Addressing United States' Skills Shortage - Manufacturers Can Leverage Immigration to Fill Labor Gaps

by David H. Nachman, Esq., Ludka Zimovcak, Esq., Snehal Batra, Esq. and Samantha Chasworth, Esq.

According to the June 2021 America Works Report released by the United States Chamber of Commerce, the United States is facing an unprecedented labor shortage. Can the U.S manufacturers’ labor shortage be solved by leveraging immigration? Read on to find out.

The America Works Report analyzed over 20 years of employment data and federal jobs. Among the analyses within the report is the concerning finding that there are approximately half as many available workers for every currently open job. Moreover, the U.S Chamber of Commerce found that this number continues to decline.

What Is Causing the United States’ Skill Shortage?

While the COVID pandemic is certainly a major contributing factor, it would not be fair to put the entire blame on the pandemic as there are many other factors that have contributed to the United States’ skills shortage.

One of the primary contributing factors to the United States’ skills shortage is the dearth of highly skilled workers in emerging technological spheres such as automation, robotics, and mechatronics. While these spheres are crucial to the further modernization of society, they have hit the manufacturing industry quite hard.

Like many other employers, manufacturers are implementing the offering of benefits in order to retain skilled labor in the industry. However, before employers can implement any such benefits, they have to find the workers who will receive them.

How Can Immigration Be Leveraged to Fill the Labor Gap?

Historically speaking, immigration has been vital to the economic growth of the United States by providing an alternative source of labor to employers in various industries with labor gaps. Similarly, the manufacturing industry can turn to immigration to fill the skills shortage, both for skilled labor and high-level professionals.

While there are certainly limitations in the current system of immigration, such that the needs of all spheres cannot be met, there are still some viable options.

  • Under the L-1 visa, manufacturers that operate internationally can transfer existing employees of a foreign entity to the United States in the form of intracompany transferees. Essentially, the U.S based manufacturer transfers from within the international organization. Therefore, the manufacturer can benefit from specialized knowledge of the company’s products or systems that were gained by the transferee during their employment abroad.
  • The United States can also leverage its international trade agreements with several countries, which include work visa options for the citizens of those countries. The most well-known trade agreement is the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which provides work visa options for citizens of Canada and Mexico for work in the U.S. in a large number of professions. These include engineering technicians, technologists, and computer systems analysts. Notably, most of the professions covered by the USMCA require the worker to have a bachelor’s degree. However, the categories of technologists and engineering technicians allow the worker to qualify for work in the U.S. based on the possession of theoretical knowledge of engineering principles. This option could prove useful for U.S. manufacturers in the effort to fill specialized robotics and mechatronics technician jobs.
  • For more advanced positions, the H-1B work visa can be leveraged by manufacturers, particularly for those jobs that qualify as “specialty occupations.” However, notably, the H-1B visa carries crucial limitations, such as a lottery-based selection process and an annual quota.
  • In order to fill temporary, seasonal needs for both skilled and unskilled labor, manufacturers can also leverage the H-2B work visa.

Final Words

It is important to note that in the United States, there is currently a lot of emphasis on obtaining a four-year bachelor’s degree rather than obtaining technical skills. This results in an ever-increasing skills shortage and labor gap. Meanwhile, other countries such as Germany, Spain, and Finland have highly robust vocational training programs. This large resource of skilled labor in various industries can be tapped into by the United States to ease its labor shortage problem.

The modern focus on innovation means that the skilled workforce needs of the manufacturing industry are evolving. Suppliers must start training employees to work with advanced robotics, high-speed video cameras, precision assembly, software development, and data sciences. Lastly, each manufacturer is unique in its operational needs and hence should evaluate with great care how immigration can be leveraged to fill their specific skills shortage.

If you have any questions or need any additional information about US or Canadian Immigration and Nationality Laws, contact the immigration and nationality lawyers at the NPZ Law Group. If you have more questions about how these laws in the US may impact you or your family, contact the lawyers specialized in US Immigration and Nationality laws at our law firm. You can also send us an email at info@visaserve.com or you can call us at 201-670-0006 (x104). In addition to that, we invite you to find more information on our website at www.visaserve.com


About The Author

David H. Nachman, Esq. is one of the Managing Attorneys at the Nachman Phulwani Zimovcak (NPZ) Law Group, P.C., a pre-eminent International Immigration and Nationality Law Firm dedicated to providing a wide array of business and family immigration law services for skilled U.S.-and Canada-bound workers. The Attorneys in our Law Firm assist clients with waivers, marriage cases, citizenship applications, I-130 sponsorship for family, etc.


Ludka Zimovcak, Esq. is a Managing Attorney at NPZ Law Group, PC. Mrs. Zimovcak's passion for excellence in immigration law derives from her own family's first-hand immigration experiences. She is fully licensed to practice as an Attorney in Slovakia and New York.


Snehal Batra, Esq. is Managing Attorney of our Raritan, NJ office at the Nachman Phulwani Zimovcak (NPZ) Law Group, P.C., a pre-eminent International Immigration and Nationality Law Firm dedicated to providing a wide array of business and family immigration law services for skilled U.S.-and Canada-bound workers. Ms. Batra is an Indian-American attorney with a passion for immigration law which derives from being an immigrant herself. Having been born in India and raised in New Jersey, Ms. Batra understands firsthand the many difficulties and challenges that immigrants commonly experience while engaged in the U.S. immigration process. As such, she is eager to help families, businesses and individual immigrants to realize the American dream.


Samantha Chasworth, Esq. is Counsel at the Nachman Phulwani Zimovcak (NPZ) Law Group, P.C., a pre-eminent International Immigration and Nationality Law Firm dedicated to providing a wide array of business and family immigration law services for skilled U.S.-and Canada-bound workers. Ms. Chasworth earned a Juris Doctorate (JD) from the St. John's University School of Law in Queens, New York, where she was an editor on the Journal of Civil Rights and Economic Development and participated in numerous immigration and family law clinics and internships including time at the US-Mexico Border at the Karnes County Civil Detention Center.


The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.