Legislation Would Help Retain Talented STEM Graduates in the U.S.
Last week, two U.S. senators introduced legislation (S. 3192) that would to create a clear path for foreign-born, American-educated holders of masters and doctoral degrees in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields to remain in the United States to work and create jobs. The SMART Jobs Act would create a new student-visa category, the F-4 nonimmigrant visa, for graduate students pursuing degrees in STEM fields. They would be allowed to legally reside in the country for one year after graduation while looking for a job, and once employed in a STEM field, their immigration status would change to “legal permanent resident.” In a bipartisan effort, Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Chris Coons (D-DE) introduced the bill on the basis that the United States desperately needs to retain talented, American-educated foreign students in these critical STEM fields. Half of all graduate degrees in STEM fields at American universities are earned by foreign-born students. The Senators cite studies which indicate that immigrants are twice as likely as U.S.-born individuals to start a new business, with one-quarter of U.S. venture-back public companies being founded by immigrants in the last 15 years.
“Many of the best and brightest young minds in the world are educated at American colleges and universities, and instead of sending them home after graduation, we should be encouraging them to stay in the U.S. to pursue their innovations and create jobs here,” Senator Coons said. “When we send off these graduates to pursue their innovations in India and China, we are literally subsidizing our competitors. We are fueling the economies that are trying to beat us in the global marketplace – and they’re winning.”
Sen. Alexander stated, “It makes no sense to attract the most talented scientists and engineers from other countries to our schools to educate them, only to send them home to compete with American companies and create jobs – perhaps even the next Google – in other countries.”
Other co-sponsors of the bill include Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN). It was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee for consideration.