29 August 2007

Demands for a solution to the US immigration backlog

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Dissatisfaction with the US government's failure to reform the immigration system is growing, fuelled by new research showing that more than one million desperately needed skilled immigrant workers, including scientists, engineers, doctors and researchers and their families, are competing for 120,000 permanent American visas each year.

The 'Intellectual Property, the Immigration Backlog, and a Reverse Brain-Drain' study was funded by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and conducted by researchers at Duke University, New York University and Harvard University. It focuses on immigrants' contributions to the competitiveness of the US economy.

A key finding of the study released last week, was that the number of skilled workers waiting for American visas is significantly larger than the number that can be admitted to the US. This imbalance creates the potential for a sizeable reverse brain-drain from the US and poses a serious threat to American innovation and competitiveness.

The Washington Times expressed concern that the decline in US competitiveness can't be good for business or good for America.

Earlier research by the same team revealed a dramatic increase in the contributions of foreign nationals to US intellectual property over an eight-year period. Foreign nationals residing in the US were named as inventors or co-inventors in 25.6 per cent of international patent applications filed from the US in 2006.

"The United States benefits from having foreign-born innovators create their ideas in this country," said Vivek Wadhwa, of Harvard Law School and executive in residence at Duke University.

"Their departures would be detrimental to US economic well-being. And, when foreigners come to the United States, collaborate with Americans in developing and patenting new ideas, and employ those ideas in business in ways they could not readily do in their home countries, the world benefits."

Anyone wanting to apply for an American visa should begin by taking the American Visa Bureau's online American visa assessment to see if they meet the legislative requirements.

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