â€˜US losing billions of dollars in production, decreasing tax revenue and harming US competitiveness due to arbitrary Hâ€‘1B capsâ€™
Debunking opponentsâ€™ â€œridiculousâ€ claim that high skilled foreign workers on H-1B visas are â€œcheapâ€ workers, a US think tank has called for raising the H 1B cap and making hiring foreign workers easier.
â€œThere is no reason to impose an arbitrary limit on H 1B visas. The numbers should reflect the demand for workers,â€ says David J. Bier, research fellow at Washington based Cato Institute.
The demand for high skilled foreign workers once again far exceeded the 85,000 cap at Department of Homeland Securityâ€™s (DHS) annual lottery for H 1B temporary work visas, he said noting in 2021, employers submitted more than 300,000 registrations.
Read: Biden vows to end green card caps, increase H-1B visas (July 15, 2020)
In recent years Indian tech professionals have been getting more than two thirds of the H-1B visas.
â€œThe wage data show that the US government is turning away billions of dollars in production, decreasing tax revenue and harming US competitiveness,â€ Bier suggested.
Opponentsâ€™ claim that H 1B employers â€œpay low wagesâ€ has never been true, but the latest wage data prove how ridiculous this claim is, Bier said citing data from DHS and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
H 1B workers are highly paid: their wages are in the 90th percentile of all wages in the United States, meaning that they have wages in the top 10 percent of US wage earners, he noted.
According to DHS, the median wage for H 1B worker in 2021 was about $108,000 while he median wage for all workers in 2021 was $45,760, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The 90th percentile for all US wages was $102,810.
Figures show majority of H 1B workers are making more than all but about 8 percent of US workers and well over double the median wage for all US workers, Bier pointed out.
Not only have H 1B wages surged above the 90th percentile for the first time since DHS reported H 1B wages in 2003, the H 1B wage growth has also exceeded the growth for all US workers.
Noting that from 2003 to 2021, the nominal median H 1B wage grew 52 percent, while the nominal median for all US workers grew just 39 percent, Bier suggested, â€œIf H 1B employers could just pay whatever they wantâ€”as opponents claimâ€”these increases would not be happening.â€
While the H 1B program has its problems, H 1B workers should be able to receive promotions, change jobs, and start businesses without onerous government restrictions, he said.
Read: H-1B visa holders among highest paid in US (April 12, 2022)
DHS, Bier suggested, â€œshould automatically send them green cards shortly after their arrival without needing to undergo yet another bureaucratic and expensive effort that is often delayed by ridiculously low and outdated caps, both overall and on immigrants from specific countries.â€
â€œBut in reforming the green card process, Congress should not ignore the massive economic benefits from the H 1B programâ€”which is the initial onâ€ ramp for the vast majority of skilled green card applicants,â€ he said.