H-1B Visa Program

National immigration debates have taken the center stage recently due to the controversial issue’s prominence in the 2016 presidential debates. Although less controversial, the H-1B Visa Program has also made headlines recently, as it was discussed briefly by Rubio and Trump in the third Republican Debates.   

The H-1B Visa Program was created to allow American companies to employ foreigners with highly specialized skills, but has been gaining notice for its increasingly competitive application process, and growing popularity among the tech startup scene.

The annual quota for H-1B visas is 65,000 for foreign workers who are applying for the visa for the first time and 20,000 for foreign graduate students that are graduating from American universities.

So what is the controversy with this process? According to a recent New York Times Article, applications are accepted on a first come first served basis and in this year’s cycle around two-thirds of the pool of applications (233,000)  were denied. This is because the trend has become that large global outsourcing companies, or companies that transfer parts of their work overseas in order to reduce costs, seemingly flood the lottery. Individual employees can only submit one application per cycle, but there is currently no limit to the amount a company can apply for, which is why people believe the system is flawed.  According to the article, in 2014, the 20 companies that received the most H-1B visas had taken around 40 percent of the available visas within the program as a whole. Moreover, of these 20 companies, 13 of them were global outsourcing companies.

Due to this new trend, and fear of pushing qualified American workers out of jobs, bipartisan legislation was recently introduced in the Senate to change the H-1B program, attempting to limit the number of employees/visas that large companies can obtain.

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A Foster

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