should be provided to the NSF or other institutions to collaborate internationally to create a data system similar to a balance-of-trade account to track degree production, student and postdoctoral movement between countries, push-pull factors affecting student choice at all degree levels, and employment outcomes.
Recommendation 4-2: If the United States is to maintain overall leadership in S&E, visa and immigration policies should provide clear procedures that do not unnecessarily hinder the flow of international graduate students and postdoctoral scholars. New regulations should be carefully considered in light of national-security considerations and potential unintended consequences. Research institutions and the Departments of State (DOS) and Homeland Security (DHS) should continue their discussion on these matters.
a. Visa Duration: Recent policies to extend the duration of Visas Mantis clearances for some students and scholars is a positive step. We strongly encourage DOS and DHS to continue working toward applying those provisions to students and scholars from all countries.
b. Travel for Scientific Meetings: Means should be found to allow international graduate students and postdoctoral scholars who are attending or appointed at US institutions to attend scientific meetings that are outside the United States without being seriously delayed in reentering the United States to complete their studies and training.
c. Technology Alert List: This list, which is used to manage the Visas Mantis program, should be reviewed regularly by scientists and engineers outside government. Scientifically trained personnel should be involved in the security-review process.
d. Visa Categories: New nonimmigrant-visa categories should be created for doctoral-level graduate students and postdoctoral scholars, whether they are coming to the United States for formal educational or training programs or for short-term research collaborations or scientific meetings. The categories should be exempted from the 214b provision whereby applicants must show that they have a residence in a foreign country that they have no intention of abandoning. In addition to providing a better mechanism for embassy and consular officials to track student and scholar visa applicants, the categories would provide a means for collecting clear data on numbers and trends of graduate-student and postdoctoral-scholar visa applications.