The most sought-after H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise. Technology companies depend on it to hire tens of thousands of employees each year from countries like India and China.
The demand to increase the H-1B quota, which currently is at 65,000 and another 20,000 for those who have higher studies from the US, is part of the America Works campaign launched by the US Chambers of Commerce early this month.
“As we stand on the cusp of what could be a great American resurgence, a worker shortage is holding back job creators across the country,” US Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Suzanne Clark said.
Through the America Works Agenda, the US Chamber is calling for doubling the cap on employment-based visas, doubling the quota on H-1B and H-2B visas and implementing other reforms to the legal immigration system to help employers meet the demand for high-demand jobs in labour-strapped sectors. It is also calling for growing federal investments in employer-led job education and training programmes and expanding access to childcare for working parents.
“We must arm workers with the skills they need, we must remove barriers that are keeping too many Americans on the sidelines, and we must recruit the very best from around the world to help fill high-demand jobs,” Clark said.
The Chamber called for changes to be made on the issuance of employment-based immigrant visas including doubling the cap on employment-based immigrant visas from 140,000/year to 280,000/year.
Eliminate the practice of counting spouses and minor children under the annual Green Card quota, which, if done alone, would practically double the amount of employment-based immigrant workers our nation admits every year, it said.
“Eliminate the Per-Country Caps that punish individuals from certain countries with arbitrarily longer wait times, and when done in combination with expanding the annual quota, will avoid the creation of several new backlogs within the system,” the US Chambers said.
It urged the Biden administration to provide international students who graduate from US universities with more opportunities to obtain employment-based green cards upon graduation and enhance and expand the opportunities for entrepreneurs to obtain permanent residency so they can build their businesses in the United States.
US Chambers is also urging the administration to responsibly reinstate routine visa processing at consulates around the world so companies can obtain and retain the workers they need without significant operation disruptions to their businesses.
“Create a new, geographically targeted visa programme, along the lines of the Heartland Visa proposal, that will drive economic and population growth into American communities struggling with the serious economic and social problems caused by significant population loss,” it said.
It also seeks to expand access to H-2A agricultural worker visas for non-seasonal agricultural businesses, such as dairies and livestock producers, and ensure that the programme meets the future needs of American agriculture.