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Why Foreign Students Don’t Need to Prove They’ll Go Home to Earn a Visa

It’s a core component of the visa interview: every potential international student must prove that they intend to return home after they study. Without the possibility of starting a career, reconnecting with family, or resuming some other clear obligation back in their home country, the applicant can expect to be denied their F-1 visa.

But, as Professor Albert H. Teich argues, not only is this unfair to women and men too young to have these kinds of commitments yet, it’s unfair to the US itself. The contribution of former international students to the US’s intellectual pedigree is simply too great to ignore. Consider these statistics (quoted directly from Teich’s article):

  • More than 30 percent of all Nobel laureates who have won their prizes while working in the United States were foreign-born.
  • Roughly 40 percent of Fortune 500 firms—Google, Intel, Yahoo, eBay, and Apple, among them—were started by immigrants or their children.
  • At the 10 U.S. universities that have produced the most patents, more than three out of every four of those patents involved at least one foreign-born inventor.
  • More than five out of six patents in information technology in the United States in 2010 listed a foreign national among the inventors.

Impressive! This piece is from last year but the sentiment still holds true: international students shouldn’t have to prove they’ll go home to get a visa.