Skilled Worker Visas (H1-B and L-1 Visas)
In addition to essential workers, the U.S. economy continues to need access to skilled workers in many sectors. Access to technology, scientific, education, health, and engineering workers, which the United States is not producing in adequate numbers, continues to be a Chamber priority.
H-1B Visas (High-skilled Temporary Workers)
Companies in need of highly skilled workers often recruit workers through the H-1B visa program. The H-1B visa is available to individuals whose services are sought by a U.S. employer in a "specialty occupation." The alien must have at least a bachelor's degree, or the equivalent, and the employer must attest to the Department of Labor that the alien will receive a salary commensurate with the prevailing wage for U.S. workers in the same job category. The H-1B visa is also an important tool for hiring foreign nationals with advanced degrees from U.S. universities. These individuals are generally ineligible for other types of visas.
The H-1B visa cap was hit for the ninth time on the first day visas were available for fiscal year 2008, and the H-1B visa cap is only 65,000, with an exemption for graduates of masters and Ph.D. programs at U.S. colleges and universities of up to 20,000 per year. The Chamber represents numerous companies and organizations that need to bring highly skilled workers into the United States each year, and they need to be able to count on having enough talent to remain competitive.
Employment-Based (EB) Visas (green cards)
There has been a sustained backlog of employment based (EB) green cards. After years of waiting, many talented employees simply opt to leave the country out of frustration and find jobs with U.S. competitors. The inability of companies to bring highly educated workers and students into the United States, and retain them permanently when needed, severely hurts their ability to compete in the global market. These shortages and inefficient processes often force companies to move some operations to other countries so that they are able to recruit the workers they need.
Background: L-1 Visas (Intracompany Transfers)
Restrictions on the L-1 intracompany visa category—a major conduit for foreign investment in the United States that creates millions of jobs (so-called insourcing)— could jeopardize a significant part of our economy. The Chamber will continue to monitor any possible changes to this program and fight burdens that could make it more difficult for companies to compete in the global economy.
U.S. Chamber Position
The Chamber will continue to play a leadership role in ensuring that employers in the United States can hire the necessary skilled personnel, managers, and executives to expand their businesses and create more jobs and wealth for the U.S. economy. Artificial caps on visas have the effect of driving skilled workers to other countries and to America's competitors, as well as requiring U.S. employers to consider taking projects and work to where the workers are. As the United States continues to fall farther behind in graduating skilled workers in needed disciplines, we are in danger of losing our competitive edge. The Chamber will continue to work hard to ensure that employers are able to attract and retain the skilled workforce that they need to compete in today's market.
Compete America Coalition Press Release on Expanding the H-1B Cap for Graduates of U.S. Universities — Nov 22, 2004
Chamber Press Release on the H-1B Visa Cap Hit on the First Day of Fiscal Year 2005 — Oct 5, 2004
Testimony by Randel K. Johnson on Lowering the Cost of Doing Business in the U.S.: How to Keep Our Companies Here — Nov 20, 2003
Testimony by Elizabeth Dickenson Examining the Importance of the H-1 Visa on the American Economy — Sep 16, 2003
Testimony by Randel K. Johnson on the Impact of Visa Delays on Businesses — Jul 10, 2003