The National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence is pushing Congress to allow more foreign scientists, engineers, mathematicians and other technology-focused careerists to stay in the United States.
In a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Commission Chairman Eric Schmidt and Vice Chairman Robert Work urged Congress to exempt STEM advanced-degree holders from green card numerical limits.
They attached proposed legislated text to their letter that would give lawful permanent residency to any foreign national who graduates from an accredited U.S. institution with a doctoral degree in STEM, is vetted and not deemed a national security threat and has a job offer in a STEM-related field.
“We, as a nation, should reverse the troubling trend of educating the world’s best and brightest only to let them return home to work for our competitors,” the chairmen wrote.
Jenilee Keefe Singer, co-director of legislative affairs for the commission, told Federal News Network that, “There is a lot of discussion on how the U.S. can best position itself in our emerging technology competition, and the Senate appears to be debating and considering ways to better compete.”
She said AI is one of the main areas Congress is considering.
“We have different green card caps for different countries around the world,” Brandon McKee, co-director of legislative affairs for the commission, said. “This is something that the Congress is charged with: either increasing that cap limit or decreasing. I think the Congress is realizing we have to take different measures on this front to move the ball forward. This is just one particular instance, where AI expertise around the world is incredibly thin. That competition is only increasing with each passing year. If we were to lift the limit that would be a huge attraction point for our U.S. private sector, industry, academia and government that would propel us forward in this competition.”
According to Code.org, the United States has more than 400,000 computer science jobs available and only about 71,000 qualified computer scientists are graduating annually to fill the openings.
“We don’t need to look too hard; the talent wants to come to the United States. Our nation’s education system remains one of the best in the world and is a magnet for foreign students seeking advanced education,” the commissioners wrote. “In fact, according to a 2020 Georgetown University Center for Security and Emerging Technology review, approximately 70%-90% of foreign STEM students in American Ph. D. programs, depending on their STEM field, wish to remain in the United States.”
Keefe Singer said the commission will continue to push the recommendations it made in its report until it is officially disbanded in October.