New Push on Green Cards for Foreign STEM Graduates
September 19, 2012

On Tuesday, House Judiciary Chairman Representative Lamar Smith (R-Texas) introduced a bill that would reallocate up to 55,000 green cards per year to foreign graduates of U.S. universities with advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. The STEM Jobs Bill is being fast-tracked for a full House of Representatives vote on Thursday.

To be eligible, students must graduate with a doctorate or two-year master’s degree from a university classified by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching as doctorate-granting with a high or very high level of research activity (or a university certified by the National Science Foundation as equivalent). Qualifying universities also could not pay commissions or other forms of incentive-based compensation to recruiters of international students. Graduates in the biological or biomedical sciences would be excluded.

The STEM Jobs Bill eliminates the "diversity visa lottery" program – which is open to individuals from countries with low rates of immigration to the U.S. -- in order to reallocate the slots to foreign STEM graduates. A competing bill sponsored by Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-Cal.) would create 50,000 visas for STEM graduates without eliminating the diversity visa program.

Higher education and technology industry lobbying groups have long called for easing the immigration process for foreign scientists educated at U.S. universities.

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