2016 Federal Policy Agenda: Immigration

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Executive Summary

TechNet believes that high-skilled immigration reform legislation should support the growth of America’s innovation economy and provide U.S. employers, research institutions, and universities access to the world’s top talent, whether they are educated in the U.S. or overseas.  Raising the H-1B visa cap and increasing the number of green cards available for employment-based immigration is critical to our economic competitiveness and future job creation in the U.S.  U.S. institutions of higher education are among the best in the world and have been educating and training thousands of top minds from around the world every year.  It is counterproductive to educate and train the world’s great minds and then refuse them the opportunity to stay in the U.S. to work for American companies.  Too often, they are forced to return to their home countries, where they compete against U.S. firms.  Furthermore, innovative startup companies founded by foreign-born entrepreneurs have helped make America a global leader in technology and innovation.  Immigrants or the children of immigrants have started more than 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies.  These companies employ more than 10 million people.  28.5 percent of new entrepreneurs in 2014 were immigrants, which is up from 13.3 percent in 1997.  These companies provide quality jobs and opportunities for Americans and are critical to our nation’s economic growth.  These companies are also in desperate need of high-skilled talent, especially in computer science, to help grow their businesses.  TechNet continues to co-chair the high-skilled immigration reform coalition along with Compete America and FWD.us.

Immigration Principles

  • While some of the Administration’s executive actions have created a path forward on certain immigration policies important to TechNet, only Congress can provide substantive, permanent reform to high-skilled immigration policy.
  • Numerical levels and categories for high-skilled non-immigrant and immigrant visas should be responsive to economic need and, where appropriate, include mechanisms to fluctuate based on objective standards.
  • Spouses and children should not be counted against the cap of high-skilled immigrant visa applicants.  There should not be a marriage or family penalty.
  • Federal immigration regulations, policies, and adjudications should facilitate, not restrict, the movement of high-skilled workers starting a new company.
  • The nation’s employers are in the best position to identify which skilled workers are necessary and qualified for permanent employment opportunities in the U.S.
  • Congress, not an unelected decision-making or advisory body, should establish the appropriate levels of high-skilled immigration and the scope and contours of high-skilled employment and visa classifications.