Throughout America’s history, immigrants have been a source of strength for our country and helped drive the economic growth that has made us the most prosperous and innovative country on the planet. TechNet believes that immigrant innovators, entrepreneurs, and workers are a valued part of our economy and workforce who make essential contributions to our nation and communities every day. For example, no less than 43 percent of Fortune 500 companies were founded or co-founded by an immigrant or the child of an immigrant, and that figure rises to 57 percent among the Fortune 500 Top 35. Federal inaction on immigration reform has harmed America’s economic and national security interests by stifling innovation, stunting job growth, and exacerbating ongoing skills gaps in our nation’s critical industries.
In December 2021, TechNet released a report, “Closing the Skills Gap: The Data Behind Talent Shortages, High-Skilled Immigration, and Economic Impact,” that examined the severity of the skills gap that exists in America today, how it impacts our economy, and why increasing high-skilled immigration will help fill talent shortages in communities across the country. If left unaddressed by Congress, the current talent shortage will result in more than 9 million job vacancies and $1.2 trillion in lost production over the next decade.
The report also analyzed state-by-state data, the importance of immigrant entrepreneurs, and the jobs generated for American workers by skilled immigration.
CLICK HERE TO READ STATE-BY-STATE PROFILES (or scroll to the bottom of this page)
TechNet urges Congress and the Administration to work together to pass key aspects of comprehensive immigration reform in the 118th Congress, including proposals that have garnered widespread support from both the business community and the American public.
- Congress and the administration should work together to provide all Dreamers a pathway to citizenship, including the nearly 600,000 individuals covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy, as well as the 400,000 DACA-eligible Dreamers denied access due to ongoing litigation. Providing Dreamers with permanent legal protections in the face of persistent legal threats to their status benefits families, communities, businesses, and the nation’s economy.
- Congress and the Administration should work together to protect “documented Dreamers,” the children of parents who live in the U.S. with legal status. Due to the long wait times that high-skilled workers face obtaining a green card, the children of these workers could “age out” at 21. Like undocumented Dreamers, many have grown up in the U.S. and consider America their home but could face deportation without explicit protections.
- Only Congress can provide substantive, permanent reform to high-skilled immigration policy. In the absence of Congressional action, we support administrative efforts to streamline high-skilled immigration processes and ensure the utilization of all green card numbers each fiscal year.
- Numerical levels and categories for high-skilled non-immigrant and immigrant visas need to be increased by Congress. The modernization of these employment-based programs should be responsive to economic needs and, where appropriate, include mechanisms to make adjustments based on transparent, predictable, and objective standards.
- TechNet recognizes the importance of immigration policies that keep families together, and as such, family visa determinations should be considered alongside and in conjunction with employment-based visa determinations.
- 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. Similarly, spouses of H-1B visa holders should be permitted to work while waiting for their green cards; more than 100,000 spouses have been given the right to work this way, thereby contributing to the American economy and paying taxes. Non-immigrant spousal visa applications should be processed expeditiously.
- Per-country green card caps should be eliminated.
- Congress should address employment-based backlogs by recapturing previously unused green cards, making them available to individuals seeking a green card today. Recapture would ensure that green cards Congress allocated in previous years would be issued. This simple change would not increase or authorize new green cards, but rather ensure that all green cards originally intended by Congress are used and not permanently lost.
- Legislation should include provisions that ensure H-1B job training fees are used effectively, match the supply of H-1B visas to demand, and reduce the backlog of employment-based green cards.
- Federal immigration legislation, regulations, policies, and adjudications should facilitate, not restrict, the movement of high-skilled workers and entrepreneurs starting a new company or expanding a company’s footprint.
- Congress should establish a startup visa to encourage entrepreneurs from around the world to grow companies and jobs in the U.S. Twenty-five other countries, including Australia, Canada, Germany, and the United Kingdom, have similar programs in place to retain and attract foreign-born entrepreneurs. The creation of a similar program in the United States will increase our global competitiveness in technology and innovation for years to come.
- 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. We support efforts to update the methodology for prevailing wage determinations to reflect employers’ compensation structures, including, but not limited to, stock-based compensation.
- The U.S. should ensure Americans are receiving opportunities to gain the skills and training necessary to secure jobs in areas where there is a demand for high-skilled workers. However, the U.S. workforce currently lacks the technical knowledge and skills to fill available high-tech positions. A 2019 American Action Forum study estimates the talent shortage of workers with a post-secondary degree will result in more than 9 million job vacancies and $1.2 trillion in lost production over the next decade. While education can help narrow this skills gap in the long term, the tech industry, and the U.S. economy as a whole, would benefit from employing high-skilled immigrants to fill these open job positions in the short term. Doing so will increase America’s competitive advantage over strategic competitors and safeguard America’s national security interests in the 21st century global economy.
- Congress should establish the appropriate levels of high-skilled immigration and the scope and contours of high-skilled employment and visa classifications.
- A science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) visa for foreign students who have earned Master’s degrees or above from U.S. colleges and universities would promote economic growth by ensuring that talented innovators educated and trained in the U.S. can become citizens and create jobs here. TechNet opposes executive actions to restrict foreign students from learning in the United States because it would have a negative impact on our nation’s economy, interrupt the educational attainment of international students, and place a burden on institutions of higher education.
- TechNet recognizes the importance to the American economy of STEM in general, and the Optional Practical Training (OPT) and STEM OPT programs, in particular. Companies of every size, in every industry and geography, depend on workers trained in STEM fields to succeed. But American companies are struggling with a sustained scarcity of STEM-trained workers resulting in an inability to fill STEM jobs and causing persistent vacancies. TechNet strongly supports the OPT and STEM OPT programs and will vigorously defend them against any attempts at elimination.
- Given the contributions refugees make to our economy and society, TechNet supports efforts by federal, state, and local governments to ensure the U.S. continues its proud tradition of welcoming refugees in our communities, particularly from Afghanistan, given the conclusion of U.S. military operations there.
- TechNet opposes the reimplementation of travel bans to restrict legal immigration from countries for religious or ethnic reasons. Enhanced vetting and information gathering on particular individuals spending time in certain countries is a more appropriate and strategic way to protect national security.
Closing the Skills Gap: The Data Behind Talent Shortages, High-Skilled Immigration, and Economic Impact – State-By-State Profiles
Read the full report here.