Cuts To Visa Program Could Impact Delaware Valley

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — On April 3rd, the government will start accepting yearly petitions for a special work visa, but immigration fears stemming from the Trump administration are worrying applicants.

Each year, the government issues 85,000 H-1B visas, those are working passes for people whose jobs require at least a bachelor degree.

“Companies were able to get about 1/3 of the people who they hoped to be able to get through this process,” said William Stock, an immigration attorney in Philadelphia.

He says President Trump, during his campaign, signaled he wants to reform the H-1B program, Stock says that’s something that could hurt the Delaware Valley.

“A lot of them are employed in healthcare and information technology, and that’s a really important part of the economy in our Philadelphia region,” said Stock.

Stock says there may be an influx in competition this year for the H-1B because of concerns people have due to the administration’s views on other visa programs.

“Some Canadians, for example, are very nervous about the president’s statements that he wanted to withdraw from NAFTA. So, if they are on a visa that’s under NAFTA, they are looking to get into this lottery,” Stock said.

Filing period for the H-1B opens April 3rd.

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One Comment

  1. While lobbying Congress for more H-1B visas, industry claims H-1B workers are “high-skilled”. Come payday, however, they’re entry-level workers.

    The GAO put out a report on the H-1B visa that discusses at some length the fact that the vast majority of H-1B workers are hired into entry-level positions. In fact, most are at “Level I”, which is officially defined by the Dept. of Labor as those who have a “basic understanding of duties and perform routine tasks requiring limited judgment”. Moreover, the GAO found that a mere 6% of H-1B workers are at “Level IV”, which is officially defined by the US Dept. of Labor as those who are “fully competent” [1]. This belies the industry lobbyists’ claims that H-1B workers are hired because they’re experts that can’t be found among the U.S. workforce.

    So this means one of two things: either companies are looking for entry-level workers (in which case, their rhetoric about needing “the best and brightest” is meaningless), or they’re looking for more experienced workers but only paying them at the Level I, entry-level pay scale. In my opinion, companies are using the H-1B visa to engage in legalized age discrimination, as the vast majority of H-1B workers are under the age of 35 [2], especially those at the Level I and Level II categories.

    Any way you slice it, it amounts to H-1B visa abuse, all facilitated and with the blessings of the US government.

    The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) has never shown a sharp upward trend of Computer Science graduate starting salaries, which would indicate a labor shortage (remember – the vast majority of H-1B visas are granted for computer-related positions). In fact, according to their survey for Fall 2015, starting salaries for CS grads went down by 4% from the prior year. This is particularly interesting in that salaries overall rose 5.2% [3][4].

    References:

    [1] GAO-11-26: H-1B VISA PROGRAM – Reforms Are Needed to Minimize the Risks and Costs of Current Program
    [2] Characteristics of H-1B Specialty Occupation Workers Fiscal Year 2014 Annual Report to Congress October 1, 2013 – September 30, 2014
    [3] NACE Fall 2015 Salary Survey
    [4] NACE Salary Survey – September 2014 Executive Summary

  2. Scott Wilson says:

    They might actually have to hire Americans.

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