GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy stated he would put an end to the H-1B visa program, referring to it as “indentured servitude.”
The program, highly sought after by Indian IT professionals, allows American companies to employ foreign workers in specialist roles requiring technical expertise, bypassing typical immigration procedures.
H-1B is “bad for everyone involved,” Ramaswamy said in a statement to Politico. “The lottery system needs to be replaced by actual meritocratic admission. It’s a form of indentured servitude that only accrues to the benefit of the company that sponsored an H-1B immigrant. I’ll gut it.” Ramaswamy also called for the abolition of chain migration: “The people who come as family members are not the meritocratic immigrants who make skills-based contributions to this country.”
Ramaswamy’s stance on immigration policy is very restrictionist, even for GOP politicians, which is what caused his statement to raise eyebrows in the media.
But, also according to Politico, Ramaswamy’s biotech firm Roivant Sciences requested 29 H-1B visa applications from 2018 to 2023. In response to this, his press secretary Tricia McLaughlin said a good politician intends “to do what’s right for a country overall: the system is broken and needs to be fixed […] Vivek believes that regulations overseeing the U.S. energy sector are badly broken, but he still uses water and electricity[.] This is the same.”
Similarly, in an interview with Fox News Sunday Ramaswamy said he “played within the rules that have been given to us by the government,” adding that he would do what is right if elected by ending it.
.@Politico tried to play “gotcha” by saying I want to gut the H1-B system even though my companies have used it to hire foreign graduates from top U.S: universities. Well, U.S. energy sector regulations are badly broken, but I still use water & electricity. Turns out I actually… pic.twitter.com/EpbLY5S5Pc
— Vivek Ramaswamy (@VivekGRamaswamy) September 17, 2023
Ramaswamy specifically criticized the system’s process of random selection, or “lottery” element, saying it needs to be replaced with merit of all forms. “Why on earth would you use a lottery when you could just use meritocratic admission instead? Restore merit,” Ramaswamy said. “We have to gut that system, restore meritocratic immigration, which is skills, not just tech skills, but all kinds of skills to match what we need in this country.”