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Is Auctioning off H-1B Visas to the Highest Salary Bidders Really the Best Way to Improve This Program? Roger Algase

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An April 19 article in The Hill by David W. Kreutzer, an analyst with the Heritage Foundation, justly criticizes the annual H-1B lottery as being completely ineffective for the goal of attracting the most talented foreign workers to America. No one can argue with him, but he has the wrong solution, which is to auction off H-1B visas to the employers who are willing to pay the highest salaries to the workers they are sponsoring for this visa.

He writes:

"An auction would have at least two advantages. First, it would allow businesses that have the hardest time finding existing residents to fill their jobs to move to the front of the line. If the foreign employee they have identified is really that critical, they will be wiling to pay more than a firm that only seeks to get a more generic employee on the cheap. Second, it provides a measure of how much value an additional high-skilled worker is worth."

This suggestion also echoes Donald Trump's April 18 speech at the signing of his H-1B executive order stating that H-1B visas should be limited to skilled foreign workers with the highest salaries, instead of being available to those who are being paid the prevailing wages for US workers, as under current law.

The obvious problem with Kreutzer's suggestion, however, is that it would in effect limit this visa to employees of the largest companies which can afford to pay salaries at the very top of the wage scale, such as their highest ranking managers and executives. H-1B, therefore, would be turned into another version of the L-1 visa.

However, startups or even well-established smaller companies which are able to pay prevailing wages, i.e. wages equal to those being paid to American workers, to their foreign employees, as required by the current H-1B law, but cannot afford to pay salaries at the very top of the wage scale, would lose out under this proposal.

Foreign workers who have high-level skills but who are being hired for entry-level or less experienced level jobs, such as recent college graduates who are beginning their careers, or who are in an early stage in their careers, would also be frozen out under this suggestion.

It would, essentially, be a poison pill leading to the end of the end of the H-1B program as we know it - one more weapon in the restrictionist arsenal of the officials and opinion leaders inside and outside the Trump administration who would like to take America back in the direction of the northern Europeans only Immigration Act of 1924 which Trump and some of his top advisers have, directly or indirectly, praised as a model for America nearly 100 years later.

Clearly, however, Kreutzer does not agree with this restrictionist goal. He also writes:

"Saying that all immigration kills jobs for those who are already here simply does not comport with America's history. The market for skills and abilities is international. It is foolish to think that we cannot benefit from bringing the most creative and ambitious people to the United States."

But how to select H-1B foreign workers in a way that will really benefit America, in keeping with our history and traditions as a nation of immigrants? Certainly, not by the annual charade and farce of an H-1B lottery.

Kreutzer states:

"It is even more foolish to think that we can identify the most creative and ambitious by flipping coins."

Nothing could be more true. What is the only fair and rational solution then? Certainly it is not to impose further restrictions on to abolish H-1B visas, as has been suggested by Jeff Sessions and other politicians who are not otherise known for supporting minimum wage laws, labor unions, health insurance or other measures that would raise wages and living standards of American workers in general, but who only seem to care about American working people as a means to keep out immigrants.

The obvious solution is to increase the number of H-1B visas in order to meet the demand. Unfortunately the chances of this happening in what Sessions has called the "Trump era" of restricted immigration and mass deportation are virtually nil.

Kreutzer's full article can be found at

http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blo...ed-immigration
_____________________________
Roger Algase is a New York immigration lawyer and a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. He has been helping H-1B and other mainly skilled and professional immigrants receive work visas and green cards for more than 35 years. Roger's email address is algaselex@gmail.com

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Updated 04-19-2017 at 08:49 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

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