Senators Schumer and Coons announce new STEM bill

On September 19th, Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Chris Coons (D-DE) plan to introduce a new bill before the Senate. The so-called “BRAINS Act” would create a two-year pilot program that would allocate an additional 55,000 green cards each year for foreign-born graduates who have a master’s degree or higher from an American university in science, math, technology, or engineering (“STEM”). To be eligible, the graduate must meet three criteria: (1) have received a master’s degree or higher from an eligible U.S. university in a STEM field, (2) have an offer of employment in the U.S. in a STEM field, and (3) be petitioned for by an employer who has gone through labor certification and can show that there are no available U.S. workers. Senators Schumer and Coons believe that this act will “fix a long-existing problem in our visa system that, despite the worsening shortage of highly-skilled tech workers based in theUnited States, forces many of the world’s brightest students to return to their country of origin, taking with them any economic growth and jobs they might create.” The bill will also permit any unused green cards from this program to be used to reduce the backlog for employment-based green cards for STEM graduates from foreign universities. This bill is promising. It would provide an enormous benefit to foreign-born graduates from U.S. STEM programs while also enhancing the U.S. economy. Given that there remains very little time in this session of Congress, it is unclear whether this bill will have sufficient time to make it through Congress before the session ends.

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