Business school deans
If the US doesn't stop preventing immigrants and international students from obtaining work visas, it could lead to a talent crisis across the country. Source: Shutterstock

Applications to US business schools are dwindling, and it could lead to a potential crisis due to a lack of talent as the US will not have enough highly-skilled employees to be a competitive player in the global economy.

According to BusinessBeause, fifty business school deans as well as 15 CEOs have written an open letter to US president Donald Trump warning him of a talent crisis.

“The letter has been published alongside a new white paper released by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), Early Warning Signals: Winners and Losers in the Global Race for Talent, which warns of the dangers to global economies that restricting high-skilled immigration can bring.”

Under the Trump administration, national policies have been implemented to reduce immigration rates. H1-B visa – a working visa that students typically apply for after graduation – denial rates have increased significantly.

The letter states that a “combination of our outdated laws, artificial regional and skills-based caps on immigration, and recent spikes in hostility are closing the door to the high-skilled immigrants our economy needs to thrive.”

“For the first time since we started keeping track of these data, the past three years have seen a reduction in the number of foreign students studying in America’s universities and business schools.

“Every year, we turn away hundreds of thousands of high-skilled immigrants for no other reason than that they failed to win the H-1B lottery. ”

The letter also states that although the US economy has created an estimated three million open STEM jobs – a reflection of a healthy and growing economy – there aren’t enough people in the US to fill them.

Recent data by the Graduate Management Admission Council’s (GMAC) Application Trends Survey Report 2019 has showed a continued downward shift in international business school candidates who prefer to study in the US, suggesting it’s not the popular study abroad destination it once was.

Chinese students, in particular, who represent a large portion of international students, are turning to other countries such as the UK and Australia after being affected by the US-China trade war and finding difficulty obtaining student and working visas.

Many international students see studying abroad as a pathway towards working and settling down in the country, but they are being turned off by the prospect of a country that’s making it harder and harder for immigrants to gain entry.

Instead, they are choosing countries such as Canada that offer easier ways to obtain student and working visas, as well as PR citizenship.

This is leading to a crisis in a country that in the past, heavily relied on talent from overseas, particularly in STEM fields.

International business and STEM talent is needed across the US

According to the white paper, “Business schools must take the lead on explaining the link between immigration and innovation.

“Our scholars have long studied what sparks economic growth and, empirically, we know talent mobility is a driving factor.

“Academic research also shows that fully growing and developing talent depends on exposure to new ways of thinking, encountering vastly different perspectives and being pushed outside one’s comfort zone.

“Nationalistic silos will ultimately backfire against countries if talent is limited by their own borders. Countries earnestly trying to help their citizens could unintentionally end up doing the opposite.”

The letter urges for policy reforms that could bring “immense benefits”. A number of recommendations were made such as “removing “per-country” visa caps, modernizing our visa processing system and reforming the H-1B visa program to make it possible for the most talented people to have a reasonable chance of gaining entry to the United States.”

Another suggestion is to create a “heartland visa” that encourages immigration to certain US regions that are most lacking in talent.

Whether the Trump administration takes these recommendations seriously and the US once again becomes a “land of opportunity” for international students and immigrants remains to be seen.

In the meantime, other countries are reaping the benefits. The GMAC Application Trends Survey Report 2019 showed that international applications went up by 0.9 percent between 2018 and 2019 in European schools, while Canadian schools saw international applications increase by 8.6 percent.

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