Skilled But Excluded

Leonid Bershidsky regrets that that Obama’s executive order did little for skilled immigrants:

On the surface, there is little the president, without Congress’s help, can do for skilled migrants. The Immigration and Nationality Act allows only 65,000 people a year to receive H1B temporary skilled worker visas. (Exempt from this quota are 20,000 U.S. graduates of master’s degree programs, as well as an unlimited number of potential government and nonprofit employees.) Just 140,000 skilled workers and their family members are eligible for employment-based green cards each year. …

Perhaps the story of the lottery-losing programmer isn’t as poignant as that of Astrid Silva, who, according to Obama, came to America with just “a cross, her doll and the frilly dress she had on.” The programmer would, however, be more immediately useful to the U.S. economy than Silva, “a college student working on her third degree.” Not letting him in is at least as wrong as kicking out Silva would be.

Jim Manzi argues for more high-skilled immigrants generally:

All of the major Anglophone democracies have done a far better job of this than America and have reaped the benefits.

Australia, Canada, and New Zealand all have a higher foreign-born population than the U.S., and all three plus Britain have more new immigrants each year per capita than the U.S. They have all used some kind of points system to select for immigrants with relevant skills, such as English proficiency and educational attainment, and extra points for degrees or expertise in such fields as science, technology, and medicine. They are generally moving to a two-stage system in which foreign applicants who achieve at least some specificed target score under such a points system are put into a pool which prospective employers can browse, and are granted visas when specific employers offer them jobs. America should implement such a system.

Along the same lines, Philip Sopher thinks it should be easier for physicians to immigrate to the US:

The United States… has strict policies regarding medical licensing—a doctor is only allowed to practice in the U.S. once he has obtained a license in the state in which he intends to work. The person must acquire a visa, pass the first two steps of the United States Medical-Licensing Exam (USMLE), then become certified by the Education Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG), get into an accredited U.S. or Canadian residency program, and finally, go back and pass step three of the USMLE. Each of these steps could take multiple years, repelling doctors who are already able to practice in the country in which they were trained.

But is it really a good idea to deter them? By 2020, America’s doctor shortage is projected to reach 91,500 too few doctors, with nearly half of the burden falling on primary care. This means doctors will be overworked and citizens may have to wait longer and pay higher fees for an appointment. Without all of these barriers, many foreign doctors would find the prospect of migrating to the United States appealing.

Recent Dish on STEM-oriented immigration here.