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H1B Visas: Why They’re Broken And What We Can Do

It looks like the Trump administration may further restrict work visas for technology workers by making changes to the H1B program. If it does, that will send the cost of such tech workers skyrocketing, since they are already in high demand. That might be a good thing for my company, 10x, a technology employment agency. And while it may also increase the pay for technologists in the US, it is ultimately bad for innovation, growth and the health of the overall economy.
H1B Visas were created when it became apparent we needed to import specialized technological and scientific talent that we don’t have sufficiently available in the U.S. The concept of this is reasonable. When you need something and don’t have it, you find a way to get it. So far, so good. But there are several inherent problems with the current H1B system, and even more with the Trump Administration proposal being discussed that would reduce the number of such visas issued.
The Problems
First of all, the impact of reducing the amount of H1Bs issued will go far beyond just the tech sector. Virtually every company in our economy is steeped in technology, and it will be harder and harder for all companies (especially non-tech companies) to get the tech talent they need. The Trump administration and some media outlets talk about H1Bs as a problem unique to the technology industry, but that could not be further from the truth.
If this program is diminished or dismantled, companies will be likely to move their tech and innovation projects to offices and divisions in other countries. This will ultimately defeat the supposed goal of the current proposal – to put more Americans in these jobs. It also poses an additional problem, which is that startup founders will have to start their companies in places where there is an abundant supply of technology talent ― in other words, anywhere but here.
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H1B Visas: Why They’re Broken And What We Can Do