The rise in demand for artificial intelligence skills around the world

Published 2019-10-16 13:33

The debate around visa processes and specifically visas for people with skills on a country’s skills shortage list has taken center stage over the past few years. President Trump has unveiled an artificial intelligence strategy to increase US security in travel but without the necessary skills domestically to achieve this, people skilled in AI will have to be brought in from abroad. Since the US has strict visa procedures that may take months to process, it might be time to consider the creation of a special visa for AI skilled workers. And other countries are considering this.

The need for AI

AI can end paper-bound processes and in fact, many airports worldwide are already using facial recognition technology to speed up boarding and customs processes. Over and above airports, AI is now everywhere- communication, finance, public administration. However, this technology requires specific skills sets for installation, maintenance, and data interpretation. Data scientists, computer scientists, and computer engineers are high in demand for research projects and development in the field of artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies. As several industries around the world pursue AI technology that stores, there is a push for incentives to attract AI skills in several of the world’s biggest economies.

Visa restrictions

The people who might be able to create better AI systems are unable to obtain work visas. AI researchers from areas such as the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and Eastern Europe are often limited by restrictive visa rules and immigration laws that make it difficult to work abroad and even attend conferences in Western Europe and the United States. 

Visas for AI skills

AI is a multidimensional complex study focus that requires specialist knowledge, understanding, and insight. At this crucial AI-juncture, very few countries have moved towards a more inclusive visa system that awards special visas for those with skills in the field. In fact, countries have not even made attempts to create a special visitor’s visa for researchers in the field of AI who wish to attend conferences abroad. Visa refusals for high-ranking AI researchers from prestigious universities, like recently the case in Canada, remain a threat to the industry.

While several countries provide visas to foreign workers with skills listed on the national skills shortage list, few have included AI research and development on the list. 

Here are some of the countries that have special visas for technology professionals: 

Although several countries including the United States actually have visas for skills that are in high demand, none of these countries have a fast-track process for skilled workers specifically in the field of artificial intelligence and machine learning. For now, artificial intelligence workers fall under the same category as those in the fields of science and technology. 

In addition, many of the special visas listed above still require tons of paperwork, months of processing, and shockingly expensive fees. The qualification requirements remain strict and there are often rules regarding salaries, taxes, and duration of contracts, in addition to intimidating interview processes, strict yearly quotas, and extensive background checks.

Upcoming AI Event 

In April of 2020, the 4th International Conference on Artificial Intelligence, Automation, and Control Technologies will be held in Hangzhou, China. It will be attended by key researchers and professionals from across the world to assess the current state of AI and create a roadmap of crucial areas for future research. Perhaps the outcomes of this event – which will surely result in new implementations of security measures and visa processes worldwide – will finally convince governments to ease the visa requirements for those with niche skills in the artificial intelligence field. 

Until then, AI researches should turn to applying for jobs related to skills listed on a country’s skills shortage list. To find skills shortage lists, simply conduct a Google search by typing in ‘skills shortage list’ and the desired country’s name. Stick to official government websites to ensure that you get accurate and updated information!