“Unfortunately, Iranian students have not been allowed to step on the US soil recently,” Bahram Salavati said.
Although the exclusion of Iranian students, professionals and nationals with residence permits from entering the US, especially after tensions between the two countries, may have political reasons, the purpose of this piece is to analyse the issue from another perspective.
“Perhaps to some people, Washington’s restrictions on entry into the US should be analysed in the context of the Trump administration’s overall anti-immigration policy. In particular, the most significant effect of this executive order was the significant reduction in F1 student visas and J1 visas for Iranian professors, scholars and specialists, which has dramatically decreased over the past three years,” continued Salavati.
The Financial Times refers, in a report, to the special visa restrictions on Chinese students since 2017 when Donald Trump began his term in office. Interestingly, these restrictions have tightened for Chinese students as tensions between the US and China, especially in the economic field known as the “trade war” intensified.
“The reason for such decision can be traced in the results of the return of Chinese students to their home country after graduation. In fact, they have been the main sources of science and technology transfer from US advanced universities and research centres to China over the past two decades,” added Salavati.
For a brief review of Iran’s achievements in various fields of science and technology, check the book “Science and Technology in Iran: A Brief Review – 2019”
“US understands the importance of returning Chinese experts as the country’s moving engine for science and technology development, so it has pushed its trade war with China into a kind of visa-based one to counter the influx of Chinese students and professionals into its science and technology market,” he underlined.
“With the decline in the number of visas issued, the growth rate of international students in the US has been negative for two consecutive years and the economic value of the higher education market in the country has dropped to $ 5 billion.”
However, the Trump administration continues to insist on visa-restrictive policies for some countries, such as China and Iran, despite fundamental concerns about maintaining US economic prosperity and job creation.
Indeed, in addition to the US government’s political tension with countries such as China (on a global scale) and Iran (on a regional scale), it is in some ways concerned about transfer of its knowledge and technology from its science and innovation centres (particularly in the fields of sensitive industries).
The United States has adopted a “visa-confrontation” approach to prevent some students and professionals from entering the US with high probability of returning to their home country, which may be referred to as “brain warfare”.
According to the Iran’s Vice Presidency for Science and Technology, over the past four years more than 1,400 Iranian specialists and graduates abroad have returned home from universities and research centers, especially from the world’s top universities and those in the United States.
Most of these people are either teaching or researching at universities or forming start-ups and knowledge-based businesses. Some of them have also simulated successful examples of technology and global businesses in Iran, and on an industrial and industrial scale.
In fact, the United States is afraid of the access of Iranian and Chinese students to its academic and research centres, as well as the possibility of transferring world-class knowledge and technology by professionals and graduates, maintained Salavati.