U.S. work and student visa policies have been changing since time immemorial. However, President Donald Trump proposed a change in immigration policies. These changes restrict non-US citizens and immigrants permanently or temporarily from studying, living, and working in the United States.
According to the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP), the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) data analysis shows that the denial rates for H-1B visa petition has risen from 6% to 32% in 2015 and mid 2019 respectively. This is as a result of the USCIS raising the standards of approved H-1b petition.
What Visa Policies Are Changing?
The most affected policy is the H-1b visa. The policy changes are aimed at improving and streamlining of the allocation of the H-1B visa. This will be achieved by slicing the administrative burden of processing the application, and to transform the selection process in favor of U.S. applicants holding master’s degrees.
The other proposed changes refers to the OPT (Optional Practical Training) program, which allows international students under the F-1 study visas to freely work in the USA for only 12 months. The changes might limit them from receiving work authorization.
Another proposed change involves the H-4 work permit program allowing H-1B visa holders’ spouses to work in the United States. Trump’s administration will not give work permit to these spouses.
How Do New Visa Policies Impact Immigrants?
1. Decline in jobs for international students
A study by NACE (National Association of Colleges and Employers) showed that the number of employers in the U.S. planning to hire international students dropped to 23.4% in 2018 after years of consistent growth that reached 34.2% in 2015.
2. Increase in immigration fees
The cost of becoming a U.S citizen will be 83% more expensive, and it will raise the application fees required for legal permanent residency from $1,022, to 2,915 and the citizen application fee from $640 to $1,170.
3. Fewer students applying for colleges in the U.S.
According to the Institute of International Education (IIE), enrollment of new international students in the United States has reduced by 6.6% between 2017 and 2018, and has continued to go down.
This is not favorable for the economy or the universities as well because international students pay higher fees that native Americans. For instance, in 2017, the students contributed up to $42 billion to the economy through board and room, tuition among other expenses. That’s why some colleges have reclassified economic majors into STEM degrees.
4. Foreign tech workers are moving to Canada
As a result of the proposed changes, most large corporations may be forced to relocate their jobs abroad. For example, Microsoft had announced a huge expansion in Canada planning to build new headquarters in Toronto and hire 500 more employees.
In addition, the Canadian government invited skilled people in the computer and tech related fields to sign up for permanent residence under the Express Entry Program. Out of the 86,022 invites sent in 2017, Indians got 42%, China behind by 9%, Nigeria received 6% and Pakistan got 4%. The number of Indians admitted in 2016 was 9,584, which rose to 26,340 in 2017.
Do Changing Visa Policies Affect the U.S.?
Change in visa policies has pushed highly skilled foreigners out of the U.S. significantly reducing innovation. As a result, foreign affiliate employment has increased due to the increasingly strict restrictions on the H-1B visas. Multinational firms are likely to establish new foreign affiliates outside the U.S., especially in fields where services can be off-shored.
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