More numbers of immigrants are pursuing STEM careers in the US

November 10, 2015
According to the latest report from the National Science Foundation, an increasing number of immigrants are pursuing careers in STEM related streams in the US. 

More numbers of immigrants are pursuing STEM careers in the US

According to a report, an expected 5.2 million or 18% of the nation’s 29 million engineers and scientists were immigrants in the year 2013 when compared to around 3.4 million or 16% in the year 2003.

Researchers had also found that the majority of immigrants in the industry were more expected to earn the post graduate degrees than were the US citizens.

Experts said that the variety of multifaceted and controversial factors had contributed to the increasing pool of the immigrant labour. It is also the issue that had became politicized in many years. 

According to the director of the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies, John Skrentny, the rise in the immigrant labour in this field does not essentially indicates that there is a shortage of the US born employees who are qualified to fill the same jobs. He said that the STEM salaries has not been increased that much as they do not see the rise in the wages and that will be a warning of the shortage.

The survey includes the number of permanent residents, naturalized US citizens, and the temporary visa holders.  Around 63% of the US STEM employees were naturalized citizens in the year 2013 while 22% were identified as the permanent residents and 15% were temporary visa holders.

According to the report, the immigrant engineers and the scientists were much expected to earn the degree of master or doctorate than their US born counterparts.

The report also said that the overseas born individuals also earned higher yearly salary than the American born counterparts, likely in part due to increased levels of education. The overseas born engineers and scientists were earning the yearly salary of $72,000 when compared to $64,000 for the American born employees.

Skrentny said that the reports suggest that the immigrants do have the skills that the US citizens lack or they are simply much effective workers and are more in demand and are being rewarded.

According to Judy Lee, partner, Foster LLP, most of the foreign students in the STEM streams are coming from India and China.

The report said that out of large majority of immigrants in engineering and science industry, around three million come from Asian countries including 95,000 from India.
Lee also said that the employers in the STEM fields often look to employ individuals with skill sets that the US worker doesn’t possess.  

Overseas workers are often issued temporary visa in the US under the H-1B visa program,  which allows the employers from the US to hire and employ  foreigners in the specialty occupations.

Qualcomm that hire top tier engineers from across the world has lobbied for expanding the visa programs for the workers with high skills.

According to the federal immigration information, It received most H-1B approvals which are about 900 in a five year stretch in the year 2013. The firm was approved for 461 visas in the year 2014.

According to Alice Tornquist, Qualcomm’s vice president of government affairs, nearly half of STEM students at the universities of the US will require a visa for staying post graduation.

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