By Lisa Malloy, director of Policy Communications and Government Relations at Intel
Next week, America’s most innovative companies will enter a lottery to keep some of the world’s brightest engineers, scientists and programmers employed here in the United States. Many of them are familiar faces, they studied alongside their team mates, while earning advanced degrees from our top U.S. universities.
But as we all know, Intel and other leading high-tech companies will have to make contingency plans due to the arbitrary congressional cap on H-1B visas. Only 85,000 applications will be accepted and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has already predicted they’ll exceed that cap within just five days of filing day – April 1. This isn’t surprising given that last year, 172,500 H-1B applications were received.
As I wrote earlier this month, Intel does roughly three quarters of its advanced manufacturing and R&D in the United States, despite more than three quarters of its 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.
While only about six percent of our U.S. workforce is here on an H-1B visa, these individuals apply their specialized skills to the success of Intel’s U.S. operations. Intel alone has more than 1,000 job openings for engineers in the United States.
The need for high-skilled immigration reform is clear. The United States has a high-skilled workforce shortage in the STEM fields critical to innovation: science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Increasing the H-1B visa cap will help America’s high-tech companies recruit the talent they need to continue the relentless pace of innovation that sustains our national competitiveness, drives economic growth and creates jobs in the process.
However, this is an immediate solution to an immediate problem. We’re working hard to address the long-term issue with significant investments in STEM education. Just last month here in Washington, DC, we celebrated the finalists and winners of the Intel Science Talent Search, awarding more than $1 million to some of America’s most promising high-school age scientists.
As we approach April 1, we urge Congress to increase the H-1B visa cap to meet the demands of today’s innovation economy.