Whether you are looking at the L1 Visa, H1B Visa, E3 Visa, Other US Work Visas or even a J1 Visa Internship program, the US is not the place it was 12 months ago.
The 2nd ever H1B Visa Lottery had just completed and the first ever lottery for the Advanced Degree Exemption portion, as well as pretty much all the non traditional sectors of the economy spending and acting as normal.
However, today, in the US with the Unemployment rate almost at 10% which last occurred 30 years ago, it is has meant many immigrants have been laid off along with their US counterparts. Therefore as it stands today the H1B visa quota still has at least 20,000 visas remaining for FY2010 and the USCIS as far as we are aware made their first ever downward revision of the current total in the last few weeks by a couple of thousand.
If you then combine all this with the recent anti-foreign worker legislation introduced in the US Congress, it all seems to mean doom and gloom both for the potential foreign immigrant worker who is currently outside the US. This is also true for those here currently either already on a US work visa in uncertain times or even the F1 Student Visa immigrants who have just completed an undergraduate degree, masters degree or PHD program in the US.
Actually it was recently reported that at this same time in 2007 just following college graduation for students around the country, 50% of new US College graduates had jobs already. In 2009, this figure is only 20% of new US College graduates have jobs right now so you can imagine how much more difficult it is for the foreign graduates at US academic institutions.
So Amid All This Doom & Gloom In The US Economy What Are My Prospects?
Well the true answer is unknown BUT you should consider these points regardless of your intention to live, work or study in the US at the current time. As amid crisis there is always opportunity and companies like Apple, Intel, Microsoft, etc. (the modern global powerhouses) all started in the midst of deep economic recessions and bleak times. The set of circumstance you are facing as a foreigner right now if you look at it with a positive and optimistic outlook are also in your favor in such a way that may not happen again for at least a generation to come.
1. The fact that at mid year, the H1B visa total is unfilled and less foreigners are looking for jobs means that there is less competition for you in your US Job search. Given that most people on an H1B visa tend to be Asian and/or highly educated and work in the newer sectors of the economy is also beneficial given the unemployment rate for these groups are far lower than the National average and have been among the most resilient parts of the US economy. Additionally many US recent undergraduates are delaying enter the workforce and doing Masters programs meaning less competition from them as well.
2. While more US residents who have been laid off from work have either considered or are definitely gone back to Universities and Colleges around the country to do Masters programs combines recent US undergraduates meaning more competition for places at US Academic Institutions. At the same time, via the Obama Stimulus package, unprecedented amounts of money are flowing into the Education sector. Combined with many US students, particular older ones with families wanting more flexibility meaning Part Time study or utilizing the growing number of very large Online Universities like the University of Phoenix, Kaplan University, Monroe, etc. means that there are still places available for willing foreigners.
3. If your intension is the J-1 visa the consider this. You will have more competition as a foreigned from US residents than in the past with less full time jobs available for them, however many US institutions at this time are turning to Internships as way to get good labor for lower cost. Usually interns don’t get benefits like Health Insurance, 401K, Paid Leave etc. so you can still negotiate some sort of living wage but this can be stepping stone for you to get a full time permanent position as you build your contacts, networks and reputation.
Look I am not saying the situation is perfect but as mention, history has taught us for thousands of years that great opportunities come out of turmoil so by being contrarian to everyone else, you could actually succeed and thus be even better placed when the Economy rebounds fully in the future. There are some early signs that the worst may be behind us as well, although we don’t want to predict prosperity just yet, but I am aware of people certainly finding it easier to get interviews and be hired than in the first few month of the year.
As Always Good Luck In Your Quest to Make Your Dreams Come True,