US Loses Talent to Countries with Talent Visas

Countries offering talent visas stand to gain from the United States’ broken immigration system and inability to create a path to residency for their highly skilled and highly educated foreign born population.

July 3, 2023

By: Bobby Casey, Managing Director GWP

visa T​he US struggles at being consistently good at something. It’ll get something right — whether that’s deliberate or not is yet to be known. Then it’ll follow up with something incredibly wrong.

T​he US is by far one of the best offshore banking countries, for non-Americans. As an American, you’re subject to all sorts of scrutiny, taxes, and regulations. As an offshore customer, however, you can enjoy a tax-free, tax-sheltered account with the utmost privacy.

The thing is, wanting to JOIN your money in the US as a resident is another story. Immigration is a huge debate in the US. There’s more finger-wagging than actual policy being made. One side is fears immigrants taking American jobs the other fears the suppression of wages due to higher supply and lower wage expectations.

Both, apparently fear competition; which is odd considering no politician is actually competing to do an honest day’s work anyway.

Everyone is asking “who will pick the crops”? But it’s a little tropy, if not a very distorted depiction of immigration and the United States.

T​here was a time when the US issued an altar call to the world welcoming anyone who basically didn’t have tuberculosis to come on in and start their lives. The people who chose to do so were not a bunch of lazy losers. They were people who struggled to get ahead in their current situation, and the US offered hope for a better life.

Highly educated, wealthy people had no reason to take such risks. But there was a suppressed middle class waiting to burst out.

People think this has totally changed. But it really hasn’t. People who are loaded now have no reason to change much. They dabble in new things more as a hobby than out of necessity. People who feel stuck, are often looking for an exit plan. And people who are comfortable enough in their poverty won’t budge either, since they risk losing the little they have.

Politicians pretend like something about human nature turned in the last couple centuries. I hasn’t.

Even if you look at just interstate migration within the US, the ones leaving California, Illinois, and New York aren’t people looking for a handout. They are small business owners and a very frustrated middle class. The rent-seekers are not going to leave their cushy situation.

Y​et for some inexplicable reason, many people have distilled the immigration issue down to people who would be willing to trek for miles, risk their lives and the lives of their children, just for a better welfare state.

Seems a long way for a hot dog…

T​his mischaracterization of immigration into the US has not only screwed immigrants, but has by extension screwed the US. They could’ve done anything with their 2nd Amendment rights to bear arms, and decided to shoot themselves in a damn foot.

Put aside the economic kickstand that is the working poor immigrant cluster for a second… and they are indeed crucial in their own right… but focus on the highly skilled and educated cluster of would-be immigrants.

You wouldn’t know they even existed since they aren’t spending their days in detention centers and cages or being used as political pawns by governors. But they are a very real, and likewise a very significant contingent of immigrants as well.

Here’s a couple data points on immigrants.

  • T​he US had a long-standing title of “top receiving country for international students”. The hikes in cost along with the complicated visa process has contributed to reducing that number by the tens of thousands. One study indicates the drop as of 2020 was 72%.

Spoiler Alert: they can’t get a visa either.

S​o the ones who could be high income earners, who likely came to the US on a student visa and got a degree, are being sent away because the visa process is an impossible bureaucratic mess laced with a lottery.

One reason the United States is losing international students is how difficult it is for them to work here after graduating. The U.S. has no dedicated postgraduate work visa…

…[D]emand for H-1Bs far outpaces supply, and the annual cap of 85,000 visas hasn’t changed in over 15 years. It can take ages for an H-1B holder to adjust to a green card. (“The government is currently processing green card applications of H-1B workers from India whose employers applied for them in 2011 or 2012,” writes the Cato Institute’s David J. Bier.). And if a worker is unemployed for over 60 days, he must self-deport. On top of all that, H-1Bs can’t start their own businesses.

W​e published a piece called “An Open Letter to South America” in 2013. It was written when the US government called for the forced landing of the Bolivian flight carrying President Evo Morales — whereby detaining his cabinet, crew and him for hours while officials in Austria conducted an illegal search of Bolivian sovereign space.

T​he US was being its usual bully self. And we suggested that the countries of South America retaliate by offering disenfranchised US citizens residency and citizenship to live freer lives. Poach the talent and skills just as the US once did.

Since then many countries have indeed offered up varying paths to residency and citizenship as well as generous visa packages to digital nomads and entrepreneurs. You can find a few listed out here here here and here.

But even countries without the digital nomad visa are out there poaching talent now:

While foreign-born applicants who want to work in the United States face red tape and long delays, new “talent visas” in the U.K., Australia, Canada and elsewhere are luring away people who have some of the world’s most in-demand skills.

Now these countries are homing in on another target: international students being educated at U.S. universities to work in tech and other high-demand fields.

Imagine being the United States. You take in a bunch of foreign born students to your most elite universities. They graduate with a Bachelors, Masters, or PhD in a STEM field, and rather than give them a path to at least residency to work or start a business, you give them 60 days to find a sponsor through a lottery system.

Canada, the UK, Australia have all upped their acceptance rate for the high talent visas. Their processes are much easier.

T​o the extent that any country can get out of its own way, they can be the beneficiaries of the US failing to keep good talent.

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