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Visa Ban Hurts Innovation Edge, U.S. Universities Say


two people walking by Northeastern University's Ell Hall

Northeastern University is seeing the impact of toughened visa requirements for Chinese graduate students.

Credit: Bloomberg News

American universities and research institutes say the U.S.'s dominance in science and technology could be undermined by toughened U.S. visa requirements that are squeezing the flow of talent from China.

The tighter rules are slowing down work at research labs like the one run by Christo Wilson, an associate professor of computer science at Northeastern University. One of Wilson's doctoral students flew home to China in 2020 to celebrate Lunar New Year and has been stuck outside the U.S. ever since, first because of pandemic-related travel bans and more recently for fear of being caught up in the enforcement of a presidential proclamation signed by then-President Donald Trump in May 2020.

The order bars entry to the U.S. for Chinese graduate students and postgraduate researchers with ties to any Chinese entity "that implements or supports China's 'military-civil fusion strategy.'"  In practice, this has meant that Chinese nationals who have studied at Chinese universities with close ties to the country's defense industry have found it all but impossible to obtain visas.

Georgetown University estimates that the proclamation could be used to block up to 5,000 students, or roughly one-quarter of all Chinese STEM graduates who would otherwise have headed to the U.S. each year.

From The Wall Street Journal
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