Politics & Policies

US / Immigration Reform needed to fill the Skills Gap

U.S. immigration policy, since 1965, has restricted the number of foreign workers through a quota system that allocates the workers across various visa categories.

In 2013, the quota for permanent employment-based green cards was 140,000. In addition, the system provided for 65,000 temporary work visas for highly skilled workers in specialty occupations (H1-B visas) and 66,000 H2-B visas for temporary and seasonal workers. An additional 20,000 visas for advanced degree -holders were exempted from the caps, as were another category of visas (the H2-A program) for temporary agricultural workers.

The problem with the system is that it’s arbitrary and doesn’t meet the needs of employers, as our recent research confirmed.

In each of the last 10 years, we found, employer demand has exceeded the supply of H1-B visas for high-skill workers. The visas become available on April 1 for the following fiscal year, beginning Oct. 1. In fiscal 2013, the government ran out of H1-B visas in less than a week. Indeed, only twice in the last decade has the supply of H1-B visas lasted for more than half the fiscal year; in both instances, this occurred during economic downturns.

Similarly, in four of the last 10 years the demand for H2-B visas also has exceeded the cap.

The H2-A program, for temporary agricultural workers, has faltered for different reasons. Before visas can be issued to guest workers, this program requires potential employers to prove that no native-born workers are willing to take their jobs. But that’s almost impossible to prove. As a result, only about 30,000 foreign workers are in the United States under this plan.

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at 


via A U.S. Worker Shortage Calls For ‘Red Card’ Immigration Reform – Forbes.

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