Competitiveness Through Immigration

Author: George Hovey


Immigration reform is a national security imperative. A net inflow of science and technology talent is a defining source of strength and key competitive advantage for the United States. Highly skilled science and technology workers provide our nation with an economic edge and drive innovation. However, intensifying competition for skilled workers abroad and self-imposed barriers to immigration at home are deterring potential talent from coming to the United States, instead routing them to competitor countries.

The Biden-Harris Administration should act to attract and retain foreign science and technology talent through a focused overhaul of U.S. immigration laws and procedures. Specifically, the Administration should draw top talent to the United States by streamlining the visa process and providing greater flexibility for foreign scholars and workers. Steps should be taken to ground visa processes in evidence-based procedures, expand visa limits and classes, redesign security-screening procedures to ease bottlenecks, and reallocate resources to build analytic capabilities. Doing so will enhance our national competitiveness, a top government-wide priority. Imminent action is crucial: the suppressed demand for U.S. visa services due to the COVID-19 pandemic has opened a once-in-a-century window to implement reform.

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About the Author

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George Hovey was a Consular Officer in the U.S. Foreign Service. He served at the U.S. consulates in Shanghai and Chengdu, where he worked to mitigate technology transfer, combat visa fraud, and increase adjudication effectivity. He helped shape the consulates’ response to the initial COVID-19 outbreak. After taking part in the historic closure of the U.S. Consulate in Chengdu, George returned to the United States to work on the Department of State’s coronavirus taskforce. George’s areas of interest include Greater China, ethics, emerging technology, and transforming institutions through evidence-based policy.