Visa Nightmares Cause an American “Brain Drain”

A September editorial from Nature claims that “Over the years, the United States has benefited enormously from its ability to attract the most creative scientific minds from around the globe. Increasingly, however, scientists, postdocs and students are turning elsewhere, frustrated by the barriers to gaining entry that sprang up in the wake of the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001. In its current incarnation, the US visa application process not only presents a bewildering tangle of directives, prerequisites and requirements, but has also forced some applicants to wait up to a year for their visa to be approved — often for no apparent reason.”

Duke University’s Vivek Wadhwa discussed some of this reverse immigration’s impact on economic recovery on FOX News two weeks ago. You can watch the video clip here.

What can we do to help prevent this backslide? Clearly, the solution is not simple enough that one entity can do it alone. For those of us who issue visas–whether they be student or work visas–we can keep doing our best to attract and retain big brains in the U.S. And we can always be doing our part to help reaffirm the notion that America truly is a nation of immigrants. As JFK wrote in his aptly titled A Nation of Immigrants, “every ethnic minority, in seeking its own freedom, helped strengthen the fabric of liberty in American life. Similarly, every aspect of the American economy has profited from the contributions of immigrants.” If we allow this knowledge to permeate our behavior towards immigrants and immigration policy, we will by default be part of the solution.

One Comment on “Visa Nightmares Cause an American “Brain Drain”

  1. Nice post! However I do take some qualified exceptions. Of the first part the former INS was just about defunct as far back as the 1980s; therefore, after Sep 11 has very little consequence on our system today, ergo, maybe it is doing what it should be doing.

    I realize that it is a quote from Nature, however, we have people writing daily who waited five and more years to have their paperwork approved. So be assured I am not attacking you.

    Of the second part, I’ve just about had it with this “Nation of Immigrants” rubbish. If one – anyone – were to use their criticial thinking skills they would come to the understanding that EVERY nation on Earth is a Nation of Immigrants.

    Mexicans did not settle Mexico anymore than the Brazilians settled Brazil; if one were to look at the history of civilization they would in fact find that every person is an immigrant to somewhere.

    The USA attracks the ‘best and the brightest’ because of freecom, civil liberities, and equal rights. I read this fascinating article the other day (I’ll try and send you the link) it espoused that immigrants haven’t changed, it is really us who have changed. Given the current attitudes of today’s immigrants I think there is merit to that statement. Cheers!


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