To the Editor:
Let me take exception to Professor Norman Matloff’s “Taking Exception.” In Tuesday’s Post Professor Matloff attacked lifting the cap on H-1B visas. H-1B visas allow highly qualified foreign nationals to enter the United States to relieve the acute shortage of skilled professionals. Professor Matloff arguments are a chain of anecdotes that he does not support with hard data from public sources.
In the same day’s news on page A14 under the heading “Tech Workers Wanted,” the Post reports the results of the Information Technology Associations’ survey of hiring managers at 700 companies across the country confirming 843,000 unfilled computer-related jobs some months ago. The number is undoubtedly higher now. Professor Matloff’s arguments bear no relationship to reality.
The law requiring that H-1Bs be paid “prevailing wage” is not riddled with loopholes. The shortage of skilled computer, engineering, and international business professionals is real. The problem is that Congress and the Clinton Administration have not been able to get their act together to pass an increase of the quota for H-1Bs to at least 200,000 for the foreseeable future. No H-1B applications submitted since mid-March have been processed because the 2000 cap of 115,000 was reached. The Federal fiscal year 2001 quota of H-1B visas that will be available October 1 is only 107,500; it will undoubtedly disappear within a few weeks given the backlog. American industry cannot operate successfully this way.
The House leadership should go around the obstructionism of Chairman Lamar Smith and should pass the bipartisan Dreier-Lofgren H.R. 3983, and the Senate should approve the Hatch-Abraham S.2045. The Clinton Administration should stop backpedaling by demanding a Christmas tree full of immigration goodies before supporting lifting the cap. It should understand that the unions have no horse in this particular race.
The H-1B visa, which requires a specialized bachelor’s degree or equivalent relevant professional-level work experience, serves the country well. Yet, current law further reduces the cap to 65,000 for Federal fiscal year 2002 in spite of the fact that each H-1B professional creates additional, new good jobs for other Americans.
The Knowledge Company evaluates the educational and work experience qualifications of thousands of foreign nationals applying for H-1B visas each year. We can assure Professor Matloff and the Post that these applicants bring invaluable specialized skills. Raise the cap to 200,000 immediately and provide fuel for the engine that is driving our successful economy.
Irving J. Spitzberg, Jr.
President and Counsel