Trump’s H-1B Curbs Are Putting Off Foreign Students And Choking the U.S. Economy

Infosys Technologies employees move through the headquarters during a break in Bangalore, India.

Infosys Technologies employees move through the headquarters during a break in Bangalore, India. Aijaz Rahi/AP File Photo

The growing uncertainty over visas is impacting colleges and universities.

The Donald Trump administration’s hard stance on immigration is beginning to take a toll on the U.S. economy.

Colleges and universities in the country are seeing dwindling revenue streams as foreign students choose to stay away, according to an April 24 report published by the U.S. immigration reform lobby FWD.us. The growing uncertainty over visas is “weighing down the bond ratings of some universities, making it more expensive for them to borrow money and forcing internal budget cuts,” the report says.

FWD.us is backed by Silicon Valley biggies like Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Microsoft founder Bill Gates.

In academic year 2016-17, over a million international students studying at U.S. colleges contributed $36.9 billion (Rs2.45 lakh crore) to the U.S. economy and supported more than 450,000 jobs in the country, according to government data cited in the report. In addition, the report says, every 100 foreign-born students who graduate from a U.S. university with an advanced degree and stay to work in a STEM field create 262 jobs for American workers. It cites research by advocacy group American Immigration Council for this.

“American colleges and universities rank among the best in the world and, therefore, attract the brightest students from across the globe to pursue higher education here. Ensuring that qualified students are able to enroll in our colleges and universities is economically beneficial to the U.S.,” the report said. “Talented individuals are already responding to (the) anti-immigrant rhetoric coming from this administration; university engineering programs across the U.S. are reportedly seeing a drop in the number of foreign applicants.”

Starting to slide

Indians form the U.S.’s second-largest international student population. However, their share in the science and engineering degree courses at the graduate-school level fell the most, 19%, among all nationalities in the fall of 2017 from a year ago, the National Science Board data show.

In that period, U.S.-based institutes reported a nearly 7% average decline in international students enrolling for the first time at a U.S. institution, the FWD.us noted, citing a survey of 522 colleges by the Institute of International Education (IIE).

Between the fall of 2016 and 2017, the share of U.S. institutions that listed visa issues as the top reason for the slip in foreign-born student enrollment more than doubled.

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