U.S. business trade body calls for doubling H-1B visas, starts national campaign

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Earlier this month, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce launched a campaign aimed at pressuring the U.S. Congress to increase employment-based immigration and visas.

Noting that immigration “is a key ingredient in meeting our workforce challenges and growing our economy,” the organization called for ‘sensible’ immigration policies to “ensure that the American economy remains the envy of the world…”

“Join us in calling on Congress: It’s time to increase the levels of employment-based immigration and temporary work visas, including H-1Bs and H-2Bs,” it urged June 2, 2021

The nationwide initiative is aimed at addressing the worker shortage crisis and help America’s employers fill jobs

The  America Works initiative launched jointly by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation looks to “mobilizing industry and government to swiftly address America’s deepening worker shortage crisis.”

“As we stand on the cusp of what could be a great American resurgence, a worker shortage is holding back job creators across the country,” U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Suzanne Clark is quoted saying in a June 1, 2021 press release.

Through the initiative, the U.S. Chamber is advocating for—and rallying the business community to push for—federal and state policy changes that will help train more Americans for in-demand jobs, remove barriers to work, and double the number of visas available for legal immigrants. And the U.S. Chamber Foundation is expanding its most impactful employer-led workforce and job training programs and launching new efforts to connect employers to undiscovered talent.

“This is Operation Warp Speed for Jobs,” Clark said. “We’re helping our members address the worker shortage by bringing the full strength of the Chamber’s advocacy muscle to this urgent crisis, expanding the Chamber Foundation’s most successful workforce programs, and mobilizing our nationwide federation of association and chamber partners to drive solutions that make America more competitive.”

The Chamber released surveys and federal data analysis which it notes show that:

  • There are now half as many available workers for every open job across the country (1.4 available workers per opening) as there have been on average over the past 20 years (2.8).
  • In several states and industries—especially hard-hit sectors like education and health services as well as professional and business services—there are currently fewer job seekers than the total number of jobs open.
  • Ninety-one (91) percent of state and local chambers of commerce say worker shortages are holding back their economies. Eighty-three (83) percent of industry association economists say employers in their sectors are finding it more difficult to fill jobs than they were five years ago.

It released the America Works Agenda: a suite of legislative and regulatory solutions at the federal and state level that it says would eliminate barriers to work for Americans, invest in skills and job training, and reform what it describes as America’s broken, outdated immigration system.

Through the America Works Agenda, the U.S. Chamber is calling for:

Doubling the cap on employment-based visas, doubling the quota on H-1B and H-2B visas and implementing other reforms to the legal immigration system to help employers meet demand for high-demand jobs in labor-strapped sectors

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