During a virtual event held yesterday by WisPolitics.com, WisBusiness.com and the Wisconsin Technology Council, panelists also offered some solutions that could improve the state's workforce outlook.
Ankit Agarwal, president and CEO of Imbed Biosciences in Madison, discussed the difficulties he's had with hiring new graduates of Wisconsin universities that hail from other countries. Because the number of H1B employment-based work visas is capped at 65,000 per year, he said most of the 200,000 annual applicants are unable to stay and work in the United States after graduation.
"On one hand we talk about growth in businesses, growth in startups, hiring more highly educated workforce -- but on the other hand, this 65,000 number has been around for the last 20 years," he said. "How can we grow workforce and grow the education system ... but not increase the H1B visas which is the only way for them to become part of the American workforce?"
Kelly Fortier, an immigration attorney with the law firm Michael Best & Friedrich, agreed with Agarwal that the cap for H1B visas should be expanded, calling it "a really easy solution" to address shortages in industries that require highly skilled workers. She noted the cap was temporarily increased to over 200,000 during the "dot-com boom" of the late 1990s, but was then reduced back to its current level.
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