U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) introduced the SMART Jobs Act -- the Sustaining our Most Advanced Researchers and Technology (SMART) Jobs Act of 2012 -- on Wednesday to create a clear path forward 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. Upon earning their graduate degrees, these students would be allowed to remain in the U.S. for up to 12 months while they look for work related to their field of study. Once employed, the students would be allowed to change their immigration status and receive a green card. These new STEM green cards would not count toward any existing green card caps or limits.
"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. The SMART Jobs Act is a bipartisan idea to create a clear path forward for foreign-born, American-educated students with advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering and math to stay in the United States after graduation to create jobs here. I've been proud to work with Senator Alexander on this bill, am grateful for the support of the coalition that has rallied behind this bill, and look forward to working to make it law."
Alexander said of the bill, "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."
Studies have shown that immigrants are nearly twice as likely as U.S.-born individuals to start new businesses, and in Silicon Valley, more than half of new high-tech startups had an immigrant founder. Immigrant-founded startup companies created 450,000 jobs in less than a decade, and collectively they have generated over $50 billion in sales in a single year. More than 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or their children, but arbitrary and limiting per-country visa caps are sending nearly 20,000 foreign-born, American-educated degree-holders out of the country each year. With them go their ideas, innovations, and their potential to create jobs here in the U.S.
The SMART Jobs Act has been endorsed by Compete America, Oracle, Bloom Energy, Third Way, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, Tech America, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, Immigration Voice, Delaware State University, and Steve Case, the CEO of Revolution LLC and a member of the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.
"When it comes to ensuring our competitiveness and maximizing economic growth and job creation, it is essential that the United States win the global battle for talent," Mr. Case said. "The SMART Jobs Act is an important, bipartisan step forward. By allowing more foreign-born graduates with advanced STEM degrees from American universities to stay in the United States, we can help ensure that a whole new wave of great, entrepreneurial companies take root in this country. These highly-skilled men and women have proven to be job creators, so as a nation, we need to do everything we can to ensure they stay here and innovate, rather than force them to leave and start companies in other countries that then end up competing with the companies in our country."
To ensure accountability, the SMART Jobs Act requires the Department of Homeland Security to provide an annual report on the number of F-4 visas granted, the country of origin of F-4 students, and the schools they attended.
The legislation as introduced can be downloaded here:
A summary of the legislation can be downloaded here: