WASHINGTON (14 October 2011) — IEEE-USA endorses the "American Innovation and Education Act" introduced by Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho), legislation that would make it easier for foreign-born students with advanced STEM degrees from U.S. institutions to fully participate in our nation's economy.
Labrador's bill, H.R. 3146, would make such students immediately eligible for a green card after earning their degrees if they have a job offer from a U.S. employer in their chosen field. Fees from these visas would fund improvements in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education and training for Americans.
"By giving foreign STEM graduates certainty in their pursuit of legal permanent residency, this bill will encourage the creation of new technology companies, create jobs and contribute to our country's long-term competitiveness," IEEE-USA President Ron Jensen said.
The legislation would also eliminate employment-based per-country limits for EB-2 visas (advance degree and professionals).
Research by AAES found that 55.3 percent of master's and 63.3 percent of Ph.D. graduates from U.S. universities in electrical and electronics engineering are foreign nationals. Because of difficulties and long waits for permanent residency, many are returning to their home countries and establishing job-creating companies there rather than in the United States. This bill sends a clear signal to international students earning advanced degrees from American universities that America welcomes them.
"Unable to navigate the immigration process in a timely fashion, many of these graduates return to their countries of birth, where their talents and the knowledge and skills acquired in the U.S. are put to work for our foreign competitors," Labrador said in a news release. "Our American universities are training the next generation of innovators and creators -- and it is up to us to decide where they will create jobs."
The Labrador bill contains provisions similar to those in the IDEA Act (Immigration Driving Entrepreneurship in America) introduced by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) in June. IEEE-USA has long supported her efforts to advance high-skill visa reform.