Throughout America’s history, immigrants have been a source of strength for our country and helped drive the economic growth that has made us the most prosperous and innovative country on the planet. TechNet believes that immigrant innovators, entrepreneurs, and workers are a valued part of our economy and workforce who make important contributions to our nation and communities every day. For example, immigrant entrepreneurs have started more than half (44 of 87) of America’s startup companies valued at $1 billion or more. Federal inaction on immigration reform has harmed the American economy by stifling innovation and stunting job growth. TechNet urges Congress and the Administration to work together to pass broad pieces of immigration reform in the 117th Congress, including proposals that have garnered widespread support from both the business community and the American public. TechNet believes:
· Congress and the Administration should work together to provide all Dreamers, including the 700,000 individuals covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy, a pathway to citizenship. Providing Dreamers with permanent legal protections benefits families, communities, businesses, and the nation’s economy.
· Millions of immigrants are serving as essential workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 response and will continue to contribute to our nation’s long-term economic recovery. These essential workers should be provided certainty over their future with expedited pathways to permanent residence, including legal high-skilled non-immigrants stuck in decades-long green card backlogs, among others.
· Only Congress can provide substantive, permanent reform to high-skilled immigration policy.
· Numerical levels and categories for high-skilled non-immigrant and immigrant visas need to be increased by Congress. The modernization of these employment-based programs should be responsive to economic need and, where appropriate, include mechanisms to fluctuate based on transparent, predictable, and objective standards.
· TechNet recognizes the importance of keeping families together in immigration policies, and as such, family visa determinations should be considered alongside and in conjunction with employment-based visa determinations.
· Spouses and children should not be counted against the cap of high-skilled immigrant visa applicants. There should not be a marriage or family penalty. Similarly, spouses of H-1B visa holders should be permitted to work while they wait for their green cards; more than 100,000 spouses have been given the right to work this way, thereby contributing to the American economy and paying taxes.
· Per-country green card caps should be eliminated.
· Federal immigration legislation, regulations, policies, and adjudications should facilitate, not restrict, the movement of high-skilled workers and entrepreneurs starting a new company. Previous executive orders, proclamations, and agency rules to restrict both immigrant and non-immigrant visa programs should be repealed. Specifically, interim final rules, which went into effect without following the standard public comment process, should be immediately terminated as they do little to help workers and could jeopardize the economic recovery.
· The nation’s employers are in the best position to identify which skilled workers are necessary and qualified for permanent employment opportunities in the U.S.
· The U.S. should ensure Americans are receiving opportunities to gain the skills and training necessary to secure jobs in areas where there is a demand for high-skilled workers.
· Congress, not an unelected decision-making or advisory body, should establish the appropriate levels of high-skilled immigration and the scope and contours of high-skilled employment and visa classifications.
· Legislation should include provisions that ensure H-1B job training fees are used effectively, match the supply of H-1B visas to demand, and reduce the backlog of employment-based green cards.
· A science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) visa for foreign students who have earned Master’s degrees or above from U.S. colleges and universities promotes economic growth by ensuring that talented innovators educated and trained in the U.S. can become Americans and create jobs here. TechNet opposes executive actions to restrict foreign students from learning in the United States because it would have a negative impact on our nation’s economy, interrupt the educational attainment of international students, and place a burden on institutions of higher education.
· Given the contributions refugees continue to make to our economy and society, TechNet supports efforts by federal, state, and local governments to ensure the U.S. continues its proud tradition of welcoming refugees in our communities.
· TechNet opposes the implementation of travel bans to restrict legal immigration from countries for religious or ethnic reasons. Enhanced vetting and information gathering of concerning individuals spending time in certain countries is a more appropriate and strategic way to protect national security.