The Committee for Economic Development of The Conference Board — a nonpartisan, public policy think tank — issued a policy brief recommending six specific US immigration policy reforms to increase global competitiveness and boost the US workforce. Recommendations include streamlining the H-1B visa process to strengthen the country’s attractiveness to the most in-demand foreign workers and increasing economically motivated offers of permanent residence.

“The native-born population of the US is projected to increase by an average of just 0.4% per year over the next four decades,” said Howard Fluhr, chairman emeritus of Segal and co-chair of CED’s Workforce Subcommittee. “Amid this daunting slowdown, immigration reform represents a feasible path for boosting our workforce – and ultimately, the nation’s prosperity.”

The six recommendations in the policy statement include:

  1. Reform the H-1B visa application and approval process to make the US more attractive to the most in-demand international workers. This includes increasing the frequency of visa allotments, speeding up the approval process and prioritizing the most in-demand applicants.
  2. Make the H-1B visa’s pathway to permanent residence more predictable and attractive for in-demand workers by enabling visa holders to nominate themselves for permanent resident status and offering temporary work authorization for spouses of visa holders on track for permanent residence.
  3. Increase annual offers of permanent residence to immigrants selected for economic reasons, while protecting existing family reunification visa levels and the diversity lottery, and removing country-of-origin based limitations.
  4. Pilot a points-based immigrant selection process to “fast track” a number of highly qualified foreign workers toward permanent residence.
  5. Set aside an annual allocation of “place-based” employment visas to ensure that more communities can compete for and benefit from the international talent needed in their region.
  6. Establish a bipartisan workforce and immigration policy advisory board to inform US immigration policy discussions, legislation, and oversight.

The CED, founded in 1942, is comprised of top-level business executives including chairs, CEOs and senior executives of major corporations; university and college presidents; former corporate leaders; and leaders of prominent NGOs. The recommendations in the policy statement are not necessarily endorsed by all members.