When Indira Rajagopal, a molecular biology postdoc, was called away from a job in San Diego to attend to a family emergency back home in India, she figured she would be back at the lab bench within a few weeks.

But visa trouble intervened. While she was in India, her temporary visa to work in the United States expired, so she applied for a new one. She was ready to return to the U.S. within three weeks. Her visa wasn't ready for her, though.

"It took several months" to get the new visa, she recalls. And until she had it in hand, she suffered through the uncertainty of never knowing from one day to the next when the paperwork would clear and allow her to return to her lab.

Rajagopal, who is now working at Oregon State University is just one of a growing number of foreign-born scientists who have...

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