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Monday, February 6th, 2023

GAO issues potential Chinese nationals technology transfer recommendations

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The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has issued Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) recommendations to address Chinese nationals potentially transferring technology to foreign entities.

Per the GAO, a third of foreign graduate students studying science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) at domestic universities are Chinese nationals, with some possessing access to sensitive research.

The GAO maintains (ICE) has incomplete data that may indicate whether foreign students and scholars pose risks for transferring technology from U.S. universities to foreign entities.

According to the GAO, the agency’s report assessed the extent to which other agencies have identified and collected data related to characteristics of foreign students and scholars in the United States that may indicate the risk of transferring university technology and describes selected agency efforts to counter such transfers for the benefit of People’s Republic of China (PRC)-affiliated entities.

The GAO has recommended the ICE Director establish milestones for completing the assessment required by NSPM-33 (National Security Presidential Memorandum) section 4(d)(ii) and take steps to improve employer information in SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) or otherwise update the records of foreign students approved for OPT (Optional Practical Training) as appropriate.

The GAO indicated once it confirms actions ICE has taken in response to the recommendation, updated information would be provided.