Testimony | Immigration

H-1B Visas: Designing a Program to Meet the Needs of the U.S. Economy and U.S. Workers

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On Thursday, March 31, Dr. Ronil Hira spoke before the Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement, Committee on the Judiciary, US House of Representatives.

I want to thank Chairman Smith, Chairman Gallegly, and the members of the subcommittee for inviting me to testify today. My name is Ronil Hira. I am a professor of public policy at the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York. I have been studying the H-1B program and high-skill immigration since 2000. I appreciate the opportunity to share my thoughts about how the H-1B program is currently impacting the U.S. economy and American workers.1

I have concluded that the H-1B program, as currently designed and administered, does more harm than good. To meet the needs of the U.S. economy and U.S. workers, the H-1B visa program needs immediate and substantial overhaul.

The principal goal of the H-1B visa program is to bring in foreign workers who complement the U.S. workforce. Instead, loopholes in the program have made it too easy to bring in cheaper foreign workers, with ordinary skills, who directly substitute for, rather than complement, workers already in America. They are clearly displacing and denying opportunities to U.S. workers. A sizable share of highly skilled American workers and students—engineers, information technologists, and scientists—have concluded that the H-1B program undercuts their wages and job opportunities. Those conclusions are largely correct and the program has lost legitimacy amongst much of America’s high-tech workforce.

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