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Foreign Students Do Not Help the Economy

Foreign Students Do Not Help the Economy

Washington, D.C. (March 24, 2020) – A new analysis by the Center for Immigration Studies reveals the negative impact of the foreign student program on the United States economy, contradicting the pro-foreign-student lobby, which has argued for years that the presence of such students is a huge (currently they say $45 billion-a-year) boost to the American economy. There may be non-economic reasons for a reasonably sized foreign student program, but economic reasons do not exist. David North, a Center fellow and author of the analysis, said, “The idea that the foreign student population provides an economic boost for the U.S. is a myth. Foreign students do indeed bring in billions of dollars, but those billions are outbalanced by hidden billions in U.S. tax, endowment, and other funds spent by educational institutions subsidizing those, and other, students.” Read the entire analysis at: Using rough estimations, but no rougher than those of the Institute of International Education (IIE), the source of the $45 billion figure, North found that if the students bring $45 billion or so with them, they then proceed to consume an estimated $119 billion in U.S. assets, for a net expenditure by U.S. institutions of about $74 billion a year. Given the massive (if hidden) subsidies that foreign students receive while in school, and the even more hidden ones that many of them and their post-degree employers get through the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program, the time has come to cut back on some parts of the foreign student programs. The report suggests several reforms to the foreign student program:

  1. Stop issuing F-1 visas to those planning to attend the deeply subsidized community colleges.

  2. Similarly, stop issuing F-1 visas for ESL students — one can study English anywhere in the world.

  3. Demand that all schools teaching foreign students need to be accredited. (In lieu of accreditation a university, currently, may show DHS that three other institutions accept transfers from their school, an arrangement subject to some mutual back-scratching.)

  4. Repeal the current provision that a foreign graduate student does not have to wait a year before working legally; currently that rule applies only to undergraduates. Or better, terminate (or at least reduce sharply) the OPT program.

  5. Put the worst of the visa mills out of business.

  6. Demand that incoming foreign students have passed a secure oral test indicating that they have a decent command of the English language.

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