4| H-1B is the only option available for most skilled workers, but it’s not enough
The H-1B visa allows U.S. employers to hire foreign-born workers temporarily in “specialty occupations” that require a high level of education or technical knowledge. There are nearly 600,000 individuals working in the U.S. with an H-1B visa today in every sector of the economy.
Over time, the H-1B program has expanded to become the primary immigration option for all highly skilled workers, largely because the U.S does not have dedicated immigration options for entrepreneurs, graduates of U.S. schools, medical professionals, and researchers, among other occupations.
Unfortunately, the limited availability of H-1B visas is not enough to meet the needs of U.S. employers, leaving critical roles unfilled and forcing highly-skilled, U.S.-educated professionals to leave the U.S. if they cannot secure a visa.2 In recent years, demand for H-1B visas has consistently exhausted the number available as set by Congress within just one week.
And when skilled immigrants apply for permanent residency, an ever-worsening backlog keeps them waiting years to receive their green card after they’ve qualified.3 These backlogs trap skilled workers in limbo, keeping them temporary status, limiting the contributions they can make, preventing them from planning for their own futures, and exposing them to further immigration challenges. 4