Congress continues high-skilled immigration debate

By Lisa Malloy, director of Policy Communications and Government Relations at Intel

Right now, Intel has more than 1,000 job openings for engineers in the United States. These are high-tech, high-wage jobs in states like Oregon, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and California. And other American technology leaders face the same issue. Today, as the Senate Judiciary Committee considers how to reform the H-1B visa system, there should be a recognition of the large body of research that shows highly skilled foreign professionals are beneficial to the U.S. economy and labor market in the long-term.

Intel does roughly three quarters of its advanced manufacturing and R&D in the United States, despite more than three quarters of our revenue coming from elsewhere in the world. This is made possible through the combined ingenuity of U.S. high-tech workers and their foreign-born team members, many of whom studied and earned advanced degrees here in the United States.

Intel and similar companies do not typically use H-1Bs to bring foreign nationals to the U.S. on a temporary basis. The goal is instead to keep graduates from U.S. universities here permanently– innovating in American companies or starting new ones. Our foreign professionals often make up a majority of the talent coming from top U.S. STEM programs. Like so many U.S. companies, Intel recruits foreign professionals on H-1Bs as a pathway to a green card or permanent status.

Almost certainly, the debate in the Senate Judiciary Committee today over H-1Bs would be very different if the need for additional H-1B visas was in part alleviated through green card reform. The shortage of permanent visas in our highly skilled immigration system raises an important question: Do we really want to send bright, young people — graduates with advanced STEM degrees from U.S. universities — back to their home countries to build up our foreign competitors?

Congress has the ability to pass meaningful high-skilled immigration reform that preserve’s America’s role as a model for advanced education and innovation, attracting talented people from around the world to start businesses, drive growth and create jobs here in the United States. We know the benefits are real. Now, it’s just the will that is needed.

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