Visa & Immigration: Work Experiences and Mobility
The survey sample was weighted by gender and academic field to represent the population as closely as possible. The measure of sampling error for questions answered by the full sample is plus or minus 5 percentage points.
This study examines scientists’ work experiences during COVID-19 and visa-related travel restrictions in 2020. Responses on this page are part of a larger survey on visa and immigration impacts on higher education with additional topics covering policy impacts and impacts on scientific workforce.
Slightly more than one-third of scientists have experienced some difficulties with their research due to visa issues over the past 12 months:
- About 36% of scientists have experienced some delays in project activities due to visa issues.
- About 35% of scientists said that they were unable to visit research partners in other countries.
- About 33% of scientists said that collaborating international scholars have canceled or postponed their visit due to visa issues.
While general experiences are similar for US citizens and non-US citizens, a higher proportion of non-US citizens had negative experiences due to visa issues than US citizens.
Among respondents, a smaller percentage of US citizens (32%) than non-citizens (40%) experienced canceled or delayed visits from international collaborators.
Among respondents, a larger percentage of non-US citizens (29%) than US citizens (23%) said project activities had to be canceled due to visa issues.
Overall, 37% of scientists have considered moving outside of the US.
Nearly half (46%) of non-US citizens reported considering moving to another country. In comparison, 35% of US citizens have seriously considered moving to another country.
More than half of scientists (61%) say a major reason for considering a move is they no longer feel comfortable in the US because of political rhetoric.
About 42% say that health and safety reasons are a major reason for considering a move to another country.
Few scientists think university policies to distance learning have anything to do with moving to another country.
75 % of US citizens and 88% of non-citizens say that health and safety reasons are a major or minor reason for considering a move to another country.
60% of the non-US scientists say that visa and immigration issues are a major or minor reason for considering a move to another country.
This national survey of biologists, engineers, and geographers on 2020 visa and immigration policy impacts was conducted by the Center for Science, Technology and Environmental Policy Studies at Arizona State University. The population for the survey represents a random sample of academic scientists (tenured, tenure-track, and non-tenure-track) who work in three departments (biology, civil and environmental engineering, and geography). These scientists work at 60 randomly selected universities classified as Carnegie designated research extensive (R1) universities in the United States. A total of 2,443 individuals were invited to participate in the survey via email invitations with a series of personalized email follow-up reminders. Survey invitations with a unique ID, passwords, and hyperlink to the survey were sent on October 22 and 23, followed by three reminder messages. The survey was closed on November 23rd.
A total of 419 usable responses were collected, representing an AAPOR response rate (RR4) of 17.4%. The survey sample was weighted by gender and academic field. The measure of sampling error for questions answered by the full sample is plus or minus 5 percentage points. The survey was developed by the team during September-October 2020. The questionnaire included sections asking about the impacts of current US visa and immigration policies on scientific research and collaboration, the higher education system, and different policy objectives over the past 12 months. The instrument was electronically programmed (in English) using the Sawtooth Software ® system. The survey was approved by Institutional Review Boards at Arizona State University and at the University of Illinois at Chicago.