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Trump Administration’s H-1B Visa Restrictions Hurt U.S. Workers


In April 2017, President Trump issued the “Buy American and Hire American” Executive Order. The stated aim of the Executive Order is to protect U.S. workers and further U.S. economic interests by directing the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to reduce approvals of H-1B visas. President Trump claims that this initiative has been a resounding success for both United States and foreign workers, but a research study by one of the world’s top business schools proves that the opposite is true.

In May 2019, Professor Britta Glennon of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania released the findings of a study she conducted on the impact of the Administration’s H-1B immigration restrictions have had on the hiring of foreign workers. To complete her study, Professor Glennon analyzed a dataset that contains H-1B visa data and data on the financial and operating characteristics of several U.S. multinationals and their foreign affiliates. Professor Glennon found that restriction on H-1B visas are leading United States multinationals to hire more employees at their foreign affiliates, to open more foreign affiliated branches and to reduce hiring in the U.S. Professor Glennon identifies India, China and Canada as the countries that will benefit the most from these offshore employment activities.

Professor Glennon ultimately concludes from the data that if United States multinationals continue to hire more offshore workers, the perception of the United States as an innovative country will also move offshore. Specifically, Professor Glennon notes, “. . . if skilled foreign-born workers are at a U.S. firm’s foreign affiliate instead of in the U.S., the innovative spillovers that they generate will go to another country instead . . . In short, restrictive H-1B policies could not only be exporting more jobs and businesses to countries like Canada, but they also could be making the U.S.’s innovative capacity fall behind.”

We are already seeing a huge drop-off in the enrollment of international students in the U.S. attributable to the Administration’s restrictive immigration policies. If President Trump continues to restrict high-skilled immigration and to make the U.S. an unwelcome destination for international students and graduates, innovative foreign workers will no longer consider working in the United States and our economy will inevitably suffer. For more information about Professor Glennon’s H-1B study click here.

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