Manufacturers are calling for restrictions on the current H-1B non-immigrant visa program to be lifted, calling them too rigid and a hindrance to the economy. In particular, automobile companies in Michigan want the H1-B program opened to skilled laborers for manufacturing jobs which are currently vacant.
The H-1B visa, which was created in the 1990s to fill a need for skilled information technology workers, allows foreign workers to take jobs in the U.S. for up to three years. Year after year, H-1B workers provide specialized computing and other skills to companies in the United States. The program accepts no more than 65,000 workers and is capped at an additional 20,000 for those with a master’s degree.
Automotive manufacturers want these caps lifted and the qualifications for obtaining an H1-B
visa eased to address a shortage of skilled laborers. Approximately 600,000 skilled laborer positions remain open in the United States.
Critics of the H-1B visa program claim that inviting non-immigrant workers into the country will mean that jobs will be taken from American workers. However, if there is a shortage of local skilled laborers, the industry in question could relocate, taking business with them, along with any potential job opportunities. Therefore, lifting restrictions on the H-1B visa program may be beneficial to the economy.