Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The incredible children of the H-1B visa

Since Charles Schumer is spreading malicious nonsense about "chop shops" using H-1B visas, I think this is an appropriate time to revisit the fact that the H-1B visa produces an incomprehensibly large fraction of America's young math and science superstars.

Stuart Anderson tallied the numbers several years ago in a report appropriately titled The Multiplier Effect. Key quote (emphasis mine):
Seven of the top 10 award winners at the 2004 Intel Science Talent Search were immigrants or their children. (In 2003, three of the top four awardees were foreign-born.) In fact, in the 2004 Intel Science Talent Search, more children (18) have parents who entered the country on H-1B (professional) visas than parents born in the United States (16). To place this finding in perspective, note that new H-1B visa holders each year represent less than 0.04 percent of the U.S. population, illustrating the substantial gain in human capital that the United States receives from the entry of these individuals and their offspring.
This isn't some fluke of the Intel contest. For the U.S. Math Olympiad—the country's premier mathematics competition for high school students—Anderson finds:
Among the top scorers of the 2004 U.S. Math Olympiad, 65 percent (13 of 20) were the children of immigrants. A remarkable 50 percent were born outside of the United States (10 of 20)...

More of the Math Olympiad top scorers have parents who received H-1B visas (10) than parents born in the United States (7).
At the highest levels of competition, the tiny fraction of high school students whose parents came to the United States via the H-1B visa do better than the entire population with American-born parents. This program is a really, really big deal.

Even supposing that high school contests overstate the fraction of children of immigrants (whose parents are perhaps more likely to push them at that stage) among the nation's scientific elite, the H-1B visa is responsible for enormous percentage of our future top scientists. Maybe the bias is a factor of four—but then this one small program alone will still give us 12%.

Yet the number of H-1B visas each year remains capped at 65,000, and thanks to our bizarre system of per-country limits, the EB-2 green card (to which the H-1B often leads) is backlogged to 2006 for applicants from China and India. The EB-3 is backlogged to 2002! Why should fixing this antiquated system wait until "comprehensive immigration reform"?

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sen. Schumers comments about chop shops are much kinder than these companies deserve. And, the H-1Bs, who are not immigrants but temporary guest workers, need to go home now. Really. The vast majority of them are quite mediocre and all too many are fraudulent in some way. The corrupt H-1B visa needs to end, and so does the equally evil L-1. After 10 years of them plundering America, the results are in.

Rob said...

Cannot agree with you more this. H1B is an easy target for politicians as the skilled people don't have voice like other unskilled categories like the Hispanics and when the election year comes politicians spit more venom on the H1b's.

One more thing you may want to note. In the last 5 years, more Immigrant children (Indian) won the ESPN spelling bee.

So, this follows the same thing which happened in Germany before the second world war. If you want to become popular just blame one group and segregate them just like Hitler did

Rob said...

To the first Anonymous who said that H1-B needs to go back, my question to you buddy..

How did you come to US a land of Immigrants. Oh..your grand grand father or grand father might have come to this country in a steerage and do you know How did H1b's came....

Through education, interviewed and selected by your esteemed companies. Okay...Your ancestors came to America and now you want to shut down the doors. I don't see it logical. Do you? Really?

If at all only the Red Indians are the the owners of this land. See even the name of the natives is called indians as Columbus thought this country was India.

Anonymous said...

Matt, are you aware of the tech industry that has been negatively affected by the gaping loopholes and dire lack of oversight that this program suffers from? Fraud, nepotism and misrepresentation have become synonomous as of late and it is negatively affecting the program. Congress is working to shut it down. Focus on the O-visas, Matt. This is the true path for immigrants of extraordinary ability and steer clear of the H and L visas, as they are under heavy fire for abuse and forgery and it is very likely the door is going to be shut sooner than later.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the bogus history lesson. I am not an immigrant. I have no homeland to run home to if America doesn't work out for me, unlike the H-1Bs. I can't speak any of my ancestral languages, and my countries of ancestry would not let me come live there because they have enough sense to limit immigration. My relatives have risked death in wars for America, unlike H-1Bs. Who invented computers and networks? Mostly Americans, and they were a world leader in technology before India ever got the idea to join the modern world. The US is a modern nation, not a wide open town for anybody to just come riding in. We have borders and our government has a duty to regulate access to our nation. Every other nation protects its people in various ways. Sorry, you do not have the same rights of access to America that I do.

John Blanchard said...

They'll take our (academic) jobs!!

Rob said...

Illegal immigration is not a new problem, Native Americans used to call it 'White People

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Mukesh Speak said...

H-1B as a remedy for labor shortages and as a means of hiring "the best and the brightest" from around the world

strongly support), the vast majority are ordinary people doing ordinary work. Instead of being about talent, H-1B is about cheap labor.

H-1B visa holders may only work for sponsoring employers after approval by the Departments of Labor and Homeland Security.

Although most of the non-compliant H-1B workers had posted wages from employers in fields associated with technical or

specialty occupations, the report noted that one H-1B worker had earnings from a restaurant and janitorial service.

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H-1b visa