Hiring International Students: The Economic Advantage

Hiring an international student studying at a university in Michigan is an investment in our state’s economic future.  Michigan’s economy is currently evolving; it no longer relies heavily on the auto industry and manufacturing, it is moving toward a diversified, highly technological economy. This creates a need for new, creative recruiting strategies that allow access to previously untapped talent pools. Not filling the new positions that this technological economy provides will hinder the growth of Michigan’s economy.

Detroit is one of the fastest growing markets for tech jobs. For Michigan to keep up with this growth, we need to look at hiring international students with higher level degrees in these fields. The people who fill these high-level tech positions are innovators; they develop the new products of technologies that will put Michigan back to work, not take jobs away.

Other countries are currently changing their immigration policies to match their economic needs.  Since our lawmakers are currently at a standstill, we need to learn to work within the current regulations to keep this talent in Michigan and prevent international students from becoming competitors, taking their companies and their jobs to other states, or more likely, out of the US.

Studies show that:

  • Immigrants disproportionately contribute to economic growth, employment, and wage gains.
    • 25 percent of high tech companies in the U.S. from 1995-2005 had at least one immigrant founder
    • More than 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies in 2010 included at least one immigrant founder or the child of an immigrant founder
    • Highly educated immigrants are twice as likely to hold patents, three times as likely to start their own businesses (In Michigan, immigrants are 6x as likely to start their own businesses)
    • 76% of patents from the top ten patent-producing universities in 2011 had a foreign born investor
    • Immigrants with entrepreneurial aspirations start their business an average of 13 years from arriving in the U.S., so hiring an international student means you may be hiring a future job creator.More than 50 percent of PhDs and in some cases, nearly 50% of the master’s degrees in the Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM) fields are awarded each year in the U.S. to international students.
  • Michigan is currently experiencing a severe shortage of qualified engineering and IT talent—there are five engineering positions for each qualified job applicant.
  • The STEM fields are the fastest-growing job sector in the country. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics however, forecasts a 230,000 STEM worker shortage by 2018.
  • As more and more companies become global, the need for multicultural awareness and global competency becomes paramount


Common Employer Concerns (i.e. “Myths”)

1. Aren’t I displacing a U.S. worker by hiring a foreign national?

No, Studies show hiring foreign nationals with advanced degrees promotes job growth.  For every 100 H-1B work visas approved, 183 new jobs are created each year.  If you control for just the jobs in the STEM fields, 262 new jobs are created. (link to “immigration and American jobs”?  see link below)

The reason for this is that for a foreign national employee to qualify for an H-1B,

  • The job must require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree
  • The foreign national must meet all job qualifications
  • The employer must pay the a salary equal to or more than the federally determined prevailing wage
  • Many foreign nationals hired into these positions are high level researchers, IT experts, and engineers – creating new products/technologies that will create jobs as all skill levels.

2. I don’t want to deal with all the red tape, I have heard too many horror stories

Negative experiences make it through networks much faster than success stories.  With proper planning and a well seasoned immigration attorney, the process is not that difficult.  There are two very common mistakes employers make that are the root of the majority of horror stories.

  • Not enough time to prepare visa application
    • Many employers think that the application can be prepared today and sent tomorrow.  These applications take time to prepare, it is important to plan appropriately so you can meet important deadlines.  For more information on employer sponsored work authorizations, click here.
    • International students come with their own work authorization that can last anywhere from 1-3 years, this will allow more than enough time to prepare a work visa application.
  • Hiring the cheapest attorney instead of the most qualified
    • Preparing a successful visa application takes the expertise of an experienced immigration attorney.  They know what documentation the US Immigration Service is looking for and how to prepare a successful application.  Hiring an attorney who doesn’t have experience with immigration applications is just like hiring a tax attorney to defend you in a criminal trial.
    • For more information on hiring an immigration attorney, click here.
  1. Is it worth my time, money, and effort? 

Immigrants are generally more loyal and stay longer

  • The average domestic graduate changes jobs every 2-3 years until age 35.  US employers generally value a more diversified resume for advanced professionals, so our culture does not promote staying with one employer for an extended period of time.
  • Most international students come from cultures where staying loyal to one employer is valued more than a diversified resume
  • May avoid turnover and training/relocation expenses
  • Even if an international student needs to return home at the end of his/her student employment authorization, you will have that employee the same amount of time as a domestic applicant. Therefore, you would not have to do anything different than you would for a domestic applicant
  1. Work visa applications are too expensive.

As an investment, the return is far greater than the expense.   Not only do you bring new perspectives to your company and expand networks, it’s cheaper to hire international students from Michigan universities on their own work authorization and change their visa status to an employer sponsored work visa when it expires.  The Math — employer currently pays 7.65% of salary for FICA/Medicare.  International students on F -1 or J-1 visas cannot benefit from social security, therefore they don’t have to pay into it which means neither does the employer.  Also, since domestic applicants tend to change jobs more often than foreign applicants, there may be turnover costs as well as more training costs.

How to Hire an Immigration Attorney

Are you interested in filing for an H1-B visa in Michigan for 2015?

An H1-B visa allows U.S. employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations. If you plan to file for an H1-B visa, hiring an immigration attorney may be in your best interest for many reasons, including:

  • US Immigration laws are some of the most complex, ever-changing laws in the government. An immigration attorney will have experience with these laws and be able to interpret them to your specific application.
  • While regulations and rules apply to all applicants, the facts and circumstances are never identical. An immigration attorney can determine how the law applies to your unique situation.
  • Many immigration issues involve other legal issues with which an immigration attorney should be familiar.

If you think you want to hire an immigration attorney, here are some steps to get you started:

  • Consider how much you are willing to pay an immigration attorney to help with your H1-B visa, but make sure you select your attorney based on quality, not price.
  • Ask if the attorney has worked with any cases similar to yours, to make sure they have experience with your specific case.
  • Choose an attorney who you are comfortable with. Make sure you are comfortable talking to and disclosing information to your attorney, as they will need to properly represent you. If you are shy or embarrassed around your attorney and withhold information, it may compromise your case. It is important to be truthful and comfortable around them.
  • It may be in your best interest to find an attorney who speaks your native language. This may be hard to find, but it is worth asking.

There is much more to consider, so make sure you do your research before hiring an immigration attorney! The first day that H1-B visas are accepted in 2015 is April 1. Visas are limited, so it is important to make sure your application arrives on that day so you have a greater chance for eligibility!

The time to hire an immigration attorney is now! Click here  for more information and our recommendations for hiring an immigration attorney.