Abstract: Originally, H-1B visas were intended to allow employers to address shortages of skilled labor in the workplace by temporarily hiring highly skilled foreign workers only when they are unable to obtain employees with needed skills from the U.S. workforce. In the 1990’s, Congress raised the initial cap of 65,000 H-1B visas a year to 115,000 for fiscal years 1999 to 2000, and to 107,500 for fiscal year 2001 to address a shortage of computer science specialists, but there is now a growing number of U.S. workers who are highly skilled in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields unable to find work. Even though there is an abundance of U.S. citizens who are more educated than nearly half of all H-1B workers, the H-1B program is often abused to hire cheaper workers from abroad at the expense of their U.S. citizen counterparts. In order to address this issue, the Senate has proposed various bills to reform the H-1B visa program. Strategies include reallocating H-1B visas to prioritize higher skilled workers, increasing the transparency of employment statistics, and raising the income of H-1B workers. However, these efforts are inadequate because they do not sanction employers who fail to comply with the new rules in these bills and would not protect the program’s intent of supplementing the U.S. workforce with skilled foreign workers only where there are no U.S citizens with the appropriate skill sets available.
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