Friday, March 13, 2009

Reverse Brain Drain

I just read an article in The Washington Post from this past Sunday about an increasing number of international students returning to their home countries rather than deal with all of the H-1B and Permanent Resident immigration hassles necessary to work here in the United States. The article highlights the economic and technological impact this trend will have on the United States and here are just a few:

“Almost 25 percent of all international patent applications filed from the United States in 2006 named foreign national as investors”

“Immigrants founded a quarter of all U.S. engineering and technology companies started between 1995 and 2005, including half of those in Silicon Valley”

“In 2005 alone, immigrants' businesses generated $52 billion in sales and employed 450,000 workers”

I agree that this trend will have an economic and technological impact on the United States and it is something that the Obama Administration needs to take a serious look at. This reverse brain drain, however, has significant implications for public diplomacy and one that the United States can capitalize on. These international students/workers who are returning home having witnessed a long Presidential campaign and democratic election with a peaceful transfer of power on January 20th. Additionally, these individuals have a greater understanding of U.S. culture and business practices that they, as leaders, will bring back to their home countries.

You can access this article

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