Saturday, September 15, 2012

House Republicans to Push STEM Jobs Act of 2012 Next Friday

  • Rep. Lamar Smith is sponsoring this bill and the House floor is scheduled to take up this bill on suspension of rules calendar for voice vote on 09/21/2012, assumedly the last day of the Congressional session before the Congress will go into recess for the national election.
  • Report indicates that the bill will propose elimination of diversity visa, replaced by STEM immigration program granting 55,000 STEM advance degree holders green cards. This bill sounds very similar to Rep. Isaa's bill which is already pending in the House. According to the report, the bill is likely to include the following proposals:
    • An individual must have earned a doctorate or a master's degree from a U.S. university in order to be eligible for the visa. Those who took courses online also qualify, but they must be physically present in the U.S.
    • Employers must petition for the visas on behalf of job candidates. A U.S. employer that wants to hire a foreign national and secure a green card for that individual must go through a labor certification process, similar to what is now used in employment-based green cards, to show that there are no qualified U.S. citizens who are available for the job.
    • The visa candidate must agree to work for at least five years for the petitioning employer, or in a STEM field.
    • The visas will be limited to foreign nationals who earned degrees at Ph.D.-granting universities with high levels of research activity.
    • First preference goes to people who hold doctorates. Any unused visas are then made available to people with master's degrees.
  • One information which is missing is whether the 55,000 STEM visas will be subject to per country limitation under the current statute. Considering the fact that there will be a short Lame Duck session after the election and before this 112th Congress sunsets at the end of the year, the chance of this bill is anybody's guess. We will monitor development of this bill next week.

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