Increased unemployment, coupled with immigration restrictions and delays has resulted in many skilled foreign workers electing to leave the United States. A recent study found that of those surveyed, 72% of Chinese nationals and 56% of Indian nationals who emigrated to the United States and then returned home thought professional opportunities were better in their home country, even though wages might not necessarily compare. Researchers estimate that possibly 200,000 skilled Indian and Chinese workers will return home over the next five years, compared with approximately 100,000 over the past 20 years.
Obtaining permanent residency can be a long process because only 9,800 green cards per country are awarded annually. BusinessWeek reports that applications from Indian and Chinese nationals can take almost a decade and, while applicants wait, visa restrictions prohibit them from changing positions, companies, or starting their own business without obtaining a separate visa. Although the Obama administration has vowed to push for immigration reform, it remains uncertain how skilled immigrants will be affected.