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Proposed change to immigration law could help science graduates

Over the course of our nation's history, many immigrants have come to the United States to seek prosperity that they might not have attained in their native land. And our country has thrived and advanced due to many innovations created by immigrants. Under current immigration rules, however, we are sending a significant number of bright and promising immigrants back to their home countries after they have completed their studies at colleges and universities here.

A change could be imminent, however. Bipartisan coalitions in both houses of Congress have introduced legislation that would allow more immigrants who earn graduate degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics--called "STEM" graduates for short--to remain in the United States. The proposed law is called the Startup Act 2.0 and is designed to provide additional workers and entrepreneurs to an undersupplied segment of the American economy.

Despite the sluggish pace of the economy as a whole, STEM jobs are experiencing a relative boom. But studies reveal that colleges and universities are not producing nearly enough STEM students to meet the demand. At the same time, immigration policy has been precluding a number of foreign-born STEM graduates from filling those vacant job openings and contributing to the growth of the American economy.

Startup Act 2.0 would reverse that former policy. The final details of the bill remain unclear, but the proposed legislation contains a few other provisions that wed immigration with economic policy. For example, immigrants who create a new business and provide jobs to Americans would be eligible for a newly-minted type of visa.

Source: The Washington Post, "Startup Act 2.0: House lawmakers introduce Senators' immigration reform bill," J.D. Harrison, June 5, 2012.

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