Letter on Employment-Based (EB or Green Card) and H-1B Visa Programs
April 12, 2007
TO THE MEMBERS OF THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES AND THE UNITED STATES SENATE:
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce would like to reiterate the need to reform both the employment-based (EB or green card) and H-1B visa programs. The Chamber is the world's largest business federation, representing more than three million businesses and organizations of every size, sector, and region.
The Chamber represents numerous companies and organizations that need to bring thousands of foreign workers and students into the United States each year. The inability of these companies to bring highly educated workers and students into the United States severely hurts their competitiveness in the global market and often leads to companies moving operations overseas. It is imperative that any comprehensive immigration reform includes changes that would allow employers in the United States to recruit and retain highly educated foreign talent and guarantee our continued global economic competitiveness and success.
The announcement last week by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)regarding the fact that the H-1B visa cap for the FY2008 was reached on the first day applications were accepted marks the dire need for changes in the system. This is also the fourth consecutive year the H-1B cap was met before the fiscal year even starts. USCIS will now conduct a "computer-generated random selection process" to determine which of these needed workers will be excluded.
Other areas of U.S. immigration system for highly-skilled immigrants face similar daunting barriers—from years of waiting for a green card to the inability of hiring a student from a United States university as a permanent worker right after graduation. The current system is counterproductive to the country's economic, security, and social goals. Retaining the best and the brightest foreign workers help make U.S. economy strong. These artificial barriers are forcing some companies to conduct business elsewhere, wherever they can hire the necessary talent. The Chamber strongly urges you to supports comprehensive immigration reform that would include:
- Raising the EB cap and exempting specific highly skilled professionals in
sciences, arts, business, and other critical fields from the final allotted number.
- Allowing foreign students who have earned advanced degrees from American
universities, as well as from foreign universities, in science, technology,
engineering, and mathematics (STEM) to be exempt from both the EB and H-1B
visa cap numbers.
- Designing the H-1B visa cap numbers around a market-based annual adjustment,
rather than an arbitrary fixed number.
- The creation of an entire new visa category that would allow STEM students,
studying in the United States on a student visa, to seamlessly transition to a green
card when offered a job.
The Chamber urges inclusion of these measures in a comprehensive immigration reform package. Without these provisions in a broad immigration reform package, American companies will continue to lose their competitive edge in the global economy.
On behalf of the Chamber, I thank you and look forward to working with this Congress to pass meaningful comprehensive immigration reform.
R. Bruce Josten