Month: March 2019

by David Tuteur David Tuteur No Comments

Foreign Worker Talent Still Essential Despite More Difficult Process, U.S. Employers Say

In the latest edition of its Immigration Trends Report, the immigration firm Envoy Global says that up to 95% of United States employers believe that foreign nationals are important to their company’s talent acquisition strategy.  The report gathered responses from over 400 human resources professionals and hiring managers.  80% of employers said that, when compared to last year, they expect their foreign national headcount to either increase or stay the same.

Foreign workers are especially important in the science and technology fields; while less than 1% of all U.S. jobs are performed by foreign workers, they account for over 12% of all tech employees.  William Kerr, a professor of business administration at Harvard Business School, noted in the report that “immigrant talent now accounts for one in every 3.5 inventions in America, a dramatic growth from the 1970s, when foreigners contributed one in 12 patents.”

While U.S. companies rely on immigration for their future success, they are also reporting that the immigration process has become more difficult for them; 47% of respondents said their company’s visa application process has become more difficult compared with earlier years.  Envoy Global CEO, Richard Burke, reports that employers “confronted material increases in requests for evidence (RFEs), case denials, site visits, and new policy memos.”  Overall this has resulted in “heightened anxiety and uncertainty among foreign nationals, HR professionals and hiring managers.”  When asked whether RFEs had increased for their employees over the last five years, over half of respondents said yes.  RFEs are notices that agency officials send to applicants seeking more information for their applications, even after an application has been finalized and submitted to the agency for processing.  The report’s findings align with other data which shows that the share of RFEs issued for H-1B cases jumped to 60% in late 2018, a large increase from the 28% in the same period two years prior.

by David Tuteur David Tuteur No Comments

USCIS Plans to Close All International Field Offices

According to current and formal officials and an internal memo, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is planning to close oversees offices that currently handle family visa requests, international adoptions and other tasks.  According to people with knowledge of the meeting, the director of USCIS, L. Francis Cissna, told senior staff members this week that the international division, which has 24 field offices in 21 countries, would close down by the end of the year.

USCIS Spokeswoman Jessica Collins confirmed that the agency “is in preliminary discussions to consider shifting its international USCIS office workloads to USCIS domestic offices in the United States and, where practicable, to U.S. embassies and consulates abroad.”

Officials at USCIS claim that closing the international field offices would save millions of dollars each year, but as Enrique Gutierrez and John Santos, media directors at the Democratic National Committee, said in a statement “the administration’s explanation that the move is an effort to cut government spending does not hold up since USCIS’s funding comes primarily from fees paid by people who use its services.”  Agency officials also claim that the move is intended to provide more staff resources to handle the backlog of asylum applications.

The international field offices currently provide, among other things, logistical assistance to U.S. Citizens, lawful permanent residents, and refugees seeking to bring family members to the United States, asylum seekers who wish to come to the U.S., Americans who adopt children internationally, and members of the military and their families applying for citizenship.

by David Tuteur David Tuteur No Comments

OVERALL DECLINE IN INTERNATIONAL GRADUATE STUDENT APPLICATIONS AND ENROLLMENT FOR SECOND YEAR IN A ROW

For the second year in a row, the number of international student applications and enrollment in U.S. institutions has declined. Based on a survey of 240 institutions who contributed data for both 2017 and 2018, the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) reports that the overall number of graduate applications from prospective international students fell by 4%.  Between 2016 and 2017, the number of applicants had fallen by 3%.  While the number of doctoral applications increased by 1% between 2017 and 2018, the overall decline was driven by a 6% decline in master’s applications.

In a February 7th press release, CGS President Suzanne Ortega noted that “This is the first time we’ve seen declines across two consecutive years, and while we think it’s too soon to consider this a trend, it is troubling.”  While the survey report does not reach any conclusions as to the reason for the decline, the CGS President pointed to “issues, including changes in immigration and visa policy, with growing concern over the possible negative impact to the U.S.’s image as a welcoming destination for international students and scholars.”

Many commentators attribute the decline to increasingly burdensome U.S. immigration policies. One such change rescinded a 2013 policy which required USCIS adjudicators to request additional information from applicants before denying applications. The new policy gives USCIS adjudicators “full discretion to deny applications, petitions, or requests” without seeking additional information.

Another policy change is particularly worrisome for F-1 student visa holders, the most popular student visa. One of the statutory bars to future admissions into the U.S. is known as the “unlawful presence” bar.  Any alien who accrues more than 180 days, but less than a year of unlawful presence is prevented from re-entering the U.S. for three years.  Those who accrue a year or more of unlawful presence are barred from re-entry for ten years.  Previously, F visa holders started accruing unlawful presence on the day after USCIS formally found a nonimmigrant status violation while adjudicating a request for another immigration benefit or on the day after an immigration judge ordered the applicant excluded, deported, or removed.  Under the new policy, F visa holders now start accruing unlawful presence the day after they no longer pursue a course of study, or the day after they engage in an “unauthorized activity.”  This means that international students could start accruing unlawful presence without ever having been formally notified that they are doing so.  These policy changes may be creating a chilling effect on international students’ decision to come to the U.S. for education.

 

Top