Study: U.S. visa laws force 'reverse brain drain'

Immigration reform as the key to halting "reverse brain drain" is highlighted in a study by Harvard and New York University researchers that also reveals the percentage of patents filed by foreigners living in the United States has tripled in the past 10

Study: U.S. visa laws force 'reverse brain drain'

Immigration reform as the key to halting "reverse brain drain" is highlighted in a study by Harvard and New York University researchers that also reveals the percentage of patents filed by foreigners living in the United States has tripled in the past 10 years.

The study points out federal restrictions on permanent visas may be forcing foreign entrepreneurs back home to create rival companies in China, India and elsewhere. Researchers warn that without a change in immigration laws, skilled immigrants will leave the country, and American competitiveness from Silicon Valley to Washington, D.C., could erode.

"We've brought in highly skilled people and given them a training in American business and marketing savvy, and then we force them to go back home and start competing," lead researcher Vivek Wadhwa said. "Companies lose talent, and workers are resentful and angry. It's a lose-lose situation."

Wadhwa is a Delhi-born engineering and business lecturer at Duke and Harvard. He and his co-workers put together a database of inventors who filed patent applications with the World Intellectual Property Organization from 1998 to 2006. They wanted to find out how many were residing in the United States without U.S. citizenship or permanent residency status at the time of their filing.

According to the report, foreign nationals accounted for 7.3 percent of WIPO patents filed from the United States in 1998. By 2006, they more than tripled to 24.2 percent.

WIPO is a part of the United Nations that allows inventors to file a single patent application recognized by at least 125 countries. Researchers didn't analyze applications to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, but many inventors file with both simultaneously.

Foreign nationals at technology pioneer Qualcomm Inc. and pharmaceutical leader Merck & Co. accounted for at least 65 percent of applications. Of WIPO applications filed by agencies of the U.S. government, foreign nationals filed 41 percent.

Although the number of patent applications from foreign residents is rising, the United States isn't allowing more inventors to stay here. One type of permanent visa for skilled workers, known as the EB visa, is capped at about 120,120 per year. The limit from any single country is about 8,400.

According to the report, based partly on U.S. Department of State data, more than 1 million foreign nationals were waiting for permanent residency in 2006 - including more than 500,000 highly skilled immigrants.

Agencies

Last Mod: 22 Ağustos 2007, 18:07
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