This week, new economic data was released by NAFSA that found 764,495 international students contributed $21.8 billion dollars to the US economy and supported approximately 300,000 jobs. In a time when the US economy is recovering from the Great Depression, it is no wonder why an importance has been placed on international education worldwide.
The study also found that for every 7 enrolled international students, 3 US jobs were created in a number of industries including in higher education, accommodations, dining, retail, health insurance, telecommunication, and transportation. This comes as good news as enrollment for international students has been increasing year after year for the last three year, with a 6.5% increase in overall international student enrollments over the 2010-2011 academic year.
The press release by NAFSA shows the economic implication of opening the doors to allow international students and scholars to study and pursue further opportunities after graduation in the United States. Currently, the US immigration system requires international students and scholars to return to their home country upon completion of their program.
While there are some opportunities available to employers to help switch their visa from an international student F1 visa (international student visa) to an H1B visa (work visa), this remains a complicated, difficult and expensive process. With limited opportunities upon graduation, many international students are looking elsewhere to pursue their higher education dreams.
In fact, according to the same report, the overall share of international students studying in the US decreased by 10%. The findings from the report says that immigration reform can further enhance the economic benefits for the United States as well as allow students looking to pursue employment post graduation.