Washington: The Biden administration has a plan to rob Vladimir Putin of some of his best innovators by waiving some visa requirements for highly educated Russians who want to come to the US, according to people familiar with the strategy.
One proposal, which the White House included in its latest supplemental request to Congress, is to drop the rule that Russian professionals applying for an employment-based visa must have a current employer.
It would apply to Russian citizens who have earned master's or doctoral degrees in science, technology, engineering or mathematics in the US or abroad, the proposal states.
A spokesman for the National Security Council confirmed that the effort is meant to weaken Putin's high-tech resources in the near term and undercut Russia's innovation base over the long run - as well as benefit the US economy and national security.
Specifically, the Biden administration wants to make it easier for top-tier Russians with experience with semiconductors, space technology, cybersecurity, advanced manufacturing, advanced computing, nuclear engineering, artificial intelligence, missile propulsion technologies and other specialized scientific areas to move to the US.
Biden administration officials have said they've seen significant numbers of high-skilled technology workers flee Russia because of limited financial opportunities from the sanctions the US and allies have imposed after Putin's invasion on Ukraine.
The provision would expire in four years. There would be no changes to the vetting process, fees or other rules in the Immigration and Nationality Act.
Russian professionals began leaving the country after the conflict began on Feb. 24.
Konstantin Sonin a economist at the University of Chicago tweeted on March 7 "that more than 200,000 people fled Russia during the last 10 days. The tragic exodus not seen for a century."
An Interfax report, citing an estimate from the Russian Association for Electronic Communications, said that between 70,000 and 100,000 information technology specialists might try to emigrate in April.
The US and some of its Group of Seven allies have also in recent weeks discussed giving protected status to Russian scientists, including those working at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research.
CERN, which runs the largest particle physics laboratory, suspended most of its work with Russia after the war began.