US barring import of brilliant minds

US barring import of brilliant minds

Nowrasteh Letter to The Financial Times
November 14, 2007

Sir, Gideon Rachman's article "Hearts, minds and immigration" (November 13) wonderfully describes the current political arguments concerning immigration policy. But while discussing the US, Mr Rachman leaves out a few illuminating facts. In its desire to reduce immigration, the US government has prevented the importation of brilliant minds.

H-1B visas, three-year work visas which companies use to sponsor foreign workers, are limited to 65,000 per year. In April 2007, on the first day companies could apply for such visas the government was swamped by 133,000 applications!

If the US government wants the quality of specialised immigrants to remain high, we must offer more H-1B visas to foreign skilled labour. Otherwise, US immigration officials will face a larger and more pervasive black market in labour and our high-technology industries will suffer.