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Global Business Team

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Employment-based immigration restrictions hinder tech development

Companies in Indiana have expressed concern that immigration restrictions, including new policies making it harder to bring workers from abroad or hire foreign graduates of U.S. colleges, may make American businesses less competitive. The development of artificial intelligence for military and commercial use relies on hiring the most advanced and skilled tech workers, and many companies say that American advantages in these areas rely substantially on openness to immigrants. The number of green cards permitted for employment immigration each year have not moved in decades, making it more difficult for advanced tech workers with strong skills to work for U.S. companies.

In many of the major U.S. companies working on AI and other advanced technologies, immigrants play a role in both corporate leadership and direct tech development, including research into machine learning and AI deployment. A full 66% of graduate students at U.S. universities studying AI-related disciplines are students from abroad. Many companies and universities have raised concerns about an immigration system that is only growing more, rather than less, restrictive. Limits on employment-based green cards have not changed since 1990 despite the rapidly growing and changing economy. Despite claims that the current administration supports a merit-based immigration system, in practice, companies have found even more restrictions on the use or renewal of H1-B visas.

Backlogs for applications for employment immigration number in the millions, despite largely reflecting the most skilled category of immigrants. Scientists in particular have noted that their research has been held back due to lengthy delays for visa applications even as other countries work hard to attract skilled tech workers.

Companies seeking to navigate the immigration system to bring in more advanced developers from abroad may face challenges. An immigration law attorney may provide advice and representation to help companies work through the system and complete the process effectively.