Cutting Through the Chaos of H-1B Work Visa

There’s a lot of emotions, politics, and general chaotic uproar surrounding the H–1B visa. Let’s pause a moment, dump the chaos, and take a straightforward look at the situation.

It began when a shortage of technological, scientific, and other specialized talent was hindering US companies. Furthermore, talent was not only available in other countries, but said talent was willing to come and work in the US. Thus, the H-1B visa was created.

The H-1B visa allows foreign nationals to enter the United States to work in a prearranged professional job. The visa was guarded by specific requirements and rules, including:

  • The job in the situation must be a specialty occupation, requiring the theoretical and practical application of specialized knowledge and, at a minimum, a bachelor’s degree. (In some situations, three years of experience could account for one year of university education).
  • A US employer has to file the H-1B petition to employ a foreign professional.
  • The minimum wage for an H-1B position is set at 60,000.
  • The H-1B visa holder may bring his/her spouse, parents, and children under 21 to the US, but those individuals may not obtain employment.
  • The H-1B visa is for three years and can be extended to six years. During this time, the visa holder (and family members) may apply for another legal status for staying such as a green card (permanent residence), but if they have not, they must return to their country of origin at the end of the six years.
  • H-1B visas are limited to 85,000 total issued per year.

Advocates claim the H-1B helps American companies

  • Be competitive globally
  • Expand their client base
  • Increase their innovation
  • Beat the STEM skills gap

 Opponents claim

  • Instead of helping American companies hire highly trained foreign employees in specialty positions, it’s become a way for outsourcing firms to acquire cheap foreign labor.
  • The lottery system used to determine who receives an H-1B visa (in 2016, more than 235,000 applied) is a dysfunctional system and hinders the true purpose of the visas.

Even those companies who rely on H-1B visas to obtain highly trained and talented individuals for specialized positions find things wrong system. The chaos comes from an all or nothing approach – those who claim we need to keep it all status quo and those who want to abolish the program totally. Is there a middle ground – a place that upholds what the original intentions without allowing for abuse – a place that helps American companies obtain the talent they need to succeed, and bringing growth to the American economy without taking work away from American talent?

Some suggestions for reform include:

  • Increasing the minimum salary for H-1B visa holders to $100,00 or even $120, 000. This would ensure that companies look within the US first.
  • Exchanging the current random lottery system for a system that prefers the more educated and specialized talent when choosing those who will receive the visas.
  • Getting to the root of the cause for a need to find foreign talent but reforming our education system to promote and ensure – with the involvement of companies – a higher rate of talented STEM graduates.

Of course, these, as well as other suggestions are easier done than said, but taking the time to step back from the emotion and look at straight facts can help all of us make a wise decision on where we stand on the H-1B visa issue. What are your thoughts?

At Springborn Staffing, we work hard to match qualified talent with top companies in Bangor and Portland, Maine. As Maine’s leading temporary employment agency, we have provided best-in-class staffing services to Northern New England for more than 30 years. Our recruiters are required to hold current industry certifications, and we stand behind them 100%. Contact us today for superior service.




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