The US must “scale up and ramp down” the number of H-1B work visas based on the needs of the American economy, a top US Senator has said on the visa programme which is popular among Indian IT firms and professionals. North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis’s remarks came yesterday at a Senate hearing on financial companies. “They (H-B visa numbers) need to be scaled up and ramped down based on the needs of the US economy in the supply of the resources to fill some of the roles,” Tillis said.
Tillis wanted to know from experts appearing before the Senate Finance Committee if there were enough talented people available in America to fill up the needs of its industries. “Do you believe that there is a sufficient number of American citizens in the population that’s illegally present to fulfil the H-1(B) visa needs of this nation in a 3 to 3.5 per cent GDP growth?” he asked.
“I do get the exploitation (part), That’s why we want to find the businesses that do, that actually discredit visa programmes, but do you believe that we have sufficient labour for it to meeting a growing economy at 3.5, 4 per cent GDP growth?” he asked.
William Spriggs, professor of economics at the Harvard University, said that anyone born between 1985 and 1994, including those who got advanced degrees in computer science, was going to pay a permanent lower wage penalty because of the size and duration of the downturn. “If we can return to making the proper investment in American children and believe in them, we can educate enough people to do the job,” Spriggs, who is also the Chief Economist at the American Federation of Labour and Congress of Industrial Organisations, said.
“During the downturn, we continue to bring in H-1B visa workers even though we were laying off workers in that industry and even though we were continuing to graduate students desperate for jobs,” he said. “I would just note, they’re smart enough to know this, and my son is going to graduate in electrical engineering because we don’t use H-1B in electrical engineering. Students of engineering know this. They know that if you do certain fields, there are no H-1B visas. They know if you do other fields you face that competition,” Spriggs said.
“We believe that workers always have to have a path to citizenship. Temporary visa programmes, the H-2B programme, the H-1B visa programme, all exploit workers, and work to the detriment of American workers and to those workers,” Spriggs said.
“We have seen the abuse of the H-1B visa….,” he said. In less than a week of Donald Trump being sworn in as the 45th US President, Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, and Assistant Senate Minority Leader Dick Durbin, introduced the “H-1B and L-1 Visa Reform Act” to prioritise American workers and restore fairness in visa programmes for skilled workers.