Council on Foreign Relations: US Temporary Foreign Worker Programs

Each year, the United States allows temporary workers to enter the country to work for seasonal agriculture, tourism and other industries and skilled labor, too: “more than one million visas were granted in 2014, up from some four hundred thousand in 1994,” reports Claire Felter for the Council on Foreign Relations. Opponents to such programs worry about visa tracking, illegal immigration, excessive paperwork, exploitation of foreign workers and competition for US laborers. The H1B visa for skilled workers attracts the most criticism over companies using the program to hire foreign engineers, scientists and tech workers at reduced wages. H1B visas are capped each year but not the H2A/B visas for the agriculture industry: That program “provided visas to only about 130,000 workers in 2016, a small portion of the estimated eight hundred thousand to 1.1 million hired farmworkers in the country.” Critics also complain that the inflexible programs do not address shifting industry needs. Major changes to the programs require congressional approval, though the president can adjust regulations and how the programs are implemented. Felter reviews proposed reforms ranging from giving priority to H1B applicants who hold degrees from US universities to allowing agricultural workers to stay year-round. – YaleGlobal

Council on Foreign Relations: US Temporary Foreign Worker Programs

Hundreds of thousands of migrants come to the US each year to work; Washington struggles to balance shifting industry needs and concerns of domestic labor force
Claire Felter
Tuesday, June 20, 2017
©2017 Council on Foreign Relations. All rights reserved.

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