Losing the Best and the Brightest: The Disappearing Wage Premium for H-1B Visa Recipients

Danielle Drago · 17 Vand. J. Ent. & Tech. 4

Abstract

The pressure for immigration reform in the technology industry revolves heavily around the use of the H-1B visa, which allows companies to temporarily hire highly skilled workers. This Note provides an empirical analysis of the historical wages of H-1B workers and domestic workers in the technology industry to determine whether H-1B workers earn more or less than domestic workers in the same industry. In the technology industry, H-1B workers’ wage premium has eroded in recent years relative to domestic workers, leading to stagnant wages that may deter the “best and the brightest” from choosing to enter into the H-1B process. To enhance the H-1B program, Congress should adopt immigration reform that sets aside a certain number of visas specifically for the technology industry. Additionally, this reform should mimic Canada’s hybrid system by adopting a points-based system that gives preference to immigrants with arranged employment opportunities. Finally, as seen in the success of Canada’s Provincial Nominee Program, the reform should allot these visas to each state to determine the most effective and efficient allocation of H-1B visas in the state and allow immigrants to apply directly to each state.