Senator John Hoeven spoke last week on the Senate floor in support of a bipartisan measure that would allow highly skilled foreign students who graduate from U.S. universities with advanced degrees to stay in the United States to help create jobs and new businesses. The students would fill positions for which there aren't a sufficient number of workers.
The bill recognize that nearly half of U.S. Master's and Ph.D. degree recipients in science, technology, engineering and math fields are foreign nationals. Current U.S. Immigration policy, however, makes no provision to retain these entrepreneurs and job creators, who could be filling positions the U.S. needs in high-demand areas. Instead, the United States loses these graduates to competitors abroad. The bill is also family friendly, and would allow the spouses and minor children of permanent residents to join them after an initial waiting period.
"What we are talking about is making sure that the scientists, engineers and technicians that graduate with advanced degrees from some of our best universities get to stay and help us innovate and create jobs here in the United States instead of in some other country," Hoeven said. "That can help us solve the fundamental challenge we face today, which is getting this economy growing and people back to work."
"We live, work, and compete in a global economy driven by new innovation," said Don Morton, site leader for Microsoft's Fargo campus. "In the United States, there is an acknowledged shortage of American workers with the science, technology and math skills needed to fill to fuel our economic recovery. It's time to act on high-skilled immigration reform and proposals such as this legislation and Microsoft's new National Talent Strategy offer important steps towards beginning to address this challenge. We applaud the Senator's leadership and look forward to continuing to work with him on this issue."
The Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Jobs Act would allocate up to 55,000 green cards a year for foreign graduates of U.S. universities with advanced STEM degrees.
To be eligible, a foreign student must have received a STEM doctorate or two-year master's degree from an eligible U.S. university in computer science, engineering, mathematics, or the physical sciences and have taken all their course work (including internet courses) while physically present in the United States. In addition, the student must be spoken for by an employer to show that there are not sufficient American workers able, willing, equally qualified and available for the job.