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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Pilot a points-based immigrant selection process to “fast track” a number of highly qualified foreign workers toward permanent residence.
- 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.
- 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.