To protect its national security and foreign policy interests, the United States controls exports of civilian technologies that have military uses. U.S. firms may be required to obtain a license from the Department of Commerce before exporting these "dual-use" technologies from the United States to many other countries, including countries of concern. Since Commerce regulations also deem domestic transfers of controlled dual-use technologies to citizens of these countries to be exports, Commerce may require firms that employ foreign nationals working with these technologies in this country to obtain "deemed" export licenses. The firms should, in many cases, hold a deemed export license, and the foreign nationals should have an appropriate visa classification, such as an H-1B specialized employment classification. Commerce issues deemed export licenses to firms that employ or sponsor foreign nationals after consulting the Departments of Defense, State, and Energy. Deemed export licenses are generally valid for 2 years and comprise almost 10 percent of all export licenses approved by Commerce. In fiscal year 2001, Commerce approved 822 deemed export license applications and rejected 3. Most of the approved licenses allowed foreign nationals from countries of concern to work with advanced computer, electronic, or telecommunication and information security technologies in the United States. To better direct its efforts to detect possible unlicensed deemed exports, in fiscal year 2001 Commerce screened thousands of applications for H-1B and other types of visas submitted by foreign nationals overseas. From these applications, it developed 160 potential cases for follow-up by enforcement staff in the field. However, Commerce did not screen thousands of H-1B change-of-status applications submitted domestically to the Immigration and Naturalization Service for foreign nationals already in the United States. In addition, Commerce could not readily track the disposition of the 160 cases referred to field offices for follow-up because it lacks a system for doing so. Commerce attaches security conditions to almost all licenses to mitigate the risk of providing foreign nationals with controlled dual-use technologies. However, according to senior Commerce officials, Commerce staff do not regularly visit forms to determine whether these conditions are being implemented because of competing priorities, resource constraints, and inherent difficulties in enforcing several conditions.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Department of Commerce||The Secretary of Commerce should work with the Immigration and Naturalization Service to use all existing U.S. government data in its efforts to identify all foreign nationals potentially subject to deemed export licensing requirements.|
|Department of Commerce||The Secretary of Commerce--in consultation with the Secretaries of Defense, State, and Energy--should establish a risk-based program to monitor compliance with deemed export license conditions. In doing so, the Secretary of Commerce should draw upon the full range of technical expertise available to him, including that within the department or elsewhere in the federal government. If the secretaries of these agencies conclude that certain security conditions are impractical to enforce, they should jointly develop enforceable conditions or alternative methods to ensure that deemed exports to not place U.S. national security interests at risk while promoting U.S. commercial interests.|