Stuart Anderson has long written in favor of the H-1B work visa, and indeed makes his living from it, via his (apparently one-man) organization, the National Foundation for Public Policy. He also wrote the 2000 H-1B law as a Hill staffer, and later was at the USCIS. He’s getting publicity for his latest study in various places, including a Wall Street Journal blog.
Yet, oddly, the study confirms what I’ve been saying for a long time: The H-1Bs are generally NOT the best and the brightest, and the nation would benefit by changing the visa program to focus on the outstanding talents. Anderson’s findings, in other words, show exactly what is WRONG with H-1B and various proposals to reform it.
- Anderson finds that immigrants are founders (OR cofounders, a point I’ll come back to) of 51% of the billion-dollar startups. Yet immigrants form more than 51% of Silicon Valley techies, so once again we see that the immigrants are UNDERperforming.
- Among those immigrant founders, 14 (out of 44) are from India, 32%. Yet Indians form 70% of the H-1Bs. So the Indians are underperforming too. Most of the founders are from countries from which we have rather few H-1Bs, such as Western Europe, Canada and Israel.
- Only 1/4 of the immigrant founders came to the U.S. as foreign students, counter to the industry’s claim that foreign students are the best of the H-1Bs.
- Of those with U.S. degrees, most are from the really top schools, such as MIT and Stanford — quite a contrast to the Staple a Green Card proposals, which would give an automatic green card to any foreign STEM graduate student, no matter how weak the school is.
As usual in these “studies,” anyone born abroad is considered an immigrant, such as an example Anderson cites, Kenneth Lin of Credit Karma. Lin immigrated to the U.S. with his parents at age 4, hardly the poster boy for the H-1B work visa program that Anderson implies. Others on Anderson’s listed cofounded their firms with Americans, yet he gives them full credit.
Before H-1B, we had the old H-1 visa, titled “Aliens of Distinguished Merit and
Ability,” basically the “best and brightest” theme. That did deteriorate over the years, so that anyone with a college degree because “distinguished,” but it certainly had the right intent. Anderson’s study shows that H-1B doesn’t fulfill that intent at all.