Our country is in the midst of some pivotal conversations around immigration. No matter what side of the aisle you stand on, it’s important to note what changes these conversations will have on hiring and employment in the current age. One particular program getting special attention is the H-1B visa program.

This program is what facilitates U.S. businesses employing foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or practical application of specialized knowledge. This includes scientists, engineers and computer programmers who are in high demand, but which the industry notes a distinct skills gap. Critics of the program say who it is harmful to the U.S. tech workforce. Proponents say that without foreign workers, the domestic market would be unable to keep up with demand in a rapidly changing industry.

Here are a few of the changes we see on the horizon when it comes to this program.

Capping Single Companies

Part of the conflict over this visa program is that while the U.S. suffers from a shortage of STEM workers, some employers outright abuse the H-1B visa program resulting in undercutting domestic wages and displacement of American workers. Sadly, a handful of bad actors has created a certain amount of unease around the program, but a possible resolution may be the capping the number of hires made under the H-1B visa program by single companies. This would go a long way toward solving the problem of H-1B outsourcers whose business model is to take jobs from Americans.

Try to Hire American First

Similarly, businesses may be asked to attest they made a reasonable effort to hire domestically before outsourcing. This “good faith” effort would be required by employers before bringing on more workers under the H-1B program. The point is to disallow companies from avoiding hiring U.S. workers altogether, as often foreign workers are paid much less than they deserve according to U.S. wage standards.

A Stricter Timeline

Another change we expect to see is the use of a so-called “shot clock” rule which would revoke a visa if it isn’t used within a certain period of time. This would ease the pressure on H-1B visa caps, make sure that visas are only allotted for those employers/employees who plan to use them immediately and will retain tighter control over the program.

While the STEM market is only expected to grow in demand for highly skilled workers, controlling our reach in terms of outsourcing foreign workers will help the domestic market respond by training more talent, rewarding those workers whose skills are in high demand and keep the misuse of the H-1B visa program in check. According to some, the supply of U.S. graduates in STEM fields is more than enough to fill the hiring needs of STEM industries. An emphasis on hiring domestically is likely to become familiar to companies and organizations who have come to depend on foreign labor.

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