H1B Visa Under Trump – What about the $130,000 salary cap?
When you talk about Trump’s impact on your H1B visa, most students generally worry about the availability of jobs, particularly if the minimum salaries are raised as high as $130,000!
But, it’s important to look at the actual parameters of the new H1B bill before panicking.
According to the new H1B bill, introduced by Democrat Zoe Lofgren, ONLY H1B dependent employers (companies whose workforce in the US consists of over 15% H1B visa holders) are liable to pay a minimum of $130,000 to it’s employees on a H1B visa.
A quick search on Google reveals that only two companies may fit the criteria for a H1B dependent employer i.e. TCS & CTS.
And, as an MS/PhD aspirant, are you aiming for a job at any of these companies?
Besides, in my opinion, raising the salary indiscriminately without any regard to the job sector, median wages, growth, return of investment etc. While it is possible that the minimum salary might be raised from the current standard of $60,000, it is highly unlikely that the salaries will go up by more than 50% overnight.
Availability of Jobs
Now, another aspect to this argument is the current availability of jobs, irrespective of a salary increase.
From an economic point of view, the Trump administration is targeting an economic growth of 3.5-4% for the next fiscal year. Historically speaking, the engine of any economy is the continuous investment and relentless research in science & technology. The United States of America has earned its superior position as a superpower and economy over the years by prioritizing scientific research and development.
Therefore, there is no doubt that it will continue to do so, especially if the US wants to maintain its current position.
According to the USNEWS/Raytheon STEM Index, as of 2013, there were 16.8 million STEM jobs in the American market and the numbers have only gone up.
But can you guess the number of STEM graduates produced every year?
- No. of American STEM graduates produced every year – 560,000 (2015)
- No. of Indian STEM graduates every year – 2.6 million (2015)
- No. of Chinese STEM graduates every year – 4.7 million (2015)
Therefore, there is a huge STEM crisis within the US, which overseas students can fulfill, provided they are allowed to utilize the strong skills they earn through a US education.
Editor & Chief Content Officer for USNEWS, Brian Kelly said:
“While our universities are producing more STEM graduates, many of these students are foreigners on temporary visas. Despite significant public and private investment, we are still not developing an American STEM workforce to fill the jobs of the future. It’s clear that we need to focus our efforts on getting more kids, particularly women and African-Americans, interested in pursuing STEM at a young age.”
If you’re looking for more clarity on your particular fields, take a look at this dynamic comprehensive report compiled by USNEWS in support with Raytheon, called the 2015 US NEWS/Raytheon STEM INDEX.
Additionally, according to NAFSA, the US receives close to 1 million international students who contribute $32.8 billion to the US economy. Currently, about 43% of Master’s degrees and 57% of Doctoral degrees out of total graduate degrees awarded for STEM go to international students.
They also create or support approximately 400,000 jobs.
Based on my analysis, any drastic decision will result in cold feet among students and therefore, lead to a significant loss of skilled professionals to competing countries such as Canada, Germany and Australia. From Trump’s point of view, this isn’t the best deal for him or his country.
However, it is very important to have the right expectations before flying off to the US.
How easy is it to get a job in the US?
Landing a job in the US is relatively harder than it is in India. Without dedicated campus placements or recruitment drives from top companies, finding a job and keeping it depends on your ability to communicate clearly, make connections with industry professionals as well as sharpen your technical skills. Most students try to convert internships or part time opportunities into full time jobs through hard work, enthusiasm and obvious display of skill.
But this is the case in any country outside India.
Take UK for example. International student numbers have been dwindling steadily due to tighter visa restrictions and immense difficulty in finding STEM jobs for students with advanced degrees, not to mention the massive cost of education.
But what about immigrant friendly countries like Canada or Australia. You will find that keeping a job is harder than finding one, that is, if you aren’t picky about the kind of job you get.
This is primarily because every nation prioritizes its citizens first before considering immigrants even if they are talented or most suitable for the job.
But if you’re aiming for a foreign education, a better lifestyle and faster career growth, then you must be prepared to work hard, equip yourself and be determined to find a job.
To sum up my analysis, I believe that while it may be relatively harder to find a job in the US than it is in India, it may not be any additionally harder because of Trump’s presidency, if you’re graduating from a good American university.
In fact, the chances are most likely in your favour. So, brush off your fears and tackle all these uncertainties by ensuring you get into a top university. Aim high, achieve a high GRE score and secure your future.