17 May 2012

Two more senators propose their own US visa plan

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Just one day after Texan Senator John Cornyn proposed an expansion to the skilled technical workers US visa programme expanded, two more senators have proposed their own plan to allow more skilled graduates remain in the country.

US visa

Republican Senator Lamar Alexander (top) and Democratic Senator Chris Coons (bottom) have proposed a bipartisan US visa bill.

Republican Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Democratic Senator Chris Coons of Delaware have introduced the SMART Jobs Act to the Senate which would create a new US visa, the F-4 non-immigrant visa, which would allow foreign workers with degrees in science, technology, engineering or maths (STEM fields) to remain in America for up to 12 months after graduation while they seek employment.

If suitable work is found, the holder would then be able to swap their student visa for a 'STEM Green Card', a Green Card which would not be deducted from the annual quota in the Diversity Visa Program, otherwise known as the Green Card Lottery.

The senators' bill will have to navigate the treacherous political waters of an election year to become law yet the senators feel the bill is common sense.

"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," said Senator Alexander.

"Many of the best and bright young minds in the world are educated at American colleges and universities," said Senator Coons. "Instead of sending them home after graduation, we should be encouraging them to stay in the US to pursue their innovations and create jobs here.

"When we send off these graduates to pursue their innovations in Indian and China, we are literally subsidising our competitors."

US immigration is controversial topic in America at the moment with immigration laws being heard before the Supreme Court and President Obama clashing with presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney over reform of the system.

While progress of the senators' bill is doubtful during an election year, it has the support of Steve Case, cofounder of AOL and a member of the president's jobs council, who says it is an important step forward in bipartisan pursuit of immigration reform.

"A lot of the emotion is around illegal immigration, and it's important to separate that debate," said Mr Case. "There's a fairly broad bipartisan support for changes in high-tech immigration."

Senators Alexander and Coons' proposal comes just one day after the junior senator from Texas, Republican John Cornyn, proposed his own US visa bill: expanding the skilled technical worker programme by deducting from the Green Card Lottery.

While Senator Cornyn's bill differs from Senators Alexander and Coons', it aims to achieve the same thing: allowing more skilled graduates to remain in America.

"In the global competition for the world's best and brightest minds in math and science, the United States should take a backseat to no one," said Senator Cornyn.


The American Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people from Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries make their ESTA application.

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