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  • U.S. Immigration Policy in Global Perspective

    U.S. Immigration Policy in Global Perspective:
    International Migration in OECD Countries

    by David L. Bartlett, Ph.D.

    The United States possesses a number of competitive assets in the global war for talent: most notably, its huge and flexible labor market and an abundance of leading-edge multinational corporations and world-class universities. However, the United States also faces growing competition in the global labor market from other countries within the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), as well as from the expanding economic opportunities available in the home countries of Indian and Chinese professionals who constitute a vital talent pool for U.S. high-tech companies. These trends underscore the need to revamp U.S. immigration policies to make them more responsive to the demands of an increasingly competitive global economy.

    Yet the quota-based immigration system of the United States diminishes the country's ability to sustain, let alone expand, inflows of high-skilled immigrants. The optimal remedy for this defect in U.S. immigration policy is to replace the H1-B visa program for highly skilled foreign professionals with a quality-selective regime along the lines of the point-based systems introduced in Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. The United Kingdom is moving in this direction, away from a work-permit regime to a multi-tiered system that would entitle high-skilled immigrants to work for any British employer or to set up their own businesses in the country. However, the political environment in the United States--where homeland security concerns remain acute five years after September 11th and the furor over undocumented immigration clouds the separate issue of skilled immigration--provides little cause for optimism that such a policy reform will soon materialize.

    Among the findings of this report:

    * The more educated share of working-age immigrants increased significantly in several OECD countries during the 1990s, especially Ireland, the United Kingdom, Luxembourg, and Finland.

    * The success of educated immigrants in securing U.S. jobs commensurate with their skills varies widely by country of origin, ranging from 76 percent of educated men from India to 25 percent of educated Moroccan men.

    * Between 2000 and 2005, the U.S. foreign-born population from India experienced the most dramatic increase (39.8 percent), followed by Peru and Honduras.

    * Among immigrants arriving in the United States from 2000 to 2004, 12.1 percent held advanced degrees (compared to 10.3 percent of those arriving between 1990 and 1999), while 22.2 percent had bachelor's degrees (compared to 17.3 percent of those arriving during the 1990s).

    * While China, South Korea, and Japan have increased their funding for research and development (R&D) significantly, especially since 9/11, U.S. R&D funding in the physical sciences and engineering has declined or remained stagnant since the early 1990s.

    * In 2004, Congress allowed the annual H1-B quota to revert from 195,000 to its 1990 level of 65,000, which represents just 1 percent of the U.S. science and engineering workforce and has been filled before the start of each fiscal year since it took effect.

    Full Report
    "Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence." John Adams on Defense of the boston Massacre

  • #2
    U.S. Immigration Policy in Global Perspective:
    International Migration in OECD Countries

    by David L. Bartlett, Ph.D.

    The United States possesses a number of competitive assets in the global war for talent: most notably, its huge and flexible labor market and an abundance of leading-edge multinational corporations and world-class universities. However, the United States also faces growing competition in the global labor market from other countries within the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), as well as from the expanding economic opportunities available in the home countries of Indian and Chinese professionals who constitute a vital talent pool for U.S. high-tech companies. These trends underscore the need to revamp U.S. immigration policies to make them more responsive to the demands of an increasingly competitive global economy.

    Yet the quota-based immigration system of the United States diminishes the country's ability to sustain, let alone expand, inflows of high-skilled immigrants. The optimal remedy for this defect in U.S. immigration policy is to replace the H1-B visa program for highly skilled foreign professionals with a quality-selective regime along the lines of the point-based systems introduced in Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. The United Kingdom is moving in this direction, away from a work-permit regime to a multi-tiered system that would entitle high-skilled immigrants to work for any British employer or to set up their own businesses in the country. However, the political environment in the United States--where homeland security concerns remain acute five years after September 11th and the furor over undocumented immigration clouds the separate issue of skilled immigration--provides little cause for optimism that such a policy reform will soon materialize.

    Among the findings of this report:

    * The more educated share of working-age immigrants increased significantly in several OECD countries during the 1990s, especially Ireland, the United Kingdom, Luxembourg, and Finland.

    * The success of educated immigrants in securing U.S. jobs commensurate with their skills varies widely by country of origin, ranging from 76 percent of educated men from India to 25 percent of educated Moroccan men.

    * Between 2000 and 2005, the U.S. foreign-born population from India experienced the most dramatic increase (39.8 percent), followed by Peru and Honduras.

    * Among immigrants arriving in the United States from 2000 to 2004, 12.1 percent held advanced degrees (compared to 10.3 percent of those arriving between 1990 and 1999), while 22.2 percent had bachelor's degrees (compared to 17.3 percent of those arriving during the 1990s).

    * While China, South Korea, and Japan have increased their funding for research and development (R&D) significantly, especially since 9/11, U.S. R&D funding in the physical sciences and engineering has declined or remained stagnant since the early 1990s.

    * In 2004, Congress allowed the annual H1-B quota to revert from 195,000 to its 1990 level of 65,000, which represents just 1 percent of the U.S. science and engineering workforce and has been filled before the start of each fiscal year since it took effect.

    Full Report
    "Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence." John Adams on Defense of the boston Massacre

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