Chinese students are worried about Trump’s H-1B policy.
BOSTON — President-elect Donald Trump is cracking down on the issuance of H-1B visas to ensure more jobs are given to Americans. He thinks that there are too many H-1B visas used for cheap labor, and this visa should be limited and harder to get. On the campaign trail, Trump expressed his strong opinion towards H-1B’s.
“We shouldn’t have it. Very, very bad for workers,” said Trump. Compounding an already difficult process in obtaining the visa, this has scared Chinese international students that find the H-1B visa is one of the only ways to continue their stay in America after graduation. H-1B visas is one of the ways the government has to attract highly-skilled foreign workers to America.
H-1B visas are non-immigrant visas that allows employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in the U.S. According to a report by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the number of H-1B applications approved was 269,653 in 2011 and 262,569 in 2012. Almost 24,000 of those granted H-1B visas in 2011 were from China, a figure that fell to 19,850 in 2012. Chinese applicants are the second-largest H-1B group behind Indians and most of them work in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields. Over 65 percent of Chinese H-1B holders work in computer-related areas.
In 2014, there were 315,000 H-1B holders in total, a figure that was expected to increase next year. Under a Trump administration, though, that’s no longer certain.
That’s worried some Chinese students like DanDan Mai, a graduate student at Northeastern University. She said that she was planning on applying for an H-1B visa in order to stay in the U.S. before Trump won the presidential election.
“The situation may changed right now,” Mai said. “I am worried about it. I think that the work opportunity for international students would be less, also the standard to apply H1B visa would be higher.” President-elect Trump, she fears, could impose stricter stipulations on who – and how many – qualifies for H-1Bs.
Qichen Jing, a software engineer at Wayfair, an internet retailer based in Boston, is worried, too. He was able to get the job last year once he had scored an H-1B visa in a gamble that paid off. Jing switched to computer science from electronic engineering because he thought that a computer science major would help him find a job easier. It landed him both a job and an H-1B visa but now that he needs to renew the visa year after year, he doesn’t know if the process will be successful.
“I don’t know about the new policy on H-1B after Trump as the president, but the trend seems like negative,” said Jing. “I am worried about it a little bit, and I already [am looking for a] job in China, I [am] wondering [if I should] go back to China for my career,” said Jing. He hopes it doesn’t come down to that. Rather, he hopes to renew his H-1B visa and get more work experience instead of returning to China.
Trump’s specific immigration policy with the H1B visas remains unclear and only time will tell if he will implement the positions he uttered on the campaign trail. Until then, Chinese students wait anxiously with the hope of staying and working in the U.S.