Temporary Professional, Managerial, and Skilled Foreign Workers: Policy and Trends

Source: Ruth Ellen Wasem, Congressional Research Service, CRS Report, R43735, January 13, 2016

Temporary visas for professional, managerial, and skilled foreign workers have become an important gateway for high-skilled immigration to the United States. Over the past two decades, the number of visas issued for temporary employment-based admission has more than doubled from just over 400,000 in FY1994 to over 1 million in FY2014. While these visa numbers include some unskilled and low-skilled workers as well as accompanying family members, the visas for managerial, skilled, and professional workers dominate the trends. ……. Policy makers and advocates have focused on two visa categories in particular: H-1B visas for professional specialty workers, and L visas for intra-company transferees. These two nonimmigrant visas epitomize the tensions between the global competition for talent and potential adverse effects on the U.S. workforce. The employers of H-1B workers are the only ones required to meet labor market tests in order to hire professional, managerial, and skilled foreign workers. ….

…..This report opens with an overview of the policy issues. It follows with a summary of each of the various visa categories available for temporary professional, managerial, and skilled foreign workers as well as an analysis of the trends in the use of these various visas over the past two decades. The policy of authorizing foreign students to work in the United States for at least a year following graduation is discussed next. The labor market tests for employers hiring temporary foreign workers are also summarized. The rules regarding federal taxation of professional, managerial, and skilled foreign workers are explained. The report concludes with a discussion of the avenues for professional, managerial, and skilled foreign workers to become legal permanent residents (LPRs) in the United States…..