Immigration Policy and Stay Rates of STEM PhDs

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Immigration Policy and Stay Rates of STEM PhDs

Type: Article in monograph or in proceedings
Title: Immigration Policy and Stay Rates of STEM PhDs
Author: Kahn S.MacGarvie M.
Journal Title: STI 2018 Conference Proceedings
Start Page: 478
End Page: 485
Publisher: Centre for Science and Technology Studies (CWTS)
Issue Date: 2018-09-11
Keywords: Scientometrics
Abstract: The US trains a large share of the world’s PhD scientists, many of whom are students of foreign origin who then remain after completing their studies, providing an important source of highly-skilled STEM labor to the US workforce. China and India are currently the countries that send the most STEM doctoral students to the US –and are also among those with the highest stay rate – the fraction of students who stay in the US after their studies. However, the percentage with definite plans to remain in the US has recently fallen. In this paper, we ask whether newly-binding country limits on employment-based permanent visas for those with advanced degrees have caused this decrease. We find that these policies are associated with a 10 percentage point decrease in stay rates from China and India. Students affected by per-country limits (from India and China) represent a large share of graduates and are found in fields with a high potential to contribute to US economic growth. This suggests that the current approach to allocating permanent residency visas reduces the supply of highly skilled STEM workers relative to an approach that would factor in the demand for skilled workers when allocating visas. 

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