By Peter Muller for Roll Call
The United States is facing a growing skills deficit. Leading American technology companies have job openings for engineers and scientists, but not enough experts to fill them. In the long term, governments and companies like Intel are tackling this issue with investments in science, technology, engineering and mathematics education. Securing America’s long-term prosperity will require a national commitment to encouraging and supporting more U.S. students to pursue these fields as a career.
Today, high-skilled immigration programs like H-1B visas are helping fill the gap, keeping America’s innovation engine running. Talented people from around the world come to the United States, lending their expertise and skills to America’s most innovative companies, helping develop incredible technologies, create new jobs and drive economic growth.
But, like the broader immigration system, there are serious issues that need to be addressed. The arbitrary cap on H-1B visas is hurting our economy. According to a study conducted by Compete America, a coalition of companies, universities and trade associations that advocates for reform of the high-skilled immigration system, the artificially low cap on H-1B visas in 2013 resulted in 100,000 fewer jobs being filled directly and another 400,000 that would have been indirectly created.
As a result, financial and professional need has forced both of these talented people to seriously consider leaving the country, taking their years of training and experience elsewhere.
Unfortunately, their story is not unique and it represents only one of the many problems in our immigration system. Congressional action is needed to address the significant immigration challenges we face and are wrestling with as a nation. However, there are small steps we can take today to invest in our economy and improve the lives of our talented colleagues.
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