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US should expand visa for STEM talent: Congressional report

A new US Congressional report on defence has urged the Trump administration to aggressively expand visa for the foreign STEM talent, emphasising that America must ensure people with critical knowledge and capacity stay in the country.

The Future of Defense Tasks Force report, 2020, which was released by the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday, highlights that every time a foreign-born student returns to their home country from the US, they take with them critical knowledge and capacity.

“The United States must increase its retention of foreign talent US. When these foreign-born students return to their home countries, they take with them critical knowledge and capacity. And while some want to return to their home countries, many choose to stay in the United States if allowed. The US must recognise this immigration shortfall by aggressively expanding visas for STEM talent,” said the report.

In 2017, foreign-born students accounted for 54 per cent of master’s degrees and 44 per cent of doctorate degrees awarded in Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields in the US.

Notably, China sends the most STEM students to the United States, with India a close second, the report said.

To sustain the world order that has allowed the US to prosper and thrive for more than 70 years, the US must foster new and creative partnerships for a changing world while strengthening existing alliances and security agreements, said the report.

Such engagements will further vital US national security interests by ensuring placement, access, resiliency and redundancy while creating complex problem sets for adversaries.

“As such it seems to enhance essential partnerships with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and Five-Eyes intelligence partners, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand—as well as with Japan and South Korea,” the report said.

Seeking to bolster ties with allies in the Middle East, notably Israel and Jordan, the report asks the administration to strengthen relations with longstanding Asian security partners such as Thailand, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Singapore while growing relationships with India, Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia, among others.

It also urges the administration to cultivate economic and diplomatic cooperation with non-traditional allies, especially in Asia and Africa and increase foreign military sales with security partners and bolster the International Military Education and Training programme following enhanced vetting.

“Extend New START and negotiate a follow-on agreement,” says the report.

The Task Force found that China represents the most significant economic and national security threat to the United States over the next 20 to 30 years.

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