Employment Law Updates | New Proposed Legislation
July 17, 2012
SMART Jobs Act of 2012 Would Create a New Visa for Foreign-Born, American-Educated Holders of Advanced Degrees to Stay in the U.S.
Sustaining our Most Advanced Researchers and Technology (SMART) Jobs Act of 2012
U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) have introduced the SMART Jobs Act — the Sustaining our Most Advanced Researchers and Technology (SMART) Jobs Act of 2012 — to create a clear path forward for foreign-born, American-educated holders of masters and doctoral degrees in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields to remain in the United States to work and create jobs.
Upon earning their graduate degrees, these students would be allowed to remain in the U.S. for up to 12 months while they look for work related to their field of study. Once employed, the students would be allowed to change their immigration status and receive a green card. These new STEM green cards would not count toward any existing green card caps or limits.
Studies have shown that immigrants are nearly twice as likely as U.S.-born individuals to start new businesses, and in Silicon Valley, more than half of new high-tech startups had an immigrant founder. Immigrant-founded startup companies created 450,000 jobs in less than a decade, and collectively they have generated over $50 billion in sales in a single year. More than 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or their children, but arbitrary and limiting per-country visa caps are sending nearly 20,000 foreign-born, American-educated degree-holders out of the country each year. With them go their ideas, innovations, and their potential to create jobs here in the U.S.
Under the SMART Jobs Act, U.S.- educated graduates of STEM masters and PhD programs who are hired by United States businesses can achieve permanent legal status via an expedited and straightforward process.
United States businesses can capitalize on the investment already made in workers to grow U.S. operations, rather than outsourcing.
The SMART Jobs Act creates a new approach to stopping the STEM “brain drain”:
• Students pursuing masters or doctorate degrees in STEM fields in the United States may enter the U.S. on a new non-immigrant(F-4) visa.
• Following completion of their degrees, the students will have one year during which they may continue to reside legally in the U.S. while seeking a job in a STEM field.
• After securing full- time employment in a STEM field, the graduates may have their status adjusted to Legal Permanent Resident.
The SMART Jobs Act has been endorsed by Compete America, Oracle, Bloom Energy, Third Way, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, Tech America, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, Immigration Voice, Delaware State University, and Steve Case, the CEO of Revolution LLC and a member of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.
“When it comes to ensuring our competitiveness and maximizing economic growth and job creation, it is essential that the United States win the global battle for talent,” Mr. Case said. “The SMART Jobs Act is an important, bipartisan step forward. By allowing more foreign-born graduates with advanced STEM degrees from American universities to stay in the United States, we can help ensure that a whole new wave of great, entrepreneurial companies take root in this country. These highly-skilled men and women have proven to be job creators, so as a nation, we need to do everything we can to ensure they stay here and innovate, rather than force them to leave and start companies in other countries that then end up competing with the companies in our country.”
To ensure accountability, the SMART Jobs Act requires the Department of Homeland Security to provide an annual report on the number of F-4 visas granted, the country of origin of F-4 students, and the schools they attended.
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