Foreign Students in U.S. Keep Pool of Talents Afloat

Where else can global mobility managers nurture a talent pool of local and foreign potential hires than in schools?

Despite the more restrictive laws posed by the current government administration for foreign students, one that would facilitate a quick transition from student status to one that can allow for employment, more and more of these young people are enrolling in American universities.

Many of them simply want to experience the quality education that the country offers, while others want a shot at pursuing the American dream.

The numbers have already been high, before U.S. President Donald Trump assumed office, according to the Pew Research Center.

At least 1.5 million foreign students studied and graduated from American institutions of higher learning — and a majority of this number had applied for and been granted permission to work in the country through the Optional Practical Training Program.

The OTP, as it is called, is not as conventionally famous as the H-1B visa program which actually opens the door for U.S. companies to recruit and hire foreign talent; however, it is popular among foreign students who have used it to gain entry into the U.S. workforce. During the same time frame cited by the Pew Research center, applications for it have grown by 104 percent.

Chinese and Indian students make up a majority of the foreign students who are browsing in the libraries and listening to lessons in U.S. colleges.

According to, a third of the total number of these foreign students come from Mainland China. Meanwhile, India comes close as the number 2 “sender of foreign students” to America, with more than 180,000 of them in the country as of 2017, says The Times of India.

The Pew Center adds that Asians continue to form the bulk of these students, at 74%. The rest of the international students are divided among enrollees coming from Europe (8 percent), Latin America and the Caribbean (8 percent), and South Africa (5 percent).

What makes these statistics more important to global mobility managers in

Northern California is that a huge portion of those who were granted permission to stay and find work by the government specialize in the highly-prized STEM fields, namely: science, technology, engineering, and medical.

Young new blood who have the necessary skills, education, and training — as well as being open to new ideas and mentorship — are highly sought after in urban centers, especially in tech hubs like Silicon Valley. Global mobility managers usually have talents like these on the top of their to-find-and-recruit list.

Despite the increase in number and enthusiasm from student and recruiter alike, recent events have seen a more rigorous screening of talents that might delay their acceptance into the American workforce.

The Chinese, in particular, are facing obstacles, probably as an aftermath of the present tension between the governments based in Washington, D.C. and Beijing, respectively. The Marketplace report has interviewed Chinese students who did get approval for their student visa application, but only for one year. This means that they will have to re-apply again after the first 365 days have ended.

While companies and colleges alike wrestle with the consequences of current immigration policy, one way to remain hopeful is to look at the undeterred eagerness of the students who are pulling out all stops to enroll in the American university of their choice — and then find work in American companies afterward.

The struggles they face might very well sharpen their already keen minds and strengthen their resilience, qualities which they will need and bank on once they pursue a career in U.S. tech hubs.