Tech executives are headed to Capitol Hill this week to testify that unless the U.S. lifts its cap on the number of skilled workers allowed into the country, technology's low unemployment rate is going to force the industry to offshore jobs for software developers and other highly skilled positions. So reports The Wall Street Journal.
Under its H1-B program, the U.S. permits 65,000 skilled workers and 20,000 people with graduate degrees from American universities to obtain skilled-worker visas each year. The United States has not lifted that cap since 2005, whereas Canada, eager to attract these sought-after employees, has no cap for visas for tech workers and entrepreneurs.
Tech industry leaders have argued that with the technology industry's unemployment rate at 1.3%, its lowest level since June 2019 — one-third the national unemployment rate — the technology industry has become desperate to find talent.
If leading technology companies are not able to fill key positions, they maintain, the U.S. may not remain the world's leader in technology and innovation.
As Jennifer Grundy Young, CEO of Tenca, tells WSJ, remote work has become so widespread that it would not be difficult for technology companies to find skilled workers overseas, particularly in India, China and Eastern Europe — where computer coders and software engineers are plentiful, but where they have a hard time getting U.S. visas.
The H1-B skilled immigrant debate has been overshadowed in recent years by U.S. policy for the southern border. Republicans argue in favor of technology companies remaining competitive by being able to hire skilled immigrants.
Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., counters that giving Big Tech greater access to talent from foreign countries could hurt American workers and the economy.
As Lofgren puts it: "There's no rule that Silicon Valley is always going to have the tech crown."
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