Thursday, October 4, 2012

Democratic STEM Bill, H.R. 6412, Moves Little Forward in the House

  • This is the bill which was introduced by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D) of California with high-tech industry as the key constituents on 09/14/2012. After it was introduced with 56 other House Democratic members as cosponsors, it failed to see a light under the shadow of Rep. Smith's STEM bill, a Republican STEM bill, which was quickly taken up in two days after it was introduced and eventually ended up failure to pass on the floor. The Democratic STEM bill was eventually referred to the House Judiciary Immigration Subcomittee yesterday where Rep. Lofgren is a Ranking Member. For this bill to move forward one step further, Rep. Smith, the Chairman of Judiciary should decide to schedule a hearing before we see any development on the House floor. This is up in the air.
  • As was true with the failed Republican STEM bill, this Democratic bill is charged with a number of Democratic political platform which are not likely taken favorably by the House Republicans. This bill is very similar to the Senator Schumer STEM bill, S. 3553. The following is the summary of the House bill:
    • Two-Year Sunset Program of 50,000 visas available to qualified immigrants who:
      • (1) possess a graduate degree at the level of master's or higher in a field of science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM degree) from a qualifying U.S. research institution of higher education;
      • (2) have an employment offer from a U.S. employer in a field related to such degree;
      • (3) are the subject of an approved labor certification; and (4) will receive a wage for such employment that is at least the actual wage paid by the employer to all other individuals with similar experience and qualifications.
    • Labor Market Test Requirements:
      • (1) employers of foreign STEM graduates to submit a job order for the position with the appropriate state workforce agency,
      • (2) such agency to post the position on its website for at least 30 days,
      • (3) employers to demonstrate that the total amount of compensation to be paid to a foreign STEM graduate meets or exceeds the total amount of compensation paid by the employer to all other employees with similar experience and qualifications working in the same occupational classification.
    • Eliminates the foreign residency requirement for certain foreign students.
    • Determination of whether an alien is a child for purposes of: (1) a petition for immigrant status or a petition for adjustment of refugee status to immigrant status shall be made using the alien's age on the date on which the petition is filed with DHS, and (2) a petition for nonimmigrant admission or an application for adjustment of status from nonimmigrant to conditional (fiance) immigrant must be made using the alien's age on the date on which the petition is filed with DHS to classify such alien's parent as the fiance of a U.S. citizen.
    • Unused STEM visas will be made available for other employment-based visa categories.
  • The biggest challenge for the Republicans to agree to this bill includes, among others, to increase the immigrant visa numbers, albeit only for 2 years. November election will have a huge impact on the fate of this bill. If the Democrats get back their majority seats in the House, there will be a chance for this bill but not this Congress and only in the next Congress that opens in January 2013.

1 comment:

  1. it looks same as H1b and makes no difference. The problem is with retaining the high skilled rather than making them work and go back. the program should allot green cards and have to check whether immigrant stays here for life long and does not invest in foreign country, increasing economy there.


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