May 4, 2022

U.S. Seeks to Lure Putin’s Top STEM Professionals with Visa Proposal

The Biden administration has a plan to ‘brain-drain’ Russia’s best innovators as Putin’s war devastates Russia’s economy. 


The White House has included in its latest supplemental request to Congress a proposal to drop the rule that Russian professionals applying for an employment-based visa must have a current employer. The proposal would apply to Russian citizens who have earned master’s or doctoral degrees in science, technology, engineering or mathematics in the U.S. or abroad.


According to the National Security Council, the effort is meant to weaken Putin’s high-tech resources in the near term and undercut Russia’s innovation base over the long run.  The Biden administration specifically wants to target top-tier Russians with experience in semiconductors, space technology, cybersecurity, advanced manufacturing, advanced computing, nuclear engineering, artificial intelligence and missile propulsion technologies.  Biden administration officials have seen significant numbers of high-skilled technology workers flee Russia because of limited financial opportunities because of the sanctions the U.S. and allies have imposed after Putin’s invasion on Ukraine.  The provision in the proposal would expire in four years and there would be no changes to the vetting process, fees or other rules in the Immigration and Nationality Act.


Konstantin Sonin, an economist at the University of Chicago, tweeted on March 7th “that more than 200,000 people fled Russia during the last 10 days.  The tragic exodus not seen for a century.”  Additionally, an Interfax report cited an estimate from the Russian Association for Electronic Communications of between 70,000 and 100,000 information technology specialists might try to emigrate in April.


For the full article from Bloomberg, click here.