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Why tech majors like Google and Amazon don’t want H-1B kids to “age out”

Reuters/Eduardo Munoz
Keep ’em close.
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America’s technology behemoths are worried about their foreign workers’ children.

In a letter to Alejandro Mayorkas, the US secretary of homeland security, a coalition of tech companies like Amazon, Google, and Twitter, has urged the government of that country to let the children of visa holders stay past the age of 21.

More than 200,000 children of high-skilled immigrants are at risk of being booted out of the country under the current immigration system.

The idea that these children, having spent their entire lives in America, can’t continue staying on their dependent visas causes stress, anxiety, and depression in families. More importantly for tech companies, which hire most of the H-1B workers, it makes parents reconsider their decision to live and work in the US.

“This uncertainty harms families and prevents our companies from attracting and retaining critical talent in the US,” the signatories wrote in their letter to Mayorkas. The children have to either leave the country or attempt to “re-enter the labyrinthine, high-stakes immigration system for a different visa where options are extremely limited.”

Immigrants and their American-bred children migrating to other parts of the world is particularly ominous for the US technology sector.

Plugging America’s tech skills gap

As of March, American companies had more than 11 million open jobs, five million more than the number of suitable workers available. Demand for technology talent has been especially high.

“Many of these job vacancies are for highly-skilled positions, and US companies recruit foreign-born workers to fill in the worker shortages,” the letter stated. “These openings are especially critical given the pandemic as the US seeks to maintain its ‘world leader’ status in innovation and ingenuity.”

As a long-term solution to retain foreign talent—and thereby maintain America’s competitive edge—the tech firms also encouraged the Biden administration to pass a bipartisan America’s Children Act.

The bill will create a pathway to citizenship for these young “documented dreamers” by locking in their age to the date they file for a green card. This eliminates the concern of a green card being issued after they turn 21.