In the United States, the H-1B program was created in 1952 to provide American employers with access to highly educated foreign professionals who have unique knowledge in specialized areas. The H-1B visa is a temporary visa available to highly educated foreign professionals who hold at least a bachelor’s degree and have an offer to work in a specialty occupation. Data shows that many H-1B holders obtain their higher education degrees in the United States, and include healthcare professionals, teachers, scientists, researchers, engineers and many others who provide direct services to Americans and who create jobs. Due to administrative backlogs and high demand, the wait for an employment-based green card can often exceed nine years. The H-1B visa remains an important tool for hiring foreign nationals who receive their advanced degrees from U.S. universities. In many critical disciplines, particularly in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), 50 percent or more of the post-graduate degrees at U.S. universities are awarded to foreign nationals. It is completely counterproductive to educate foreign-born scientists and engineers, train them in our companies and then release them to competitor nations at a time when America needs to lay the groundwork for economic growth.
Many SEMI member companies use H-1B visas to employ the engineers, scientists, and skilled workers they need to successfully run their businesses. SEMI broadly supports efforts to reform the H1-B program that would raise the annual cap on H-1B nonimmigrant visas, provide spousal work permits, eliminate the per country limit on visas, and provide for the recapture of unused employment-based immigrant visas.