NEW ANALYSIS: Retaining International Student Talent Could Help the U.S. Win the Global Talent Race, Fill Millions of Critical Workforce Openings

WASHINGTON, D.C. — New data released today by highlights the importance of international students in the United States and their potential to add immense benefits to the country’s economy and strengthen our global competitiveness as we enter a post-pandemic economy. estimates that 100,000 international student graduates each year who have been trained in U.S colleges and universities, would like to stay and work in the United States. However, without a direct immigration avenue for continued residency in the U.S, far too many graduates are forced to leave the country after graduation, taking their American higher education, diverse skills, and immense potential with them. If Congress enacted legislation providing international students with a direct avenue to permanent residency after graduation, the country would benefit from hundreds of billions of dollars in economic stimulus — including $65 billion in combined federal, state, and local taxes — and would take a leap forward in the global competition for STEM workers and talent. Further, immigration reform that adds international talent and skills to the country could cut crippling STEM labor shortages by as much as a quarter over the next ten years.

“Some of the best and brightest minds from around the globe come to the United States for our superior education and research opportunities. This new analysis underscores our nation’s annual losses as a consequence of congressional inaction on immigration reform, which forces many international students to take their knowledge, talents, and careers elsewhere after their education in the United States,” said Senior Demographer Phillip Connor. “As the world competes for STEM-educated workers and struggles with health care staff shortages, we cannot afford to lose out on the economic, technological, and research-based benefits highly-skilled and educated international graduates would add to the United States. Congress should urgently enact common sense reforms to improve our failed immigration system that provide opportunities for international students and the U.S. economy and businesses alike.”

In 2019, the international student population in the U.S. decreased for the first time in many years, as competitor nations with more favorable immigration systems recruited more students to their colleges and universities instead. If this trend continues, as data in the new report showcases, America’s competitive edge will only continue to deteriorate over the next decade.

In addition to the report, also published 5 Policy Proposals for Congress to increase retention of international student graduates, including establishing a dedicated pathway to permanent residency for international graduates and expanding access to other immigration avenues.

Congress should immediately introduce legislation allowing international students a clear avenue to permanent residency after their graduation. It’s a smart policy for international students, and an even smarter policy for our families, communities, and economy.

Read the new report from Retaining U.S. International Student Graduates to Win the Global Talent Race

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