H-1B Visas: A Case for Open Immigration of Highly Skilled Foreign Workers

October 26, 2010

The growth of the information technology, research and development, and science sectors of the economy has forced American firms to scour the world for talent.  To bring workers they need into the United States, American companies sponsor their H1-B work visas.  The rapid pace of technological and scientific development is best fostered by an open immigration regime.  Unfortunately, America is far from that today, says Alex Nowrasteh, a policy analyst with the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

  • Highly skilled foreign workers are typically well educated, English speaking and young.
  • They receive high levels of compensation, do not consume social programs and do not commit crimes more than the general population.
  • Moreover, there is little direct competition between foreign highly skilled workers and similarly skilled Americans.
  • Foreign workers complement American workers and push them into different higher paying occupations.

To further expand these benefits to the American economy, the restrictions and fees levied on H-1B visas and other skilled foreign worker visa categories should be removed.  Quotas and the temporary time nature of work visas are major impediments to Americans fully reaping the benefits that highly skilled workers bring, says Nowrasteh.

  • Many highly skilled foreign workers, including H-1B visa holders, go on to start profitable businesses in the United States that employ thousands of Americans.
  • Furthermore, patents and scientific discoveries by highly skilled foreign workers have yielded billions of dollars in productivity gains that enrich millions of Americans.

American businesses should be free to employ the best worker for any job -- from anywhere in the world.  In a globalized and interconnected world, countries that place restrictions on their own businesses' ability to do so are shooting themselves in the foot.

Source: Alex Nowrasteh, "H-1B Visas: A Case for Open Immigration of Highly Skilled Foreign Workers," Competitive Enterprise Institute, October 2010.

 

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