Employers who rely on foreign nationals to provide needed expertise in their workforce – from technical programmers to biochemists to wind turbine engineers – should take notice of three troubling trends which are becoming clearer as the discussion about employment-based immigration reform gets drowned out by the ongoing debate about comprehensive immigration reform.
The first trend is captured in this blog post by Vivek Wadhwa, a professor at Duke University who has studied high-tech entrepreneurship extensively. Current backlogs in the employment-based immigration categories trap foreign workers in the original job for which they were sponsored, meaning their companies cannot promote them to positions where their experience and skills can best be used. Nor can the workers take the initiative to start their own companies – while a small company may be able to sponsor one of its owners as an H-1B, a green card is much less likely in that situation. Wadhwa points out that eliminating the green card backlog (a major part of which consists of cases trapped by bureaucratic delays that should have been approved in past years’ quotas, which do not carry over from year to year) would free an enormous amount of human capital to innovate and create the next generation of companies that will drive economic growth in the US. (more…)