US Chamber calls for doubling H-1B, H-2B visa quotas

New “America Works” initiative seeks reforms to legal immigration system to address worker shortage crisis.

To address America’s worker shortage crisis, the US Chamber of Commerce has called for doubling the cap on employment-based visas and doubling the quota on H-1B and H-2B visas.

The proposal is part of a new nationwide “America Works” initiative launched by the chamber earlier this month for “mobilizing industry and government to swiftly address America’s deepening worker shortage crisis.”

It also calls for implementing other reforms to the legal immigration system to help employers meet demand for high-demand jobs in labor-strapped sectors.

America Works agenda includes “a suite of legislative and regulatory solutions at the federal and state level that would eliminate barriers to work for Americans, invest in skills and job training, and reform America’s broken, outdated immigration system.”

Read: USCIS to allow resubmission of certain FY 2021 H-1B petitions (June 24, 2021)

Over the last few years, Indian tech professionals have been getting over 70 percent of 85,000 H-1B visas issued annually, including 20,000 with master’s degrees from US universities, for high skilled foreign workers.

“As we stand on the cusp of what could be a great American resurgence, a worker shortage is holding back job creators across the country,” US Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Suzanne Clark stated.

“Together, we can and we must address our nation’s workforce challenges. When you lead the world in talent, you lead the world in solutions. With a highly skilled workforce, there’s nothing business cannot achieve and nothing we as a nation cannot do.”

Through the initiative, the US Chamber said it is “advocating for—and rallying the business community to push for—federal and state policy changes that will help train more Americans for in-demand jobs, remove barriers to work, and double the number of visas available for legal immigrants.”

Read: H-2B cap reached for second half of FY 2021 (February 25, 2021)

The US Chamber Foundation is also expanding its most impactful employer-led workforce and job training programs and launching new efforts to connect employers to undiscovered talent.

“This is Operation Warp Speed for Jobs,” Clark stated. “We’re helping our members address the worker shortage by bringing the full strength of the Chamber’s advocacy muscle to this urgent crisis, expanding the Chamber Foundation’s most successful workforce programs, and mobilizing our nationwide federation of association and chamber partners to drive solutions that make America more competitive.”

Citing new surveys and federal data analysis, the chamber noted there are now half as many available workers for every open job across the country (1.4 available workers per opening) as there have been on average over the past 20 years.

In several states and industries—especially hard-hit sectors like education and health services as well as professional and business services—there are currently fewer job seekers than the total number of jobs open, it said.

As many as 91 percent of state and local chambers of commerce say worker shortages are holding back their economies. About 83 percent of industry association economists say employers in their sectors are finding it more difficult to fill jobs than they were five years ago.

Read: USCIS Will Allow Resubmission of Certain FY 2021 H-1B Petitions Rejected or Closed Due to Start Date (June 23, 2021)

“The worker shortage is real—and it’s getting worse by the day,” Clark said. “American businesses of every size, across every industry, in every state are reporting unprecedented challenges filling open jobs. The worker shortage is a national economic emergency, and it poses an imminent threat to our fragile recovery and America’s great resurgence.”

“We must arm workers with the skills they need, we must remove barriers that are keeping too many Americans on the sidelines, and we must recruit the very best from around the world to help fill high-demand jobs,” Clark said.

“One solution or the other will not get the job done: Only by addressing all three challenges can we address our nation’s workforce challenges.”

The US Chamber Foundation “is also expanding employer-led workforce and job training programs to help more businesses develop the talent they need and help more workers better prepare for the jobs of today and tomorrow.”

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