Law360 Q&A Features Haynes and Boone Immigration Leader Brent Huddleston


Q: What is an important issue relevant to your practice area and why?

A: The need for immigration reform extends to all aspects of the practice area. However, in my practice area of employment-based immigration, I see the counterproductive results that our immigration policies and quotas have on U.S. businesses. We set arbitrary quotas on certain visa categories in the name of protecting the American worker. This is most prominently seen with the H-1B visa category, which is for foreign nationals coming to work for a U.S. employer in a position that requires a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in a specific field. Currently, the U.S. government only issues 85,000 H-1B visas per year. Over the past few years, as the economy has improved and hiring has increased for U.S. workers and foreign nationals, demand for the H-1B has far outstripped the supply of available visas. For the recent filing period for fiscal year 2016, over 230,000 H-1B visa petitions were submitted for the 85,000 available H-1B visas.

While protecting the American worker is a noble goal, I have seen more damage caused for businesses unable to secure H-1B visas for skilled and talented workers, who were intended to supplement or add to an existing workforce rather than replace American workers.

The prevalent narrative in this regard is that H-1B workers are competition or a threat to U.S. workers. I believe this to be the exact opposite of the truth, particularly as H-1B visas are used predominantly in STEM fields, areas where the U.S. is not producing enough talent to serve these exponentially growing fields.

Excerpted from Law360 on May 4, 2015. Click here to read the full article (subscription required).

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