CORRESPONDENCE

US visa changes leave postdocs like us in limbo

California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California, USA

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California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California, USA.
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California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California, USA.

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California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California, USA.

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California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California, USA.

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California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California, USA.

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California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California, USA.

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Six of us are postdocs from abroad who work in the United States. We are therefore deeply concerned about the latest uncertainties over US visas, announced last month (see Nature http://doi.org/d2h4; 2020). Coming on top of the havoc wreaked by the COVID-19 pandemic (see, for example, Nature 582, 449–450; 2020), the changes mean that researchers’ careers are now under grave threat.

Things were already difficult under the preceding visa regime. Those of us in this position were wary of visiting our home countries, in case our return to the United States was blocked. The US government’s imposition of travel restrictions has made matters worse, thwarting even urgent trips back to our families.

Renewing a non-immigrant visa is next to impossible at the moment, and legal advice is hard to obtain because of the fluidity and confusion of the situation. Applying for a new visa is not an option, so long as embassies and consulates are closed and travel restrictions apply. Meanwhile, our projects and job applications are on hold.

We value the opportunity to work in world-class laboratories. In return, we contribute a highly motivated and affordable talent pool to our host institutions. We urge the United States to safeguard international postdocs to reinforce these mutual benefits.

Nature 583, 202 (2020)

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