H-1B visa immigrants drive up productivity, good for US economy: Dartmouth survey

New survey by Matthew Slaughter, Dean of Tuck School of Business.

AB Wire


NEW YORK: H-1B visa immigrants’ contributions to communities in metropolitan areas over the past few decades has been immense, with faster growth in productivity in those areas, which economists say would drive increased standards of living and real wages, according to a new survey.

However, policies supporting the H-1B visa program in the United States are too restrictive, undercutting free enterprise and ultimately damaging the economy, says the survey.

The H-1B visas, for which the U.S. began accepting new applications on April 1, are designed to allow U.S. companies to recruit foreign professionals in specialty occupations, those that require a bachelor’s degree, for a period of up to six years.

Matthew Slaughter, dean of the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, was quoted by the Voice of America as saying, “Those communities with more high skilled immigrants [arriving] than native born workers … had higher wage growth. Not just other talented workers, other college graduates, but also less skilled natives.”

Slaughter’s survey of 400 corporate executives, however, shows that companies that desperately need the specialized labor find the H-1B hiring process too expensive.

“Eighty-two percent of respondents in this survey said hiring a foreign worker costs as much as or more than hiring a comparably skilled U.S. worker,” said Slaughter, who directed the survey.

Some Americans believe H-1B visa holders are angling to take their jobs, but former U.S. treasurer Rosario Marin, co-chair of American Competitiveness Alliance, said foreign professionals in the high demand high-tech industry are necessary, said Voice of America.

“Almost 80 percent [of] full-time graduate students in electrical engineering in the United States are international students,” she said. “In computer science, foreign nationals make up more than 70 percent of graduate students.”

Some 233,000 applications were filed in the last fiscal year.  With an annual quota of 85,000 set by Congress, the visa applications that exceed the quota are allocated via a lottery system. Applicants who don’t win the lottery are not allowed to work in the United States.  Marin said that could benefit economic rivals of the United States.

“Our economic rivals are recruiting them,” she said, adding that other countries are approaching the very H-1B visa applicants who are rejected.

Bjorn Billhardt is an entrepreneur who hires H-1B visa holders. He said missing key, talented individuals could potentially kill projects and start-ups that actually represent productivity and creativity, said the Voice of America.

“In [the] early stage of a company, it’s that critical employee that will make or break the company,” he said.

The current H-1B visa program requires the employer to pay the beneficiary a wage that is no less than the wage paid to similarly qualified workers.

Some people still criticize H-1B visa holders as cheap labor and say the program is being abused, including leading Senators Chuck Grassley and Jeff Sessions. Two Republican presidential candidates also have raised concerns about the H1-B program.

Slaughter said: “About three quarters of these companies say, ‘When we have high skilled positions that go unfilled for longer than about a month, it’s a real constraint on the competitiveness and success of their companies.'”

Slaughter’s survey found that 71 percent of respondents said they would consider moving facilities to other countries if they find it too difficult to hire skilled professionals in the United States.


  1. What you have written is at best misleading.

    If an employer pays an H-1b worker 60k they are exempt from having to look for an American. Most IT jobs in the United States are paying well above 100k, this means you can easily replace any American IT worker, with a worker from abroad making just 60k. And that 60k requirement, only applies to employers with already huge H-1b contingents in the United States.

    So it is no wonder, that most H-1b visas are being taken up by Offshore Outsourcing companies, that do nothing but get better qualified, more experienced U.S. workers to train their H-1b replacement, as a prelude to removing entire departments from the United States.

    The U.S. should be reserving H-1b visas for companies that actually create (not destroy) jobs in the United States.

    Our current, insane, H-1b visa system is brought to us courtesy of bought off politicians such as Bill Clinton, Marco Rubio, and Orrin Hatch.

  2. again, why is AB reporting old stories?
    the only productivity increases are becuase h1bs are forced to work unlimited hours, no paid overtime. they cannot complain or they will have their visa cancelled and sent back to india.

  3. Matthew Slaughter should consider the skepticism about the comments of corporate executives advised by Adam Smith in “An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations.”

    “Merchants and master manufacturers are, in this order, the two classes of people who commonly employ the largest capitals, and who by their wealth draw to themselves the greatest share of the public consideration. As during their whole lives they are engaged in plans and projects, they have frequently more acuteness of understanding than the greater part of country gentlemen. As their thoughts, however, are commonly exercised rather about the interest of their own particular branch of business. than about that of the society, their judgment, even when given with the greatest candour (which it has not been upon every occasion), is much more to be depended upon with regard to the former of those two objects, than with regard to the latter. Their superiority over the country gentleman is, not so much in their knowledge of the public interest, as in their having a better knowledge of their own interest than he has of his. It is by this superior knowledge of their own interest that they have frequently imposed upon his generosity, and persuaded him to give up both his own interest and that of the public, from a very simple but honest conviction, that their interest, and not his, was the interest of the public. The interest of the dealers, however, in any particular branch of trade or manufactures, is always in some respects different from, and even opposite to, that of the public. To widen the market, and to narrow the competition, is always the interest of the dealers. To widen the market may frequently be agreeable enough to the interest of the public; but to narrow the competition must always be against it, and can only serve to enable the dealers, by raising their profits above what they naturally would be, to levy, for their own benefit, an absurd tax upon the rest of their fellow-citizens. The proposal of any new law or regulation of commerce which comes from this order, ought always to be listened to with great precaution, and ought never to be adopted till after having been long and carefully examined, not only with the most scrupulous, but with the most suspicious attention. It comes from an order of men, whose interest is never exactly the same with that of the public, who have generally an interest to deceive and even to oppress the public, and who accordingly have, upon many occasions, both deceived and oppressed it.”

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