Another Fake University Sting Leads to 8 Arrests

JANUARY 30, 2019
The University of Farmington, a proud institution in Farmington, MI, is no more.
Or, to be more correct, it never was.
That’s because the university was actually part of a major sting operation by the federal government to identify people helping ‘students’ stay in the US illegally. The university had no staff or faculty, no classrooms, and no campus. Instead, recruiters conspired with undercover US agents to allow for people to enter or stay in the US under student visas through admission into the fake college, in exchange for fees and kickbacks. Eight different “recruiters” have since been arrested and charged as a result of the sting.
The operation was similar to one conducted in 2016, which used the fictional “University of Northern New Jersey”. Students paid for entrance to the university and the student visas, but never attended classes, met faculty, and were encouraged to work instead. That operation lead to the arrest of 21 people for visa fraud. Over 1000 students were summoned to immigration court, facing penalties up to a lifetime ban from the US.
The moral of the story: any person attempting to enter the US should protect themselves by getting legal counsel and ensuring the validity and legality of their visa status. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
The University of Farmington是密歇根州法明顿市一所优秀的机构,现已不复存在。
联邦特工这次扮演卧底,利用一间名叫The University of Farmington的空壳大学去引诱想利用挂靠学校来保持身份的留学生。这间学校位于密歇根,没有课室,没有教职工,没有任何课程和学校内容,联邦特工设立这个学校的目的就是为了打击移民诈骗行为。这次事件,联邦特工起诉8名学生招募人员,他们一共帮助600多名外籍留学生进行学校挂靠。同时数十们学生被逮捕,他们将面临着被递解的命运,这些学生大部分来自印度和中国。

Are Visas Restricting Job Mobility for Foreign Workers?

JANUARY 28, 2019
Significant numbers of workers enter the US every year on a variety of work visas, including the H-1B program for specialty workers, the O-1 program for extraordinary ability workers, and the J-1 program for professors and research scholars, as well as many other programs. These visa processes are often long, complex, and require a fair amount of elbow grease from both the employers and the employees. As a result, its fair to wonder if workers in the US on those visa programs are “trapped” at their jobs, or if they have as much worker mobility as native workers do. After all, America is a land of opportunity, and being confined to one position indefinitely is not much of an opportunity!
Jennifer Hunt, from Rutgers University, and Bin Xie, from Jinan University, attempted to study how much job mobility visa holders had in comparison to native US workers. Using data from the National Survey of College graduates, they traditionally the mobility rates are very similar, mobility drops nearly 20% (!) during the application period for visas, and it spikes once temporary workers obtain permanent residence.
According to Hunt and Xie, the data suggests that while employers may have some additional power over the employees during the application period, overall the concerns that employers have “monopsony powers” should be alleviated, given the similar rates of job movement among US workers.
Citation: Hunt, J. and Xie, B. (2019), How Restricted is the Job Mobility of Skilled Temporary Work Visa Holders?. J. Pol. Anal. Manage., 38: 41-64. doi:10.1002/pam.22110
来自罗格斯大学的Jennifer Hunt和来自暨南大学的Bin Xie试图研究与美国本土工人相比,外国工人有多少的工作流动性。根据全国大学毕业生调查数据,一般情况下他们的流动率非常相似,在签证申请期间,流动率突然下降了近20%,一旦外国工人获得永久居留权,流动率又突然上升。

Name Americanization: Economic Payoff vs Cultural Identity

JANUARY 25, 2019
“Americanization” is a process by which immigrants to the United States attempt to integrate with the local culture. In many cases, immigrants have chosen to “Americanize” their birth names to ones that are more traditionally or popularly American, such as changing “Hans”, “Johan”, and “Ivan” to the more American name “John”. Often, this was done with the intention of making it easier to succeed economically, as anti-immigrant economic bias has existed in the United States since its inception.
But what are the economic rewards to name Americanization? A study conducted by a team of researchers based in the University of Chicago attempted to answer that question. They examined the economic gains of immigrants from the early twentieth century and found that those immigrants who Americanized their names did find greater economic rewards in comparison to similar immigrants who kept their original names. These rewards were often greatest among those who faced the most barriers to entry, and it was stressed that name Americanization was often a signal that immigrants were actively attempting to full integrate into American culture.
But is name Americanization worth it? Names are often major links to our ethnic identities, and America is a country of immigrants. While the economic rewards were real in the early twentieth century, it is potentially more personally beneficial to keep our birth names and maintain our connections to our ancestral homes. It is a decision that every person must make for themselves.
Citation: Biavaschi, C., Giulietti, C., & Siddique, Z. (2017). The Economic Payoff of Name Americanization. Journal of Labor Economics, 35, 1089–1116.
“美国化”是美国移民融入当地文化的过程。很多移民会将他们的本名进行“美国化”,例如将“Hans”,“Johan” 或 “Ivan” 这样的名字改为“John”。通常,这样做的目的是使其更容易在经济上取得成功,同时也跟美国自成立以来一直存在的反移民偏见有关。

How is the H-1B Quota Impacting Immigration?

JANUARY 22, 2019
The H-1B visa program is a well-known, popular way for companies to fill skill-shortage positions in the United States with foreign labor. The program, which has been around since the early 1990s, has had dramatically different “caps” on the number of visas allowed in a given year since its inception. These caps have ranged from 65,000 in the early years to a peak of 195,000 in the early 2000s, before going back down to 65,000 in 2004.
But what have the implications of these different caps been? How has changing the number of visas accepted impacted the immigration process? A group of economic researchers from the IZA Institute of Labor Economics attempted to discern the impact of the 2004 drop in the visa quota. They determined that the drop had caused a significant decrease in employment for H-1B workers at for-profit firms, compared to what was projected to happen in a more uncontrolled environment. In this sense, the quota program was a success in reducing the demand for H-1B visas.
The researchers also found that the lower quota increased the emphasis on Indian-born workers, as well as computer-related/IT workers, and limited the companies to ones that used H-1B workers extensively rather than those who were just “filling gaps”. One of the important implications was that much of the restriction of workers coming in was at the highest and lowest wage ranges, suggesting that incredibly highly qualified, and highly compensated, workers opted from immigrating to the United States all together because of the increased restrictions.
Citation: Mayda, A. M., Ortega, F., Peri, G., Shih, K., & Sparber, C. (2018). The effect of the H-1B quota on the employment and selection of foreign-born labor. European Economic Review, 108, 105–128.
H-1B签证实行以来,已经成为了众所周知的招揽人才途径,用于帮助美国公司通过招募外国工人来填补本国技能职位短缺的现象。H-1B从自20世纪90年代初开始实行,签证配额 上限随着年代的不同,也随之产生变化。从早期的65,000个名额到21世纪初的195,000,然后在2004年回落至65,000。
研究人员还发现,较低的配额增加了对印度工人以及计算机相关/ IT工作者的重视,并限制部分滥用H-1B签证的公司。 其中一个重要的影响是,对于工作者而言,一般是在最高工资或最低工资进行限制,这表明因为限制的设定,使得移民过来美国的工作者条件都非常好,工资待遇也非常佳。

Brain Drain is the Name of the Game

JANUARY 18, 2019
“Brain Drain” has often been a concern for those who study immigration and its impacts. Put simply, brain drain refers to the movement of highly skilled workers and intellectuals, like doctors and scientists, out of a country to the point that it harms the origin country’s productivity. Historically, brain drain could happen as a result of prosecution or discrimination, such as the influx of Jewish scientists from Germany to the US in the early 1900s. In the modern day, however, most brain drain is likely driven by simple economic incentives: scientists can make more money and do better work in some countries versus others.
But how does immigration policy impact brain drain? Maurice Schiff from the Institute for the Study of Labor studied the impact that different types of immigration systems could have on brain drain, and its related concept: ability drain. Specifically, Schiff studied three types of immigration systems: the “point” system, used in pre-2015 Canada; the “vetting” system, used in the US for systems like the H-1B; and the “new point” systems, used in countries like Australia and New Zealand.
Examining the impacts of these different systems, Schiff found that vetting systems, like the US H-1B program, generated larger ability drains and larger brain drains than the points systems, thus creating a more beneficial policy for the host country (the US) than those other systems. However, this also means that countries losing workers, such as India or China, are suffering at a greater rate. Schiff suggests that countries work together to provide a less impactful immigration standard.
Citation: Schiff, M. (2017). Ability drain: size, impact, and comparison with brain drain under alternative immigration policies. Journal of Population Economics, 30, 1337–1354.
研究移民及其影响的学者常常会提到一个词,叫做 “人才流失”。简而言之,人才流失指的是一个国家的高技能工人和知识分子(如医生和科学家)流向外国,以至于损害了该国的生产力。从历史上看,人才流失可能是由于遭受迫害或歧视造成的,例如20世纪初期德国犹太科学家涌入美国。然而,在现代,大多数人才流失的现象很可能就是简单地由经济刺激所驱动的,与其留在本国,这些人才在某些国家可以赚更多钱,发展得更好。
但移民政策如何影响人才流失现象?来自劳动研究所的Maurice Schiff研究了不同类型的移民系统可能对人才流失产生的影响及其相关概念:人才吸收。具体而言,Schiff研究了三种类型的移民系统:2015年之前加拿大使用的 “积分” 系统; 在美国使用的 “审查” 系统; 以及澳大利亚和新西兰等国家使用的 “新积点” 系统。

Should H-1B Visas Be Randomly Allocated?

JANUARY 15, 2019
The H-1B Visa program, in its current design, has one notable feature: visas are allocated randomly, by a lottery system, to those who are eligible for it. This is in part because there is a cap on the number of visas that may be approved in a given year, to help control the amount of legal immigration and employment opportunities for natives. But, what are some of the consequences of this system, and is an alternative a better solution for visa allocation?
Chad Sparber from Colgate University examined the possibility of a merit-based allocation system for H-1B visas. While explicitly taking no stance on whether the number of visas should be adjusted, Sparber did argue that the distribution of visas might be better if they prioritized those applications which were getting the best offers in terms of salary and compensation. Sparber was curious how such a system would impact the overall increase in productivity.
His models and simulations ultimately concluded that switching the allocation system would cause the overall skill level of H-1B visas recipients to rise dramatically, as would overall output and output per capita. Additionally, he found that native workers without bachelor’s degrees would have greater opportunities and benefits, though native workers with bachelor’s degrees would suffer from a slight wage decrease. It remains to be seen whether this distribution system will be seriously considered by law-markers, but it would be an interesting and potentially worthwhile change.
Citation: Sparber, C. (2018). Choosing Skilled Foreign-Born Workers: Evaluating Alternative Methods for Allocating H-1B Work Permits. Industrial Relations, 57, 3–34.
来自高露洁大学的Chad Sparber研究了基于优点(Merit-Based)的H-1B签证分配系统的可能性。虽然对于是否应该调整签证数量没有明确表态,但Sparber确实认为,如果签证优先考虑那些在工资和薪酬方面明显突出的申请者,那么签证的分配可能会更好。Sparber也好奇这样的H-1B签证系统会对整体社会生产力有多少提升。

How Will the Government Shutdown Impact Visa Requests?

JANUARY 11, 2019
With the US Government currently facing one the longest shutdowns in its history and with no sign of a deal between President Trump and Congressional Democrats, it is fair to wonder how this will impact the government agencies handling immigration requests.
The good news for potential immigrants and visa holders is that the US Citizenship and Immigration Services are *mostly* unaffected. The USCIS stated in a newsletter that their “offices will remain open, and all individuals should attend interviews and appointments as scheduled” and noted that they “will continue to accept petitions and applications for benefits requests…”. Thus, it appears that most immigration processes will be largely unaffected despite the current shutdown and dysfunction in Washington.
However, there are some areas that will be affected, including the “E-Verify” website used to determine work eligibility in the U.S. All E-Verify services are currently unavailable, and the website, while accessible, is not being actively maintained. Potential immigrants and employers should find other methods of determining eligibility status until the shutdown is over. 

Is H-1B Critically Flawed and Can We Fix It?

JANUARY 07, 2019
H-1B is an often criticized and controversial immigration program, attempting to address a shortage of skilled workers in the US. But does the H-1B program achieve this goal appropriately, and if not, what are potential solutions?
Sam Trimbach, Managing Editor of the Journal of International Law and Business,argues that not only does the program fall short of its goals, but it inadvertently perpetuates the problem it is attempting to solve. In his article, “Giving the Market a Microphone”, Trimbach notes that the H-1B program is intended to address a temporary shortage of skilled workers until the domestic labor force can meet the demand.
The critical flaw, he says, is that H-1B workers are only required to be paid at market level for their compensation. Trimbach says this creates a system with two substantial consequences: first, that it is often cheaper for US companies to replace their domestic workers with immigrants, and second, that it decreases the economic incentive for domestic workers to enter those fields, increasing the worker gap while decreasing the wages. In this way, the system builds upon itself: rather than temporarily addressing the skills shortage, it makes it worse. According to Trimbach, regardless of the merits or morality of the H-1B system, this fatal flaw makes it easier for companies to continuously hire foreign workers at the expense of their domestic labor force.
Trimbach does recommend several ways to address these problems, including adding more limitations to the H-1B program to make it harder for jobs to qualify, arguing that this will help prevent companies from abusing the program. Additionally, allowing greater mobility for H-1B workers themselves and increasing the required compensation for foreign workers would make the market value for those rise, thus enticing more US workers to join the fields, while economically discouraging companies from switching from US to foreign workers.
Citation: Trimbach, S. (2017). Giving the Market a Microphone: Solutions to the Ongoing Displacement of U.S. Workers Through the H-1B Visa Program. Northwestern Journal of International Law & Business, 37, 275–300.
 “国际法和商业期刊”执行编辑Sam Trimbach认为,H-1B不仅没有实现其当初设立的目标,而且还无意中使把问题严重化。Trimbach在他的文章“给市场一个话筒”中指出,H-1B计划旨在解决技术工人暂时短缺的问题,当社会劳动力的需求满足之后,H-1B计划就该停止。
他指出,H-1B的缺陷在于,H-1B工人只需要获得市场水平的工资就可以。这就造成了两个严重后果:第一,美国公司用移民来取代本地工人的话,成本变得更便宜; 第二,它降低了本地工人进入这些领域的经济动力,增加了工人之间的工资差距。这样下来,H-1B就自成一个系统,一来并没有解决技术工人短缺的问题,二来还使情况变得更坏。根据Trimbach的说法,无论H-1B计划的种种优点或好处如何,所存在的缺陷会使美国公司不断利用廉价的外国工人劳动力来取代牺牲国内劳动力。