Give me your highly skilled, your well-educated, your ambitious,
Your best and brightest yearning to climb the proverbial career ladder
and in doing so meet the desperate needs of a de-skilling and graying society,
The sons and daughters of the world’s educated classes, immigrants and international students alike.
Send these, the talented, the promising, the chosen few, to US,
We open our nation’s aging doors ever wider to increase the number of young, high-skill and high-degree folks to the benefit of all!
MAA – With a nod and an apology to the American poet, Emma Lazarus
The screaming headline above is from a recent TechCrunch article about the recent lottery that issued 65,000 H-1B (work) visas for the fiscal year 2015 beginning 1 October 2014 from more than 172,000 applications. As in the past, demand far exceeded supply.
As the article states, “more people applied for high-skill and high-degree U.S. work visas in the first five days of the application period than there were slots.” In pointing out the obvious, the author noted that “This indicates that the number of high-skill and high-degree folks out there who want to come to the U.S. is far higher than the number this country is willing to accept. Each year, 65,000 H-1B visas are awarded to high-skill immigrants, along with 20,000 advanced degree visas for the highly educated.”
Why this demand and need? The US is a country whose population is rapidly aging – median age: 37.6 (male: 36.3; female: 39) – compared with 29.2 in Vietnam (29.2 (male: 26.1; female: 30.2) and whose labor market desperately needs more high-skill and high-degree workers than the US educational system is able to produce from among its own (domestic) ranks.
Observers with a vested interest include U.S. information technology companies, some of which created an organization called Compete America, dedicated to ensuring that the US has the highly educated and innovative workforce necessary to grow the economy and create American jobs. Here is one of the points that appears at the top of its website right under the running tally of jobs lost because of H-1B visa limits:
Thanks to the limits on H-1B Visas, America loses not only scientists and engineers who could fill vacant high-skilled jobs, but also the additional jobs that these scientists and engineers would create. As a result, America loses 500,000 jobs every year. Spread across 50 five-day workweeks, this translates into 2,000 U.S. jobs not created every business day because of overly-restrictive U.S. immigration policy; or, to put it another way, that roughly equals a new job that is lost in America every 63 seconds.
This trend is one reason why US student visa policy will change in the coming years and why the third pillar of the holy trinity of the process will fall by the wayside: plans to return to one’s home country. Immigrants have contributed and continue to contribute to the US economy, which needs a certain percentage of international students to remain. Call it brain drain or brain circulation; emigration is ultimately a personal decision.
The day is fast approaching when applicants will no longer have to say that they will “return home to contribute to the development of my country” and/or to run their parent’s business, a mantra spouted by millions of young people standing in front of the five-minute glass. The only criteria that will matter are 1) their status as bona fide students and 2) their ability to pay.