USA and the UK
H-1B visa decline
Skilled immigrants in the United States under H-1B visas are at their lowest rate in a decade particularly for foreign workers who work in engineering and mathematics whose visa rates fell by 12.6% in the 2021 fiscal year. This is the second year in a row where there is a decline regarding the number of H-1B visas issued.
The decline in H-1B visas for skilled workers is believed due to a combination of factors such as slow processing from the USCIS due to COVID-related safety protocols and other Trump-era immigration restrictions that created further hurdles in the U.S. visa application process. H-1B employment in engineering and mathematics is down an overall 19% when compared to pre-Covid levels in 2019.
Although fewer high-skilled foreign worker visas are being issued this year, the demand for jobs, especially in the tech industry, remains high. Since many foreign workers are running into barriers when it comes to securing an H-1B visa in a timely manner, many foreign nationals who work in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, or STEM decide to pursue remote work where a U.S. visa is not necessary.
USCIS processing woes
The decline in the number of H-1B visas issued is no surprise to any foreign national in the United States who has been waiting months or decades for the processing of their visas and employment authorization. This backlog in processing is further worsening the U.S.’s labor shortage, particularly at a fragile time where the United States is seeking economic recovery post-pandemic.
It is estimated that as of the end of June, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services had more than 1.3 million employment authorization applications pending along with an estimated 1.5 million in line waiting for employment-based green cards to process. Wait times have become so long that many foreign workers were forced to quit their jobs when their work permits expired and were not replaced.
The need to overhaul the current U.S. immigration system
The decline in attracting highly-skilled talent from overseas is not the only problem that the United States is facing regarding labor. Due to the pandemic and the aging population, the United States is considering overhauling its current immigration system in order to keep its economy thriving with the injection of more workers, specifically highly-skilled workers where the demand in the United States is high.
Some immigration experts argue that labor shortage issues could be resolved by an immigration overhaul that speeds up the U.S. visa processing for foreign talent. This can include removing the arbitrary 7% immigration cap on foreign countries as well as doing away with some of the USCIS’s bureaucratic inefficiencies that can cause backlogs where the waiting time is years or decades.
Last modified on December 7th, 2021 at 6:21 am
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