Coalition of interest groups urges House to make available more visas to foreign STEM-graduates

A coalition of more than 130 employers, industry groups, and regional chambers of commerce, including Microsoft, Apple, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, sent a letter to all members of the U.S. House of Representatives urging them to pass an immigration bill that would make it easier for international STEM-field graduates of U.S. universities to stay and work in the U.S., CQ.com reports.

The letter says:

“Such a reform would allow American companies to retain many foreign students with advanced degrees in STEM fields to work in the U.S. and spur the creation and retention of high-paying manufacturing and research jobs here in America.”

“Hiring advanced-degree STEM professionals is a key to creating and retaining jobs in a variety of sectors in our innovation economy. However, skilled foreign graduates, eligible for visas, are stuck in backlogs for many years. These are highly educated professionals who will create jobs wherever they settle, whether in the U.S. or elsewhere.”

CQ.com further notes that House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) has been working on a bill that, without increasing the overall number of visas, would shift 55,000 green cards from a visa lottery available to citizens of countries around the world to make them available to graduates in the STEM fields [the Alliance reported in June].

According to Rep. Smith, this bill “will help us create jobs for unemployed Americans, increase our competitiveness and maintain America as the world leader in innovation.”

Both political parties “have historically supported granting more visas to highly skilled foreign graduates,” CQ.com says, noting that Smith has been talking with Republican and Democratic members in both the House and Senate, including Texas Senator John Cornyn (R), who has also introduced legislation (S 3185) with goals similar to Smith’s bill, which will likely be introduced this month.

 

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