The Role of Foreign Engineers in US Global Competitiveness

Foreign Engineers
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The United States has long been a magnet for foreign engineers. The country’s reputation for innovation, large market size, and strong economy attract these professionals to work in the US. Foreign-born engineers have helped drive technological advances contributing to America’s global competitiveness in aerospace engineering, biotechnology, and chemical processing.

You can also take the instance of civil engineers and their role in shaping US architecture. According to the American Immigration Council, 19% of US civil engineers are immigrants. However, due to new immigration policies and challenges in attracting foreign talent due to visa restrictions and other barriers, this trend may end soon. 

The Advantages of Foreign Engineering Talent

Foreign engineers are often more educated and trained, which means they can fill gaps in the workforce. They also bring a diversity of thought to the workplace, which can benefit innovation.

There are many such benefits of foreign engineering talent in the US, which is why many employers in the US are hiring foreign talent. If you are an aspiring engineer, you, too, can become a part of the US workforce.

You can connect with a recruiting firm to learn about various visas and documents required for foreign engineers working in the US. These firms usually have a list of available jobs on their websites that they keep updating. Step Up Recruiting, a women-owned business, lists available jobs like any other online recruiting firm.

The company also mentions testimonials from candidates who received jobs through the website. These testimonials come from people in different fields. By getting a career in the US, you can offer numerous benefits to the US workforce, such as the following:

Diversity of Thought

The diversity of thought from a diverse group of engineers is essential for innovation. A recent study finds that US immigrants generate a high amount of innovation. As reported in a Bloomberg article, US immigrants generate 36% of innovation.

Another reason why diversity matters? It can help solve problems. In a famous example, Intel CEO Andy Grove had difficulty recruiting top talent because there weren’t enough women studying computer science at universities like Carnegie Mellon. So he hired them directly out of high school instead.

This strategy led Intel’s microprocessor design team toward breakthroughs like multi-core processors and hyperthreading technology. It ultimately transformed the company into one of America’s most innovative firms during its heyday in Silicon Valley in the 1980s and 1990s.

Thankfully, the US government allows many immigrants to work in the US. According to Statista, 374,006 patents were granted in 2021 by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Technical Expertise

Foreign engineers are often better educated than their US counterparts. This is especially true because the US has always lacked math expertise. In fact, a news article from the New York Times states that Math scores fell in almost every US state in 2022.

Math is important in engineering, as engineers have to work with different formulas to develop new ideas. With a low math score, the technical expertise in the engineering field in the US is declining. Foreign engineers can solve this issue and fill the skills gap.

Cultural Knowledge

To understand how foreign engineers can help the US economy, it’s essential to understand cultural knowledge’s role in global competitiveness.

Cultural knowledge refers to an individual’s understanding of how people behave and make decisions based on their culture. For example, Americans tend to be more direct than some cultures, while others may view a high level of formality as appropriate when interacting with strangers or colleagues at work.

In contrast with this example, an American engineer hired by a German company would need to understand that his/her colleagues might expect him/her not only to talk about work matters but also to share personal information over lunch or coffee breaks since doing so is considered polite in German culture.

Visas Required for Foreign Engineers in the US

There are several visas available for foreign engineers working in the US. These include:

  • H-1B visa: This is a temporary visa that non-immigrants can use to work in the US. It is valid for up to six years. However, there are many restrictions on when it can be renewed and how long you can stay on an H-1B before switching to another visa category permanently or returning home for good. The average time required to process one such visa is 6-8 months.
  • L-1A/L-1B: These are similar but not identical to H-1Bs. They allow firms with offices abroad who have been doing business with one another for at least one year before temporarily bringing over employees from those offices into America while they do their jobs here.

The length of stay varies based on whether it’s an L1A or L1B. Generally speaking, though, neither lasts longer than five years because, after that point, immigrants must become permanent residents through other means such as marriage, etc. The denial rates for this visa were high at 32.7% and 33.3%, respectively, for the first two fiscal quarters of 2021.

The Challenges of Attracting and Retaining Foreign Engineers

The shortage of engineers is not just a problem for American companies but also for the global competitiveness of the US economy and its ability to innovate.

The challenge isn’t just finding enough people with the right skills. It’s finding them here in America. The US has strict immigration laws that make it difficult for foreign engineers to come here and stay in their jobs once they arrive. This means we’re missing out on some of the best talents worldwide when it comes time for companies like Google and Amazon to grow their teams with new hires or expand into new markets overseas.

To address this issue, Congress introduced legislation last year known as H1B visas with bipartisan support from both sides of the aisle, allowing more high-skilled immigrants into the country while increasing transparency around how employers across different industries, such as technology or healthcare, use these visas.


The US has a long history of attracting and retaining foreign engineers. Their expertise helps to drive global competitiveness, and their diversity of thought has led to innovations that have improved everyone’s lives. However, there are challenges as well. The US needs better visa programs and incentives for foreign talent if it wants to continue excelling in this field.

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