Employment-Based Immigration

Although big business likes to claim that our present high level of immigration is necessary for its survival and the robustness of our economy, many Americans find the idea that American know-how and ingenuity must be imported from abroad absurd, and a brief look at the facts about what business is actually doing with its part of the immigration system backs them up.

admissions 2000 chart

The bulk of immigrants are admitted because they have a relative here—nepotism, in effect. Only a small part of overall annual immigration comes through employment-based admissions (the people admitted as permanent immigrants for business purposes and at business’s demand). In fact, fewer than 13 percent of immigrant admissions in 2000 were in the employment-based category—just 107,024 people.

Big business would have the public think that these 107,024 people were indispensable. But to whom did those employment-based admissions really go? A lot of those admissions don’t go to workers at all (employment-based “principals”, as they are called); they go to their children and spouses. Only about half of employment-based visas actually go to principals. That means that only five percent of immigrants admitted every year are employment-based principals.

But if you think that these principals are all scientists and engineers—the kinds of technological specialists that business claims it needs so much—you are wrong. Only 25 percent of the total number of immigrants admitted in 2000 were high-tech professionals (engineers, mathematicians, computer scientists, natural scientists, technologists, or technicians).

Since employment-based principals are only six percent of annual immigrant admissions, and since only 25 percent of those principals are in high-tech professions, that means that fewer than two percent of annual immigrant admissions are of employment-based principals in high-tech professions. In 2000, that amounted to a total of 12,561 people.

It seems hard to believe that business couldn’t find—or our educational system produce—enough Americans in those professions if we chose to end our dependence on foreign labor.

professions 2000 chart

admissions 2000 chart

Updated 10/02