communications firm for leaders, CEOs and their C-suite, said in an op-ed published in the Fortune magazine on Sunday.
“While the broader immigration debate will be heated and highly partisan, reforming the H-1B immigration program enjoys strong bipartisan support,” he said.
“President-elect Trump’s stance on this issue is not yet defined. This creates a further opportunity to properly address this policy issue,” Fleischmann said.
He said many of Trump’s voters express concern about being left out of the 21st century tech-based economy and have not seen innovation as a powerful job-creator or a force for good.
“Their fears are valid, and Washington with Silicon Valley must do a better job of broadening the promise of technology so that so many disaffected Americans no longer are left behind,” he noted.
Fleischmann said America’s H-1B visa program is designed to permit US companies to recruit workers from abroad to fill highly specialized jobs here in America.
“Far different from the more wide-ranging worker visa program, H-1Bs are specifically used to fill specific jobs that companies can’t find enough American workers to fill. Particularly for technology firms, H-1B visas are a lifeline to the global talent pool of engineers, who can build products and create economic growth here in America, rather than in other countries,” he said.
Evidence shows that jobs for Americans would increase and wages would rise under the visa program, he argued.
According to a 2012 report by the US Chamber of Commerce studying foreign students with a STEM degree hired by American companies, each H-1B employee creates 2.62 additional jobs for American workers.
According to another report from McKinsey in 2011, “in recent years, the supply of [STEM] graduates has been sluggish at a time when demand for them has been rising.”
Yet despite the overwhelming benefits of the H-1B visa program for America’s economy, the program’s annual cap is stunningly low at just 65,000 per year, Fleischmann said.
“That quota may have been sufficient 30 years ago, but it’s just a drop in the bucket compared with today’s demand for high-skilled workers,” he added.
Noting that Trump was elected with virtually no connection to America’s technology sector, he said convincing Congressional Republicans to support H-1B reform as a job-creator and economic imperative would be a savvy and much-needed first step. “This is a tremendous leadership opportunity for the new administration,” he said.