I came to the U.S. in August 2010 as an F-1 visa student. I was a freshman at Yale hoping to pursue a career in aerospace engineering. During my four years at this Yale, I have learned what would never be possible back in the Czech Republic. However, I have also discovered that my aerospace career might not have a future in the U.S. Many aerospace as well as national institutes such as NASA centers are off limits for me because I am not a U.S. citizen. I could neither get an internship or a full time job at any of those places due to the restrictions of my F-1 visa.
It is disappointing that U.S. does such a good job with attracting brains from overseas, but also does such a poor job in keeping them around. I am now pursuing my Masters in Aerospace Engineering at Stanford, but after I graduate I will only have 18 months to find an employer to sponsor me for a work permit. If I do not find an employer, I will take my education from Stanford and Yale to a different country.
President Obama's executive actions are a first step for helping F-1 students like me. The actions will allow students to extend their time in the U.S. and keep contributing to this country after we earn our degrees. For STEM students like myself, executive action is important, but a legislative solution is needed to make sure the U.S. visa system works for the all of the students it educates.