Debunking America First: Limiting H-1B Visa Results in Job Loss in the U.S.

A new study finds that immigration restrictions preventing the employment of high-skilled foreign nationals are doing far more harm than good for the American economy.  


The research was conducted by academics at the prestigious Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, which President Trump’s own daughter, Ivanka, attended.  It studied enterprise-level responses to immigration policy and found that H-1B visa limitations resulted in pushing jobs outside the U.S., hence a lower level of innovation within the country.

Advocates of the anti-immigration agenda promote the following assumption: there are only that many jobs in the U.S., so any new entrant to the labor force will take a job away from a native-born worker.  

In Reality …

This new research shows otherwise.  The paper “empirically [explored] how decreased access to visas for skilled workers could lead multinational firms to offshore more jobs.”  Global companies respond to “increasingly stringent restrictions on H-1B visas” by upping employment at their foreign affiliates.  Businesses, especially the ones with intensive R&D, become more likely to open new foreign affiliates and/or to hire more people at existing foreign affiliates.

Where will these jobs go?  The study shows that China, India and Canada, with their large quantities of high-skilled human capitals, are the three countries that would benefit most from restrictive immigration agenda in the U.S.

Stringency with employment-based visas such as the H-1B also causes innovation within the U.S. to fall.  Other studies have also shown that immigration of foreign STEM workers contributed to almost half of productivity growth between 1990 and 2010.  In fact, nearly one in four U.S. billion-dollar startups had a founder who first came to the U.S. as an international student.

As for the assumption that immigrants would push native-born workers out of their jobs?  Research suggests that the opposite is true.  In fact, a rise of foreign STEM workers positively effect on wages paid to college-educated native workers.

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