The Impacts of Permanent Residency Delays for STEM PHDs: Who Leaves and Why

Shulamit Kahn & Mega MacGarvie
Date of Publication: 
October, 2018
Source Organization: 

Although China and India are the two most populous nations on earth, they are subject to the same per-country cap (25,620 visas per year) on annual immigration as other countries of the world. As a result, there are apt to be backlogs and long waiting periods for immigrant visas for those otherwise qualified to emigrate to the U.S. by virtue of their family connections or desirable skill sets. This paper looks at Chinese and Indian STEM PhDs trained at American universities who apply for EB-2 employment-based permanent residency visas. Most are working already in the U.S. on temporary visas.  Of the more than 16,000 temporary residents who earned PhDs in 2001 or later and who were part of the study, two-thirds are still in the United States. However, for Indian PhDs, the stay rate is almost 9 percentage points lower for those experiencing delays of at least 5.5 years. Chinese graduates show a similar attrition rate. Although the authors attach importance to visa delays in determining stay rates, they also don’t rule out the possibility that the Chinese and Indian governments may be encouraging their citizens to return home upon completion of their studies. (American Immigrant Policy Portal)

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Kahn, S. & MacGarvie, M. (2018). The Impacts of Permanent Residency Delays for STEM PHDs: Who Leaves and Why. The National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper No. 25175. Retrieved from