Between 2007 and 2014, the number of international students enrolled in the US higher education increased by 56 percent (Open Doors: Institute of International Education).
And, their financial contributions doubled to reach over US$ 30 billion (NAFSA: Association of International Educators). This indicates that the tuition fee increased at a much faster rate than the increase in enrollment.
However, the international students face severe visa constraints. Over the year, the number of H1-B visas have remained stagnant at 85,000. Of this, only 20,000 are exclusively for international students with advanced degrees (master’s and above).
The majority of H1-B work visas are taken up by a few technology companies. According to The New York Times, “the top 20 companies took about 40 percent of the visas available — about 32,000 — while more than 10,000 other employers received far fewer visas each. And about half of the applications in 2014 were rejected entirely because the quota had been met.”
This results in a very limited availability of work visas for international students. In fact, Brookings analysis shows that only one out of three international students succeeded in receiving an H1-B work visa.
In sum, the number of international students coming to the US has been increasing while the number of H1-B work visas has remained stagnant. For international students, the challenge of finding career pathways from OPT (Optional Practical Training) to work visa are increasing and competition is intensifying.