An impressive 83 percent (33 of 40) of the finalists of the 2016 Intel Science Talent Search, the leading science competition for U.S. high school students, were the children of immigrants. Moreover, 75 percent – 30 out of 40 – of the finalists had parents who worked in America on H-1B visas. That compares to 7 children who had both parents born in the United States. The science competition has been called the “Junior Nobel Prize.” These outstanding children of immigrants would never have been in America if their parents had not been allowed into the U.S.
Today, both the Trump administration and some members of Congress would like to impose new restrictions on legal immigration, including on high-skilled immigrants. Policymakers seeking to restrict high-skilled immigration should note that an important, underappreciated benefit of high-skilled foreign nationals is the contributions made by their children. The findings tells us that if we prevent high-skilled foreign nationals from coming to America, we will not only lose their contributions but the significant contributions that will be made by their children. It is likely there are many more children of H-1B visa holders who will make outstanding contributions beyond those who qualified for one of the coveted 40 finalist spots in the 2016 Intel Science Talent Search.