Study Finds That Foreign-Born Inventors Play Prominent Role at Top U.S. Patent-Producing Universities

[author: Donald Zuhn]

Partnership for a New American EconomyA study commissioned by the Partnership for a New American Economy, a bipartisan group of mayors from across the country and business leaders from all sectors of the economy seeking to raise awareness of the economic benefits of sensible immigration reform, shows that 76% of patents issued in 2011 to the top 10 patent-generating universities in the U.S. named a foreign-born inventor.  The 30-page report, entitled "Patent Pending: How Immigrants Are Reinventing the American Economy," was released last month.

Partnership Co-Chair, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, noted that the study was "indisputable proof of the enormous contribution of immigrants in developing the new technologies and ideas needed to renew the U.S. economy and create American jobs," adding that "American universities are doing their part in attracting and educating the world's top minds, but our broken immigration laws continue to push them to our competitors."  According to the report, the University of California led all other U.S. universities with respect to issued patents in 2011, securing 369.  The top 10 patent-producing universities in 2011 is shown below:

Top UniversitiesThe study also found that 54% of the patents issued to the top 10 universities named foreign inventors that were most likely to face visa hurdles, namely students, postdoctoral fellows, and staff researchers.  With respect to pharmaceuticals, 79% of patents issued to the top universities named a foreign-born inventor.  In a press release issued by the Partnership, American Enterprise Institute Fellow Nick Schulz noted that "[e]very graduate with an advanced degree working in a STEM-related field in the United States has been shown to create on average 2.62 additional jobs for native-born workers," and therefore asserted that "[s]ending those people away doesn't protect American jobs, it jeopardizes them."

CoverThe group noted that the study highlights the clear value foreign-born graduates bring to the U.S. economy, and offered recommendations for the U.S. to fix its immigration system and compete with countries such as South Korea, Switzerland, Spain, Italy, Germany, and the United Kingdom, which admit 60-80% of immigrants on economic needs (as opposed to the U.S., which admits only 7% of immigrants on economic needs).  Among the group's recommendations are:

• Granting permanent residency (green cards) to foreign students who earn graduate degrees in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields, where 99% of the patents naming a foreign-born inventor were issued.
• Creating a visa for foreign-born entrepreneurs having U.S. investors and wanting to start companies employing U.S. employees.
• Raising or removing the cap on H-1B visas, currently set at 65,000 (the group notes that the 2012 cap was hit in only 10 weeks).

More information regarding the study can be found here.


DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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