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Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future
several months (at this writing, the average time to process a student visa is less than 2 weeks), there is still concern about response times in particular cases. Some promising students wait a year or more for visas; some senior scholars are subjected to long and sometimes demeaning review processes. Those cases, not the shorter average processing time, are emphasized in the international press. The United States is portrayed less as a welcoming land of opportunity than as a place that is hostile to foreigners.
Immigration procedures implemented since 9/11 have discouraged students from applying to US programs, prevented international research leaders from organizing conferences here, and dampened international collaboration. As a result, we are damaging the image of our country in the eyes of much of the world. Although there are recent signs of improvement, the matter remains a concern.
This committee is generally not privy to whatever evidence lies in the government’s library of classified information, but it is important to recognize that our nation’s borders have been crossed by more than 10 million people who are still residing illegally in the United States. Set against this background, a way is needed to quickly, legally, and safely admit to our shores the relatively small numbers of highly talented people who possess the skills needed to make major contributions to our nation’s future competitiveness and well-being.
Some observers are also concerned that encouraging international students to come to the United States will ultimately fill jobs that could be occupied by American citizens. Others worry that such visitors will reduce the compensation that scientists and engineers receive—diminishing the desire of Americans to enter those professions. Studies show, however, that the financial impact is minimal, especially at the PhD level. Furthermore, scientists and engineers tend to be creators of new jobs and not simply consumers of a fixed set of existing jobs. If Americans make up a larger percentage of a graduating class, a larger percentage of Americans will be hired by corporations. In the end, the United States needs the smartest people, wherever they come from throughout the world. The United States will be more prosperous if those people live and work in the United States rather than elsewhere. History has emphatically proven this point.
The Use of Export Controls
Export controls were first instituted in the United States in 1949 to keep weapons technology out of the hands of potential adversaries. They have since been used, on occasion, as an economic tool against competitors.
The export of controlled technology requires a license from the Department of Commerce or from the Department of State. Since 1994, the disclosure of information regarding a controlled technology to some foreign na-