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Are U.S. visa practices risking company innovation?

Posting in Technology

Do current visa restrictions in the U.S. impact the potential of companies?

The limit for temporary skilled worker visas in the United States is 85,000. However, as demand continues to soar, up to 65,000 are awarded through a lottery system -- something that can have detrimental consequences for companies who may have to wait long periods of time to see if their desired staff are chosen.

See also: U.S. economist: 2.5 million new jobs in 2013

However, this comes with additional problems. Employers have been known to abuse the system by bringing in workers in order to hire them out for entry-level jobs. Firms that practice this not only make the 'visa race' even more competitive, but can prevent companies who truly need skilled workers from allowing their staff to emigrate.

This year, Congress has been presented with two bills -- one that would raise the H-1B system cap, and one that would restrict it.

Intel believes that raising the cap would reduce the uncertainty felt by companies due to the staff lottery, and the visa system currently "puts a real constraint on our ability to hire the skilled workers we need to allow us to innovate, create new products and create new jobs." Over 100 firms have petitioned for "market-based" limits on future visas. However, many groups believe that raising the cap will cost Americans their jobs.

Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley has proposed changes to the system, including that businesses must try and hire Americans before taking employees from abroad. In addition, a separate bill introduced this year proposes that the cap would be raised to 115,000 before eventually climbing to 300,000, as well as suggesting that changes to the green card system.

Should Americans come first, or would relaxing visa restrictions promote the economy -- as well as help companies -- by bringing in skilled workers?

Via: Bloomberg

Image credit: Flickr

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— By on March 28, 2013, 12:56 AM PST

Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure