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New STEM bill could help families of legal immigrants

In September, the U.S. House of Representatives failed to pass the STEM Jobs Act. However, it has been refashioned and the House passed the new measure just last week. Originally, the bill was focused only on expanding green card access for international students pursuing advanced technology and science degrees in the U.S. The original bill did not address concerns related to family-based visas for spouses and minor children of those students.

The version recently passed by the House and soon to be considered by the Senate would allow the minor children and spouses of those legal green card carrying students to reside in the U.S. while their own green card applications are pending.

Currently, the 80,000 green cards allocated for these students allow many individuals to pursue invaluable educational opportunities in the United States. However, their approximately 322,000 minor children and spouses often must wait for two years or more to be reunited with their graduate student family member. The STEM Job Act would not only allow more students to study in the U.S. but would also allow their immediate families to join them as they study.

For family members seeking to come to the United States, the wait to join their loved one would be reduced to a year after applying for their green cards. Once their green cards are approved, at some point during their stay in the U.S., they would be allowed to work on American soil.

It is not clear whether the measure will pass the Senate, but the fact that the bill has finally passed the House certainly constitutes progress.

Source: Fox News Latino, "GOP's STEM Act Family Provision Would Benefit Latinos Most, But Bill Seems Doomed," Elizabeth Llorente, Nov. 28, 2012

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