Asking the Obama Administration and Congress to increase the cap of H-1B work visas, popular among Indian professionals, from the present 65,000 to 195,000 per annum, two eminent scholars from a US think tank have said such a move would help stimulate economic growth and generate tax revenue.
The two Heritage Foundation scholars insisted that increasing the cap of H-1B visas for highly skilled professionals would not steal American jobs, as is being believed in a section in the US.
Such a measure would, in fact, stimulate economic growth and generate the much needed tax revenue, they argued in an article published on Tuesday.
"Raising H-1B caps will provide businesses the professionals and skills they need to develop their business when ready," wrote Jena Baker McNeill and Diem Nguyen.
Baker is a policy analyst for Homeland Security and Nguyen is a research assistant in the Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation.
"Raise the cap back to 195,000 visas per year. Make the cap flexible. As the US economy fluctuates through its business cycles, the demand for H-1B visas will rise and fall. Congress should establish a quota that, if met, automatically increases for the next year. In addition, unused visas should be recaptured for the next fiscal year," the two scholars urged the Congress.
They argued that expanding the H-1B visa would be a relatively small but beneficial step in the direction of reducing fiscal deficit.
"If Congress were to increase the H-1B cap to 195,000 visas, the US government would receive an additional $2 billion of tax revenue each year. That number would significantly increase as H-1B workers finish their three-year terms and new foreign workers enter the programme," the scholars said.
Observing that H-1B workers are some of the best and brightest in the world, they argued that ensuring that they work in the US for American businesses will only help the economy.
McNeill and Nguyen wrote that there is a popular myth that H-1B workers displace Americans because foreigners will work for less than Americans even if they have greater qualifications.
"This notion is so widespread that Congress recently passed an amendment barring companies receiving TARP (Troubled Assets Relief Programme) money from hiring H-1B employees. But this notion is entirely false," they said.
H-1B visas are provided to foreign workers only if employers prove that they are paying prevailing wages -- equivalent to American wages for that occupation. "In addition, employers must show that no American workers with the appropriate qualifications were available," they said.
"This is self evident when one sees the effects of the H-1B visa shortage on companies. When companies cannot get H-1B visas for potential employees, they do not turn around and hire American workers; rather, they leave those jobs unfilled or expand outside the United States," the scholars said.