- A group of business executives called on policymakers to streamline the H-1B visa application and approval process to make the U.S. more attractive to in-demand international workers. "This includes increasing the frequency of visa allotments, speeding up the approval process, and prioritizing the most in-demand applicants," the group said in a Jan. 31 statement.
- The Committee for Economic Development of The Conference Board (CED) includes, among others, FedEx Corporation's chairman and CEO, Cisco Systems' VP and chief privacy officer and Starbucks' chairman of the board of directors, although members do not necessarily endorse all recommendations.
- In a report, the group also suggested that policymakers: offer temporary work authorization for spouses of visa holders on track for permanent residence; pilot a points-based process to "fast track" a highly qualified foreign workers toward permanent residence; allocate "place-based" employment visas to ensure more communities can compete for international talent; and more.
The H-1B visa process has in recent years been a pain point for employers looking to hire highly skilled foreign nationals. As the Trump administration tightened up the process, employers said they faced talent shortfalls, while the number of visa job searches soared, according to Indeed data.
Those new requirements may have spurred business leaders to press for reforms, while others have taken a different approach. A group of tech companies has sued USCIS over the process, seeking $350 million. ITServe Alliance, a trade organization representing the plaintiffs, alleged that USCIS illegally accrued millions of dollars in border fees by levying a $4,000 H-1B application fee against professionals who extend their visa status while in the U.S., instead of charging them only when they enter the country.
Those efforts are aimed at making the process easier for both workers and employers coping with a tight talent market. "The native-born population of the U.S. is projected to increase by an average of just 0.4 percent per year over the next four decades," Howard Fluhr, chairman emeritus of Segal and co-Chair of CED's workforce subcommittee, said in a statement. "Amid this daunting slowdown, immigration reform represents a feasible path for boosting our workforce — and ultimately, the nation's prosperity."
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly attributed the committee’s suggestion to its members. In a statement to HR Dive, the committee said its recommendations “are not necessarily endorsed by all Trustees, advisers, contributors, staff members, or others associated with CED or The Conference Board.” HR Dive regrets the error.