President Obama announced today that he will present his long-awaited immigration plan Thursday night. Included in the proposal, Bloomberg reports, is an expansion of the temporary visa program that currently enables foreign graduates in science and engineering fields to work in the U.S. for up to 29 months.
Between 100,000 and 200,000 people are currently in the U.S. on these temporary visas, numbers that tech companies argue are nowhere near high enough to meet their demand for skilled labor. Increasing the temporary visa cap is a step, though one that is neither permanent nor perfect. For instance, the program doesn’t stipulate that workers be paid at standard industry rates, opening the door for exploitation on the part of employers.
The Guardian and The Center for Investigative Reporting recently produced a deep dive into the world of “body shops,” recruiting firms that broker jobs and secure temporary visas for immigrant workers, and in the process exploit their eagerness to work in the U.S. According to the report, such high-profile companies as Cisco, Verizon, and Apple have all used these services. The expansion of the temporary visa program could potentially cut out the middleman and better protect the rights of foreign workers.