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American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics

    AIAA and IEEE-USA Sponsor Panel on Immigration and ITAR

    AIAA and IEEE-USA Sponsor Panel on Immigration and ITAR Restrictions on Foreign Nationals Working in the U.S. Technology Sector

    By Duane Hyland, AIAA Communications

    On Wednesday, 27 June, AIAA and IEEE-USA, co-hosted a Capitol Hill panel entitled: “A Spark Deferred: The Impact of ITAR and Immigration Policy on the Future of America’s Technology Sector.” The panel examined the barriers existing in the current student visa system and in the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) regime that restrict foreign students from working in high-value research areas and within the U.S. technology sector, and how these barriers will limit future growth in these sections, imperiling the U.S. economy and national security.

    The panel was moderated by Dr. Annalisa Weigel, Charles Stark Draper Career Development Assistant Professor of Aeronautics, Astronautics, and Engineering Systems, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and featured: Thomas Moore, Senior Research Engineer, Southwest Texas Research Institute; Dr. Claude R. Canizares, vice president for research, and associate provost, MIT; and Mark E. Harrington, founder and principal partner, The Harrington Law Firm, Houston, Texas.

    Among the topics discussed by the panelists were how a dearth of qualified U.S. applicants means that employers are often forced to look for qualified foreign-nationals to fill jobs in the U.S. technology sector; how current immigration and ITAR rules make it nearly impossible for highly-qualified, foreign nationals, to work in the U.S. technology sector; and how the inability of the tech sector to fill its job vacancies will ultimately imperil the United States, as companies will be forced to close, and as qualified foreign workers turn to companies in other countries – including those not allied with the United States – for work.

    The entire panel was united in the belief that current immigration restrictions endanger the United States. Canizares pointed out that at this point in time “the United States no longer holds the monopoly on invention and manufacturing, so these policies continue to send our potential future workforce elsewhere, while depriving the U.S. of the benefits that a policy change could bring us.” Moore echoed Canizares, by pointing out that while the Brazilian, Russian, Indian and Chinese economies, the so-called BRIC economies, were expanding aggressively, and would welcome any workers that the U.S. has turned away.” Harrington pointed out that the current immigration system is broken, too complicated and that lawmakers “have to realize it is not 1975 anymore, there are employment opportunities for technology workers all over the world, especially in places like China, India, and Israel, and that people who are turned away from the U.S., will go to these nations, and others, for work.”

    To access the charts that were presented at the panel, please visit the "Related Content" box on the top-right of this page.