Tightening restrictions on the H-1B visa program could have "devastating repercussions" for science, argues Harrison Brody, a PhD student at Yale University, in an opinion piece at Wired.
President Donald Trump has called for changing the H-1B visa program for high-skilled workers as his administration argues that it enables companies to bring in cheap labor from abroad. While many such visas often go to tech companies, a number also are awarded to academic and research institutions.
While Brody says that abuses of the program should be addressed and current policy enforced, he argues that changing the program could affect whether universities and research institutions in the US can recruit the best and brightest from around the world. Limiting that, he notes, could stifle scientific innovation and economic growth.
"The contribution of highly skilled foreign talent to US innovation and economic growth is well-established, and much of this growth is closely tied to academic research," Brody says. He notes that three-quarters of the patents awarded to the top patent-producing US universities include a foreign-born inventor.
He adds that "[e]nsuring academic institutions have unlimited access to a global pool of talent is a major driving force for scientific innovation and economic growth at home."