H-1B visas are typically the only way for international students from U.S. universities or high-skilled foreign nationals to work in the United States long-term. The first yearly limit on these visas was passed by Congress in 1990, a time before the internet and phone capabilities were significant. However, progress in the tech field has fueled demand for high-skilled labor.
As a result of the need for more high-skilled labor, the limit on H-1B visas has been met for 16 straight years. It would seem, then, that this is an indicator that reform is needed to allow more high-skilled foreign nationals to work in the United States.
However, the Trump administration is trying to do the opposite and further limit the number of H-1B visas. This month, Francis Cissna, Director of the U.S. and Immigration Services (USCIS) wrote a letter to Senator Charles Grassley laying out a series of measures making it more difficult to obtain an H-1B visa. USCIS plans to redefine the definition of specialty occupation to make it harder to qualify for the visa. Additionally, USCIS plans to prevent spouses of H-1B visa holders from working in the United States. This would make foreign-nationals less likely to want to work in America, thereby limiting the number of applicants.
VERDICT: The policies included in this letter are only a part of President Trump’s restrictive anti-immigration agenda. Just these policies limiting the number of H-1B visas actually push company investment outside of the United States, harming the U.S. economy more than allowing more foreign-born workers in the U.S