Ease the H-1B cap


The worst part of my workdays lately has been receiving job applications from exceptionally qualified software engineers who want to work at our company but have zero chance at U.S. work authorization under currently governing law.

These foreign workers would in fact meet all visa requirements for a visa that is reserved for “specialty occupations that require the theoretical or practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge, including but not limited to: scientists, engineers, or computer programmers.”

However, the number of visas issued is subject to a congressionally mandated cap that fails to reflect demand (or reason).

Despite its intent, the so-called H-1B visa cap does not encourage companies to hire American as opposed to foreign talent. The domestic unemployment rate -- correctly defined -- for people with this skill level is probably close to zero. We’re very fortunate to have hired engineers domestically, but we need more!

Instead, the H-1B visa cap simply prevents exceptional talent from contributing to the U.S. economy. These contributions come in three buckets:

1. Paying federal and state income tax on relatively high incomes.

2. Acting as multipliers. Meaning, in making American companies more competitive and contributing to their growth, these foreign engineers create positive externalities, specifically additional job creation. For every “multiplier engineer” onboarded, we can hire more Americans in other important roles in our company, such as customer support and marketing. This is a poorly understood yet meaningful concept.

3. Eventually starting their own companies and creating new jobs. (40% of Fortune 500 companies are started by immigrants or their children. Fortune 500 companies employ 26 million workers.)

The H-1B cap of 65,000 regular plus 20,000 for those with advanced U.S. degrees is not enough. The pressure on the system is so forceful that the yearly allocation is reached within a week of the USCIS’s application window's opening. After that week, no more H-1Bs can be sought for a year.

Congress, we don’t ask for much, but please allow us, as employers, to help our economy grow by easing the H-1B cap.