New Report: Brain-Circulation Era Calls for Shift in U.S. Immigration and Visa Policy



Contact: Ursula Oaks, 202.495.2553 or Andy Amsler, 202.495.2559

For Release: December 14, 2009

WASHINGTON – When it comes to immigration and visa policy, it's time for the United States to adopt an approach that embraces the opportunities of a new era in global mobility and supports its economic competitiveness and foreign policy goals, says a NAFSA report released today. A Visa and Immigration Policy for the Brain-Circulation Era: Adjusting to What Happened in the World While We Were Making Other Plans urges a comprehensive set of policy actions that will enhance United States' ability to benefit from the important contributions of foreign students and foreign talent.

"The Obama Administration has sent a clear and consistent message," said Victor C. Johnson, author of the new report. "It understands that educational exchanges are integral to U.S. foreign policy and that openness to foreign students and foreign talent must be part of our strategy to get the economy moving. We believe the policy measures outlined in this report will make a significant contribution to achieving those goals. As Congress prepares to take up immigration reform and the administration focuses on innovation and job creation, we believe it is past time for an in-depth look at how foreign students factor in."

The NAFSA report urges U.S. policymakers to move toward defining the country's security objectives more broadly than has been the case in much of the post-9/11 period, stressing that openness to the world is imperative for ensuring America's long-term well-being and security. It also highlights how the United States has been slow to appreciate and adjust to a paradigm shift in global mobility that has fundamentally altered patterns of travel and work around the world.

The report makes recommendations in the following key areas:

  • Visa Reform – Revising the policy on interviews for visa applicants; expediting reviews for low-risk travelers; reforming the security clearance process for visiting scientists
  • Comprehensive Immigration Reform – Reforming employment-based immigration; attracting international students; improving management of the Department of Homeland Security
  • Identity Documents and Document Security – Revisiting REAL ID