Fact of the Week: The U.S. Hit its H-1B Visa Cap Just 5 Months into FY22
Source: “The H-1B Visa Program and Its Impact on the U.S. Economy,” (American Immigration Council, July 2022).
Commentary: The cap on H-1B visas for skilled workers has been held at 85,000—65,000 normal H-1Bs and 20,000 special H-1Bs for those with a master’s degree or higher—since 2006. The cap remains unchanged despite increasing demand for foreign skilled workers, who are typically temporarily employed to work in STEM occupations. As such, the United States received enough H-1B applications to meet the 85,000-application cap by the end of February 2022, just five months into the 2022 fiscal year.
Highly educated immigrants tend to work in advanced occupations with high employment multipliers. The increased demand from H-1B visa holders therefore provides a boost to their local economies. These workers also tend to be more entrepreneurial and innovative and introduce new approaches to their work, thus bolstering the U.S. economy’s innovative capacities. Finally, with countries around the world catching up to and surpassing the United States in quality of education—specially, in STEM education—a self-imposed restriction on the number of highly skilled workers entering the United States serves only to weaken the U.S. economy and strengthen either those of the would-be immigrants’ home countries or the countries they immigrate to instead.