Professor Sabrina Balgamwalla featured in WalletHub Article

Document Type

News Article

Publication Date


Campus Unit

School of Law


How can the US reform its immigration policy in order to attract and retain highly educated workers from abroad?

When I talk with people about their employment visa experiences, many people express frustration with the extensive wait times to obtain permanent legal status in the United States. Depending on the type of visa, individuals may also have to obtain extensions, or return to their home countries and apply again to come back to the United States to resume the process. The expense and uncertainty associated with each step are extremely stressful for these workers and their families.

Debates over immigration reform have featured concerns for the well-being of U.S.-born workers, but when immigrant employees are treated as temporary labor, that’s when we see workplace inequality, pay deflation, and other threats to the local workforce. It is also important to consider what individuals would be able to contribute to the economy if they were not dependent on a particular employer for immigration status. For example, individuals may have the freedom to start their own enterprises and create more jobs, to freely move to different parts of the country where there are labor shortages, or to fill critical jobs not associated with particular visas.

The future of immigration reform is family-oriented. When individuals have a choice of where to move, many will consider not only what is beneficial to them, but also what will be good for their spouses, children, and parents. Giving families a sense of security and permanency — preserving opportunities for them to remain together, allowing spouses to work if they choose, and fostering long-term migration strategies to allow people to put down roots in a community — makes a world of difference for individuals who want to build a life here.