Uncertainty regarding employment-related immigration regulations has not ebbed with the arrival of the New Year.
Employers may be losing employees to the possible elimination of H-4 EADs and STEM extensions. Major changes in the H-1B cap process, including pre-registration and new eligibility standards, also are said to be on the horizon. The Trump Administration reportedly wants to eliminate H-1B extensions for employees with pending Green Card cases.
This last possibility would be particularly troubling because long-term employees and their dependent family members might have to leave the United States and work elsewhere while they wait for their Green Cards – a process that can take years for many employees, including Indian nationals.
While such changes are expected or possible during 2018, businesses will find it difficult to plan for them.
For-profit employers are not the only ones affected by the expected changes. Non-profit universities in the U.S. are already feeling a financial pinch from the drop of foreign students. Foreign students contribute $39 billion in revenue to universities, and many schools, particularly in the Midwest, have come to rely on the growth of their foreign student population. At some state institutions, foreign students pay twice the tuition of in-state students. Schools have used that extra tuition money to expand programs and improve their bottom lines. Moody’s Investors Service has changed the credit outlook for higher education to “negative,” from “stable.” That may make it more difficult for some schools to borrow money for expansion.
U.S. institutions have been losing out to schools in other English-speaking countries, such as Canada and Australia. These countries have been trying to attract foreign students of the sort who, up to now, have been coming to the U.S. Recognizing the economic and other benefits of attracting and retaining highly educated workers, Canada has created a special path to citizenship and Australia has made its visa process easier.
Meanwhile, the U.S.’s travel bans and extreme vetting have made it more difficult and less appealing for foreign students to attend a school in the U.S. The possible cutback or elimination of OPT and STEM extensions also has reduced foreign student enrollment. The ability to participate in training after completing a degree in the U.S. has been a great draw, but those programs now may be on the chopping block.