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U.S. Economic Reliance on H-1B Visa Program

April 10, 2019

The United States accounts for approximately 26% of the global volume of science and engineering research. Given the current record low unemployment rate below 4% in the US, research suggests that the US needs foreign highly-skilled workers to maintain our position as the world leading STEM economy. One recent study reported that 75% of employers recruiting STEM candidates cited poor qualifications lacking requisite training or skills like data science and STEM backgrounds. For the last several years, employers and highly skilled workers have relied on student-based work authorization and the H-1B program to fill the chasm, but new reports are proving “the H-1B visa program is vastly overextended.” Employers have paid an estimated $5 billion in H-1B visa fees since 1999, but the majority of those funds have not directly retained or protected global talent given the volume of unselected and discarded applications every year due to the H-1B cap annual lottery. The H-1B cap has been met every year since 2013 and this year’s cap was no exception.