Read the report: Senate Bill Doubles Annual Flow of Guest Workers
Jessica Vaughan, Director of Policy Studies, Center for Immigration Studies
Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL)
Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX)
Representative Lou Barletta (R-PA)
Representative Mo Brooks (R-AL)
JESSICA VAUGHAN: I’m here today with Senator Jeff Sessions from Alabama, Representative Lamar Smith from Texas, Representative Lou Barletta from Pennsylvania and Representative Mo Brooks from Alabama. And I’m just going to speak for a few minutes about the findings of our study and then one by one go to each of our members of Congress that is here with us.
So the purpose of the analysis that the center published today was to determine the number of temporary work visas that would be allowed by the Gang of Eight bill S-744. If you haven’t seen a copy of it, please look on our home page on cis.org for a copy of the study.
Basically, I found that the Gang of Eight bill would allow an unprecedented number of temporary workers into the country each year, in addition to the approximately 700,000 temporary worker visas that we currently are admitting annually. So what the bill is it allows a short-term surge of potentially 1.6 million more temporary workers, and eventually, the level of temporary workers admitted will be about 600,000 higher than the current number that we admit. By way of comparison, that’s about four times higher than the 2007 Bush-Kennedy bill. And we’re talking about increasing these admissions at a time when our economy is much worse than even it was in 2007. And, of course, these admissions would be occurring at about the same time as the amnesty of 11.5 million individuals and increases in green cards.
So where are these increases occurring, which programs? And I’ll apologize in advance for the alphabet soup, but that’s the way – that’s the nomenclature of our visa system. The – I’m just going to touch on a few of the main areas where these increases occur.
The first is the one many people have been focused on, which is in the H-1B category, which is for skilled professional workers. Initially, the Gang of Eight bill increases the number of H-1Bs by about a hundred thousand and ultimately as high as 170,000 per year. Currently, we have a cap of 65,000 plus a cap of 20,000 for STEM graduates in – who’ve graduated with graduate degrees, plus an exemption to the cap of – for employees of nonprofit organizations. That’s going to go up to a regular cap of 110,000 and an increase in a STEM cap and also a provision that was inserted in markup known as the Hatch escalator that allows for an additional 50,000 more visas per year. So that’s more than doubling admissions under the controversial H-1B program.
Now, there’s another new visa that’s created by the Gang of Eight bill that hasn’t gotten much attention, but it’s another large increase. And this is the E4 visa, as it’s called. These are visas which are basically H-1Bs by another name that would admit 5,000 individuals from every country with which we have a free trade agreement and – not necessarily what’s known as a formal free trade agreement; the definition of free trade agreements by the bill is left up to the secretary of homeland security to decide. And this could be – you know, we have about a dozen formal free trade agreements now. Depending on how you define that concept in the bill, this could be, you know, expanded to as many as 160 countries in the world. So we’re talking about a potentially very large number of essentially additional workers of the same caliber as H-1Bs. So I’m estimating at a conservative estimate that that’s going to be about 150,000 a year. And so this category is problematic for a few reasons. Not only does it increase the number of professional guest workers, which our research shows harms and displaces Americans in those same occupations, it’s bad policy because it hands over control of those categories to trade authorities and international organizations, not Congress.
So the other increases provided in the Gang of Eight bill are in the H4 category, which is – it basically allows the spouses of H-1B workers to also work, which they cannot do now. It’s difficult to estimate how many people would take advantage of that. My research shows that it would probably be at least 220,000 in the first year with at least 50,000 each year after that.
In addition, the bill creates another new category called the V1, which allows family members of prior immigrants in certain categories to come in on a nonimmigrant visa rather than waiting for their full immigrant visa to be processed. And that’s more than a million people now on the waiting list. These are people who have – who have qualifying family relationships but would normally have to wait until their visa comes up, would be able to come in essentially through the back door on a nonimmigrant visa and be able to work.
These are not insignificant numbers overall, especially considering that they are not spread out across the country necessarily but tend to be concentrated in certain occupations and in certain parts of the country.
And another important point that I think is not always well-understood is that the vast majority of these admissions come in visa programs where the employer is not required to show that they’ve tried and failed to find a U.S. worker or demonstrate that there is even a shortage of these workers. So we’re talking about, as I said, unprecedented levels of increases in these temporary worker programs and guaranteed to have harmful effects on Americans in those same occupations and areas.
So again, look for the study on our website, www.cis.org. And I’m going to go now to Senator Sessions for his remarks. Senator?
SENATOR JEFF SESSIONS (R-AL) : Yes. Do you hear me?
MS. VAUGHAN: We hear you.
SEN. SESSIONS: All right. Well, I think prudence indeed requires us to be careful when we have this kind of extraordinarily large increase in workers, as you have documented. It exceeded what I was expecting, and I know we had a very large increase. We have high unemployment. We have projections from the Congressional Budget Office that in the year – in the second five years of our 10-year budget window, we would only create about 75,000 jobs each month. And these numbers apparently would exceed that. So we’re talking about dealing – an American problem, unemployment, American particular problem, unemployment among low-skilled workers, and a dramatic increase.
And one more thing, I – for those who – thinking about what this means, these are all temporary workers, correct? I mean, these are not people that come as immigrants who would presumably stay and build a business and are going to be permanent. They’re people who would come in and compete for jobs on a temporary basis against unemployed Americans.
So thank you for this report. It’s very valuable to us as we analyze it. It’s complex. And your ability to review it and calculate these numbers is very helpful.
MS. VAUGHAN: Thank you, Senator Sessions.
Next we’ll go to Mr. Smith.
REPRESENTATIVE LAMAR SMITH (R-TX) : Yes. This is Lamar Smith. And I, too, like Senator Sessions, want to thank CIS for this very, very informative and persuasive study. And just in general, I want to complement CIS because they always do good work, and it’s always helpful in our immigration debates. CIS has great credibility. They have – are considered to be objective. They always back up what their findings are with statistics and metrics and facts, and so it’s all very, very helpful during the debate.
I also want to sort of reiterate that one of the principles I think we need to remember as we go forward when talking about guest worker programs or new workers is that fundamentally, we should be putting the interests of American workers first, and it’s not helpful to underemployed American workers and legal immigrants who are in this country to suddenly have to compete with millions of new foreign workers. It either displaces them from their jobs, or it depresses their wages, as many studies have shown. And it’s also interesting to me that during the Senate debate, I’ve never heard one of the proponents of the comprehensive immigration reform bill ever say that the bill is helpful or good or benefits American workers because the opposite is transparently true.
Lastly, just to point out that we are on the side of the American people: Almost any poll I’ve seen over any number of years shows either a majority or a strong plurality of the American people actually want to reduce the number of legal immigrants, not increase the number of legal immigrants. And I know that’s a discussion for another time is to how much the bill actually increases the numbers, but clearly, the American people want to make sure that those who are here are assimilated and recognize that we just can’t keep increasing the numbers and increasing numbers without suffering the consequences of that. So I do feel like we’re on the side of the majority of the American people. I think the most recent poll on that was by FOX, and it showed 50-some odd percent – 55 percent of the American people actually want to reduce that number of legal immigrants, and of course, the Senate bill goes the opposite direction of – very quickly.
So just glad to be with you all. And once again, thank CIS for their good work.
MS. VAUGHAN: Thank you, Mr. Smith.
Now let’s go to Mr. Barletta.
REPRESENTATIVE LOU BARLETTA (R-PA) : Thank you. I also want to thank CIS for this valuable information.
And, you know, I believe and we all believe that any policies we make here in Washington should be in the national best interest of the American people. This is now the second startling study that sheds light on what will be devastating to our country, the Heritage Foundation study that shows that the Gang of Eight’s proposal will cost us $6.2 trillion, and now the CIS study that is showing the devastating effects this will have on the American worker. This is at a time when 22 million Americans could not find work when they woke up this morning.
Our immigration laws were put in place for two reasons, one, to protect our national security, and two, to protect American jobs. And this proposal by the Gang of Eight violates both of those principles. This plan does nothing to protect our national security. It does not help our legal residents compete for jobs. And it is fiscally irresponsible. So exactly why would we do this? And it is most harmful to our most vulnerable workers, our lower wage earners, and – who will then be out of work and end up becoming a public charge to the American taxpayers – not to mention, if that’s not enough to oppose it, I believe we are slamming the door on our own children who come out of college and now have to compete with others who are being brought in to compete for those possible jobs. This is not good for America, and we must do everything we can to defeat it. Thank you.
MS. VAUGHAN: Thank you, Mr. Barletta.
And now Mr. Brooks.
REPRESENTATIVE MO BROOKS (R-AL) : Hi. This is Congressman Mo Brooks. I, too, want to thank the Center for Immigration Studies for doing this work. I suspect that as more examination of the Senate Gang of Eight bill is undertaken, more and more flaws are going to be exposed.
Generally speaking, I want to emphasize a few points. First, America is far and away the most generous nation in the world when it comes to allowing foreigners our most cherished right, that is, citizenship. We need to be mindful that over the last five years, the average number of foreigners who have been given citizenship varies anywhere from 600,000 on the low side to 1.1 million. So none of us here are talking about ending immigration, but I do want to emphasize that as things stand right now without this amnesty bill that the Gang of Eight is proposing, we are the most generous nation in the world, the most compassionate nation in the world when it comes to allowing foreigners our most cherished right.
Second, the economic impact that has been mentioned, I want to emphasize studies done by Harvard Professor George Borjas. He indicates that as much as 8 percent earning cuts on American workers caused by this immigration that we have looked at in the past, which will even worsen as you increase artificially the supply of labor in America, particularly blue-collar labor. Nationally, Professor Borjas estimates that Americans lose somewhere in the neighborhood of 99 (billion dollars) to $118 billion a year in income as that income is siphoned off by immigrants unlawful.
Third, our labor participation rate is at 63.3 percent. That is the lowest in 40 years, going back to the 1970s. This is not the time to be throwing in millions, tens of millions of immigrants into America when you’ve got an economy that is struggling as this economy is.
And then finally, on the deficit site, the Heritage study has been mentioned, $6.3 trillion in net tax losses over the 50 years ensuing should the Gang of Eight bill pass. Another study by the Federation of Americans for Immigration Reform reveals $99 billion a year in net tax losses from illegal aliens on American soil. If you have anywhere from 11 million on the low side to 15 to 20 million being given amnesty over a period of time plus the additional 30, 33 million that are going to come in as a consequence of the Senate Gang of Eight bill, those are huge numbers. And given the precarious condition of our country’s finances, we simply can’t afford it.
Immigration’s a good thing, but we need to be smart. We need to bring in the people who are going to produce the most, and by that, people who are going to be tax producers, net tax producers, not net tax consumers. And we’ve got the pick of hundreds of millions of people around the world that want to come to America. Let’s be smart and bring in those who are going to do the most for our country.
MS. VAUGHAN: All right. Thank you so much.
Now, we can start the Q-and-A section right now. Again, I’d just remind you the table – the study itself is on our website at www.cis.org. And now I’m going to turn over the administration of the call to Bryan Griffith, who will recognize those questions.
BRYAN GRIFFITH: The caller with the last four digits of the phone number 9227 – that’s 9227 – you are about to be unmuted, and please ask your question.
Q: Hi, this is Andrew Evans with the Washington Free Beacon. Jessica, I have a couple of questions for you, relatedly. First of all, you mentioned in your presentation that the jobs for the temporary workers will be concentrated both geographically and in certain occupations. Where exactly will they be concentrated? And relatedly, will these – will these workers be low-wage workers? That seemed to be the concern of the senator and congressman. Will these indeed be low-wage workers, are you anticipating?
MS. VAUGHAN: Sure. Well, the information that’s been released by the Department of Homeland Security on these visa programs, especially the H-1B program for specialty occupations, shows that they do tend to be concentrated in certain parts of the country. I mean, they can go anywhere, but most of them tend to be California, New Jersey and other major metropolitan areas, and overwhelmingly concentrated in technology-related occupations, particularly technology services.
So as to the question of whether they are low-wage workers, the research that’s out there – and this has been well-documented, both research that we’ve done and other scholars – shows that whether the category is – well, in – particularly in the skilled occupations like H-1B, most of the workers who come in are coming in at entry-level salaries. While there are some wage requirements in the regulations, on average, they tend to be earning at lower levels than similarly occupied American workers.
I am not as familiar with the wage rates in the low-skill categories like the agricultural workers and the H-2B. I don’t think there’s been as much research on the wage-depressing effects in those. It’s more of a displacement effect. But certainly in the professional categories, these workers have been shown to be earning less than the prevailing wage for Americans.
So I would call an H-1B worker a low-wage worker, even though the salary may be high compared to, say, someone who’s working in a job that doesn’t require a college education. But they’re – you know, the important comparison is relative to American workers in that same field. So yes, I would call them low-wage workers.
MR. GRIFFITH: Next question will come from the caller with the last four digits of their phone number, 0709; 0709, you are about to be unmuted.
Q: Hi, yeah, this is Matthew Boyle from Breitbart News. I wanted to ask you guys a kind of, I guess – similarly follows up on this. If I could – the various lawmakers on this call here. If you guys could explain how this really affects average American workers – this isn’t just really going to hit home in the low-wage community; this is going to be – affect middle-class workers as well – (inaudible) – American family.
REP. BROOKS: This is Congressman Mo Brooks. I’m happy to address that. It’s going to have two adverse effects. One, it’s going to suppress the wages of American workers. Simple economics – you increase the supply of anything, that tends to push down the price. And if you have an artificial influx, large number of millions of illegal aliens given amnesty or other immigrants coming in under the Senate eight bill – and if my memory serves me correctly, it’s in the neighborhood of 30 to 33 million over a 10-year period of time. You put those numbers together, you had a large influx, artificially, of a supply of labor. And so that’s why you’ve got various studies that suggest that the decrease, on average, of American workers’ wages is in the 2 to 8 percent. Harvard professor George Borjas has it as high as 8 percent. And this is an April 2013 study, so it just came out a little over a month and a – ago. And the total amount of money lost by American workers is in the neighborhood of $99 to 118 billion per year. So that’s one part of it, suppressed wages.
The other part of it is employment. You’ve got, by way of example, blacks, whose unemployment is in the neighborhood of 13 percent. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, 40 percent of the worsening of the black unemployment has been caused by immigration. There are periods of time in which an economy can absorb large numbers of foreign workers into the American workforce and times when they can’t. And we’ve been either in a recessionary period or a borderline recessionary period for a number of years now. Now is not the time to hurt Americans because of policies that legitimize illegal aliens, on the one hand, or bring in vast amounts of lawful immigrants on the other hand.
So we need a rational policy that takes into account the ebb and flow of our economy in order to minimize the adverse effect on employment of Americans and, of those who have jobs, their wage scales.
MS. VAUGHAN: Thank you, Mr. Brooks. Anyone else have a comment on that?
OK, next question.
MR. GRIFFITH: The next question will come from caller with the last four digits of the phone number 7733. That’s 7733, you’re about to be unmated. Please ask your question. OK, I’m going to put you on mute, but I’ll leave you in the queue, and we can come back to you –
Q: Hear me now?
MR. GRIFFITH: Oh, yeah, there you go.
Q: Sorry, my phone was on mute. This is Serena Marshall with ABC. Just wondering, the Hatch amendment that came in at the end of the committee hearing – didn’t that cover some of these questions within the H-1B?
MS. VAUGHAN: Could you repeat that, please? I didn’t hear part of the question.
Q: Can you hear me now?
MS. VAUGHAN: Yes.
Q: I was just wondering, the Hatch amendment that came in at the end of the hearing – didn’t that cover part of these H-1B concerns that you address about not reaching out to American workers first?
MS. VAUGHAN: Let me first see if Mr. Sessions would like to speak to that, and if not, I can jump in.
SEN. SESSIONS: Well, you know, the tech workers union that’s been reviewing this – they strongly opposed this legislation and believe it does not provide sufficient protections. And I think that’s correct. With so much in that bill that it is hard to assimilate all the complexities in the language, I guess that’s why it’s taken y’all so long to be able to calculate these numbers. But – (laughter) – I do think it’s a real concern, and that we do have people unemployed. We do have college graduates that can take tech jobs that are not getting them.
And these workers are temporary workers. They come here for a limited amount of time, for the most part, they – all these programs are all a little different. But they’re not here as immigrants, for the most part. They come here to do a job and be paid, and they take work from a college graduate or a young kid who needs to get started in the workplace. And I think we need to ask ourselves seriously how many – how much of this can we absorb? And are we not creating a situation where people are on welfare and dependent?
MS. VAUGHAN: Yes, I would echo that, and also just mention that one of the concerns with the Hatch amendment was that it allowed for an increase in the caps in the numbers who would be allowed in as a result of high demand for the program. So you know, it becomes – the more people who are applying, the more we’re going to let in, which of course magnifies both the competition and the – you know, the wage depressing effects of these things.
I mean, it sort of just keeps – that’s why they call it an escalator because it steps up the number of people who would be admitted, as well as tinkering with the provisions that were in the original “Gang of Eight” bill in terms of how the program is used by employers. So yeah, there have been a lot of concerns raised about that amendment.
MR. : It did – it did – the Hatch amendment guided the language in the bill that provided employers to prioritize hiring American workers who are equally or better qualified. The compromise, that language, weakened the protection for American workers.
MS. VAUGHAN: OK. Next question?
MR. GRIFFITH: Neil Munro is next. I’m about to unmute your phone, Neil Munro.
Q: Yeah, hi. I’m Neil Munro from Daily Caller. So here’s a few relevant questions: What’s the size – what will the bill do the quantity of guest workers in the country? From what I can see, the nonagricultural pool of resident workers – professionals and white collars – is around – well, is over a million now. And this increase will push it up to more than 2 million in the long term, not counting an initial spike.
Also – so I’ve been looking to the myvisajobs.com website. And there’s a lot of jobs outside the STEM area. Do you guys have any estimate of what this – how – whether this bill will push more guest workers outside the science and computer world into the general work of marketing and accounting and pharmacy, et cetera?
MS. VAUGHAN: Any of the members have any comments on that particular question or want to go first? If not, I – Mr. Munro, I would say that it’s hard to tell really which occupations would be most effective. We know historically that it has been the technology field, but in fact the H-1B visas and also these new E-3, E-4 and E-5 visas are open to any occupation that requires a bachelor’s degree.
And with – for the full trade agreement visas, it has to be something generally called a service, which can be anything from health care to engineering to accounting to teaching. It’s a huge range of occupations that are covered under this. And so it’s – I know that the nursing field has been particularly impacted by the free trade agreements visas in the past – the programs that we’ve had with Canada and with Mexico.
So there is the potential, you know, as soon as employers begin to have some experience with the program, that there could be some effects that are concentrated in certain occupations. It really is a huge experiment with our labor markets to allow this kind of influx. So we’re not going to really know until it happens.
Q: OK. But do you have any idea of what it will do to the size of this guest worker pool?
MS. VAUGHAN: Well, the size is going –
Q: I mean, because the H-1Bs can stay for six years and the – some of the NAFTA guys for one year, et cetera. And so I’m interested in the size of the resident pool.
MS. VAUGHAN: Well, the NAFTA visas are basically indefinite. They have to be renewed every year. Those, I think, are about 70(,000) to 75,000 each year. While they have to be renewed each year, they are in – you know, they really are unlimited, just like the E visas are. And – you know, and if – essentially the H-1Bs in some sense too. So if the annual increase total is going to be about doubled, then the stock population is going to increase as well, you know, which you can figure out – I mean, I’d be happy to work on that with you offline and try to come up with an estimate over, say, five years, what the stock population would increase. But that’s something I’m going to have to get out a calculator for. (Chuckles.)
Q: Yeah, because that’s a large number. OK, and then this question for the politicians too. The politicians are under pressure from the business guys to be nice, Senator Hatch has shown, and to support business in their district. They don’t want to argue with them. And yet they don’t particularly want to hurt the local workers. So how do politicians maneuver between contending pressure from the business guys and the local workers on this issue? Because as far as I can see, a lot of them are staying quiet on this issue because they don’t want to piss off business, yes, but they’re not supporting this either.
SEN. SESSIONS: This is Jeff Sessions. You hear me?
SEN. SESSIONS: OK. First, I will have to be leaving the call in a – in a minute. But thank you for this great report, and CIS, what you’ve done is very valuable.
What I think most politicians should know is that people, voters, trump money and special interest. And the long-term right thing to do is to defend the legitimate interest of working Americans. And that’s what we’re supposed to do. And I believe that it is not justifiable to have this extraordinary increase in the flow of labor when we don’t have that many jobs. We’ve been telling young people for years we don’t have enough jobs in low-skilled areas; you need to get higher skills. And now we’re at a point where we’re bringing in an increased number of low-skilled workers, not just higher-skilled.
And then we had – I presented quite a number of studies that indicated during the committee hearing that these – that high-skilled college graduates are being – are having their wages and job prospects threatened by this extraordinary flow of foreign workers. I’ve traveled my state. You go into factories – more and more robotics are being used. Fewer and fewer jobs for the normal factory worker are out there. Even though we may be making more widgets, we’re doing it with less people. “Obamacare” has caused them to not want to hire people.
So we just have a period of history in which there are not that many jobs. That’s the plain fact. And we need – the people who wrote this bill won’t even tell us how many jobs – how many people will come under it. We have to get CIS to tell us that. And they’ve done – they’ve presented not – no studies of a serious nature that would dispute multiple studies that indicate this can only have the impact of further depressing workers’ wages, which have been flat to falling for the last 20 years, and the workplace and – percentage of people actually in the workplace is at a record low.
I feel like – I just would say to every objective observer of this scene, let’s ask, will this be a larger number than we can assimilate? Will the new workers soon be out of work? Will American workers be on welfare and dependency when they could be employed? Is this good for America? I’m really worried about the direction we’re going. And thank all of you for participating.
MS. VAUGHAN: OK. If no one else wants to weigh in on Mr. Monroe’s (sp) question, is there someone else that has a question?
MR. GRIFFITH: We did have one more question – (inaudible) – for Jessica. It’s a caller with the last four digits of their phone number 1234 – it’s 1234. You’re about to be unmuted.
MS. VAUGHAN: I hope it’s for me because – I’m the only one here, so I hope it’s for me. (Chuckles.)
Q: Can you hear me? This is Julia Preston from The New York Times.
MS. VAUGHAN: Hi, Julia.
Q: I did have one question for you. I had a question also for Senator Sessions. I’ll catch him on that later. But – so Jessica, as you know, the – one of the reasons that the H-1B program is being revised under the Senate bill is because, for example, this year I think that the demand was met for the basic H-1B visa in – if I’m not mistaken, it was five days or eight days or something like that. And we’ve gone through a period where there was less demand after 2008, but now it’s clearly picked up again. And so that seems to be an indicator of very strong demand for this visa among the companies that are hiring this kind of worker, and so I’m wondering why you think that that’s not the right way to understand this, that that is a flawed indicator of very high demand for this type of foreign temporary immigrant in this – from these particular employers.
MS. VAUGHAN: Well, I think it’s important to ask is the demand for a particular skill because there’s a shortage of that skill, or is the demand for a worker that they can get away with paying a lower salary to. And because, of course, the H-1B program does not require employers to demonstrate that there’s a shortage or to demonstrate that they’ve looked for and couldn’t find American workers, or legal immigrants, for that matter, who could do that job. So, you know, the fact that there are employers asking for these visas does not in itself mean that there’s necessarily a shortage of workers. It just means that they’re choosing to look overseas rather than look for workers that are already in the country. So it’s – you know, I don’t think that the number of H-1B petitions necessary reflects a shortage of works, just the fact that they want to use this program instead of hiring workers who are already here.
And it’s also – you have to remember that the number of applications doesn’t necessarily correspond to specific workers. Like, they’ll just ask for so many petitions to be approved. Not all of those petitions may actually be filled, ultimately. But that’s a different issue. That’s kind of a processing thing.
Q: Has CIS – have you gotten to the point of making specific proposals about the way you think the bill ought to be changed on some kind of technical level, perhaps, or not?
MS. VAUGHAN: Well, we don’t think that there is any justification for increasing the number of guest worker programs, even skilled worker programs, whether it’s H-1B – and certainly no need to add a program like the E4 visas that’s going to be just as big as the H-1B program because there is no demonstrated need for these workers. In fact, the literature that we see and our own research shows that there’s an oversupply in some of these occupations and that, you know, the – you know, these guest worker programs should be linked to economic need, not just the interests of employers who are looking for lower cost labor. So, you know, the problems we see are both with the numerical limits and also the – (inaudible) – the way the program is regulated as well. And, of course, there is a fraud problem in the H-1B category, as has been demonstrated by the internal studies that USCIS has done, that found a 20 percent fraud and noncompliance rate in the program. So in its current form, it’s definitely not serving our economy or U.S. workers, and these changes are not going to necessarily help matters, especially increasing the cap.
Q: OK. Thank you.
MS. VAUGHAN: You’re welcome.
MR. GRIFFITH: We do have one more caller before that – or one more question, excuse me – before we go to that question. We’ll – I just want to remind you, if you have any further questions for Jessica Vaughan – (gives queuing instructions). Right now caller – and I apologize if I pronounce this improperly, but I believe it’s Challon Stevens. I’m going to unmute you at this time. That’s Chaon Stevens (ph). Thank you.
Q: Hi. Challon Stevens (ph) with al.com, Birmingham News. And I had a question about the 1.6 million. I’m curious, are these truly temporary guest workers? And I’m particularly curious about H-1B, V1 and E4. I’m wondering if any of these can transition to immigrant visas and pathway to citizenship.
MS. VAUGHAN: They all can. They are considered temporary – (inaudible). But the way our visa law is written is that anyone who’s not admitted as a permanent immigrant is considered as temporary – (inaudible) – admitted as a nonimmigrant, which means that, you know, your status is limited. But, in fact, the immigration law also provides a way for many of these categories to easily adjust to permanent residency, but you have to be sponsored for it in most cases.
So the H-1B visa is temporary in the sense that if the person isn’t sponsored, then they – their visa status will expire, ultimately, and they’re expected to return. But they can, if their employer sponsors them, move on. Now, the H4 is temporary because that’s, you know, dependent on – that’s for a spouse of an H-1B worker. So they may or may not become permanent; it depends on what, you know, happens with their spouse.
The V1 is like a backdoor work permit. Before – I mean, many of these people will move on to green card status, but many of them may not, because their applications haven’t been reviewed yet, and they may be found to be ineligible or unqualified. So, you know, I would say – you know, depending on, you know, whether it’s found that there are ineligibilities or there’s fraud, there could be a sizable number of those people who are admitted with a work permit and a V1 who will never become green card holders. So it sort of depends on the category. Those are the categories that make up the 1.6. And the H-4 figure is very large in the first year, because not only does it apply to the new H-1B that are issued that year, but also to spouses of all the people who are currently here on an H-1B visa, which we estimate to be something like 750,00 at this time.
So, you know, we don’t know exactly how many people are going to apply right away, but since there’s been always a lot of lobbying from this group to get that work permit for these spouses, I can assume that, you now, it would be pretty large in the first year.
Does that answer your question?
Q: Yeah. Well, I did have one follow-up there. Is that a change on H-1B – how it – currently, can they transition to immigrant visa?
MS. VAUGHAN: If they are sponsored by their employer, yes.
Q: But there is no –
MS. VAUGHAN: Not all of them do, but, you know, it depends on the employer – whether the employer wants to sponsor them, or if they find another employer who wants to sponsor them.
Q: There is no similar provision for H-2B or H-2A currently – low-skill?
MS. VAUGHAN: Correct – correct. And that would be changed by this bill also. The “gang of eight” bill does provide for adjustments to permanent status for those people in guest worker status. That’s a difference, by the way, between the “gang of eight” bill and the ag workers bill that was introduced on the House side. The House bill is really a time limited – (inaudible).
MR. GRIFFITH: OK, Jessica. I believe that completes all the question. I don’t know if you want to give folks a chance to ask you any more questions, or if you want to give them your contact information.
MS. VAUGHAN: Why don’t I – my contact information is – my best phone number for me is area code 508-346-3380. My cell is 774-291-9005, and my email address is [email protected]. So that’s probably the best way to get me.
MR. GRIFFITH: Additionally, if you weren’t able to get that, you can always go to our website, cis.org, and go to the contact page, and we will be able to get you in contact with Jessica Vaughan.
MS. VAUGHAN: Thank you so much for all your interest.