The highly skilled workers here in the U.S. using H-1B visas fill a critical need in the labor market, particularly in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering, and math. The relatively low number of visas issued (85,000) with no adjustments in recent years means that the demand far outstrips the supply, and (after a blip during the pandemic) the caps quickly fill with a 57% increase in registrations between the fiscal year 2021 and 2022.
Study cites five economic benefits
A recent study by the American Immigration Council highlighted the economic benefits often associated with H-1B holders:
- Complimentary skill set: Several economists have said that immigrant workers in the United States don’t take away from domestic workers. In fact, they routinely create new job opportunities for native-born workers. Moreover, foreign-born employees often also provide a complementary skill set to the domestic workforce rather than competing for the same openings.
- Investment: Critics may claim that the workers don’t impact the domestic economy as much as they could because they send a portion of their earnings home, which is admirable. On the contrary, these earners routinely spend or invest wages in the U.S. economy.
- More is more: Investing or reinvesting in the U.S. market often prompts employers and other businesses to respond to immigrants’ needs and expand here in the United States rather than turning to overseas markets for new business opportunities.
- Entrepreneurs: Foreign-born innovators often launch businesses, thus creating job opportunities here in the U.S. market, and not just in Silicon Valley.
- Innovation: Many of these new businesses were started using innovations or new ideas, either creating a market or injecting new economic growth into an existing one.
The study points out that industries that most commonly use H-1Bs often have much lower than average unemployment rates (even during the pandemic), indicating that need is higher than labor supply. Available data also shows that visa holders do not reduce wages or undercut other workers’ wages. In fact, median wages ($108,000) far exceed the national average ($45,760).