Far less skilled, educated immigrants are coming to America since 9/11

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Reform for High-Skilled Immigration

By RYAN GORMAN

America proudly calls itself a melting pot, but the lines of skilled immigrants coming to the country are not quite as long as they once were, a new study has revealed.

The U.S. remains one of the most popular destinations for highly-educated foreigners, but their ranks have nearly been halved in only the last decade, according to data scientists who sifted through millions of LinkedIn profiles.

About 37 percent of professionals across science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) came the States as recently as 2000, but only 15 percent did in 2012, researchers found.

Among all educated professionals from abroad, 27 percent came to the U.S. in 2000, but only 12 percent graced our shores in 2012, according to the study.

"The United States continues to occupy a central place in the global migration system," said the study. "However, its dominant position is no longer indisputable."

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Far less skilled, educated immigrants are coming to America since 9/11
This chart shows the percentages of skilled immigrants coming to the United States since 1990. (Emilio Zagheni)
This graph plots out migration patterns for each year since 1990, notice the significant drop since 2000 (Emilio Zagheni)
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Ram Nagu, of Herndon, is among the skilled immigrants, including doctors and engineers, who rallied on Capitol Hill in 2007 to protest long delays in getting green cards. Many of the immigrants, mostly south and East Asians, are known for keeping a low profile, are now coming out to express their anger. (Photo by Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post/Getty Images)
A few hundred skilled immigrants, including doctors and engineers, rallied in 2007 on Capitol Hill to protest long delays in getting green cards. Many of the immigrants, mostly south and East Asians, are known for keeping a low profile, are now coming out to express their anger. (Photo by Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post/Getty Images)
Nadiya Bhat, of NYC, is among a few hundred skilled immigrants, including doctors and engineers, who rallied in 2007 on Capitol Hill to protest long delays in getting green cards. Many of the immigrants, mostly south and East Asians, are known for keeping a low profile, are now coming out to express their anger. (Photo by Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post/Getty Images)
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Even more shockingly, 24 percent of graduates from the world's top 500 universities came to America in 2000, that number dropped to 12 percent in 2012, according to LinkedIn data culled by Bogdan State, Mario Rodriguez, Dirk Helbing and Emilio Zagheni.

"A smaller fraction of highly skilled migrants seeking employment have made their way to the United States as the first decade of the 21st century progressed," the study said.

The drop has been significant enough that U.S. immigration officials earlier this year proposed measures to help attract and retain more skilled migrant workers.

Relaxed rules surrounding spousal visas, a broadening of the nationalities eligible for work visas and the ability stay 240-days past the expiration of visas were among the ideas floated by the Department of Homeland Security.

Those rules are expected to be enacted through a highly-contested series of executive orders from President Barack Obama, the White House announced last month.

The researchers found that a large number of those skilled workers have begun choosing Asia over the U.S. in recent years.

Only 10 percent of the educated masses immigrated to Asia in 200, but now 26 percent do, according to the study.

The team speculated this could be due to more opportunities opening up in eastern Asia (China, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea) and also because of tighter immigration laws in the years after the 9/11 terror attacks.

The "Great Recession," which began in earnest in 2008, is also blamed from the dramatic dip in immigrant workers in STEM fields – which have "individuals making exceptional contributions to science and engineering (S&E) in the United States [that] are disproportionately drawn from the foreign born," the study noted.

The downward trend held across all different segments of LinkedIn users, and even held up against comparison to Census Bureau data, the study said.

This revelation was made by culling blind data from the business-oriented social network on education, employment and location – which allowed the researchers to paint a reasonably accurate picture of the flow of skilled immigrant labor over the past decade-plus.

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