Science benefits from attracting more skilled foreign workers

Sir, Bob Greifeld (“America cannot afford to drive away talent”, May 30) articulates many economic reasons for increasing the number of annually issued H-1B visas for highly skilled foreign workers. But while the purely economic justifications are persuasive, the scientific justifications are decisive.

Twenty-five per cent of international patents filed from the US listed a foreign skilled worker as the inventor, while 41 per cent of PhD scientists in the US are foreign born. Since 1901, one-third of American Nobel prizewinners in medicine and physiology were foreign born. Highly skilled foreign workers are disproportionately valuable compared to their numbers.

Related to H-1B visas are foreign graduate students. A 2005 World Bank working paper about foreign graduate students in the US revealed that each additional foreign graduate student will result in .63 more patent applications filed. In a time of rapid technological advancement and intense competition, America’s immigration policy is cutting out its brain to save its good looks. Unfortunately, if this policy continues, America will end up dumb and ugly.