Austin business leaders wary of immigration changes


Austin employed as many as 5,600 certified H-1B visa holders last year.   File photo

The Austin Chamber of Commerce, supporters of the federal H-1B visa program, have rushed to the defense of the immigration law amid reports President Donald Trump's administration may curtail the program.

According to U.S. Department of Labor, the H-1B program “applies to employers seeking to hire non-immigrant aliens as workers in specialty occupations or as fashion models of distinguished merit and ability.”

Drew Scheberle, the Chamber’s senior vice president of federal and state advocacy, released a statement encouraging expansion of the program, hailing it as a source of talent for U.S. businesses.

“For decades, the Austin Chamber Board of Directors has supported broadening availability of H1-B visas,” the statement read. “The program, which supplements our workforce, is vital to the economy here in Central Texas as well as throughout the state and across the country. An increase in an H1-B cap for traditional, direct employers is welcome. We urge our elected leaders and President Trump to ensure America remains competitive and wins the race for the best talent without adding onerous restrictions that could be harmful to our economy."

The Austin Business Journal said the city employed as many as 5,600 certified H-1B visa holders last year.

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