U.S. Law Center

Immigration bottleneck could impact America's AI advantage

The California-based companies Google, Nvidia and Tesla are leading innovators in the field of artificial intelligence, and they were all founded by immigrants. Two out of three graduate students in fields related to AI are foreign-born, but many industry experts worry that America's increasingly restrictive immigration system could change this situation and erode the country's dominance in the area. These experts point out that the number of employment-based green cards available each year has not increased since 1990 even though the U.S. economy has doubled in size.

Of particular concern are a number of recent White House initiatives that the Trump administration says are designed to make the U.S. immigration system more merit-based. Critics of the initiatives say that they have instead made applying for an employment-based visa or permanent residency a longer, more expensive and frustrating process. Processing delays are getting longer by the day, and backlogged applications now number in the millions.

The problem could soon impact the nation's national security as well as its economic output as most of the military technology currently being developed relies on AI. The fear among experts is that many of the minds driving this cutting-edge research may soon be working for foreign powers hostile to the United States.

Individuals who wish to live or work in America as well as American companies that would like to hire skilled foreign workers sometimes see their applications rejected because the paperwork was not filled out correctly, incomplete or submitted late. Attorneys with experience in employment-based immigration cases may help immigrants and employers avoid this pitfall by checking applications before they are submitted and ensuring that they are received in a timely manner and accompanied by supporting documents. Attorneys might also advocate on behalf of immigrants who have been denied an employment-based visa or green card.

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