If Vivek Ramaswamy is elected president, he has threatened to “gut” the system for H-1B temporary labor visas.
He has employed high-skilled foreign workers through this scheme in the past for the pharmaceutical company that has contributed significantly to his riches.
The H-1B visa program, which enables American businesses to hire foreign workers for specialized positions in tech and other fields, was used 29 times by Ramaswamy’s previous company, Roivant Sciences, between 2018 and 2023.
Ramaswamy told POLITICO that the H-1B system is “bad for everyone involved,” nevertheless.
“A real meritocratic admission process needs to take the place of the lottery method. It amounts to an indentured servitude that exclusively benefits the employer who sponsored the H-1B foreigner. In a statement, he added, “I’ll gut it. The U.S. needs to stop chain-based migration.
“The immigrants who come as family members are not the meritocratic immigrants who contribute to this country through their skill-based labor.”
Ramaswamy left his position as Roivant’s CEO in February 2021, although he continued to serve as the board of directors’ chair until he declared his candidacy for president in February of this year. According to the company’s SEC filings, as of March 31, it and its subsidiaries had 904 full-time employees, including 825 in the United States.
Press secretary Tricia McLaughlin responded to a question regarding the discrepancy between the GOP presidential candidate’s policy positions and his prior business practices by stating that a policymaker’s job “is to do what’s right for a country overall: the system is broken and needs to be fixed.”
Vivek still uses water and power, she claimed in a statement, despite the fact that he thinks the rules governing the American energy industry are seriously flawed. “This is the exact same.”
Ramaswamy, who is the son of immigrants, has made news for his goal of restrictive immigration laws.
His language has occasionally gone further than the other candidates’, even if it is not new to the GOP playbook. He calls for the replacement of lottery-based visas, such the H-1B worker visas, with “meritocratic” entry. He has also declared he would deport undocumented immigrants’ children who were born in the United States and that he would use military force to control the border.
Demand for H-1B visas is strong, and the need for these workers is only growing: For the fiscal year 2021, American companies increased their application volume by more than 60%, submitting 780,884 for just 85,000 places.
At the first GOP debate in Milwaukee, Ramaswamy mentioned his own experience with immigration in his opening remarks.
“My parents came to this country 40 years ago with no money,” he remarked. I later founded businesses worth billions of dollars.
Ramaswamy’s attitude on H-1B visas is similar of Donald Trump’s language during the 2016 presidential campaign. Trump, who has employed several foreign nationals under H-1B visas for his enterprises, initially adopted a tough stance against these foreign nationals before eventually softening it.
As part of a comprehensive effort to reduce immigration to the United States, Trump temporarily banned new work visas and barred hundreds of thousands of foreign employees from employment.