Why Hire Foreign-Born Workers (H-1B Visa)

There are many benefits of hiring foreign-born workers, included here are a few reasons that affect economic development.  Diversity in companies attracts greater talent, which in turn brings more intellectual capital to the U.S.  Greater talent and more intellectual capital generates higher revenue, which positively affects the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).  Furthermore, there is much evidence that the unique skills of foreign-born workers complement the skills of U.S. workers, leading to greater job growth.

One of the greatest challenges in bringing foreign-born workers to the U.S. is the arbitrary numerical limits on H-1B visas.  The H-1B visa cap, just like other many other restrictions under immigration labor laws, was created under the false assumption that limiting the number of foreign-born workers in the U.S. will allow for more job opportunities to remain within the U.S.  Research indicates otherwise.

Bill Gates has claimed, “Microsoft has found that for every H-1B hire we make, we add on average four additional employees to support them in various capacities.”  A study by the NFAP shows that “for every H-1B position requested, U.S. technology companies increase their employment by 5 workers” and that technology companies with fewer than 5,000 employees saw “an increase of employment of 7.5 workers.”  Additionally, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has reported that companies that are not approved to hire H-1B employees have moved their jobs overseas.  Several R&D centers have reported that the H-1B cap is “an important determinant in the creation of these overseas centers.”

A study from the Technology Policy Institute in 2009 found that if there had been no limitations on H-1B visas between 2003-2007, foreign graduates in the fields of science, technology, and engineering would have increased U.S. GDP by $13.6 billion in 2008, and contributed $2.7 to $3.6 billion in taxes.

Rather than taking jobs that would otherwise be filled by U.S. workers, foreign-born workers improve the labor and economic conditions in the U.S., while encouraging greater growth in the science, engineering, and technology fields.  In recent years, there has been a serious drought in U.S. intellectual capital in these fields.  With the Baby Boomers approaching retirement, talent in these fields is becoming even more scarce.  Large corporations that rely heavily on H-1B workers to sustain growth are contributing substantial funding to universities to improve math and science skills of U.S. students.  The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has spent more than $3 billion in support of science education and innovation.  The Intel Corporation spends $100 million annually on math and science education.  The Oracle Corporation also regularly donates in excess of $100 million for software to schools nationwide.