While highly educated engineers and entrepreneurs around the world are being denied a chance to work in America, an unlikely group of people is obtaining the H-1B visas usually reserved for high-skilled workers: fashion models.
Fashion models are included in the H-1B visa category, leaving fewer of these visas for the highly educated and skilled workers who make up the majority of applicants and H-1B visa recipients, according to a new report from Bloomberg. Fewer than half of the fashion models with H-1B visas have a high-school education.
Due to the high number of applicants for H-1B visas this year, the government was forced to hold a lottery to allocate the visas, leaving 39,000 forced to reapply for a temporary work visa next year, according to The Hill. Bloomberg reports that John Conyers Jr., D-Mich., said the inclusion of fashion models in the same category as highly skilled workers had “increasingly caused real problems” as demand for H-1B visas has surpassed supply.
Fashion models are almost twice as likely to get their visas as computer programmers, by one rough calculation in the Bloomberg article. Of 478 initial applications made for fashion models in 2010, Citizenship and Immigration Services approved 250 of them for visas. This stands in contrast to the 325,000 H-1B petitions that were filed for computer-related occupations, where only 90,800 visas were distributed to foreign information-technology workers.
Immigration reform legislation passed the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday night with bipartisan support. According to NPR, the bill included a provision negotiated by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, to increase the number of highly skilled worker visas.
NPR reports that under the provision, the number of highly skilled workers admitted to the country would rise from 65,000 annually to 110,000, with a possible increase of up to 180,000, depending on the demand for foreign workers and the availability of domestic workers.
This may be welcome news for the aspiring scientists and innovators who are hoping to make their name in America’s technology companies and not on its runways.