US President Donald J. Trump signed an order late last month canceling visas and barring entry for Chinese students, postdocs, and other visiting scientists associated with China’s “military-civil fusion strategy.”
The order, which went into effect June 1, is an effort to stop what the Trump administration sees as a Chinese attempt to acquire US technology. Some Chinese students “operate as non-traditional collectors of intellectual property,” the order says.
The ban applies to F visas, typically used by graduate students, and J visas, usually issued to postdocs and visitors.
Undergrads associated with the Chinese program are still allowed to enter the US.
At least 3,000 students could be affected by the move, according to an estimate from the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB). “Officials have acknowledged there is no direct evidence that has pointed to wrongdoing by Chinese visa-holding students,” Benjamin Corb, ASBMB’s public affairs director, says in a statement.
Universities welcome vetting of visa holders who have not been honest about their military ties, says Peter McPherson, president of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, but the federal government should be transparent about who poses a security threat. “These efforts must not diminish collaborative science with international partners acting in good faith,” he says in a statement. “The United States has benefited enormously from cross-border collaboration on science, and we must ensure that the world’s brightest minds still feel drawn to study, research, teach, and spur innovations in the United States.”