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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy

NATIONAL POSTDOCTORAL ASSOCIATION RECOMMENDS NEW VISA CATEGORY

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The National Postdoctoral Association is an organization founded in 2003 to represent the interests of the thousands of postdoctoral research scientists and engineers and US immigration policy is of obvious interest to the organization since the institutions employing postdocs are facing talent shortages like nearly every other sector employing skilled workers and professionals in the US.



ILW.com published this week a report from Alyson Reed, the NPA's executive director, laying out the case for a number of key changes to US immigration policy including the following:


a) Eliminate the "intent to return" requirement currently attached to J-1 non-immigrant visas;


b) Facilitate the ease of obtaining a new visa in the same category as
the previous visa for International Postdoctoral Researchers if they
travel to their home country;


c) Raise the cap on H1-B visas for International Postdoctoral Researchers who have U.S. and/or foreign advanced degrees;


d) Enhance enforcement of Department of Labor laws regarding prevailing
wages as required by the H-1B non-immigrant classification;


e) Allow spouses of International Postdoctoral Researchers to work in the U.S.;


f) Establish a new non-immigrant classification specifically for non-immigrant International Postdoctoral Research Scholars.

Ms. Reed sums up the need for reform nicely in her conclusion stating:

International Postdoctoral Researchers represent 50-72% of the pool of
postdoctoral researchers in the U.S and produce more peer-reviewed
publications than U.S. Postdoctoral Researchers.This robust research productivity is at stake and could be lost, unless
an outdated legislative framework is remedied. It is critical that our
leaders in Congress recognize the importance of this unique set of
individuals and work to create legislation that encourages the best and
brightest to continue to come to the U.S. The NPA is committed to
working with the leaders of the federal government to achieve this
goal.


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Comments

  1. 's Avatar
    It is much better if American universities follow Georgia Tech to India. Anything that reduces future US capability to interfere abroad and helps to bring the rest of the world's brainpower to bear on hard problems is good for the world.

    http://in.news.yahoo.com/070605/43/6goow.html
  2. Middle Ground's Avatar
    "c) Raise the cap on H1-B visas for International Postdoctoral Researchers who have U.S. and/or foreign advanced degrees; "

    Not needed. Just give them preference. Why is their solution always to raise the cap or exempt people from the cap? Why can't we just give the best and brightest the preference they deserve?
  3. 's Avatar
    "Not needed. Just give them preference. Why is their solution always to raise the cap or exempt people from the cap? Why can't we just give the best and brightest the preference they deserve?"

    The best and the brightest already have preference. There is the O-1 visa that the best and brightest post-docs can use.

    http://www.hooyou.com/o-1/index.html

  4. Middle Ground's Avatar
    "The best and the brightest already have preference. There is the O-1 visa that the best and brightest post-docs can use."

    Good point. So why aren't they using that?
  5. 's Avatar
    "Good point. So why aren't they using that?"

    Because even those who are not meet the bar for the best and the brightest do work that is valued as this quote says:

    International Postdoctoral Researchers represent 50-72% of the pool of postdoctoral researchers in the U.S and produce more peer-reviewed publications than U.S. Postdoctoral Researchers.
  6. Greg Siskind's Avatar
    "The best and the brightest already have preference. There is the O-1 visa that the best and brightest post-docs can use."

    Good point. So why aren't they using that?"

    This is why it's dangerous when people who have a cursory understanding of how our immigration laws operate opine on immigration policy. If you practiced immigration law for a year or so you would discover the reality that whether you get an O-1 (or an EB-1 or a national interest waiver in the green card context) depends to a large extent on what the examiner had for breakfast that morning. The cases are extremely unpredictable. I've had lousy cases get the O-1s, but recently had an Olympic athlete denied (examiner questioned why the person had failed to win a medal - not kidding (though it was reversed when I threatened to send a copy of the decision to a reporter).

    USCIS frequently has examiners with little training making these decisions. And they also have people without college degrees making decisions on extraordinary ability in the sciences. As an immigration lawyer, I always advise clients to go for categories with objective criteria that allow examiners less discretion simply to ensure that we have some predictability.
  7. 's Avatar
    "USCIS frequently has examiners with little training making these decisions. And they also have people without college degrees making decisions on extraordinary ability in the sciences. "

    Isn't that why they rely on publications and achievements to make such a decision?

    They could just make the arbitrary decision that anyone with a post-doctorate in certain fields should be approved. Or anyone with a book published on the mass market by a mainstream publisher. Or any Olympian, etc. Whatever criteria they use, it shouldn't be a roll of the dice if the case will be approved or not.

    The problem isn't that the workers don't have college degrees. The problem is that they aren't trained to objectively handle the cases, or to seek further guidance if they don't know how to handle the cases. Some of the dumbest people I have every met have college degrees - so that isn't always an indicator of how successful someone will be at their job. Of course, it doesn't hurt to have one.

    Let's face it. Would you or anyone you know go and work for the USCIS? It would be tough to attract someone with a degree unless the pay was good. Who wants to work for an agency where the government really doesn't want you to do your job?
  8. Ali's Avatar
    "Because even those who are not meet the bar for the best and the brightest do work that is valued as this quote says:

    International Postdoctoral Researchers represent 50-72% of the pool of postdoctoral researchers in the U.S and produce more peer-reviewed publications than U.S. Postdoctoral Researchers."

    What this post doesn't say is that these researchers receive far less in compensation than tenure track faculty members would (and probably do a lot of the grunt work, too) and are therefore a source of cheaper labor for universities.

  9. Ali's Avatar
    Check these salaries and see if these are what one would
    expect the "best and the brightest" to be getting, especially
    Ph.D.s.

    http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Postdoctoral_Research_Associate/Salary
  10. Middle Ground's Avatar
    "This is why it's dangerous when people who have a cursory understanding of how our immigration laws operate opine on immigration policy. "

    It's more dangerous when people who have a comprehensive understanding of all the facts and problems, yet don't acknowledge their existance. Or even worse, mask the existance of problems.
  11. Al's Avatar
    Ali, postdocs are always underpaid. That's a fact and you need to accept it. People who go to do postdocs went through graduate school and they'll lose their motivation if you start treating them too good. Check out these for some perspective:

    http://www.phdcomics.com/comics/archive.php?comicid=910
    http://www.phdcomics.com/comics/archive.php?comicid=911
    http://www.phdcomics.com/comics/archive.php?comicid=912
  12. Legal Immi's Avatar
    "USCIS frequently has examiners with little training making these decisions. And they also have people without college degrees making decisions on extraordinary ability in the sciences. As an immigration lawyer, I always advise clients to go for categories with objective criteria that allow examiners less discretion simply to ensure that we have some predictability."

    This is a great piece by itself.

    "I've had lousy cases get the O-1s, but recently had an Olympic athlete denied (examiner questioned why the person had failed to win a medal - not kidding (though it was reversed when I threatened to send a copy of the decision to a reporter).
    "

    Greg,

    I would love to know what are the qualifications to be an adjudicator for USCIS and what is the payscale like for these officer positions.

  13. Middle Ground's Avatar
    "they'll lose their motivation if you start treating them too good."

    You must be the best boss in the world. LoL.

    I wish I knew your name because I'd like to print that quote out and attribute the source to you.

    Thanks for the reminder of why labor advocacy is so important.
  14. Al's Avatar
    >> You must be the best boss in the world. LoL.

    Let's put it this way, I know how to motivate people.
  15. Middle Ground's Avatar
    "Let's put it this way, I know how to motivate people."

    Maybe there is just a shortage of people who want to be "motivated" by you, not a general shortage.
  16. Suffocate Them's Avatar

    And the companies planning to put more restrictions on onsite employees

    http://www.rediff.com/money/2007/sep/08onsite.htm
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