On March 6, President Donald Trump signed a second executive order to suspend immigration from six predominately Muslim countries, this time excluding Iraq from the list. U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson issued a decision blocking the order late March 15, hours before it was due to take effect.
Nevertheless, according to an article in Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), the weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society, the move has prompted foreign graduate students and postdoctoral researchers currently in the U.S. to start looking elsewhere for educational, training and job opportunities.
Linda Wang, a senior editor at C&EN, notes that science and engineering graduate school programs across the U.S. rely heavily on an international pool of students.
A National Science Foundation survey in 2015 found that 45 percent of full-time graduate students in science and engineering were on a temporary visa. Some of these students expressed concern about their future prospects in the U.S., and professors have said they are worried about the executive order and its impact on U.S. competitiveness in science and engineering.
Even international students who are not from the six countries affected by the executive order say they are now seriously considering pursuing their education and careers outside the U.S. In addition to the March 6 executive order, the Trump administration suspended expedited processing of H-1B visas, which are granted to foreign workers in specialty occupations, and several bills now in Congress propose additional changes to that program.