H-1B Nonimmigrant Worker Visa Quotas Hinder Small Business Growth

1371406_crack_graphic.jpgThe U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced last week that the annual H-1B Visa quota for highly-skilled foreign workers has been reached. This quota limits the annual number of H-1B visas granted by the USCIS to 85,000 each fiscal year. Since the quota for this year has been reached, small businesses must wait until next year to hire needed talent.

This year, the quota was reached five months earlier than it was last year. This means that companies are hiring more this year and businesses are expanding. The quota has stopped expansion in important areas because many companies must now wait another year before they can hire highly skilled workers that are crucial to growing their businesses.

In addition to the quotas, government fees and regulations further hamper small business growth. Obtaining an H-1B and a green card for a foreign national worker can cost several thousand dollars in government fees. Complicated H-1B regulations make it difficult for companies to navigate the legal process, and violations can result in heavy fines. Many businesses just cannot afford to hire enough new talent due to exorbitant government fees and complex regulations.

The quota system assumes that foreign workers take jobs away from U.S. workers. Quite the opposite is true. During the recession, the number of H-1B visa applications fell considerably because companies do not use H-1B visas to replace Americans during economic declines, they use them to recruit workers during economic growth so that can expand.

Quotas on immigration are fundamentally unfair and block the future prosperity of America’s small businesses. Raising the quota would make the system fairer for small business, increase competition, and create jobs. Eliminating the quota system altogether would be even better.