Saturday, May 1, 2010

Senate Dems aim to staple Green Cards to tech diplomas

As an F1 student myself - this is fascinating proposal. Fingers crossed?

Below is the original article from ComputerWorld. This issue was also re-transmitted through Reuters (HERE)

Senate Dems aim to staple Green Cards to tech diplomas

Immigration framework released by Schumer incorporates ideas from earlier Grassley-Durbin proposal

By Patrick Thibodeau
April 30, 2010 05:22 PM E

Computerworld - As Arizona's new immigration law captures the attention of much of Congress, a group of Senate Democrats has proposed a framework for possible federal immigration reform that includes major changes to the high-skilled worker immigration process.
The most sweeping change in the immigration legislation framework may be a provision that would offer almost automatic permanent residency to any foreign student earning an advanced degree -- masters and above -- in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics at a U.S. college or university. The graduate must have a job offer to be eligible.
The framework was released Thursday by its chief sponsor, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY).
This idea of "stapling" a Green Card on the diplomas of advanced degree graduates has been kicked around by lawmakers for years, but any action on it and other tech-focused immigration efforts have been held up by the lack of agreement on comprehensive immigration reform.
Schumer has long advocated increasing the number of high-skilled immigrants working in the U.S..
A similar proposal to give Green Cards to scientific and technical graduates was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives last year U.S. Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.). That proposal, called the Stopping Trained in America Ph.D.s from Leaving the Economy Act (acronym: Staple) was limited to foreign students who earned a Ph.D degree.
It remains uncertain whether Congress will begin debating comprehensive immigration reform proposals this year. The immigration framework, though, does provide some details about the direction the Democrats are heading on tech-related immigration. At the same time, it leaves out many important specifics, such as whether the cap on H-1B visas should be changed.
"This is not the legislation, this is just an outline," said Eleanor Pelta, first vice president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. But among the things the proposal would do is remove some of pressure on H-1B applicants with advanced degrees. she said.
Adopting the proposal's Green Card plan would technically eliminate the need for the 20,000 H-1B visas set aside annually for advanced degree graduates of U.S. universities. In all, 85,000 H-1B visas are issued under the current cap.
Pelta said it's unclear what would happen to the 20,000 visas for advanced degree holders, but said that ideally it would lead to the elimination of an H-1B visa cap altogether. "What prior years have really shown is that it's the market that really drives usage -- if people don't need professional workers they are not going to hire H-1bs," she said.

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