In the tempestuous debates about immigration policy, the humble H-1B temporary visa tends to be overlooked. Streams of desperate Central Americans marching toward the border tend to evoke strong emotions on all sides, while tech professionals from India working in Silicon Valley elicit fewer objections. But H-1B workers are important to national prosperity, and the program is under threat from the Donald Trump administration.
A recent paper by economists Stephen Dimmock, Jiekun Huang and Scott Weisbenner found that companies that win the H-1B visa lottery — which is held in years when applications exceed the number of visas — tend to receive more venture-capital funding, tend to be more successful and produce more patents. Furthermore, H-1Bs help native-born workers. Studies by economists Giovanni Peri, Kevin Shih and Chad Sparber, comparing across cities, have found that allowing in more H-1B workers raises wages for native-born high-skilled U.S. workers, and doesn’t hurt their employment levels.
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