New Immigration Bills May Provide Greater Opportunities for STEM Graduates to Obtain Green Cards

During this past month, members of the U.S. Senate have introduced a number of bills that would allow STEM graduates to more easily receive green cards once they are employed in a relevant field. On May 15, 2012, Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) presented Securing the Talent America Requires for the 21st Century (“STAR Act”). This bill would: (1) allocate 55,000 visas for eligible STEM graduates who have obtained a master’s or Ph.D from a qualifying U.S. research institution and have job offers in a related filed, (2) offset these visas by eliminating the Diversity Visa lottery program, and (3) allow dual immigrant intent for individuals admitted as students to pursue a STEM degree. Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Chris Coons (D-DE) also introduced a bill on May 15th. Sustaining our Most Advanced Researchers and Technology Jobs Act of 2012 (“SMART Act”) would permit students who enter the United States to obtain a master’s or doctorate degree in a STEM field to use a new visa called an F-4. Once these students graduate from their program, they will have a year to find a job in a STEM field in the United States. After obtaining employment, these students will be able to adjust their status to Legal Permanent Resident. Finally, on May 22nd, Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Chris Coons (D-DE), Jerry Moran (R-KA), and Mark Warner (D-VA) submitted the Startup Act 2.0.  This legislation would create a new STEM visa to allow foreign students who graduate with a master’s or Ph.d in a STEM program from a U.S. institution to receive green cards. It would also create an entrepreneur’s visa for immigrants to launch businesses in the United States. While it remains to be seen whether these bills will be successful in this election year, the Hammond Law Group applauds these Senators for their efforts.

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