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Toolkit: Scientists and Immigration

By some estimates, more than half the postdocs in U.S. science labs are foreign born. Insecurity is the rule, because most are supported by research grants, and many reside in the U.S. on temporary visas. Meanwhile, many Americans have decided that foreign-born scientists pose a security risk--not because they are here, but because they are likely to leave. We depend on them, says a draft report from a task force of the National Science Board, so their insecure residency status is itself a risk to our national economic security. Although the report emphasizes that foreign-born scientists play a valuable role in U.S. science, it also recommends policies aimed at displacing foreign scientists with scientists produced domestically. Foreign scientists get it, quite literally, both coming and going.

These are complicated issues. Deciding what's right and what's wrong requires expertise in economics that we at Next Wave U.S. don't possess. We just want all the scientists who choose to work in the U.S. to get as much satisfaction from their work and their lives as possible, whether they were born and educated here or overseas.

For foreign-born scientists, a major source of stress is their immigration status. Obtaining permanent residency in the U.S. is a cumbersome process, especially if labor certification is involved. With this new bit of the CDC Toolkit, we want to make the process a little easier, or at least more transparent.

First off is a new introduction to immigration issues for scientists by Mark Harrington of Zhang & Associates of Houston, Texas.

Next up are three articles from the archives by Jeffrey Goldman and John Gallini of Testa, Hurwitz & Thibeault, LLP in Boston, Massachusetts.

The first of the three is a more detailed treatment of the Aliens with Extraordinary Ability category.

Next, Goldman and Gallini discuss the process of obtaining a National Interest Waiver of the labor-certification process.

Finally, the two G's discuss the Outstanding Professor or Researcher designation.

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