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Combating the Coronavirus Unemployment Rate Blocking H-1B’s

By Bansri Patel

Bansri Patel is an associate attorney at ILOHB who works both in the Academics Department and Business Department. Prior to joining ILOHB, Bansri worked in big law, where she built her immigration knowledge base. She completed her bachelor’s degree at University of California, Davis and received her Juris Doctorate degree from Syracuse University College of Law.

It is without question that the global pandemic has heavily contributed to the ever-growing unemployment rate in the United States. To “combat” the unemployment rate, President Trump has cracked down more so now than ever on business immigration. 

In theory, reducing foreign competition in the workforce should help with the overall unemployment rate; however, the biggest issue that the Trump Administration has failed to realize is that most foreign workers who come to the United States come on an H-1B visa. The decrease in jobs has not been seen amongst fields that are heavily filled by H-1B workers, rather the decrease in jobs has been seen amongst the following fields: leisure and hospitality, health care and social assistance, professional and business services, retail trade, construction, manufacturing, mining and logging, transportation and warehousing, and financial activities. 

Due to H-1B visas only being administered to specialty occupations, meaning a profession that requires a bachelor’s degree or higher in a specific field of study, we tend to only really see H-1B workers working as Software Developer, Applications, Network and Computer Systems Administrator, Computer Systems Analyst, Information Security Analyst, Electrical Engineers, Software Developer, Systems Software, and Computer Programmers. These fields in no way align with those listed above; therefore, the H-1B community does not take away from the kind of US jobs that have been eliminated due to COVID-19. In fact, due to a majority of the United States population working online, shopping online, and communicating via technology, now more so than ever we need to have jobs that help the United States move towards a world that can be run online. Meaning there will continue to be a demand in these fields, and as the past has shown, these jobs are filled by skilled workers from abroad who come to the United States on H-1B visas.    

The real question now becomes, is Trump implementing harsher regulations to protect the United States work force, or is there another underlying motivation?  While his motivations remain unclear, the one thing that remains clear and that can be supported by studies is “denying the entry of H-1B visa holders harm[s] job growth for U.S.-born professionals”. Low Unemployment Rate in Tech Harms Trump H-1B Visa Plans. In addition, limiting the number of H-1B visas in the United States will do more harm than good.

In conclusion, while we may not have an immediate solution to the unemployment rate in the United States, what we do know is that eliminating or reducing the number of foreign workers, more specifically H-1B workers, in the United States does nothing but cause harm. Reason being, those coming from abroad to work in the United States tend to not work in the fields that are currently experiencing high rates of unemployment, rather they are working in fields that are currently experiencing a high demand due to the United States turning to technology to function. 

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