FWD.us Calls on Congress to Create American Jobs by Reforming U.S. High-Skilled Immigration System

FWD.us Innovation Councils Release Letter Calling on Smart Reforms to Grow the Economy, Boost Wages and Innovation, Protect American Workers

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, as the H-1B visa filing period opens for 2017, FWD.us called on Congress to reform our nation’s badly outdated high-skilled immigration system to create American jobs while protecting American workers. FWD.us President Todd Schulte called for significant reforms to boost the economy and expand avenues for the best and the brightest talent from across the globe, including foreign students and entrepreneurs, to come to the U.S. to create jobs and spur innovation.

“With a visa system over fifty years old and a high-skilled system that has not been substantially updated in over a quarter-century, our broken immigration system is long overdue for reform that will unleash entrepreneurship and boost the American economy,” said Schulte. “Highly-skilled immigrants create new American jobs, raise wages for native-born workers, and contribute enormously to growing our economy. We need to expand the number of H-1B visas offered while reforming the visa to crack down on bad actors, eliminate the green card backlog to help high-skilled immigrants become citizens, and create a startup visa in order to make our country more competitive in the modern global economy.”

FWD.us has unveiled a new web resource, “Best, Brightest and Stuck,” to highlight the economic impacts of our broken and outdated high skilled immigration system. FWD.us has long advocated for policy recommendations that will drive economic growth and strengthen the American middle class, including the creation of a startup visa so that skilled entrepreneurs can continue creating jobs for native-born American workers, expanding the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program so our country can harness the talent of international students who graduate from American universities, and both reforming and expanding the H-1B visa to fill STEM labor shortages in rapidly-growing industries while protecting American workers from potential misuses.

Last year’s H-1B visa application period saw a record 236,000 applications from U.S. employers for 85,000 available visas that would allow highly-skilled individuals to come here and create jobs. In fact, 2016 marked the fourth year in a row that the application window closed less than a week after the H-1B visa cap was met.

This year, the H-1B visa application filing period is expected to close again after several days, highlighting the urgent need to modernize our badly broken immigration system. Congress’ failure to update our high-skilled immigration system for decades has forced entrepreneurs and U.S. companies to try and create jobs in a pre-Cold War framework. Misuses of the H-1B visa underscore FWD.us’ strong, vocal support for reforms that would curtail these misuses and make the visa more effective for both American workers and U.S. employers.

Additionally, members of FWD.us Innovation Councils, including tech entrepreneurs and business leaders from across the country, today sent a letter to members of Congress calling for significant reforms that would spur innovation and grow the economy.

“The shortage of talented STEM workers in the U.S. presents a serious challenge to companies looking to drive America’s global leadership in innovation,” write the Innovation Council members in the letter. “Reforms to our immigration system would not just unleash the full economic power of international workers; they would also stamp out the current abuses of the system… It’s time for Congress to prioritize growing our economy by reforming the immigration system to meet the demands of our modern workforce.”

Read the full text of the FWD.us Innovation Council Letter to Congress here.

For generations, immigrants have continually managed to build successful companies and create American jobs despite the costly obstacles of our broken immigration system. Businesses owned by immigrants employ one in 10 American workers, and, in 2011, generated $775 billion in revenue. Immigrants have also founded more than 50% of the U.S.’ billion-dollar startups, and continue to drive innovation.

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