Skilled Immigrants Get Washington Cold Shoulder

Washington is making economic recovery more difficult through an anti-immigration sentiment.

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The H-1B visa program brings many of the skilled employees used by Silicon Valley and Wall Street firms to the U.S. With the current state of hiring, it makes sense that far fewer employers are requesting H-1B workers than in previous years. But, the WSJ reports, it's not just the economy that's making employers wary of looking abroad—it's also the "anti-immigration sentiment in Washington."

How is that sentiment materializing itself?

The cost and bureaucracy of applying for H-1B visas is another deterrent. Lawyers' fees, filing fees and other expenses can easily reach $5,000 per applicant.

And immigration lawyers say some would-be employers are put off by a crackdown on fraud. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which administers the H-1B program, has been dispatching inspectors on surprise company visits to verify that H-1B employees are performing the jobs on the terms specified. The fraud-detection unit in coming months is expected to inspect up to 20,000 companies with H-1Bs and other temporary worker visas.

Lifting the American economy out of recession and setting the U.S. on the course for economic growth in the future is going to require innovation—the next great Microsoft or Google. If today's Microsofts and Googles can't get all the skilled workers they need, then how will tomorrow's?