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Brain gain: queuing up at the Indian embassy, for a change?

Brain gain: queuing up at the Indian embassy, for a change?
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First Published: Wed, Aug 22 2007. 01 40 AM IST

Updated: Wed, Aug 22 2007. 01 40 AM IST
New Delhi: The US may suffer a “reverse brain drain” as documented, skilled immigrants return to their home countries, discouraged by visa extensions and greencard delays, according to a report to be released on Wednesday.
Indian firms, cognizant of the red tape in becoming an American, are trying their hardest to turn an impending exodus into their “brain gain.” This weekend, plans a job fair in New Jersey, US, for people seeking opportunities in India, terming the event the “first-ever Indo-US job fair.”
Beyond plugging India’s growth, recruiters can appeal to emigres’ sense of frustration with immigration laws.
The third part of the report on Intellectual Property, the Immigration Backlog, and a Reverse Brain-Drain—America’s New Immigrant Entrepreneurs by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and academics from Harvard University, New York University and Duke University, details immigrant contributions to US society, analysing the ­potential impact of their ­departure.
“Because of our flawed immigration policies, we have set the stage for the departure of hundreds of thousands of highly skilled professionals,” said Vivek Wadhwa , a fellow at Harvard Law School and executive in residence at Duke University.?“This?is?lose-lose?for the US. Our corporations lose key talent... and we end up creating potential competitors.”
More than one million skilled immigrants await greencards, or permanent residency, in the US, while only 120,000 visas leading to a greencard are issued every year—with less than 10,000 for India, according to the report.
Sanjay Mavinkurve, 26, is going through the process in San Francisco, California. He came to the US from Mumbai at the age of 14 on a student visa. He went to a boarding school, received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in computer science from Harvard University and currently resides in San Francisco where he works for Google Inc.
Even after spending nearly half his life in the US, Mavinkurve is on an H-1B visa, which allows a US company to employ a foreign worker for up to six years. “I really feel like I’m stuck in limbo,” said Mavinkurve. “Under my visa, it’s against the law to be promoted and it’s extremely difficult to change companies.”
The report details the contributions of such immigrants, saying foreign nationals who received US patents increased from 7.3% in 1998 to 24.2% in 2006. In second place, ?Indians received 3,536 patents during this period, and China 4,440. Firms such as Merck & Co., General Electric Co. and Siemens AG filed many of these patents, mostly in sanitation/medical preparation, pharmaceuticals, semiconductors and electronics.
According to an earlier study by the same researchers, an immigrant established one in four engineering and tech companies founded between 1995 and 2005. Indians founded more companies than immigrants from the UK, China, Taiwan and Japan combined. fair hopes to attract 6,000 professionals who want to work in global information, communication and technology. Its business head Michael M. Bala says 500-600 jobs will be given out as a direct result of the fair.
“There are so many people who have left India. We are looking to bring these people back in,” he said.
Mavinkurve is thinking of returning to India, where his parents still live, or moving to Singapore, where his fiancée is. “America is no longer the only place to make it big. Why the US is intent on sending away the best and brightest is beyond me,” he said.
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First Published: Wed, Aug 22 2007. 01 40 AM IST