Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy has promised to reform the H-1B visa system if elected. Ramaswamy, who has used the H-1B visa program in the past to hire skilled foreign workers for his pharmaceutical company Roivant Sciences, believes the current system is flawed and needs to be replaced.
Ramaswamy has criticized the lottery-based system for selecting H-1B visa recipients and advocated for a merit-based approach. He argues that the current system amounts to “debt slavery” and only benefits companies that sponsor immigrants on H-1B visas. In addition to reforming the H-1B visa system, Ramaswamy also advocates for eliminating chain migration, arguing that family members are not necessarily the most skilled immigrants to contribute to the country.
While some have questioned the inconsistency between Ramaswamy’s business practices and his political stance, his press secretary defended his position, saying his role as a policymaker is to address deficiencies in the system and drive overall improvements.
H-1B visas are in high demand and the number of applications far exceeds the available spaces. In fiscal year 2021 alone, U.S. companies submitted more than 780,000 applications for just 85,000 positions. This growing demand highlights the importance of addressing deficiencies in the current system.
Ramaswamy’s immigration policies are consistent with those of other Republican candidates, but his rhetoric has at times been more restrictive. He proposes replacing lottery visas with a merit-based system and advocates securing the border with military force. Additionally, it supports the deportation of U.S.-born children of undocumented immigrants.
Ramaswamy’s stance on the H-1B visa system mirrors former President Donald Trump’s position during the 2016 campaign. Trump, who also employed foreign workers through the H-1B visa program, implemented policies limiting immigration during his presidency.
Overall, Ramaswamy’s promise to reform the H-1B visa system demonstrates his commitment to addressing the flaws and inefficiencies in the current immigration system. Whether his proposals will gain acceptance remains to be seen, but his stance is consistent with a growing sense of change within the Republican Party.