Studies spotlight adverse impact of immigration reform inaction

FredHumphries150x207In two weeks, the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services will start to accept this year’s applications for H-1B visas. As in previous years, demand is expected to outpace the spaces available and many will not be able to get a visa to work in this country. This annual shortfall is again a reminder of the need for Congress to finally pass immigration reform.

Many voices across the spectrum – including Microsoft’s – have spoken in favor of reform. Two new studies provide further reminders about its economic importance and jobs impact.

Just last week, a report by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reinforced the enormous economic benefits of passing high skilled immigration reform legislation. In assessing current legislation in the House of Representatives, the CBO found that the SKILLS Visa Act (HR 2131) would net $110 billion in additional revenue over the first 10 years, and then upwards of $400 billion in the 10 years after that.

New research released by the Compete America coalition on Thursday shows that, based on conservative estimates, the U.S. economy will miss out on the creation of 500,000 new jobs this year because of the inadequacy of annual U.S. visa limits. That is an average of 2,000 U.S. jobs not created every business day. Jobs are lost because American companies cannot hire talent (which they’ve often already recruited) through the H-1B visa program and because the potential jobs spurred by the dynamism of these high skilled immigrants’ contributions will not materialize.

Immigrants have long been a key part of America’s talent pool, which provides the foundation of innovation. Our success at attracting the greatest talent has helped us become a global innovation leader, enriched our culture, and created economic opportunities for all Americans.

The bottom line is that every day America is open for business, restrictive skilled-immigration policy that fails to reflect the demands of the modern economy is costing U.S. jobs. The economic imperative for the Congress to act now to boost jobs and U.S. productivity could not be clearer. We hope the Congress will heed these signals and move forward with bipartisan immigration reform legislation this year.

About the Author

Vice President, U.S. Government Affairs, Microsoft

Fred Humphries is Vice President of U.S. Government Affairs for Microsoft in Washington, D.C. His work amplifies Microsoft’s voice on key advocacy issues internally and externally on all aspects of federal and state affairs. In his current position, Mr. Humphries sets strategy and oversees government affairs outreach on a broad range of topics, including cloud computing, taxes, privacy, trade, cybersecurity, education and emerging technologies like Microsoft Kinect. He is also responsible for communicating Microsoft’s leadership role in fostering economic and job opportunities in the U.S. technology sector to policymakers.