Why Employing International Students Will Not Displace American Workers

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There is without a doubt an issue with the United States immigration system. One of the single greatest issues that are at the crux of the United States immigration policy is the legal status of skilled workers and their ability to obtain visas. The process is a complex and intricate one as a result of employer unwillingness and unfamiliarity with how workers can obtain this important document. Yet skilled workers are not the only issue simmering within the brew of the immigration policy argument. Each and every year, international students come to the U.S. in the hopes of gaining an education and, because of strict laws, they run into a myriad of problems. The United States should improve its policies for international students which will inevitably have a positive effect on the workforce as well as many of the graduates seek employment within the country.

When international students emerge from a world-class education, the challenges associated with finding a job can be daunting, to say the least. This is exacerbated by the difficulty that many non-US nationals face yearly. Many have argued that this daunting task poses a threat to the United States workforce as a whole. Thus, the reason why so many international students find difficulty in locating employment post-graduation is because of that premise. Yet, opposition to such reasoning was presented in a NAFSA (National Association of Foreign Student Advisors) report stating that by preventing foreign nationals from working in the United States, the United States is not helped at all, as argumentation would suggest. In doing so, employers outsource their jobs overseas and capital is not pushed within the country.  In examining the ethical ramifications of this, the United States would need to reexamine their current immigration policy as capital is being lost as a result of employers shipping jobs overseas rather than filling them in the country. 

Currently, the U.S. immigration policy all but ignores the economic benefits of a widespread college-educated workforce. The rational solution should be to integrate individuals of all backgrounds, domestic or international, in an effort to increase the power and earnings potential of the United States revenue, however, the United States is currently losing out because of the gridlocked policies currently in place.

By allowing the immigration policy changes and thus shifting the dynamic of the current United States workforce, there are four relatively main benefits that will be observed as a result: 1) immigrants with higher degrees enhance employment for US natives with strong confirmation supported within the fields of engineering, mathematics, science, and technology; 2) data regarding provisional foreign workers either skilled or nominally skilled has been shown to boost fiscal efforts. Temporary workers in the H-1B program and the H-2B programs had higher employment resulting in a significant increase in overall employment. 3) Thorough examination suggests that the employment of citizens is not damaged in any way as a result of hiring international workers into the mix. The current blueprint is not designed to capitalize on job creation, meaning there is no numerical data to back up the notion that international workers hurt the workforce of the United States. 4) Highly educated immigrants pay more taxes than they receive back in benefits in being in the United States. As quiet as it's kept, non-citizen workers receive one-tenth the size of typical benefits that a U.S. citizen worker receives.   While all of these benefits can indeed have an impact on the United States workforce, is it realistic to change the policy to fit the needs of non-US workers who work within the country? One possible argument here is that by relaxing the current policy, current United States graduates are able to benefit more if immigrants were not allowed to be in the workforce at all.

Yet, America has some of the finest universities in the world, but the enforcers of the policies presently in place have done a superb job of making them less engaging to international students. Other countries are keen to capitalize on the workers that the US and Britain reject. Australia and Canada have taken essential steps by allowing postgraduate workers to stay and work in their countries for a period of three years with no restriction whatsoever.  It would seem that if the United States immigration policy were not altered in some fashion that this will continue and the United States workforce will become worthless or rather seen as being a shutter out of foreign students on the mere reason that they are damaging to monetary efforts. The benefits of allowing non-US workers (post-graduate immigrants) work in the workforce outweigh the disadvantages.

Further analysis of the United States immigration and its effects on economics can be performed. If the United States does not seek to change its current way of operating with regard to international students, it is estimated that countries such as Australia and Canada could have a "combined share of the global overseas-student market. Their combined share rose from 5% in 2000 to 12% in 2009."  The costs associated with current universities are also drawing international students away from United States education. "Many continental European universities have joined the fray, offering courses in English and MBAs that cost far less than American ones. Standards are fast improving in Asia and South America, too. Ten years ago AMBA, a British body that accredits business schools, recognized none in China. Now it accredits 20, including five new ones in the past six months."   The trend is likely to continue as long as the United States continues to abhor or relinquish the opportunities to allow international workers a chance to work here post-graduation. In spite of the remarkable education that the United States offers, many immigrants have not found it to be all it is noted to be. 

While foreign students found American people to be friendlier than they expected, opportunities to start a business or for a proverbial success were less than they had anticipated and this statistic was across multiple ethnicities. The strongest reason students cited as to why they opted to leave the United States after graduating was that they wanted to be in the home countries and the perception of US opportunities was not as they hoped and that their home country opportunities for work were better.   So how can the United States keep the international students from leaving once they have graduated? The answer is relatively simple, yet complex at the same time in terms of changing the policies associated with immigration. A significant issue posing a threat to changing the immigration policy and in turn, keeping international students in the country once it is changed is outsourcing.

Does the country really want to let individuals who have noteworthy educational prowess leave? The coherent solution would be to allow foreign workers the chance to contend on the same levels as United States workers rather than outsourcing and increasing competition from abroad. The United States loses out on much needed financial benefits as a result. International students who leave post-graduation and do not remain in the United States to work take their expertise elsewhere resulting in no movement along the economic scale.   Is the United States intentionally putting off changing its immigration policy for cost reasons?

The answer to that is no. "On average, immigrants pay more in taxes than their families receive in federal benefits from the major government programs such as welfare, unemployment benefits, food stamps, and Medicaid. And as immigrants’ education level increases, the likelihood of working, annual hours worked, and annual earnings also increase. As a result, increases in the education level of immigrants lead to increased tax payments. Not surprisingly, an increase in education level also corresponds with a decrease in government benefit payments to immigrants’ families.”   Given the lethargic financial expansion that has persisted for years, policymakers can afford to fight more for immigrants to work in the United States. This strengthens the employment opportunities as a whole, not solely for domestic workers, but for international ones also and costs associated with outsourcing and other efforts are minimized.  The argument is therefore strengthened for a change in the U.S. immigration policy as a result. 

U.S. policymakers can capitalize on strengthening opportunities for employment for domestic and international workers via the following ways: 1) prioritize immigration by workers in STEM fields who have higher degrees from US institutions. The major effect on the costs and in turn economic efforts for the United States with regard to immigration is through STEM fields. Studies have shown and continue to show this to be the principal area of employment boost. 2) Reallocate US immigration policy's focus to cost-effective intensification by increasing the number of green cards for those workers who are skilled with pivotal expertise. 3) Increase temporary worker programs for both skilled workers and those who are not as skilled.  Foreign students who have become known from STEM programs have been shown to be more probable to acquire privileged jobs and as a result, pay more in taxes. The Brookings Institute as of late published a study on the H1B visa procedure and it revealed that several employers want to have more work visas on hand, yet the process is vigorous and complicated.   However, the complicated process can be beneficial to those on the side of the argument that immigrants should not be allowed to work in the United States irrespective of the benefits that STEM programs add to the economic structure.  

Another issue that discourages immigrants from seeking out work post-graduation is the green card process. As aforementioned, the process is a vigorous one and has not shown much signs of improvement. As a consequence of the tedious process of securing a green card, "the waits are caused by two key factors. The annual quota of 140,000 is too low for the number of skilled foreign nationals employers seek to sponsor for permanent residence. The 140,000 annual limit was set by Congress in 1990 and includes both the principal and dependent family members, with dependents typically using half or more of the slots. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the United States has nearly tripled (in nominal dollars) since 1990, from $5.8 trillion to over $15 trillion in 2012, but the employment-based immigrant visa category has remained at 140,000 visas annually. The second factor is the per-country limit. Under the per-country limit, as described in the Immigration and Nationality Act, in Section 202(a), [T]he total number of  immigrant visas made available to natives of any single foreign state . . . may not exceed 7 percent . . . of the total  number of such visas made available under such subsections in that fiscal year."  With the green card process being such a fiasco, there is not a major push by Congress to change or even consider changing the current aspects of the immigration policy.  "A January 2012 report on the stay rates of foreign Ph.D.s implied that it may be unnecessary for Congress to reform America’s employment-based immigration system. Absent changes in the law by Congress, the long wait times for high skilled foreign nationals, including those educated in America, will continue. At a time when there is fierce competition around the world to hire highly skilled individuals, this threatens to deprive the  country of talented individuals who will choose to develop innovations, make their careers and raise their families in other nations."   Those in favor of the existing situation regarding immigrants working in the United States will find this state of affairs pleasing.

The United States has crucial issues with its immigration policy and the results that have come from it. The static nature of this recipe will continue to yield disastrous results in spite of the many advantageous effects that non-US workers will provide to the workforce and as a consequence, the workforce. The ethics of this whole debacle are overtly blatant. Congress is not seeking to fight for immigration reform as a united front, given the green card issue and despite companies wanting more work visas permitted. Some U.S. workers feel as though they are threatened by highly skilled and advanced degree non-US workers, yet several studies have depicted a different picture altogether. The onus then will be on those in favor of changes to the current situation within the United States to be more proactive in getting Congress to get moving within the milieu that currently stands. If the situation persists, other countries will become the new wave of the future for non-US workers and the United States will suffer. 

Bibliography

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“Still Waiting: Green Card Problems Persist for High Skill Immigrants." National Foundation For American Policy, 2012, http://www.nfap.com/pdf/NFAPPolicyBrief.StillWaiting.June2012.pdf (accessed February 18, 2013).

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