Home Biological science Measuring Immigrant PhDs Could Help National Security, U.S. Economy

Measuring Immigrant PhDs Could Help National Security, U.S. Economy


In 2022, a country’s national security and economic vitality revolve around talent. Leaders in China, Russia and other countries have taken steps to ensure that their countries have the scientists and engineers needed for the 21st century. Analysts say the United States has natural advantages in the global competition for talent, but risks falling behind because it is too difficult for talented foreign-born people to stay or immigrate to America. Congress has the option to change that in legislation directed to a House-Senate conference committee.

Context: On March 30, 2022, “The House, by unanimous consent, rejected the Senate amendment to HR 4521—America COMPETES Act of 2022 and requested a conference with the Senate”, reported the House Press Gallery. “The President has stated that the appointment of speakers on HR 4521 will be made at a later date.”

On February 4, 2022, the United States House of Representatives passed the America COMPETES Act 222-210, but it received only one Republican vote. In June 2021, the Senate passed a similar bill focused on supporting the production of more semiconductors in the United States and grants for research and manufacturing in different parts of the country. The House bill is about 3,000 pages but contains unique provisions from the Senate bill, including some changes to immigration law to help the U.S. economy retain native-born scientists and engineers. ‘foreigner.

First, the bill creates an exemption from annual green card limits and arrears for foreign nationals with doctorates. in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). An additional exemption from green card limits includes those with a master’s degree “in a critical industry,” such as semiconductors.

Second, the bill creates a temporary visa for eligible foreign-born entrepreneurs — from Rep. Zoe Lofgren’s (D-CA) LIKE Act — and includes a way for entrepreneurs to obtain lawful permanent residency” whether the start-up entity meets certain additional criteria.” Innovations are often achieved through entrepreneurship, with examples from immigrants like Zoom (video conferencing), Moderna (biomedical research) and Tesla (electric vehicles).

Third, the bill’s measures fund scholarships for U.S. students in STEM fields by charging an additional $1,000 fee to those who receive a green card or status under the legislation. The bill also includes small measures that would make it easier to retain healthcare professionals and attract international students.

Russia: Following the invasion of Ukraine, the Russian government has tried to retain its talents in information technology (IT) and science, as they represent a source of wealth creation and national security. “Already, Russian talent is rushing out, in what could represent the seventh major wave of Russian emigration in the past century,” writes the washington post Catherine Rampel. “An estimated 50,000 to 70,000 IT specialists have left recently, according to a Russian technology group, which predicts another 100,000 could leave by the end of April. Others in the overseas rush include entrepreneurs, researchers and artists. . . The Russian government has yet to block emigration, but it is trying to slow the flow by interviewing those who leave or offering incentives to tech workers who stay. Rampell recommends using the provisions of the House bill to “drain Putin’s brain”.

A good example of the type of person who would represent America’s gain (but Russia’s loss) is Gleb Yushin. Yushin earned a bachelor’s degree in physics from the Polytechnic Institute in St. Petersburg, Russia, and came to America as an international student. He obtained a doctorate. in materials science from North Carolina State University. Yushin’s research has contributed to the development of battery materials now used to improve energy storage for many products. He became co-founder of Sila Nanotechnologies, a company valued today at more than 3 billion dollars. He teaches the next generation of American students as a professor of engineering and materials at Georgia Tech.

China: Like Russia, China recognizes the value of high-tech talent to a nation. “Chinese leaders understand how much the United States benefits from the influx of international talent,” Remco Zwetsloot writes in a report for the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “So they celebrate America’s flawed immigration system and fear reforms that would improve the attraction and retention of American talent. Commenting on the US retention of Chinese STEM students, the head of the CCP’s central talent work coordination group complained that “the number of top talent lost in China ranks first in the world.” China Daily United Statesa government-run newspaper said expanding the US employment-based immigration system “would pose a huge challenge for China, which has gone to great lengths to attract and retain talent.”

United States: In its final report, presented at a congressional hearing, the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence (AI) recommended changes to immigration law as one of the best ways for the United States to meet the challenges of China and other countries. In a summary of “Win ​​the Global Talent Competition,” the report states: “The United States risks losing global competition for scarce AI expertise if it does not cultivate more potential talent at home and recruit and retain more existing talent abroad.”

Recent years have shown that it is difficult to predict which innovations will become vital. Katalin Karikó produced the underlying research breakthrough that made messenger RNA possible for vaccines to combat Covid-19. She got her doctorate. in Hungary, but spent years in America on an uncertain career path, first as a postdoctoral researcher, before her work was recognized as groundbreaking. About 56% of postdoctoral researchers work on temporary visas, many of them in the biological sciences, medical sciences, engineering, and research and development.

Assimilation of the talents of immigrant scientists and engineers has paid great dividends for America for decades. “A number of America’s first Nobel laureates in physics were Jewish scientists who fled Europe after the rise of Hitler and Mussolini,” noted an analysis by the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP). “These scientists were crucial in America becoming the first nation to develop the atomic bomb.

“In 1954, the Atomic Energy Act created an award to recognize scientific achievement in the field of atomic energy. The first winner of the prize was Enrico Fermi, of Italian origin. After his death, the prize became known as the Enrico Fermi Prize and five of the first 8 winners were immigrants. Felix Bloch (1952), born in Switzerland, Emilio Segre (1959), born in Italy, Maria Mayer (1963), born in Poland, and Eugene Wigner (1963), born in Hungary.

Today, the United States is losing top talent. According to a recent NFAP analysis. “Enrollment of Indian students in colleges and universities in Canada has increased by almost 300% between the 2015-2016 and 2019-2020 academic years. »

Although international students in Canada can obtain permanent residence in one or two years, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) estimates that it could take up to 195 years for Indian immigrants to obtain a green card in America in the employment-based second preference (EB-2). Canada does not have a per-country limit or low annual limits for employment-based immigrants like the United States.

Canada benefits from Indian talent diverted from American universities, notes Peter Rekai, a Toronto-based immigration lawyer. He cites the inability of Indian scientists and engineers to find a “reliable route to permanent residence in the United States” and the ease of doing so in Canada.

A House-Senate conference committee will determine whether America maintains the status quo or takes steps to strengthen national security and make American businesses more competitive.