Experts warn the U.S. work visa ban will be China's gain in the long run

Here's how banning work visas impacts the U.S. economy
Key Points
  • Experts believe that blocking immigration could allow other countries to gain a competitive edge in the global market. 
  • Bans on the H-1B visas in particular will be devastating to Big Tech, which relies on them for foreign talent.

Despite the White House's intention to save more jobs for the American people by temporarily banning work visas, some experts argue the ban could do more harm than good for the economy, citing a positive correlation between immigration and economic growth.

Immigrants pay more than $90 billion in taxes while receiving only $5 billion in welfare funds annually, according to the ACLU.

Experts also believe that blocking immigration could allow other countries to gain a competitive edge in the global market. "At all the disciplines, the very best come here. And if we don't attract them and bring them here, then we're going to suffer as a result of that," warned Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics.

Neeraj Kaushal of the National Bureau of Economic Research said: "If immigrants are not allowed to work here or if temporary workers are not allowed to come to the U.S., companies will move to Canada so that they can bring these temporary workers to Canada. So America's loss would be Canada's gain in the short term. In the long term, these companies might move to China, and America's loss would then be China's gain."

Although foreign-born workers account for less than a fifth of the total workforce, they play a vital role in the U.S. economy, working in jobs that Americans are not willing to do or just aren't capable of performing, according to immigration advocates.

Bans on some visa types are also expected to impact certain sectors more than others. For instance, the ban on H-1B will likely have a detrimental impact on the big companies in the tech sector — including Amazon, Facebook and Google — that rely heavily on foreign talent.

"They are critical in certain industries," said Kaushal. "And then these workers themselves also create a lot of jobs." 

Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies, disagrees. "There is no such thing as a job Americans won't do ... particularly in this pandemic shutdown, where we have tens of millions of Americans who have either temporarily or permanently lost their jobs and we're looking at something like at least 10% unemployment. You really can't make the case that there aren't Americans available to do these jobs at this particular time."

President Donald Trump's ban on work visas will reduce the number of immigrants receiving green cards by nearly a third, compared with 2019, according to the Economic Policy Institute.