Investment Banking Jobs for Americans Only?

In what appears to be a short-sighted, knee-jerk reaction, Bank of America announced that it is rescinding job offers to foreign-born students graduating from U.S. business schools this summer.

The bank cited a recent provision in the stimulus package, one sponsored by Vermont Independent Bernie Sanders and Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley, “to prohibit any recipient of TARP funding from hiring H-1B visa holders.”

Press reports suggested that these foreign visa holders were displacing U.S. workers. But the actual numbers tell a different story, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Apparently companies must file multiple applications for each H-1B position, to comply with byzantine Department of Labor rules. This tends of inflate the appearance of hiring foreign nationals. In reality, H-1B visa holders represented only a tiny fraction of financial industry hires in recent years. In 2007, for example, Citigroup hired 185 workers, which represented only .04% of its 387,000 employers. Bank of America hired 66 H-1B workers, representing .03% of its 210,000 employers.

It’s hardly a swarm a foreign workers stealing U.S. jobs. And many of these workers graduate from top U.S. business schools in the first place. If American companies can’t hire the best of the best, regardless of where they were born, foreign companies surely will.

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