US takes steps to attract foreign skilled workforce

Amidst pending comprehensive immigration reform, the United States has proposed several steps – including changes in the F-1 and H-1B visas – to attract foreign skilled workforce, a move likely to benefit professionals from countries like India.

Prominent among these reforms include providing work authorisation for spouses of certain H-1B visa holders, 17-month extension of optional practical training (OPT) for F-1 international students to include students with a prior degree in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, allow for additional part-time study for spouses of F-1 students and allow outstanding professors and researchers to present a broader scope of evidence of academic achievement.

In addition, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that on February 22, it would launch its 'Entrepreneurs in Residence' initiative with an Information Summit in Silicon Valley.

This will bring together high-level representatives from the entrepreneurial community, academia and federal government agencies to discuss how to maximize current immigration laws' potential to attract foreign entrepreneurial talent.

These moves are in support of President Barack Obama's, efforts to meet 21st century national security and economic needs, the Department of Homeland Security said, adding that he is deeply committed to fixing our broken immigration system so that it meets national security and economic needs.

As a part of comprehensive immigration reform, Obama supports legislative measures that would attract and retain immigrants who create jobs and boost competitiveness in the US, including creating a "Startup Visa," strengthening the H-1B programme, and "stapling" green cards to the diplomas of certain foreign-born graduates in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.

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