U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.) today highlighted the growing coalition of companies and organizations that support their legislation that would 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. S.3192, the SMART Jobs Act -- the Sustaining our Most Advanced Researchers and Technology (SMART) Jobs Act of 2012 -- was introduced on May 16th and has been cosponsored by Senators Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) and Dick Lugar (R-Ind.).
The SMART Jobs Act has been endorsed by: Compete America, Oracle, Intel, Bloom Energy, Dow Chemical, Siemens, QPS Holdings LLC, Third Way, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, TechNet, Tech America, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, the International Society for Optics and Photonics, Immigration Voice, the American Council on International Personnel, American Immigration Lawyers Association, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, the Association for Competitive Technology, Delaware State University, and Steve Case, the CEO of Revolution LLC and a member of the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.
"Every year, nearly 50,000 foreign students earn advanced degrees from universities in this country in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and math--and then at least 17,000 go home to other parts of the world," Senator Alexander said. "These are some of the brightest men and women in the world, attracted to the best universities in the world, and this legislation will help those 17,000 students, and we hope more, to get their advanced degrees in the U.S., and then stay here and create jobs in our country instead of going home and creating them in other countries."
"As we educate the next generation of scientists and engineers, we must make sure that those that are trained at our colleges, stay in our country to create jobs and not take their skills elsewhere," Senator Coons said. "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 start businesses and create jobs. The ever-growing number of companies and organization that endorse this proposal demonstrates the need in the high tech industry for changes to our current visa programs."
Under the SMART Jobs Act, foreign-born students earning masters and Ph.D. degrees in a STEM field 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 able to become Legal Permanent Residents (receive a green card). These new green cards would not count toward any existing per-country caps or limitations.
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 have 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. Immigrants or their children founded more than 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies, but arbitrary and limiting visa caps are sending nearly 20,000 foreign-born, American-educated degree-holders out of the country each year. With these graduates go their ideas, innovations, and their potential to create jobs here in the U.S.
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.