Thursday, November 26, 2009

Do the US Need Smart People?

When you enter a good PhD program in the US, your university waives your tuition and pays you a stipend on top of that. Often, you also get financial support for travel to conferences and research-related activities. So basically, the US supports graduate students from other countries financially while they are getting their PhDs in the United States. Then, many years later, these people graduate and can finally start making good money. This, in turn, enables them to pay very high taxes to the country that made their great education and high professional credentials possible in the first place. And this is precisely the moment when the US decide that they do not need these people to stay any longer. If these PhD graduates do not have any employer willing to sponsor them lined up before or immediately after they get their degree, they are not given more time to look for a job. They are just asked to leave and take their US-acquired knowledge and their prospective high taxes elsewhere.

It is next to impossible for an Ivy League PhD graduate (like me, for example) to get a green card, irrespective of who might be willing to employ me. If, however, I were a mail-order bride, or managed to win a green card in a lottery, I would not have the visa-related headaches that I keep experiencing now**. Can anybody explain to me how this is possible? People who got their MBAs and PhDs in the US obviously speak English extremely well, are good, law-abiding, productive members of society, will pay very high taxes, and have been integrated in to the American society. How come we are less valuable than some person who auctioned his or her body on an Internet site, will probably never learn to speak much English and is obviously not going to bring in any taxes? How come we are less valuable than some individual who has won a green card in a lottery and can have any kind of a criminal history behind them?

My indignation has less to do with myself, since as a citizen of Canada I enter the US fairly easily (except for the stack of documents that I have to drag with mee on my every short visit.) But my colleagues with less fortunate citizenships have to undergo constant visa-related aggravations. The American universities that employ us as professors suffer as well. My university, for example, hires a whole group of dedicated individuals, whose only job is to tend to the visa needs of the university faculty.

I wonder if the US welcomes lottery winners and mail-order spouses instead of us because this country sees having too many educated, intelligent, articulate people around as inherently dangerous.

** Like a sheaf of papers I had to bring in with me for a week-long family visit to Canada.


Anonymous said...

Like many US policies, the US immigration policy seems almost deliberately designed to hurt the country which instantiated it.

That's a bit hard to explain, but pretty typical of this place.


Anonymous said...

1) Green card lottery winners are subject to a criminal check.

2) A restriction on catalog brides would be a move against her husband, who is already a citizen and is not going to like that his ability to marry whoever he wants is diminished in any way. PhD graduates, on the other hand, are not citizens, they cannot vote and have zero political influence. I think that explains why US officials don't have to give a shit.

Anonymous said...

"Do the US need smart people?"

You do realize you made a grammatical error in that statement?

Clarissa said...

Oooh, cool, an ignoramus has arrived to teach me grammar, how sweet.

Anonymous said...

Given are the abysmal state of state in general of education and the relatively low amount of money pumped into general education. There are only a few exceptions to further emphasise the given above. Plus there is the general dumbing down effect with what is available through the media. So the current immigration laws regarding intelligent to the US should hardly come as a surprise.

It just fits with the general idea of needing a large population of workers that do not ask any difficult questions and a few that rule.