U.S. companies each year can sponsor a total of 65,000 foreigners with at least a bachelor’s degree for a so-called H-1B visa, many of which go to programmers and other specialized workers. The program allocates an additional 20,000 visas each year to foreign nationals with advanced degrees from U.S. universities.Government and company officials predict employers by Friday will exhaust the quota for this year’s application season, which opened Monday for jobs starting in October or later. If that happens, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the agency that runs the program, will randomly select applications that will then be considered for visas if any applications received before the cap are rejected.
We’d like to see American students and educational institutions doing a better job so that the country needed to import less talent, but that’s a long term aspiration and shouldn’t be affecting immigration policy today. Encouraging immigration of highly skilled labor is, on the whole, is in the country’s best economic interest. According to various studies: each immigrant who works in a STEM field creates 2.62 American jobs; and skilled immigrants are responsible for “more than three-quarters of patents from America’s top ten patent-producing universities.” These workers help the companies who hire them and help the economy grow; they increase opportunities for everyone else and we can always use people like this. A spike in skilled immigration bodes well for America’s future.We need an immigration system that makes it easy for American employers to hire the best talent anywhere in the world, and that encourages that talent to come over here and help us grow. There’s room for debate about how many visas should be available for these workers, but when a year’s supply is taken in a week, it’s clear that we aren’t doing enough.Meanwhile, we suggest to Americans trying to figure out how to flourish in a chancing economy that they take a look at these STEM-related jobs employers can’t fill, and start acquiring some skills. Note to colleges trying to attract students in a competitive market: go and do likewise.