Editor’s note: In a blog post, Brooks Raiford, president and CEO of the North Carolina Technology Association, calls for “support” of more high-tech H-1B visas to help companies meet demand for workers. Be sure to see links with this post about WTW coverage of the H-1B issue, such as “lost jobs” and new layoffs at IBM.

Here’s the post:

Immigration Innovation Act – A Call for Support

It should be no secret at this point that the tech industry is facing an impending talent crisis. In order to continue to flourish, the US economy needs to attract highly skilled professionals in both the domestic and foreign markets. High skilled immigration is one of the biggest problems presently facing the American workforce. Fortunately, Congress has taken notice and the Immigration Innovation Act or I-Squared Act has once again been introduced with strong bipartisan support. This bill is important to help address the needs of the US economy and our position in the global marketplace. Failing to address these needs could have drastic ramifications on the global competiveness of the United States and US companies.

Current immigration laws are based off of standards which haven’t been changed in decades. At present the H-1B yearly cap is an outdated arbitrary number chosen in Washington. This number does not accurately reflect the current demand for workers in the economy. Currently the annual cap is 65,000, but I-Squared would bring that number up to between 115,000 and 195,000, allowing the actual number to fluctuate yearly depending on market conditions and present demand.

In addition to increasing the visa cap and replacing it with a market system, the Immigration Innovation act would address the current green card crisis. I-Squared would offer relief to the thousands of backlogged foreign professionals whom are seeking to permanently contribute to the economy. The bill also has provisions to assist with funding for STEM education and worker training programs in the states.

The tech industry in North Carolina has emerged as an important part of the state’s economy accounting for 5.5% according to the most recent North Carolina State of Technology Industry Report.  In addition from 2008-2013, jobs increased 7.1% in the industry, with an average wage of $105,000.  North Carolina ranks in the top six states for tech employment growth, and the top eleven states for average wage (adjusted for purchasing power).

We urge Senator Burr to take the opportunity to again co-sponsor this important bill as he did in the last congress. North Carolina’s tech industry is growing but in order to be competitive we need access to talent. The I-Squared bill would give North Carolina the ability to compete with other states and within the global marketplace for talent.