WASHINGTON – 2024 Republican presidential hopeful and biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy defended his past use of the H1-B visa program, despite his calls to dismantle the system.
Ramaswamy has called the program, which issues temporary visas for high-skilled foreign workers in specialized industries, a form of “indentured servitude.” But from 2018 to 2023, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services approved 29 H1-B applications for Roivant Sciences, Ramaswamy’s former biotech firm, Politico reported.
In an interview on “Fox News Sunday,” Ramaswamy said he “played within the rules that have been given to us by the government,” and said if elected, he would reform the program.
“I believe the energy system in this country and energy regulation needs drastic reform too. But I still use water and electricity and turn on the lights,” Ramaswamy said. “So the fact of the matter is, I have an understanding of the regulatory apparatus because I have dealt with it as a CEO and an entrepreneur who has built multiple companies.”
Ramaswamy criticized the program’s random selection process. Applications for H1-B visas far outnumber the available slots by hundreds of thousands. Instead, Ramaswamy said he would replace the program with “meritocratic admission.”
“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.”
The presidential candidate, who is the child of immigrants, has expressed support for hard-right immigration policies, including the use of military force on the southern border and deporting U.S.-born children of undocumented immigrants, in spite of the 14th Amendment, which grants birthright citizenship.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Vivek Ramaswamy defends use of H1-B visa program despite vow to gut it