In a move to enhance US economic competitiveness, the State Department in February extended the period for visa security clearances for non-US citizens working in "sensitive areas," such as chemistry, pharmacology, and engineering. In the past, students and scientists had been required to renew their visas each year. Now, students can remain in the United States for four years, working scientists for two years, and visiting scientists for one year before renewing security clearances.

The scientific, academic, and business communities lauded the decision as one that will enhance cutting-edge research and benefit the US economy. But these sources also caution that more must be done to continue to attract scientists to US universities.

According to a new survey by the Washington, DC-based Council of Graduate Schools (CGS), international applications to US graduate programs will decline for the second consecutive year. CGS estimates such applications to US graduate schools will fall...

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