Vision

The vision is to help raise awareness and a voice for a system best for the American economy and fair for immigrants and natives. The core ask is to eliminate country-based criterion from the workplace that runs together with modernizing other components of high-skilled immigration. Here is a summary of FTLOG’s vision from the film.

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Here are some specific ideas towards a 21st century high-skilled immigration system.

Remove Country-Based Criterion from the US Workplace

The H-1B temporary visa was only designed for a short term stay. Hence skilled immigrants looking to be permanent should not be enduring years on H-1B because of their country of birth. Removing the Country-Based quotas would create a first-come first-serve system for employment-based permanent residency. Such a system would not penalize immigrants if their country of origin is supplying more of the skills needed in the economy.

Create a seamless transition from Temporary to Permanent

The transition from temporary visa to permanence is entirely employer dependent with no mandate on starting / ending protocols that could help an immigrant plan his life. Here are ideas to build more certainty into skilled-immigrant’s path to permanency.

All high-skilled immigrants earn US Permanent Residency after certain years of employment (up to 5 years).

-OR-

The permanency process be an incentive-based point system with the points accrued after the day an immigrant enters the US. E.g.: An immigrant needs 100 points to become permanent resident –

Each year of study: 10 pts (cap at 40)
Each year of work: 15 pts (cap at 75)
Each patent: 10 pts (cap at 20)
House worth $250,000: 25 pts
Investing $100,000 in a venture: 40 pts

Eliminate Quotas for Temporary Visas (Jacob F. Kirkegaard)

The H-1B visa, backbone of the US high-skilled system, runs on a random lottery in recent years. Quotas and Lottery in economy-based immigration is not the best policy choice since these have no connection to changes in skill-needs or fluctuations in the economy.

Have an Auction instead of a Lottery for H-1B Visas (Madeline Zavodny)

If temporary work visas must remain stringently capped, then economy should positively select the immigrants rather than a random lottery. Each year the system can auction a set number of work permits at a given reserve price. Employers submit bids indicating the number of permits they want to buy and the price they would be willing to pay. Permits are then allocated from highest to lowest price. Winners pay the price of the lowest selected bid.

Have a bilateral IT-VISA between India-US (Jacob F. Kirkegaard)

Over the years a very small number of Indian and US IT companies seem to use high-skilled visa programs to sustain the outsourced work model in the United States. While perfectly legal, this use of the visas (H-1B and L-1) is scope-wise unintended. The US as part of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) should look to establish a completely new visa category – say an IT VISA – a temporary only and valid for 2 years – that would be applicable to high-skilled Indian workers in computer-related occupations. E.g. Australia has an annual quota of 10,500 high-skilled E-3 VISAS as part of the FTA agreements.