H-1B Visas Drop Sharply

Today's Wall Street Journal (May 7-8) notes that the controversial H-1B visa program has attracted about 50% fewer applicants this year and 80% fewer than during the same period of 2009. In the year through the end of April 2011, there have been 8,000 H-1B petitions bringing foreigners (mainly engineers) to the U.S. There were 16,500 through the same period last year, 45,000 in 2009 and 65,000 in both 2008 and 2007. The Journal says the reasons seem to be the lackluster U.S. recovery, more opportunities for the skilled workers in their home nations, and higher visa fees. As my column in March 9 showed, the program is based on the assumption that there is a shortage of U.S. engineers. But several scholars say the H-1B program is used to depress wages of U.S. workers. Best, Don Bauder

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