Increase in employment visas a good thing for Louisiana?

The number of foreign workers coming to the United States for employment immigration seems to be on the rise and it looks like this number will only go up as the years go by. Each year, companies send in applications for H-1B visas with the hope of employing these highly qualified foreign workers. Citizenship and Immigration Services has reported that over 170,000 applications have been sent in this year, but only 85,000 were accepted.

Technology companies in particular have a need for these immigrant workers, saying that they are unable to fill their specialized job openings with American workers and thus must look to employment immigration. However, the majority of these work visas will be awarded to information technology consulting and outsourcing firms, with Cognizant Technology coming in as the top employer holder of H-1B visas.

Many large American companies such as Microsoft and Facebook have filed lobbying reports to expand or get rid of the H-1B cap in order to get more visas approved for their tech-based companies. These business leaders believe that there are too few skilled Americans in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math, or collectively known as STEM. Making it easier to obtain an H-1B visa will attract more skilled overseas workers to the United States.

However, other experts want to make it more challenging to obtain H-1B visas. Many fear that the H-1B program is merely a tool to replace American workers with immigrant workers who are willing to work for less. While H-1B visa holders are supposed to be paid a fair market wage for their work, many companies find loopholes in the system and pay them less. There is also a belief that American students are less likely to study the STEM fields because they assume that these jobs will go to foreign workers instead of to them.

However, this may not be the case. Studies show that foreign born students with advanced STEM degrees can actually help create jobs for Americans. As the need for expertise in the STEM fields increases, immigrants will have a much easier time getting their employment visas and starting their lives in Louisiana and all over the United States.

Source: NBC News, “Tech Demands More H-1B Visas As Critics Cry Foul,” Matthew Deluca, April 10, 2014