Vander Graaff: Bachelor students will struggle for H-1B visas

Abby Vander

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

College students seem to face many obstacles which only intensify upon graduation. After paying incomprehensible sums of money for their education, students worry about finding a job that will yield a return on their investment. The H-1B visa policy makes this process even more complicated for international students.

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According to the U.S. Department of State, international students can enter the United States on an F1 visa that permits them to stay in the country for 60 days after the end of their academic program. F1 visas are not intended for employment, which means that if an international student would like to stay in the country and work after graduation, they must apply for another type of visa.

One option for graduates is the H-1B visa, which is intended for professional employment. This most commonly applies to stem jobs that require a bachelor’s degree or higher.

While this policy on its own seems harmless, the application requirements and process to receive an H-1B visa have the potential to add much complexity to finding legal employment after graduation.

The current H-1B policy allows college-educated recipients to work in the country for a period of three-to-six years. According to American Immigration Council, 65,000 visas are issued annually, with an additional 20,000 allowed for applicants who have obtained a master’s degree or higher from a United States institution.

If the number of applicants exceeds these limits- which has occurred annually since 2008- applications enter a lottery system where they are randomly selected to match their numerical limits.

The lottery system means that instead of being assessed on a merit or need basis, highly-skilled applicants are selected by sheer luck. This seems ironic for a visa created for admittance to the country based on professional aptitudes.

 The Trump Administration is proposing changes to application requirements which makes it increasingly difficult for recent grads to obtain an H-1B visa. According to The Hill, proposed policy changes include increasing the numerical cap for the visas as well as prioritizing those with master’s degrees above those with a bachelor’s.

This could make the process more fair, as those with higher merits get priority. But what the Trump Administration fails to notice is that this would make the chances of receiving an H-1B visa for those with only a bachelor’s degree even slimmer.

Applicants seeking professional jobs that do not require education past a bachelor’s will be caught with little to no way of obtaining legal residency.

It is important to note that H-1B is intended for temporary workers, and does not constitute citizenship. That said, the new policy could give incentive to recent graduates who do not receive this visa to stay in the country illegally, endangering their chances to obtain a visa and work legally in the future.

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About 1.1 million international students attended United States universities in 2017, according to the Migration Policy Institute.

While many graduates choose paths that do not require an H-1B visa, the ones who do face strong opposition simply in the numbers. Increasing the requirements to receive an H-1B visa will only make it more difficult for these students to find work in the country that has become their home over the course of their education.

Applicants seeking professional jobs that do not require education past a bachelor’s degree will be caught with little to no way to obtain legal residency.

This issue could affect numerous international students in the Colorado State University community.

The H-1B visa policy should be an example to domestic students of the numerous flaws in the United States immigration system; a concept international students are all too familiar with. If Trump’s new policy passes, international students should prepare for a difficult path in finding employment after graduation.

Abby Vander Graaff can be reached at letters@collegain.com or online at @abbym_vg