During the new Coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19), the US Immigration and Customs sector announced a rule change that took tens of thousands of foreign students by surprise, preventing students – whose classes were being held remotely – from remaining in the parents.
This measure, of course, had repercussions for American universities and higher education institutions – some of them, even, immediately filed a process to successfully reverse the decision. However, this also reverberated in the corridors of the largest US technology companies, which have increasingly relied on foreign students, as analyzed by OneZero.
Among these companies is the Apple, which together with Google, to Facebook and to Twitter, argued that their activities would be “substantially impaired” if foreign students were forced to leave the country; under pressure from universities and companies, the rule change was officially canceled.
Nevertheless, the case revealed the importance of foreign students in American technology companies. According to research by OneZero, the number of non-American students in the masters and doctoral programs in the areas that make up STEM has grown so much in recent years that they are already responsible for more than half of the distribution of all degrees awarded.
This growth has been essential for increasing the participation of these students in technology companies. Generally, these companies apply for the issuance of the H1-B visa, which lasts three years and allows foreign students to occupy a position in an American company. Since 2006, the limit for the number of H1-B visas available has been set at 85,000 by the US government, 65,000 of which are for students with a bachelor’s degree and the other 20,000 for applicants with a master’s degree (provided by an American university).
With the increase in requests by companies in the sector, this limit has made the H1-B visa application process increasingly competitive: in the past six years, the 85,000 applications have been completed in just four days. In this sense, the main companies started to accumulate most of the orders; in 2019, for example, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft and Google collectively received nearly 27,000 H1-B visas, more than 30% of the total visas available to private companies.
Another point worth mentioning is the disparity in the search for diplomas by American and foreign students. More precisely, international students are seeking more degrees in STEM areas than national students – about 7% more at undergraduate level and 50% more at specialization levels.
You can check the complete survey here; in any case, it is notable that Silicon Valley companies are increasingly relying on talent from around the world. ?