An H-1B visa allows a foreign workers come to the United States and promise to work for the same company for six years, usually at lower wages than under a free market. Free enterprise economist Milton Friedman observed, "There is no doubt," he says, "that the [H-1B] program is a benefit to their employers, enabling them to get workers at a lower wage, and to that extent, it is a subsidy."
Large companies in the high tech industry, such as Microsoft, prefer to hire workers on H-1B visas because those workers are unlikely ever to compete with their employers. The law generally requires those workers to remain with their initial employer for six years and remain working on the tasks specified in the original visa, or else leave the country. It is difficult to switch employers and even if there is a switch in employment, the worker must continue to work as specified in the original visa. After the six years elapses, the worker must leave the country unless the employer obtains an extension, or invites the worker back after a year outside the country.
The opposite side of the coin, the worker who applies for and is granted a visa, gains something he would not otherwise have. He gains temporary residence in the US of A and the benefits that accrue therefrom. He has reliable community services, most of the freedom enjoyed by every citizen and opportunity to better his position in life.
The number of H-1B visas issued per year cannot currently exceed 65,000, plus another 20,000 for those with U.S. graduate degrees. There is no limit on H-1B visas for universities, non-profit research laboratories and government research laboratories.
There is a controversial bill in Congress to increase the number of H-1B visas allowed.