What the H-1B Visa Does
The H-1B visa is a guest worker program that allows US companies the opportunity to hire skilled foreign workers in specialized jobs. These are positions that are notoriously difficult to fill in industries like STEM and arts. There’s no argument that the visa program has significantly helped the tech, healthcare, science, and finance industries.
However, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) places a cap on the number of these visas allowed annually. Regardless of how many petitions are received, the limit is 85,000, broken into a 20,000 and 65,000 lottery system.
This is where the debate begins, and it extends to the concern that H-1B visas take jobs away from American citizens and the economy.
The Argument That Foreign Workers = Lower Pay
The Trump Administration changed the landscape of the H-1B visa, putting the focus on hiring American workers. But this shift meant that many specialized positions remained empty because no qualified US citizens were taking them.
The problem isn’t that the H-1B visa takes away jobs from American workers. Hiring specialized workers is a fast track to opening new departments and widening existing ones.
The debate stems from the misconception that companies hire foreign labor to get around paying higher wages to US citizens. But when you understand how the H-1B visa process works and how it is designed to protect American workers, this debate loses power.
The H-1B Process’s Protective Properties
Built into the very foundation of the H-1B process is the necessity for companies to attest to certain principle requirements. The system begins with an employer’s request to receive approval to hire a foreign worker. Before the approval is granted, employers must attest to key factors, including:
● That the worker shortage is not due to a strike or similar conditions.
● That substantial attempts to hire a US citizen were implemented, with evidence of multiple measures included in the application.
● That the H-1B worker will not receive less pay than an American citizen in a similar position would, and
● Hiring a foreign worker will not affect the working conditions of other workers in adverse ways.
Current employees must be alerted of the intent to hire a foreign worker, and new measures ensure there are various ways to file complaints.
But the debate against these processes states that the measure of determining a prevailing wage to pay the foreign worker isn’t consistent. Companies may find loopholes to hire foreign workers at lower wages, like hiring skilled workers via a third-party service. Over time, this practice could serve to lower the average pay because, with more potential workers to choose from, companies no longer have to provide competitive wages or perks.
Global Recruiting Helps Specialized Industries
Understanding that the fundamental process of the H-1B visa is designed to help the US economy is one thing. Knowing that there will always be companies trying to take advantage of the system is another.
Most of the companies who use this, and the foreign workers they hire, are on the up-and-up. They need a legitimate specialized position filled, and the employee wants to make a better life for themselves and their families.
Currently, the program helps the tech industry more than any other. H-1B workers comprise around 15% of the jobs, whereas they hold less than 1% of the overall jobs in the country. The ability to recruit workers globally helps massive tech companies find competitive, skilled talent.
As IT workers are laid off for outsourced labor, the debate rages all over again. We have to keep in mind that this isn’t the dominant use of the H-1B visa; rather, it’s a problem that must be fixed in a system that works well overall.
The H-B visa program brings essential skilled workers into the US economy. Simultaneously, this benefit helps companies stay on the cutting edge of their industries, remain productive, and provide competitive wages to their workers.
What This Means for You
As an employer trying to hire foreign labor or a non-immigrant looking for a better job, this debate impacts you more than anyone. Because of the scrutiny from the government and US citizens, the process to obtain this visa becomes increasingly complex.
USCIS’s program is designed to ensure every approved petition is legitimate. The job offers are valid, the companies are real, and the worker is filling a necessary gap in the economy.
This enhanced scrutiny and more complicated legislation require you to overcome many obstacles on your path to success. If Congress passes any more major changes, the number of visas could be restricted, or the requirements may become even more complex.
Those who are trying to better their lives and their companies will find themselves mired in the sticky outcomes of a heated debate caused by people trying to take advantage of the system.
But there’s hope — skilled immigration attorneys can push your petition to the front of the pack by minimizing mistakes and knowing the system. When you work with someone who truly cares about your individual need, like Visa2US, a complicated system becomes much easier to navigate.
Contact our expert legal help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and let those at Visa2US help you overcome the H-1B visa process challenges. We’ll work with you to answer your questions and streamline each step so you can use the system for its intended purpose: to better the US economy and your life.