Upon their return from Thanksgiving recess, House Republican leaders plan to vote on a limited immigration reform measure that would expand visas for foreign science and technology students and make it easier for those with green cards to bring their immediate families into the U.S.
Different from STEM Act
The legislation planned for a vote this week is different from the failed Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Jobs Act attempted back in September. This legislative proposal would allow family members to come to the U.S. one year after they apply for their green cards. However, they would not be able to work until their green card is issued. Language will be added to the legislation that expands a program allowing spouses and minor children of persons with permanent residence to wait in the United States for their own green cards to be issued.
According to the Department of Homeland Security in 2011 there were nearly 235,000 persons admitted into the U.S. under family-sponsored preference. Most persons under this category include spouses and children. It is estimated that their average waiting time to be reunited with their families is two years.
On September 18, the Chairman of the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Citizenship, Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) was joined by Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) in introducing legislation that would reform the U.S. visa system and encourage foreign students to stay in the United States after receiving graduate degrees in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields.
Does Not Take Away Jobs…
The Schumer-Coons legislation creates a 2-year pilot program to provide 55,000 new green cards per year for foreign students who graduate from U.S. universities with advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (“STEM”). An eligible foreign student must 1) have received a master’s degree or higher from an eligible U.S. university in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics; 2) have an offer of employment in the U.S. in a STEM field, and 3) be petitioned for by an employer who has gone through labor certification to show that there are not sufficient American workers able, willing, equally qualified and available for the job at the wage level paid by the employer to all other individuals with similar experience and qualifications for the job.
It also reduces the red tape to obtain a student visa, and allows high-tech workers currently in the United States on temporary visas to renew their visas without having to first return to their country of origin. The U.S. Senate has not taken action on the legislation.
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