WASHINGTON – ITI, the global voice of the tech sector, issued the following statement today from President and CEO Dean Garfield on an executive order signed today by President Donald Trump on the H-1B visa program and the importance to U.S. innovation of high skilled immigrants welcomed under the system:
“We all have a responsibility to stitch together the economic fabric of our society and ensure that the gains of growth are broadly shared and enjoyed among all Americans, and the tech industry is committed to doing exactly that,” Garfield said. “That is why tech companies are working every day to hire Americans to fill the more than 500,000 open tech jobs, spending tens of millions on work-force training programs, and tapping the talents of immigrants who we all know contribute to the economy and make our country stronger. To achieve our goals for America we must be prepared to follow up the review proposed by the president with the hard work of tackling our failing immigration system, and reforming our outdated workforce and education approaches. Tech stands ready to go to work.”
ITI noted that technology companies face a very real need for talent or they face losing their edge to competitors overseas. 2017 marked the fifth consecutive year in which the H1-B visa cap of 85,000 was reached within days of U.S. Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) accepting petitions for the upcoming year, demonstrating both the necessity and limitations of the current immigration system:
- The U.S. STEM Shortage is Real. Recent studies by the New American Economy (NAE) found that last year alone there were over 3.3 million open science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) jobs posted online. Moreover, today, it is estimated that there are over half a million open computing jobs across the country. However, in 2015, U.S. universities only graduated 92,172 computer scientists and a quarter of those, 24 percent, were foreign-born students. The number of American citizens and permanent resident students pursuing graduate degrees in science and engineering fields actually fell by 6.3 percent between 2010 and 2013.
- Tech Is Investing in the U.S. Workforce. This is not just a challenge for companies in Silicon Valley. The situation is even more dire for employers in rural states who confront a much larger STEM shortage than the rest of the country. Many ITI member companies are already actively working to reverse the U.S. STEM shortage, investing tens of millions of dollars in programs designed to help educate and prepare students, and to train American workers with the skills they need to pursue tech jobs. Still, the tech industry cannot wait because innovation moves at the speed of light, and to keep advancing and competing around the world, the tech industry relies on H-1B visas to help fill immediate vacancies in the U.S. instead of overseas.
- H1-B Immigrants Turbocharge U.S. Innovation and Create Jobs. We need to recognize the value H-1B employees contribute through their ingenuity to our innovation ecosystem—they help innovate and grow America’s tech economy. In fact, it’s been estimated that over 230,000 more computer jobs would have been created for U.S. workers if the talented people denied H-1B visas in 2007 and 2008 had been welcomed to innovate here in our country, instead of by our competitors overseas. Moreover, half of the 87 startup companies valued at more than $1 billion in the United States were founded by at least one immigrant, many of whom first came to the country on H-1B visas, and each of these companies now employs on average 760 U.S. workers.
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