Will the Tech Industry Be Trumped By Immigration Reform?

The Shapiro Law Group

The Trump Administration could soon make it more difficult for talented immigrants to obtain tech jobs in the United States. As President Trump takes aim at technology companies throughout the nation who use H-1B visas and a variety of other business visa programs to bring skilled foreign workers into the workforce, science and technology sectors of the economy could suffer a significant blow.

What Are H-1B Visas?

The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows foreign workers to obtain temporary employment in the U.S. It is designed to help satisfy the need for skilled workers who have a Bachelor’s Degree or higher, or who have a combination of education and experience that equals a Bachelor’s Degree or higher.

H-1B Visa Workers in Technology

Each year, thousands of highly educated, skilled foreign workers attempt to secure one of about 85,000 H-1B visas. About two-thirds of those who are successful go on to pursue careers in technology. Illinois ranks in the top five for states that hire the most workers via the program. A recent CNN report states that approximately 70 percent of H-1B workers come from India, and another 10 percent are from China. Some of the most sought after positions for H-1B visas in 2016 include:

  • Computer Systems Analysts (26.8 percent)
  • Software Developers, Applications (15.2 percent)
  • Computer Programmers (8.9 percent)
  • Computer Occupations, all other (8.4 percent)
  • Systems Software Developers (6.5 percent)

Demand for workers in technology was three-times more than the number allowed in 2016.

Reform of Additional Visa Programs Could Affect the Tech Sector

In addition to H-1B visas, a number of other business visa programs that are important to the tech community could be facing reform. The J-1 visa program, which is used by foreign workers on summer work travel, the OPT program, used by foreign students after graduating, the E-2 visa used by investors, and the L-1 visa program, which is used by foreign workers who are transferring from a company’s overseas location, are all subject to review.

Foreign Entrepreneurs in the Tech Community

Over half of all “unicorn” (privately held) companies worth $1 billion or more are founded by at least one immigrant. The National Foundation for American Policy reports that about 760 jobs in the United States have been created by each immigrant founder.

According to experts, Trump’s visa reform could significantly reduce the number of skilled foreign workers and entrepreneurs who bring talent and jobs to the U.S.