Is Trump Administration’s Plan to Impose Additional Restrictions on H-1B Visa Justified?
If you are an overseas education aspirant with US dreams, it is obvious that you would be cautiously assessing President Trump’s recent pronouncements: suspending H-1B visas, imposing newer restrictions on F-1 students, and also targeting international students participating in Optional Practical Training (OPT).
While the pandemic has certainly triggered joblessness in the US, which today stands at 14.7%, as compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there appears to be very little justification in the President’s ad-hoc protectionist measures aimed at targeting foreign nationals, especially H-1B visa holders-in the wake of the pandemic led economic downturn.
Here is a pairing of the President’s executive orders with statistical figures for the benefit of study abroad aspirants.
President Trump’s assertion: H-1B Visa/ Foreign Workers Impacting the US Labor Market
The following inferences clearly illustrate that STEM professionals are in high demand and will continue to be in demand in the future.
- Online job postings (6,25,702) as of May 15, 2020, clearly indicate that there is an ongoing demand for STEM professionals
- According to an analysis carried out by the Bureau of Labour Statistics, unemployment has declined in high skilled occupations (STEM), while increasing in other occupations.
*Please note that employment numbers can fluctuate from month to month.
H-1B visa holders are minuscule (~0.65%) when compared to the qualified US workforce, and restricting the visa will prove to be counter-productive for the US in the long term as a number of IT companies, especially in the Silicon Valley invariably rely on foreign talent for certain technical and scientific skills that are not available in the US workforce.
As a result, every year, STEM professionals continue to be the most sought after workforce to fill the gaps in the US labor markets as far as specialty occupations such as computers and engineering are concerned. This is fairly evident from the way computer professionals have continued to deliver quality work remotely in the wake of the pandemic.
Moreover, a loss of foreign employees in the tech sector would result in overseas companies widening their footprint in the US and competing against the US firms- supported by American graduates.
This being said, the next round of H-1B visa has been postponed to March 2021 and the selected individuals cannot commence work till October 1, 2021. Likewise, those selected recently cannot resume work before October 1, 2020.
Trump Administration’s Claim that facilitating OPT is Reducing Job Opportunities for the Locals
While US educators and tech giants such as Amazon, Microsoft, and Google continue to acknowledge the contribution of foreign-born scientists and engineers in shaping up the country’s tech industry and contributing to American society, one would expect the current political dispensation to adopt a more favorable approach towards OPT approval.
A study carried out by the University of North Florida Economics Professor Madeline Zavodny clearly illustrates that foreign students approved for OPT have very little impact on the unemployment rate among STEM professionals in the US.
As a result, suspending OPT will wean away international students to other welcoming destinations, resulting in long term financial implications for universities due to an alarming drop in enrolment and loss of substantial tuition revenue.
It is fairly evident from the above that H-1B visa holders do not adversely affect US workers. So, neither imposing a sweeping ban on immigrants is likely to lower the domestic unemployment rate, nor foreign students participating in OPT will have a bearing on domestic unemployment. After all, data cannot be rhetorical!