Congressional news

Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) last week introduced the “Student Visa Integrity Act” (S. 3527), a bill that would install harsher penalties for individuals misusing the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), would deny certain institutions access to the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), and would mandate certification of institutions enrolling international students [the Alliance reported].

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The House and Senate are expected to pass a Continuing Resolution (CR) for FY 2013, funding the federal government from October 1 through March 27. The House Appropriations Committee has released its draft version of the CR, H.J. Res. 117, and the full House is expected to pass the CR at the end of this week, with the Senate likely to follow next week.

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Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-MO) has sponsored and introduced in the House of Representatives the “Global Science Program for Security, Competitiveness, and Diplomacy Act of 2012” that aims to increase collaborative research and science exchanges between the U.S. and eligible countries across the globe.

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A number of pieces of legislation dealing with visa issues—proposed by members of both parties and in both the House and Senate—are currently circulating in Congress. These various bills can be difficult to keep straight, so below is a brief guide to help:

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Congressional leaders announced they have agreed to pursue a continuing resolution (CR) that would fund the federal government from October through March 2013, CQ.com reports.

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A bipartisan group of Senators including Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-IA), and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) plans to propose a bill that would improve oversight of the student-visa system and would weed out sham colleges, the Chronicle of Higher Education reports.

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The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report yesterday critical of the Student Exchange and Visitor Program (SEVP), saying that the program lacks processes to identify risk and prevent fraud, and does not have proper controls to verify the legitimacy of schools that accept international students. SEVP is responsible for certifying schools to accept international students in academic and vocational programs, as well as managing the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), which assists the Department of Homeland Security in tracking and monitoring certified schools and international students.

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:

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The House Foreign Affairs Committee approved last week the FY 2013 Foreign Relations Authorization Act, which authorizes $598 million for Department of State educational and cultural exchange programs. This figure is level with current FY 2012 funding, and just above the FY 2013 House appropriation of $587 million and below the Senate appropriation of $625 million.  

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Several Democratic, Republican and bipartisan proposals aimed at “grant[ing] more visas to foreigners who earn science and technology degrees from U.S. universities” have recently surfaced in both the House and the Senate, CQ.com reported.

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