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U.S. immigration-dependent industries and visa suspensions

Wednesday, October 28, 2020 @ 1:49 PM | By Rosanna Berardi

Rosanna Berardi %>
Rosanna Berardi
When it comes to the current state of U.S. immigration, the situation is complex. Historically, in a down economy, restrictions are placed on immigration in order to preserve U.S. jobs for American citizens. Currently, however, those restrictions are even more limiting because of policies put in place to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. To make matters even more complicated, we also have factors at play due to the upcoming U.S. presidential election, with actions being taken under the guise of further protecting U.S. jobs or bolstering the economy.

Immigration in the U.S. has basically come to a standstill, and — while many industries are affected by these restrictions — these are among the hardest hit.

Tech industry greatly impacted by freeze on H-1B and L-1s

Under the Donald Trump administration, there have been several executive orders and revisions to the H1-B and L-1 visa requirements as well as the issuance of new visas in these categories. Most recently, new restrictions to H1-B visas were announced in October, aimed at “protecting American workers” by narrowing the definition of “specialty occupation” and requiring companies to make “real offers” to “real people.” Essentially, making the recruitment process more specific and adjusting foreign wages is making it more expensive for companies to hire foreign national workers. While proponents of these changes will argue that it will encourage U.S. companies to hire U.S. workers, the long-standing labour gaps in the U.S. economy makes this impossible. As such, U.S. companies will still hire foreign workers despite the costs and pass them down to the end consumer.

These new restrictions make it harder for big American companies like Google, Apple, Amazon, IBM and Microsoft, who file thousands of applications for visas a year, to attract top talent who actually help create jobs for Americans, instead of stealing them. Studies have found that H-1B visas will create an estimated 1.3 million new jobs and add around US$158 billion to gross domestic product in the U.S. by 2045. It all boils down to the fact that when companies can hire the talent they need, businesses can create a greater profit, grow at a faster pace and open more offices, leading to an increase in the jobs available to Americans.

Health care suffering, even with exceptions for COVID workers

There was a shortage of health-care workers in the U.S. prior to the pandemic, and now it’s on track to get much worse. A report issued last April revealed there are already 1.5 million immigrants working in the U.S. as doctors, registered nurses and pharmacists. The U.S. has actually never made it easy for these health-care workers to immigrate. In “normal” times, it can take 12 months to 10 years for these workers to get the necessary paperwork in order and travel to the U.S. with the help of an employer as a sponsor. The U.S. immigration rules have always made it extremely difficult for foreign health-care workers to remain in the U.S.

In addition, given the intense pressure health-care workers have been under throughout the pandemic, many nurses have plans to leave the profession. A study last spring revealed that 67 per cent of nurses were considering leaving the profession following the pandemic. Add to that the fact that many nurses are close to retirement, the coming silver tsunami as the huge baby boomer population ages, and a shortage of training programs in the U.S., and it’s clear that the health-care industry is in trouble if it isn’t given the ability to recruit foreign talent.

It’s becoming increasingly clear that these actions aren’t solving the problem of immigration, they’re only hurting the situation.

While the new restrictions framed as being a part of Trump’s “Hire American” campaign initiatives, it’s becoming clear that instead of helping the U.S. economy and saving jobs, the current administration is inadvertently hurting the economy.

Here are two facts that can’t be ignored:

  1. The U.S. job force has major gaps in industries such as tech, medicine and medical research. The U.S. education system is inadequately preparing its our citizens for the labour needs of the nation. As a result, companies are forced to hire foreign workers and even outsource some of the labour needs.
  2. Legal immigration has never been a problem in the U.S. If anything, critics have argued for years that the legal immigration system is too restrictive and that the U.S. job market requires the influx of foreign workers. After all, legal immigrants follow the rules, pay taxes, buy houses, invest in their local communities and they help the U.S. economy grow.

Trump keeps using executive orders to “fix” immigration when no president truly has the power to do so. In order to be effective and lasting, an overhaul of the U.S. immigration system needs to come from Congress, and it needs to come soon if America is going to save important industries like tech and health care.

Rosanna Berardi is the managing partner of Berardi Immigration Law and the CEO of High Wire Woman, where she helps working women create a blueprint to live their lives in a simpler way and take back their most precious commodity: their time.

Photo credit / masterSergeant ISTOCKPHOTO.COM

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