Letter from APS leadership

APS Letter Supporting the Keep STEM Talent Act

November 22, 2022

Dear Senator Durbin,

On behalf of the more than 50,000 members of the American Physical Society — the largest physics membership organization in the United States — I would like to thank you and your cosponsors for offering the Keep STEM Talent Act as a bipartisan amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2023. As you know, APS has supported this legislation during both the 116th and 117th Congress, and we are encouraged by the renewed bipartisan interest. By allowing international STEM students to state their intent to pursue a career in the United States after graduation and removing unnecessary barriers to obtaining a green card, this amendment would immediately bolster our ability to attract and retain the best and brightest STEM talent from around the world.

The Keep STEM Talent amendment directly addresses concerns APS highlighted in its 2021 membership survey report Building America’s STEM Workforce: Eliminating Barriers and Unlocking Advantages:

  • Of the 800 international students and researchers surveyed, 70% reported challenges with visas. Nearly one in six are actively pursuing career opportunities elsewhere due to experiences with the U.S. visa system.
  • Nearly 90% of respondents agreed that they are “more likely to consider applying to graduate school or postdoc in a country that has a clear path for me to stay and work once I finish my degree or PhD.”

The inclusion of your amendment in NDAA would be an important step towards both attracting and retaining these talented individuals, strengthening the U.S. STEM workforce, and maintaining US competitiveness. International STEM students and researchers go on to generate tremendous value for the nation. As just one example, the National Foundation for American Policy found that as of 2022, immigrants had founded more than half of the privately held billion-dollar startup companies in the United States. Moreover, one-quarter of the billion-dollar startup companies in the United States have a founder who first came to America as an international student. By smoothing the path to a green card for STEM graduates, you are making an investment in the future of American innovation.

Thank you again for your continued work on this critical issue. This amendment will strengthen the nation’s research enterprise and — when paired with robust and stable R&D funding — will ensure the United States continues to be a global leader in science, technology and innovation.

Sincerely,

Frances Hellman
PresidentAmerican Physical Society
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