New TechHire Program to Train U.S. Workers Using H1B Fees

President Obama has announced a program, known as TechHire, which will apply $100 million collected from the H1B training fees toward technical training for the U.S. workforce. As explained by the White House, the United States has “[o]ver half a million of those job openings … in information technology (IT) fields…,” and this training will provide Americans with the skills needed to fill some of these well-paying positions.

ACWIA “Training Fee”

Employers must pay a fee in the amount of $1,500 with most H1B petitions. This fee is reduced to $750 for employers with 25 or fewer employees. The proper name of this fee is the American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act (ACWIA) fee, but it is more commonly referred to as the H1B training fee. Enacted in 1998, the purpose of the fee is to fund job training, scholarships, and grants to U.S. workers, specifically in STEM disciplines. Over the years, these fees have been used to fund a variety of different training programs.

TechHire Initiative to Enhance Job Skills of U.S. Workers

President Obama’s TechHire initiative is more comprehensive than previous uses of the training fee. TechHire is a multi-pronged approach, administered in cooperation with participating communities across the United States. The programs will run through universities, community colleges, and “…nontraditional training options like ‘coding bootcamps’ and high-quality online courses.”

At the onset of the TechHire program, more than twenty communities will be participating. These include both major metropolitan areas and more rural parts of the country. The program is partnering with employers in need of skilled workers to help provide the necessary training. The $100 million allocated will be distributed through a competitive grant application process.


Efforts to help make American workers more competitive through this particular program are only possible because of the tens of thousands of H1B workers who labor in the United States every year, ensuring that this country remains home to the best and brightest the world has to offer. As study after study after study has shown, the H1B program is a positive force that helps to keep the American economy rolling.


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