visaWASHINGTON: A coalition of American information technology companies has sought more H-1B visas, arguing that this is essential to keep the country ahead in the highly competitive world.

The move comes after the US received more than 172,000 applications for the Congressionally mandated 65,000 H-1B visas for the fiscal year 2015 beginning October.

“Hitting the FY 2015 cap for high-skilled visas in the first five days in April is more evidence that the STEM (science technology engineering and mathematics) economy in the US is continuing to heat up but it also serves as a powerful reminder that we are now unable to bring to America any more of these innovators who can help generate American jobs and help improve our economy,” said Scott Corley, Executive Director of Compete America.

Compete America is a coalition of US companies dedicated to ensuring that the US has the highly educated and innovative workforce necessary to grow the economy and create American jobs.

“With the immigration debate now in the House, this is the time to address the old problem of access to the talent our fastest growing industries need to compete,” he said.
Compete America, in a statement, said the growth rate of US STEM jobs has created a demand for skilled labor far exceeding the availability of qualified US workers.

This year the American economy is sending clear signs that not only are STEM jobs growing but the highly skilled shortages masked by the economic crisis are still there as well, the group said.

“With half or more of all the STEM masters and doctorates graduating every year from our US universities requiring visas to remain in the US as job creators, it’s not hard to see the looming crisis of a talent shortage during economically-challenging times,” it said.
Compete America said it supports immigration reform legislation that will address green card reforms and substantially increase the number of H1-B visas to allow US employers to get access to the talent they need.

A predictable path to a green card will not only encourage these talented workers to remain in the country but it will help further alleviate some pressures on the H-1B system by allowing these workers to skip temporary visas altogether, the coalition said.
The US needs to move on to the business of fixing its highly skilled immigration system before it loses more of the top foreign professionals and job creators that help make America’s fastest growing industries competitive, it said. -PTI