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Recommendation 10

International Students and Scholars

Ensure that the United States will continue to benefit strongly from the participation of international students and scholars in our research enterprise.


  • Federal agencies should ensure that visa processing for international students and scholars who wish to study or conduct research in the United States is as efficient and effective as possible consistent with homeland security considerations.
  • To ensure that a high proportion of non-U.S. doctoral researchers remain in the country, the federal government should streamline the processes for these researchers to obtain permanent residency or U.S. citizenship. The United States should consider taking the strong step of granting residency (a green card) to each non-U.S. citizen who earns a doctorate in an area of national need from an accredited research university. The Department of Homeland Security should set the criteria for and make selections of areas of national need and of the set of accredited institutions, in cooperation with the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.
  • The federal government should proactively recruit international students and scholars.

The United States has benefited significantly over the past half-century and more from highly talented individuals who have come to this country from abroad to study or conduct research. Today, there is increasing competition for these students and researchers both in general and from their home countries. It is in our nation’s interest to attract and keep individuals who will create new knowledge or convert it to new products, industries, and jobs in the United States.


The number of doctoral degrees awarded to temporary visa holders (international students), shown here by field, is particularly high in the physical sciences and engineering.

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