New Visa Category Proposed for STEM Students

Senators Alexander (R-TN) and Coons (D-DE) introduced a bill concerning the immigration of foreign students studying the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM).

The Sustaining our Most Advanced Researchers and Technology Jobs of 2012 or the “Smart Jobs Act” would allow students pursuing masters or doctorate degrees in the STEM fields in the U.S. to enter the U.S. on a new non-immigrant F-4 visa. After securing full time employment in a STEM field, the graduates can apply to have their status adjusted to permanent residents.

The senators are part of a larger group of Congress members who are turning to immigration reform to combat “brain drain” — the flow of highly-educated individuals out of the country to be educated. An overwhelming percentage of STEM students in American universities are immigrants on student-visas, and these people with much-needed skills in America are only allowed to stay after graduation if their employers certify that they are “uniquely qualified for the job.” Furthermore, these individuals often cannot obtain permanent residency because of caps on the number of green cards per year.

The SMART act proposes the creation of a new visa category for students pursuing graduate STEM degrees so they have a better chance of getting a green card. The senators explained to reporters that, “fifty years ago, if you came here from another country and got a doctorate … your chances of applying your skills and strengths to create jobs in your home country were dramatically less than here. But times have changed … and it’s time for us to modernize.”

A new category for visa applicants that favors STEM graduate students would be advantageous for these individuals if they want to stay in America, and would greatly help America in the long run because the U.S. needs talented STEM students to lead innovations and create jobs.

The New Jersey immigration lawyers at Lubiner, Schmidt & Palumbo have helped numerous clients with immigration and naturalization matters. Please contact us online or call us at (908) 858-0922 if you would like to schedule a consultation to discuss your circumstances and potential legal options.