American businesses: More H-1B visas needed to secure top talent

In the modern globalized economy, it is more important than ever for U.S. companies to recruit highly skilled foreign workers. Fewer Americans are receiving degrees in the hard sciences; what's more, as baby boomers retire, the U.S. workforce is losing thousands of workers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.

The standard avenue for highly skilled foreign nationals to gain legal entry to the U.S. in order to work is an H-1B visa. However, there are a limited number of H-1B visas available each year, and even very qualified individuals may be denied. Now, some U.S. business are saying it is time to do away with H-1B visa limits and invite more highly skilled foreign workers to fill gaps in the American labor market.

Caterpillar CEO speaks about legal reforms to retain highly skilled foreign workers

In a recent speech at the Illinois Business Immigration Coalition, Doug Oberhelman, chairman and CEO of Caterpillar Inc., a Fortune 500 company and the world's leading manufacturer of construction and mining equipment, decried the numerical limitations on H-1B visas. Oberhelman cited the trouble his company is having with filling highly skilled positions and increased competition for skilled workers from foreign markets.

"We would really like to see more H-1B visas, which are an important tool for hiring foreign nationals who receive their advanced engineering degrees in the United States," said Oberhelman, according to a transcript of his speech. "Currently, the number of H-1B visas is capped each year without regard to the current market demand."

Representatives from a number of other prominent companies were in attendance during Oberhelman's speech, showing support for his message on immigration law reforms. Among the companies represented were Corn Products International, The Habitat Company, Cabrera Capitol Markets and Exelon Corporation.

According to a study from the Immigration Policy Center and Center for American Progress, comprehensive immigration reform, including updates to the H-1B program, would produce widespread benefits for the U.S. economy. The data suggests that such an immigration package would increase the U.S. Gross Domestic Product by at least 0.84 percent.

Contact an immigration attorney to learn more about H-1B visas

Unless and until such reforms take place, however, employers seeking highly skilled workers and workers looking to secure employment in a specialty field in the Unites States will have to proceed within the confines of the current H-1B system.

If you have questions about H-1B visas, an experienced immigration attorney is the best resource. Contact an attorney today to find out how to meet your immigration goals.