“The stability of the American workforce – including (H-1B workers) – cannot be more important than when the Trump administration and the nation as a whole expect our companies to strengthen the backbone of the economy,” it said it said in a statement from the organization.
In the first quarter of 2020, applications were made for 2,227 new or extended H-1B visas for jobs in Georgia. The new visas are valid for three years.
In 2019, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services petitions for a total of 7,673 new or upgraded H-1B visas for more than 1,800 Georgia based companies, according to the agency’s website. Companies ranged from a few Fortune 500 companies like Home Depot (167 new or expanded petitions) and Delta Air Lines (26) to universities, hospitals, warehouses, and manufacturers. The majority went to smaller companies that are part of Georgia’s growing technology sector.
Due to the visa extension and job change, it is difficult to get the total number of H-1B workers in the state.
The law states that a highly skilled workforce must have the theoretical or technical expertise that companies need. Corporations must show they have difficulty hiring US workers for the positions and promise to pay wages in line or higher than Americans do if they are doing the same job.
“When you look at the technology sector, it is always difficult for companies to fill jobs. The US just doesn’t produce enough (science and technology) graduates to fill the vacancies, ”said Alexandra Holland, an immigration attorney with Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart and a volunteer with the Technology Association of the International Business Society in Georgia.
While computer-related fields are expected to have more than 1 million US employees this year, universities have produced fewer than 56,000 graduates in the field, according to a study.
Holland said Metro Atlanta ranks in the top 15 in the US for tech job growth.
“Georgia and Metro Atlanta have become a technology hub in the southeast,” she said.
Some unions and others complain that foreign workers are being used to undercut American workers and keep wages down.
Harvard Business Review’s look at recent studies found that areas such as software development and data scientists are experiencing labor shortages, but not other technical areas of work.
The new visa restrictions also apply to seasonal workers such as landscapers and resort workers, as well as some students and cultural workers. However, they do not apply to farm workers who help bring in Georgia’s crops, from cotton to vegetables to peaches.