Editor’s note: This article is reprinted with permission of BusinessWeek. Vivek Wadhwa, the founder of two software companies, is an Executive-in-Residence/Adjunct Professor at Duke University. He is also the co-founder of The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE) Carolinas, a networking and mentoring group.
For the first time in its history, the U.S. faces the prospect of a reverse brain drain.
New research by my team at the Pratt School of Engineering at Duke University shows that more than 1 million highly skilled professionals such as engineers, scientists, doctors, researchers, and their families are in line for a yearly allotment of only around 120,000 permanent-resident visas for employment-based principals and their families in the three main employment visa categories (EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3).
These individuals entered the country legally to study or to work. They contributed to U.S. economic growth and global competitiveness. Now we’ve set the stage for them to return to countries such as India and China, where the economies are booming and their skills are in great demand. U.S. businesses large and small stand to lose critical talent, and workers who have gained valuable experience and knowledge of American industry may become potential competitors.
The problem is simple. There aren’t enough permanent-resident visas available each year for skilled workers and their families. And there is a limit of fewer than 10,000 visas that can be issued to immigrants from any single country. So countries with the largest populations such as India and China are allocated the same number of visas as Iceland and Mongolia.
For the rest of the column, see the Web link with this story.