Texas looms large as high-skilled visa destination

Published: 04/16/2018

Source :  http://bit.ly/2qC1CEh

Over 50,000 well-paid workers from other countries received H-1B visas to live temporarily in three of Texas’ largest metro areas between 2010 and 2016.

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But the administration wants to cut the supply, something President Donald Trump stressed when he signed a “Buy American, Hire American,” order to “ensure that American labor is hired to do the job,” Trump said.

With more than 38,000 H-1B holders, College Station towers over other Texas metro areas such as Austin/Round Rock and Dallas/Fort Worth/Arlington, as well as the rest of the U.S. in H-1B approval ratios: 32 H-1B approvals per 100 workers, according to a recent report from the nonpartisan Pew Research Center.

Earlier this month, the annual H-1B application deadline passed, starting a process designed to yield another 85,000 visas through a computer-generated lottery.

But voices on both ends of the political spectrum are saying that may well be too many, and that foreign citizens are taking jobs in tech and other fields that Americans should hang onto, or be hired for.

“The time has come to do something, but we don’t have a president or a congress that’s able to do anything,” said Kevin Lynn, executive director of Progressives for Immigration Reform in Washington, D.C. “There’s really nothing moving on (Capitol) Hill.”

Among the complaints listed on his organization’s website:

“On the stump, candidate Trump promised to end ‘rampant, widespread H-1B abuse,’ that he said led to lost American jobs. Right out of the gate, the new administration suspended premium processing — no more pay to play to move an applicant’s paperwork to the head of the line — but then rescinded that order just a few months later.”

Sarah Pierce, a policy analyst with the Migration Policy Institute in Washington, D.C., said that even though the president has H-1B visas in his crosshairs, his actions thus far have been limited to using his executive powers.

“To make changes there would need to be legislation,” and “there doesn’t seem to be much of an appetite” for H-1B visa reform, Pierce said.

Meanwhile, the Migration Policy Institute reports that while H-1B visas have an annual cap of 85,000, far more are being awarded each year.

“An average 212,000 such petitions were approved in each of the last five years,” the nonpartisan think tank reported last month,” according to the organization’s March report. “A total of 345,262 H-1B petitions were approved in fiscal 2016, including 230,759 for continuing workers — the highest level yet.

“Rising demand for uncapped visas is driven in large measure by the delays employers face in getting a green card for their H-1B workers. Indian H-1B workers, who face average waits of nine to 11 years depending on the green-card category, are particularly affected.”

The study found that nearly one third of approved H-1B petitions in fiscal year 2017 went to 20 companies.

In Texas, about 99 percent of the College Station-area’s approvals went to Cognizant Technology Solutions Corp. employees.

The company, whose U.S. headquarters is in College Station, did not immediately reply to voicemail and email requests for comment on its H-1B hiring practices.

Meanwhile, in Austin, Ruth Wasem, a public policy professor and immigration expert at The University of Texas’ Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, said that “‘taking jobs,’ probably isn’t the right verb,” to use in connection with H-1B visas.

“The larger effect is, wages aren’t growing as fast as they would in a tight labor market,” Wasem said. “That’s where H-1B is a factor: it dis-incentivized employers.”

Among the top 20 firms with approved H-1B petitions in fiscal 2017, “those with the highest share of H-1Bs pay less and employ fewer workers with advanced degrees, compared to companies that are less dependent on an H-1B workforce,” the MPI reported.

“I worry about people in the United States, foreign-born or native, if they’re treated fairly and if wages are keeping pace,” Wasem said. “My other worry is that we continue to be viewed as the kind of place where we can compete with for other people from around the world in the global competition for the best and brightest.”

Source :  http://bit.ly/2qC1CEh

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