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International student enrollment in US institutions drops

After a 4-year slide due to Trump administration immigration policies, enrollment of new international students fell dramatically in fall 2020 because of COVID-19, according to the Institute of International Education. Total international student enrollment also took a nosedive

by Andrea Widener
November 19, 2020 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 98, ISSUE 45



    Total international students in the US for the 2019–20 academic year, down 1.8% from the previous year. This was the first decrease in total enrollment in at least a decade.


    Proportion of all students at US institutions who are international students


    Decrease in total international student enrollment in fall 2020 from enrollment for the 2019–20 academic year


    Institutions that reported that some international students deferred admission for fall 2020



Sources: Institute of International Education, Open Doors “2020 Fast Facts” and Fall 2020 International Student Enrollment Snapshot.

Note: Numbers are from 2,900 institutions included in the annual Open Doors report except for fall 2020 numbers, which are from the Fall 2020 International Student Enrollment Snapshot survey of 700 institutions.

a Optional practical training is a visa extension of up to 3 years for additional training related to a student’s degree.





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Joe (November 21, 2020 8:26 AM)
I have to wonder why the US is sabotaging the careers of young US citizen and permanent resident college grads. Optional Practical Training (OPT) amounts to the government offering a $10,000 per year incentive to employers for hiring a foreign college graduate instead of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident college graduate. This bonus takes the form of the employer being exempt from paying payroll tax for their foreign college graduates (due to their student status, which they technically still have under OPT in spite of having graduated).

By way of example: In 2017 alone, Amazon employed 3,655 foreign workers on OPT[1]. Amazon's average starting salary for "entry-level engineers" is approximately $108,000[2]. Social Security and medicare tax rates for employers is 6.2% and 1.45%, respectively (7.65% combined)[3].

On one worker alone, Amazon saved $8,262/yr by preferring an OPT worker instead of an American worker ($108,000 X .0765). On all 3,655 OPT workers they hired in 2017, Amazon saved a total of $30,197,610 in one year by preferring OPT workers instead of American workers ($8,262 X 3,655). You read that right. $30 million. Why hire Americans, eh?

Trump is, indeed, a demagogue. I didn't vote for him in 2016 and I didn't vote for him in 2020. I'm not a one-issue voter. But he happens to be right where OPT and H-1B are concerned.

[1] US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, "2017 Top 200 Employers for Pre‐ and Post‐Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) Students".

[2] Tuttle, Beecher (2019). "Comparing salaries and bonuses at Facebook, Amazon and Google", efinancialcareers, April 16, 2019.

[3] Internal Revenue Service (2020). Topic No. 751 "Social Security and Medicare Withholding Rates", February 14, 2020.
Luna (December 1, 2020 12:19 PM)
The intent of the H-1B provisions is to help employers who cannot otherwise obtain needed business skills and abilities from the U.S. workforce by authorizing the temporary employment of qualified individuals who are not otherwise authorized to work in the United States. Part of the requirements prior to hiring an H1b worker is that "employers must take good faith steps to recruit U.S. workers for any job for which they seek H-1B workers." There is a rigorous process and paperwork (i.e. LCA) to fulfill this requirement.
It is estimated that approved H-1B petitions are between 0.5 percent and 0.7 percent of the college-graduate labor force most years [2]. There is a 85,000 cap per year.
Lastly, the US is getting the cream of the crop in the world. Many study and are trained in the top US Universities. If US wants to maintain dominance and competitiveness, then it should hire the best no matter where they come from.

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