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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

US immigration: Give Green Card to STEM students, say lawmakers


American experts today called for giving Green Card for science, tech, engineering and math (STEM) students, eliminating country-specific caps and recapture unused visas to spur economic growth and create new jobs in the country.

Testifying before the House Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement of the House Judiciary Committee, Bruce A Morrison, of the Morrison Public Affairs Group, argued for making green card a convenient route for sponsoring employers and eliminate the need to rely on the H-1B status for a long period, if at all.

Morrison recommended creating a category for advance degree STEM graduates from high quality American universities and move them out from the green card caps.

Considering imposing fees on their immigrant petitions to fund STEM education for Americans, Morrison among other things called for eliminating per-country limit on employment-based visas, recognising that the biggest talent pools come from the biggest countries in the world - India and China and that the US wants talented innovators regardless of their home country.

"Create incentives for employers to petition for green cards at the beginning of the employment of skilled foreign- born employees, rather than keeping them in temporary status for most of a decade," he said.

Dean Garfield, president, IT Industry Council, said it is time the US upgrades its skilled immigration system to serve national interest, and anticipate and meet the demands of the US economy - now and in the future.

"Reform must help fill the tens of thousands of skilled job openings that exist today, while accelerating new jobs for and new knowledge-driven businesses," he said.

"The realities of our global economy require that we have a system that provides sufficient green cards and H-1B visas to fill and create jobs, and to maximize work performed in the United States," he urged the lawmakers.

Garfield said the H-1B and other non-immigrant professional visas are necessary to maximize work in the US, particularly work that advances the US as a hub for innovation.

Testifying before the lawmakers on 'Enhancing American Competitiveness through Skilled Immigration' hearing, Benjamin Johnson, executive director, American Immigration Council, called for more flexibility in the US immigration system.

Noting that many other countries around the world have already updated their immigration policies to attract high- skilled workers who are now choosing other destinations when they encounter barriers for US migration, he said to remain globally competitive, the US must embrace the opportunities brought by high-skilled immigrant students, workers, and entrepreneurs.

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