H-1B Visas Under Attack

March 17, 2017

Multiple developments regarding the H-1B visa have been percolating recently, with the Trump administration temporarily suspending premium processing for H-1B visa applications, effective April 3rd, and the National Bureau of Economic Research publishing a working paper suggesting the issuance of H-1B visas from 1994 to 2001 depressed wages of computer science employees and crowded out U.S. workers while benefiting consumers.  The paper does not, however, address the shortage of labor for the majority of H-1B positions available, or any of the other trends in the past sixteen years regarding H-1B visas.  Former Education Secretary Arne Duncan commented on this shortage earlier this month, saying, "Nationwide, there are more than 512,000 open computing jobs, but the number of computer science students that graduated into the workforce last year account for less than 10 percent of that need. Of course, we wouldn’t expect new graduates to fill all job vacancies in a healthy labor market—as many open positions will require more experience—but filling less than 10 percent is indicative of demand for talent far outstripping supply."  White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer declined earlier this year to offer a timetable on H-1B visa reform, suggesting to some that the administration is focusing on other priorities for the time being.  However, the white paper and suspension of the expedited processing show that this issue is far from settled.