The H-1B visa allows degree-holding professionals in certain specialty occupations, along with a couple of other categories of workers, to live and work in the U.S. for between three and six years. This visa is commonly used to bring in people with certain credentials to fill jobs that are not easily filled by U.S. workers. An H-1B requires a job offer from a U.S. employer who is willing to petition for the worker and submit a Labor Condition Application.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services claims that it is "relentlessly pursuing necessary immigration reforms that move towards a merit-based system," but Congress hasn't yet authorized any changes to the system. Indeed, there is still a great deal of disagreement about what an ideal immigration system might look like.