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H-1B proposed rule moves forward, flunks economics 101

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Rachel Rhodes

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced yesterday it sent a proposed rule to the Federal Register radically changing how it selects H-1B temporary professional workers.


Stephen Yale-Loehr

Professor of Immigration Law

Stephen Yale-Loehr, professor of immigration law at Cornell Law School and co-author of a leading 21-volume immigration law series, says that though the rule is premised on preserving jobs for U.S. workers, it overlooks the economic benefits of high skilled foreign workers.

Yale-Loehr says

“The rule would scrap the current random selection system and instead select H-1B workers based on their salaries. The highest paid workers would be allowed to file an H-1B petition; workers offered lower salaries might not be able to file a petition if more than 85,000 higher paid H-1B workers filed petitions first. Current H-1B regulations already require employers to pay the higher of the actual or prevailing wage for similarly situated U.S. workers. Thus, it is hard to know what more the proposed rule would do.

“By effectively increasing salaries for H-1B workers, the proposed rule would harm all employers trying to hire foreign temporary professional workers, but especially schools, startup companies, and smaller companies that cannot afford to pay the high salaries that Silicon Valley and other big companies offer. 

“The rule is premised on preserving jobs for U.S. workers. However, the rule fails to understand that many nonimmigrant workers, especially high skilled foreign workers, help grow the economy. For example, one study found that every H-1B worker creates about five jobs for U.S. workers in the technology sector. 

“The new proposed rule may score points with the President’s political base, but it flunks Economics 101.”

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