14 January 2011

US Visa system should give priority to technology skills, says new policy brief

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US immigration policy should give priority to people with education and experience in innovative technologies, a new policy brief by the Brookings Institution argues.

ESTA

The US Visa system should be made digital with priority given to skilled workers, says a new report.

Author of the report Darrell West, director of the institute’s Center for Technology Innovation, says the change in policy should also including automatic green cards for foreign students who graduate from math and science university programs.

The infrastructure for considering and granting visas currently requires paper documents but digitization the US Visa system would reduce errors and delays, Mr West wrote.

By putting the US immigration focus on attracting high skilled workers, rather than family reunification, the country would be following the example set by Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia.

 In Canada, 36 percent of the permanent migrant visas granted are in the skilled worker category, compared with 6.5 percent in that category in the United States.

Mr West also advocates increasing the number and availability of H-1B visas for foreign students who complete math and science degree programs in the United States.

“The United States should make it as easy as possible for those highly trained students to stay, since the expansion of job opportunities in India, China and other growth-oriented countries now offers them attractive options,” West wrote.

 “Our current counterproductive policy, quite simply, puts the United States in the position of training our global competitors.”

The report also suggests a range of changes including having Congress link overall annual levels of immigration to the unemployment rate and growth in the gross domestic product so immigration levels could be adjusted up or down depending on economic conditions.  


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