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01.31.18

IFPTE Pushes Back Against Bill to Massively Expand H1-B Program

January 31, 2018

Dear Senator,

On behalf of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE), we are writing regarding S. 2344, the Immigration Innovation (I-Squared) Act of 2018, currently sponsored by Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ). This legislation will undermine our nation’s workforce by distorting the high-tech labor market, driving down wages for current high-tech workers, and have a dramatically negative impact on American and permanent resident students who are considering pursuing Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) areas of study in college. IFPTE urges you to oppose this bill.

The I-Squared bill will increase the initial H-1B cap from 65,000 annually to as many as 195,000. It will also completely lift the annual cap of an additional 20,000 H-1B visas for post-graduate students graduating from U.S. universities and colleges with STEM degrees. There are no reforms to the H-1B worker wage requirements, no requirement that American workers are not fired and replaced with an H-1B worker, and no meaningful condition for employers to recruit American workers before hiring an H-1B worker. A foreign student can work for 2 years on Optional Practical Training (OPT), another 6 years as an H-1B worker, then extend the H-1B for 5 years pending permanent status. A foreign worker would be tied to a single employer in a precarious status with no leverage in the labor market for the 10-15 most productive years of his or her career, while being paid well below the labor market wage.

The H-1B program should be reformed, not expanded, as it puts the foreign worker in a precarious employment relationship, and gives no meaningful worker protections to domestic STEM graduates seeking employment. Appropriate reforms should include wage requirements consistent with the STEM labor market; a good faith and transparent effort by employers to recruit American workers before hiring an H-1B worker; protections for current workers against being displaced by an H-1B worker; the ability for H-1B workers to self-petition for visas and green cards; an objective measure of labor shortages in STEM occupations, and; job portability for H-1B workers so they are not tied to one employer. S. 2344 fails to meet any of these reform criteria.

Employers’ claims of a STEM labor shortage are unchanged for over 25 years. If the H-1B program is meant to resolve a labor shortage, then it has demonstrably failed. A better explanation is that employers have simply become dependent on a renewable supply of 800,000 young, dependent, precarious, foreign temporary workers who have no leverage in the labor market.

S. 2344 sends a negative market signal to students considering STEM careers, and to families making the investment of a lifetime in education for their children. It falls far short of achieving a guest worker policy that protects our current STEM workforce from race to the bottom practices, while also encouraging American and permanent resident students to seek out STEM degrees.

IFPTE urges you to not cosponsor this bill, and vote against it if given the opportunity, including opposing any amendments or other I-Squared like legislation that may be considered as a part of consideration of other unrelated immigration legislation.

Sincerely,

Gregory J. Junemann
President

Paul Shearon
Secretary-Treasurer

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IFPTE in the News
1/31/2018 - Engineers Oppose Effort to Expand High-Tech Visas (Washington Examiner)

IFPTE's letter opposing the I-Squared Act of 2018

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