Comments by Sanwar Ali:
There are continuing reports that a temporary work visa ban is about to happen. There had been speculation that Donald Trump would announce details of the "work visa ban" at the Tulsa, Oklahoma Rally of 20 June 2020. This did not happen.
The US visa categories that are most likely to be suspended are the H1B visa, H2B visa, L1 visa, J1 visa and OPT (Optional Practical Training) for F1 visa students. Even if you apply before the ban comes into effect you may still be affected by the ban. It seems that if it does go ahead the work visa ban may last until the end of the year.
There has been controversy over the Trump rally in Tulsa. It was due to be held on 19 June 2020 which is the day used to commemorate the emancipation of American slaves. It was instead held on 20 June 2020. The Rally was also held near the site of the 1921 race massacre in Tulsa, Oklahoma, when white rioters, helped by Tulsa police and the Oklahoma National Guard, looted and burned more than 1,200 black homes and businesses, killing about 300 people.
In addition, many thousands of people together in an arena is likely to increase the spread of coronavirus COVID-19. We understand that 6 Trump campaign staffers have just tested positive for coronavirus.
Updated 21 June 2020.
Rumours of an impending temporary ban on US work visas continue to circulate, which are likely to have a huge impact on many US businesses. Should President Trump follow through with his threat to suspend work visa programs, many sectors face severe skills shortages, especially in the field of artificial intelligence (AI).
AI and machine learning is a growing industry in the US, and heavily dependent on highly skilled migrants on H1B visas, to fill job roles. A recent study by MarcoPolo, a thinktank run by the Paulson Institute in Chicago and founded by former Goldman Sachs CEO Henry M. Paulson, found that only 20% of the world’s top AI researchers come from the US.
The study states that 29% come from China, 18% are from Europe, while 8% come from India and other nations.
Top AI researchers employed by US
While the US only accounts for 20% of top-level AI researchers – as defined by the nationality of individuals submitting papers to the 2019 Neural Information Processing Systems (NeurIPS) conference – 59% of high-level AI researchers from around the world are employed in the US, according to the MarcoPolo study.
This noticeable shortfall means that the number of workers in AI and machine learning has to be made up somehow and immigrant advocates say that sourcing talent from overseas is the answer.
Chinese talent needed in US
According to the study, the majority of top AI talent has a PhD. MarcoPolo identified that 88% of Chinese AI students with a PhD, and completed their studies in the US, work in America.
Under the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program, international students who have completed a PhD are permitted to work in the US for up to three years after graduating. However, a large majority of AI specialists also work in the US under the H1B visa program, which Trump is likely to impose a ban on, along with the OPT program.
An update on a potential suspension of US work visas is expected in the early weeks of July. The ban could result in OPT visa validity being reduced from up to three years to a standard 12-month duration for many STEM students.
Banks and hedge funds affected by possible H1B visa ban
A report published by efinancialcareers.com, claims that US banks and hedge funds will suffer greatly as a result of US work visa bans. According to the report, a number of high profile banks in the US, including JPMorgan, are investing heavily in machine learning technology.
Most AI roles in banks are filled by international workers. A chart published by the H1B visa database outlines the salaries being paid to a number of AI specialists who have been able to renew their H1B visas in recent months.
Salaries for machine learning/artificial intelligence professionals on H1B visas, 2020:
Machine Learning Researcher
Machine Learning Scientist
Two Sigma Investments
VP AI Applied Machine Learning
Associate Machine Learning Engineer Data scientist
Senior AI Research Associate
Associate Applied AI Machine Learning
Machine Learning Scientist
Machine Learning Engineer
Synapse Financial Technologies
Several immigrant advocacy and US business leaders have argued that a temporary ban on US work visas will not only harm tech firms, but a number of companies outside the tech sector could also face huge skills shortages.
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