Records from UNESCO earmark the U.S. as the number one destination for international learners pursuing careers and professional development abroad. Currently, international students from India and China are flocking to the U.S. in search for skills development and a better life.
The H-1B visa route
However, U.S. legislation provides that international students must first apply, quality and gain permanent residency in the country to start commercial entities within the U.S. territory. Most international students achieve the goal above through the H-1B visa program, which provides the coveted green card. Through this program, American corporations opt to sponsor international students and ultimately offers long-term employment upon completion of studies.
The EB-5 Investor Visa
Alternatively, international students may use the EB-5 investor visa. Under this program, they are required to invest at least $500,000 in a profit-making entity that must have 10 permanent full-time employment opportunities for American workers. Most international learners cannot afford such money immediately after graduation.
Currently, the H-1B visa program is facing endless criticism for the delaying the issuance of green cards to deserving applicants. A large number of the Indian immigrant populace in the U.S. have been waiting to receive their green cards for a long time. The present-day immigration policies in the U.S. are biased against Indian immigrants.
Long waiting time for Indians to receive their Green Card
Approximately 306,400 employed Indian immigrants were waiting for their green cards in April 2018. It is shocking to note that the number of Indian children and spouses waiting to receive the green card is 632,219. Meanwhile, the maximum waiting time listed under the personal classification EB-2 cluster stands at 151 years. Hence, it is harmless to conclude that most of these foreigners will never live to receive their green cards.
The Effect of Green Card Delays
According to results from a recent survey, 70% of the professional Indian immigrants are likely to relocate to countries with friendlier visa policies. They may leave the U.S. due to lengthy delays in the waiting time for green cards.
The same study reported that 30% of the study respondents have submitted applications for permanent residency in countries with friendly visa policies. Meanwhile, 9% of the respondents are now in possession of permanent residency in nations with friendly visa policies.
The effect on the U.S. economy
A deep analysis of the statistics shows that the American entities will lose between $19 billion-$54 billion if they put their intentions into action. The U.S. economy will inevitable lose talent and the employers will incur huge costs to replace them.
Immigrant employees are facing endless workplace issues due to the lengthy green card delays. For instance, they have travel issues, career stagnation, as well as wage stagnation. They cannot apply and seize new career opportunities with ease because of their unstable legal status. A large number of immigrants say that the lengthy green card delays are blocking them from starting personal businesses.
Remember that the immigrant workers are also facing several health issues as a result of the delayed green cards. For example, they live with uncertainties that create stress, frustration, as well as other chronic health problems. These are health concerns that may ultimately trigger burnout, low performance, as well as reduce employee commitment to the workplace.
The results from our recent study show that the restrictive work visa legislation adopted by the U.S. are pushing the professional immigrant workers to Canada. Both employees and foreign students now prefer Canada because of the friendly visa policies in the country. These are ripple outcomes that may continue in the future.
Information sourced from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security shows that the enrolment of foreign students to U.S. education facilities dropped by 4% between the years 2016 and 2017. According to the DHS data, almost half of the decline in enrolment emerged due to a fall in the populace of Indians applying for the engineering and computer science graduate programs in 2017.
The key surprise is that there was a 50% increase in the enrolment of international students into the graduate level engineering and science domains between 2012 and 2016. The American universities and colleges have lost a lot of money. These institutions use the high school fees paid by the foreign students to subsidize the education cost incurred by the native students.
The declining enrolment of international students is forcing the American institutions to cancel some programs or cut their budgets significantly. It is for this reason that the American higher education system is rapidly losing position in global rankings. U.S. university departments have lost roughly 20% of the top global rankings in recent times.
Some international students no longer see the need to endure hardships like delayed green cards when the quality of education in their motherlands is improving. They are now returning home to continue their education in peace.
Recently, a professor working at the Carnegie Mellon University known as Vivek Wadhwa weighed on the issue and stated that America is losing top graduates because of unsound immigration policies. He added that these top graduates are returning home or seeking employment in top research labs in countries with friendly immigration policies like China and India. He believes that the U.S. is losing investors and entrepreneurs that could help the nation maintain its global position as the most advanced economy.
For example, Kunal Bahl opted to return to India after graduating from the Wharton School of Business, which is under the University of Pennsylvania. Upon returning home, Bahl launched Snapdeal and saw it become one of the largest e-commerce companies in India. Meanwhile, Naveen Tewari graduated from the renowned Harvard Business School and returned home to become a co-founder of the advertising firm known as InMObi. After graduating from Washington University, Sandeep Aggarwal returned home and launched the digital marketplace known as Shopclues.
International students have been promised preference when applying to get the H-1B visas after attaining a U.S. masters’ degree. The promise above comes under the merit-based immigration policy adopted by the current regime. Unfortunately, the new policy is unlikely to address green card backlog for the immigrants.
The Trump Administration should recognize that some of the renowned investors and entrepreneurs in the U.S. got their breakthrough via the existing H-1B visa program. Examples of the beneficiaries include Microsoft CEO (Satya Nadella), Google CEO (Sundar Pichai) and others.
These examples and the consequences discussed earlier show that the isolationist approach adopted by the Trump Administration is backfiring and eroding talent from the U.S. The time has come for the Trump Administration to ease the immigration policies because talented foreigners won’t spend a lifetime waiting for entrepreneurial opportunities in the U.S.