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The Visa Uncertainty Holding Back Star Scientists

Apr 18, 2017 | 103 videos
Video by The Atlantic

Dr. Sharon George is one year out of her Ph.D. program and working on lifesaving heart research on how chemotherapy affects the organ. George is from India and her visa expires next month—and she’s eagerly awaiting to hear the status of her H1B visa application. H1B visas allow foreign workers in specialty occupations to remain in the country for six years, but the status of the program could be impacted by a Trump executive order. Critics point out that the current H1B lottery system is flooded with applications from companies that help U.S. companies outsource jobs to other countries. What will happen to highly skilled scientists like George? Dr. Igor Efimov is George’s advisor at George Washington University, and he says if she leaves the country she can’t be easily replaced. “One of the important parts of the scientific community is that it’s very international,” Efimov says. “Talent in sports is somewhat similar—big stars in sports and big stars in technology and science are very rare. It’s very hard to find them, there are very few in the world.”

This short documentary was produced by GoodFight Media for The Atlantic. It’s a part of the Next America: Higher Education project, supported by grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Lumina Foundation.

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