Episode
August 20, 2019

Are US visa rules stifling research and innovation?

Scientists and scholars from around the world face difficulties entering country for fact-finding programmes and education.
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On Tuesday, August 20 at 19:30 GMT:
For many researchers and academics around the world, studying and working in countries such as the United States or United Kingdom is a major step along the path of career development. Home to some of the world’s most auspicious research universities, thousands of people join study programmes, research projects, or major conferences in the US every year. But many prospective researchers face a long and tortuous process to get a visa to enter the US – and some are denied entry altogether.

Researchers from countries listed on the Trump administration’s travel ban, namely Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, North Korea and Venezuela, have had virtually no prospect of participating in prestigious US research projects or educational programmes for well over a year now.  But scientists and analysts from other countries around the world also have to contend with time-consuming and expensive visa applications that routinely demand the submission of detailed evidence on one’s travel, employment and personal history. All the while, scholars from China have faced bans on entry to the US or have been granted shorter visa terms amid continuing mistrust between the two countries over trade, intelligence and intellectual property.

Lead researchers at US institutions say visa rules are now so stringent and exacting that they are discouraging some of the world’s most promising practitioners from even attempting entry to the country. They worry aloud that cross-cultural exchange that is the bedrock of successful academic and scientific inquiry is being harmed as a result. Harvard’s president is among those concerned over the impact US immigration policy is having on faculty and students, while business analysts say walling off access to the best and brightest is a brake on innovation.

We’ll look at the immigration hurdles researchers and scholars face, and the impact it is having on science and academia. Join the conversation.

Read more:
Walling off the Ivory Tower – Jacobin
‘Psychological fear’: MIT scientists of Chinese origin protest toxic US climate - Nature

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