B-School Deans Take A Stand On Immigration Policy

Fence with barbed wire and warning sign on the border of the USA


The deans are proposing an array of immigration policy reforms. in the white paper. They include:

Increase the Cap on H-1B Visas – and Exempt In-Demand Fields from Counting Toward the Cap Altogether:

Under current regulations, 65,000 foreign nationals are able to work in the United States under
the H-1B visa, with another 20,000 eligible through the advanced degree exemption. Given that demand for talent in the “specialty” occupations covered by H-1B visas vastly outstrips supply, people working under H-1B visas have a disproportionate positive impact on the U.S. economy. Yet the US artificially caps the number of people it allows in under the H-1B visa program and assigns visas based on a random lottery. This leads to an annual tradition where U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) receives three times as many petitions for visas as it has available slots within a matter of a few business days.

Encourage Lawfulness with an Efficient System:

Unfortunately, the slow, inefficient visa and immigration system incentivizes skirting the rules. In FY18, for instance, USCIS average application review time went up by nearly 20%, as the total number of applications went down. Even relatively simple matters like H-1B renewals can take three months to process while processing the initial application can take eight months or longer. These delays can leave critical jobs unfilled and leave high-skilled workers without a source of income. It’s hardly surprising, then, that some people choose to stay in the country without their visa fully in order.

Remove Per-Country Caps:

According to USCIS, no more than 7% of the total number of family-based and employment-based visas can come from any individual country. These caps are an arbitrary and outdated standard—with an explicitly discriminatory history—that do damage to the US economy. There is no reason India, with a population of 1.3 billion, should have just 2,900 people a year receive EB-2 visas, while 28 EU countries with a combined 500 million people can receive 78,000.Given that the high-skilled workers who want to work in the United States tend to come from the same few countries, the per-country caps do not promote “diversity”—rather, they arbitrarily lower the number of skilled immigrants in the United States.

Codify the OPT-STEM Program and Expand it to Meet the Needs of the Modern Economy:

Under the OPT- STEM program, people with STEM degrees—which explicitly includes certain business programs—may stay in the country for three years after they receive their degree to receive on-the-job training. The program is vital for the US economy. Given the critical shortage of people with STEM skills in the United States—as well as those with the ability to harness STEM technologies to create jobs— the OPT-STEM program has led to increased economic activity and has even kept some smaller companies from going out of business entirely. Those are just the short- term, measurable impacts. Enabling OPT-STEM grads to further their understanding of US business practices and broaden their US-based networks provide US companies even stronger connections in foreign markets.

Despite its success, however, this program is perpetually on the brink of being curtailed. Congress should remove any ambiguity over the program’s long-term availability so that students and companies alike can plan around it. Specifically, Congress should pass legislation enabling the OPT-STEM program. Further, the legislation should allow for both educational and economic rationales for granting visas. In the legislation, Congress should also allow more types of degrees to qualify and allow students on OPT- STEM visas to stay for four years, rather than the current three-year maximum.